· Written by Drew Wilson

Because of Covid-19 and the widespread stay-at-home orders, it is no surprise that car sales and other business endeavors have slowed down. But there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind during this time so that you can be intentional with the customers you already have and the ones you will gain in the future. For a quick summary of these points, head to the YouTube video where our sales team discusses these points.

Tip 1: Connect With People In New Ways

In today's environment it is extremely important that you stay connected with the people that have reached out to you, that you have worked with, or even if you worked with them in the past. 

For a lot of our dealer BDC’s, Sokal has processes in place that engage with consumers via email, text, and phone calls–which are fine elements to have. But now that things have changed, why not think about adding video to your communication strategy?

It is a proven statistic that video gets a much higher engagement rate than static text or imagery. Many consumers and businesses are utilizing this technology in so many different areas of life. There are many platforms you can use, like Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangout (or Meet), and more.

Schools are using Zoom to meet with their students for online learning, and businesses are using these platforms to have businesses meeting and even consultations with potential customers or clients (as well as transactions). We have all been forced to operate differently, so we need to rise to the challenge and think differently about how to do businesses. We cannot stop being innovative, because there are still people, customers who need your help. 

We know that’s a big challenge, because it is a struggle not to be face-to-face in a showroom physically showing someone a new or used car. But at least with a video conference, you can read body language, maintain eye contact, and build rapport way better than a phone conversation.

If you can think of new and interesting ways to separate your business from the competitors, you will succeed in today’s environment and maintain a strong relationship with your customer base. 

Tip 2: Stay Top of Mind With Words and Actions

You must be communicating to your consumer anything and everything you are doing that could benefit them. Whether that’s home delivery, pickup and drop off for vehicle service and maintenance, or just answering common questions people have about their vehicles, stay top of mind during this period.

Now is the time to get extra creative with what you can offer customers. Maybe offer to pay someone's rent or mortgage that is having a difficult time. They will remember that kindness and become even more loyal. You could donate money to a local hospital or cater lunch for health care workers to show your appreciation for working the front lines.

This will take some research and time, but it will be extremely valuable. One simple act of kindness goes a long way in building a long-lasting relationship. There are people who still want to purchase a vehicle during this time, so you need to let them know that you are going to make the process easy and safe–doing whatever it takes to make sure they know they are first priority.

Tip 3: Adapt Your Business Messaging To Fit The Situation

Through our data and research, we have found that customers are still online. They are still browsing dealerships sites, looking at new and used vehicles. The difference now is that you don’t see as many leads as you once did, because they haven’t made a decision to go through with purchasing, financing, or leasing a vehicle.

We are suggesting that you change your messaging as a dealership to reflect a soft sell approach. Instead of pushing incentives, discounts, and no money down, emphasize what you are doing for the customer now. What can you do with their current vehicle? What are you offering that is additional and free? Maybe it is a deeper clean than normal when someone’s vehicle gets serviced?

It will be difficult to make any sort of sell if they are not getting support from the dealership in the first place. Talk about how you are involved in the community and what you are doing to help the current situation. 

Also, let the consumer know that if they find themselves in need of a vehicle or repair, you will be there, again, make the process as easy as possible, worrying about them first as opposed to making a sale.

Tip 4: Over-communicate Everything On Your Website

One easy way to apply these previous 3 tips is to display them on your website. Have you changed your messaging and notifications to consumers on the website so far? Do they know everything that is offered to them? Do they know if your site is actually open?

We suggest you have an immediate pop up or video message to consumers explaining what you are doing in the current situation, what is available to them, and how to go about getting it. 

You may even want to have a page and navigation tab dedicated to your cleaning efforts in response to Covid-19. If you are staying open, explain why someone can feel safe bringing their vehicle in, or why they shouldn’t worry about someone coming to their house to pick up their car. Show your staff wearing face masks, protective gloves, wrapping steering wheels in plastic wrap, show them sanitizing every part of the vehicle. 

Over-communicate that you are meeting all of the necessary policies to stay open. While a lot of dealers have put their new programs (like at home purchasing) in place, many of them still don’t clearly display it and have pages dedicated to that information on their website. 

At the minimum, we believe you should be offering (1) at-home test drives, (2) at-home purchase and delivery, and (3) at-home vehicle pick up for servicing and maintenance. Each one of these needs a page, a promotion, and anything else necessary to get the point across to the consumer. 

Start to consider more innovative solutions like virtual test drives and virtual walk arounds so that potential customers have to do even less to help their decision making process. Remember, the customer isn’t doing this because they want to. They don’t feel safe leaving their home, or they just aren’t able to leave in the first place. Don’t initiate a process and put it on auto-pilot. The human element is still necessary, probably now more than ever.

If you haven't seen our sales team talk through these 4 points, check out the video here!



If you need help starting or integrating any of these innovative solutions, like buy-from-home, Sokal is ready to help you through it. Give us a call at 919-872-9410, or you can click here to fill out our contact form and we will reach out within the day.