One of the best resources a business owner can have is access to new information. While this is true in any circumstance, having new ideas brought to your attention is even more important amidst a global pandemic. While you may be in crisis mode internally, it’s imperative that you exemplify a calm exterior for the sake of your employees and your business. In our 20 Group meetings, many dealers have discussed ways they can be better leaders during this time. The ideas sometimes start small, like regularly checking on individual team members’ health and safety, and how to establish lines of communication via email and video conferencing. While other ideas, like establishing new processes to implement contactless delivery services in both your fixed and variable operations, can be huge undertakings. No matter how big or small the new information may be, it’s critical that you seek out as much advice as possible from your trusted advisors and reliable sources.
In this piece, I wanted to share with you some of the best ideas shared by my dealer clients, in our recent 20 Group video conference calls, on how to tackle the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The following list is not an all-inclusive guide of the greatest ideas across our industry, it is merely a shortlist of a few items I consider to be the most unique and innovative.
Ideas to Consider:
Insurance Premiums: If your employee count has decreased, send the new census to your insurance company. While you are at it, give your insurance agent a call and see what other information they have on file that can be updated. Many times, updating your policy can result in savings on premiums without having to sacrifice any coverage.
Workers Comp: Like your insurance policy, now is also a great time to look at your workers compensation policy. Break out vacation pay, holiday pay, and paid time-off to lower your premium.
Update Google My Business: If you haven’t done so already, get on your Google My Business listing and update it to reflect current business hours. While there, make sure the links are working properly for phone and messaging. In fact, now is a great time to do this same process for all of your online business listings.
Highlight New Services: Let people know if you’ve expanded your services with initiatives like vehicle delivery, remote test drives, or new digital retailing options. Additionally, be sure to share the precautions your dealership is implementing at this time. Not only will this showcase your dealership in a positive light, but many of these services might be exactly what your customers have been wanting.
Maintain Your Community Presence: Social networking is critical right now, and I would advise dealers to be careful of reducing or eliminating your online presence. It’s possible that your actions could erase a positive digital reputation and established history. Along with the loss of a digital selling tool, you may be forced to start from scratch when you decide to reengage.
Fixed Operations Revenue: Try to maintain as much revenue as possible in fixed operations. Even if your costs increase and your net profit decreases in the short term, you need to keep the technicians busy. We know how difficult it is to find qualified technicians, and it will only get harder if you lose techs during this crisis. It will cost more to recruit, hire, and train new techs at a later date than it will to keep them on board now. The current situation has brought to light how important it is to keep your best employees close.
Armed with these ideas, I hope that you and your dealership can optimize a few areas during the pandemic, and ultimately be prepared to emerge stronger on the other side. Like many of the economic challenges the retail automotive industry has faced before, there is an opportunity for dealers to evolve and become a more robust business than before. As proven over time, peer collaboration is one of the best ways to build a stronger organization. My 20 Groups have found the interaction with other dealers beneficial enough that we are scheduling recurring weekly meetings well into the foreseeable future. The COVID-19 pandemic will pass, and there will be leaders in our industry who will push our industry forward. Use this crisis to strengthen your team and processes so your dealership will be poised for market leadership.