COVID-19’s realities make working from home – or working remotely – a way for car dealerships but also everyone involved in the automotive industry a way for us to continue fulfilling our job responsibilities and to contribute to our organizations.
With that in mind, Autobahn Academy would like to share some of the best practices we think can help car dealerships make the best of this unfortunate situation.
Unfortunately, car dealerships could have a harder time adjusting than other industries since a lot of tasks have to be completed on-site, especially in the fixed ops department.
If you haven’t seen my video about how “This virus will force dealers to get better at digital retail” I posted on LinkedIn, you should still know there’s a silver lining to all of this.
If you’re looking to get a set of tools that can help make this situation a little less frustrating, we have you covered. The good news is, when this is all over, these new habits could actually help you even when the people are back in their seats. Meanwhile, there are many benefits to running a remote team, so long as you’re equipped with the right tools to succeed.
In this article, we’ll share with you the best tools for working remotely so you and your team members can maximize productivity and secure more sales than ever before, no matter if you’re inside or outside your car dealership showroom.
Slack is more than a tool for chatting—it’s almost a religion in the tech industry. You can use Slack to chat 1 on 1 but also create channels where you can interact as groups (Sales, Service, etc..). I’m still baffled on how few of you are actually using a chat tool.
HipChat is another great chat tool that can help you daily communication. They have a great app everyone can install on their smartphone.
Workplace by Facebook
Facebook just launched this team collaboration platform that includes messaging, voice and video calling, and newsfeed features to help teams work together more efficiently.
MEETINGS & VIDEO CHAT
Google Hangouts is the default tool of choice for video meetings. Slack even lets you launch a hangout right from within a channel!
An alternative to Hangouts, Zoom has a higher threshold for the number of people who can be in a meeting at once. You can get on the free plan too if you need to show anything to your customers the easy way. This can be used from any computer to any type of smartphone.
Need to record a quick video? How about host a live broadcast or training to your team or even customers? YouTube Live is Google Hangout’s alternative to scaling a broadcast globally.
Great app for screen sharing and team calls. It doesn’t freeze up as often as other tools do which makes it a great choice for quick meetings on the fly.
CLOUD STORAGE & TEAM COLLABORATION
Trello’s ease of use makes it easy to manage a flow of tasks through any of your teams inside the dealership. It’s also very flexible and free.
Google Drive needs no introduction. Store and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more all with your Google Account. There’s so much you can do in here.
This is the cloud storage of choice for most design and dev teams I’ve worked with. Dropbox also recently announced Paper—a separate app similar to Google Docs that lets you collaborate in real-time.
TeamViewer is a very easy to use program to help you see or take over control of a colleagues’ computer.
HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NOW
Most of you are experiencing a slow down in the showroom, canceled appointments. It’s OK, you can’t control everything, but in slow times is the perfect time to dig into your CRM, update contact info and reach out to customers.
Start by emailing clients that were already in your short term sights and try to see if they are looking to wait to make a purchase. This is your chance to show empathy. Now is not the time to force things, you’ll be losing credibility and the chance to close the deal anyway.
Make sure your Google My Business hours reflect your Google My Business Listing
INCREASE IN-STORE SANITATION EFFORTS
Task-specific employees with the job of wiping down high-traffic surfaces once per hour with disinfecting wipes. This includes door handles, the reception desk surface, sales tables or desks, telephone receivers, computer keyboards touched by customers, etc.
Consider also creating routine disinfecting procedures for vehicles before and after a test-drive. If you can get ahold of latex gloves, consider putting some in each vehicle and asking customers to wear them while driving.
These measures will not only be more sanitary and help stop the spread of disease, but they’ll also make your customers feel more comfortable at your store.
LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO CREATE SPACE
Encourage salespeople to keep a safe distance from customers, six feet is recommended. Instead of a handshake greeting encourage your staff to offer a friendly wave. And increase the distance between seating in your waiting area for customers.
Offer digital buying options to your customers like communication through text, phone calls and emails. And even consider reducing the number of test-drives provided. If a deal can be done without a test drive, go for it. If it’s feasible for you to allow customers to test-drive a vehicle without a salesperson present, consider that too.
KEEP TABS ON THE HEALTH OF YOUR TEAM
Monitor the health of every employee and their family members or people they share a home with. If someone feels ill or has a family member that feels ill, encourage that employee to stay home. Consider making your sick time policies for all employees more flexible and lenient.
CHECK YOUR BUSINESS INSURANCE
Do you have business insurance? Do you have business interruption insurance? If so, look into whether or not this could be a qualifying event, and what documentation you need to begin gathering to be prepared to make a claim.
APPLY REALISTIC THINKING
None of us can predict the future, and nobody knows for sure what will happen. But odds are that most communities in the US will not be severely impacted by the virus. There will be multiple areas, most likely big cities, where the impact is felt the greatest. And the farther away from those areas you are, the less the “health” impact will be. The far greater impact will be the “public” and media response to this crisis.
As a business leader in your area you can choose whether or not to under-react, over-react, or intelligently respond. And if you run into slow days or weeks, train like crazy and role play so your team is ready to bounce back right away after this thing passes.
REASSESS YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY
There may come a time when significant business disruption is unavoidable, like what’s going on in Italy, but don’t be quick to create that disruption yourself.
If you start turning your lead flow down, or off completely, while you’re still able to be open for business you’re robbing yourself of opportunity and profits you may desperately need later. What’s more, when things get rolling again, and they will, you’ll want to have a full pipeline to sell from—so you can hit the ground running.
If you do see a lull in business, be confident that there will be pent up demand waiting for you on the other side. And that pent-up demand will be there for the taking when things start getting back to normal. But if you let your voice in the market diminish, it may be replaced by someone else’s voice later.
So stay strong. Keep generating leads, setting appointments, and selling cars for as long as you possibly can.