Dealership Success: Answering “What Now?”

By Shawn Horswill, Work Truck Solutions, Vice President, Customer Success

Free time.  Down time.  Previously unaccounted-for time.  Call it what you like, at this point we all have time that was previously allocated to other responsibilities, which are now… different.

The medical significance of COVID-19 – and its related business impact – is being felt by everyone differently.  Some are focusing on themselves and their families, some on their businesses, and still others are taking time to simply decompress.  Self-development comes in many different forms.  Since you’re reading this, I imagine that you are giving more than just a passing thought to the health of your current business pipeline, so let’s run with that…

It’s your buyers that keep your business alive.  So, right now, how are buyers shopping – and buying – your inventory?  How comfortable are they using your website?  Could your online presence and other digital tools use a boost?  Could you maybe use some self-development regarding the comfort level with, or use of, any or all of your digital tools?

Whether you’re one of the dealerships who has seen a spike in sales, or you have had to trim all the way down to a temporary closure, consider the position of your buyers.  In all cases, the buyers aren’t coming out to dealer lots in droves; they’ve been driven to their computer, to the internet.  Are they being driven to you?  

While there certainly was a dip in national overall online buyer traffic in Mid-March, nearly all those shoppers have already come back.  You can see this in your website analytics.  Certain dealerships are thriving right now, due to a combination of inventory along with a buyer-centric and functional online experience. For example, in a delivery intensive environment, having vans and other last-mile vehicles is hugely beneficial, and doing ‘courtesy’ deliveries are not just a courtesy, they are a requirement. But that’s only part of the equation.  Ask yourself how much of your buyer’s shopping experience can be completed online? With the ongoing emphasis on Social Distancing, can your buyers use things like DocuSign, or do they still need to come down to you?  Can they do everything online with you?  And if yes, is the digital marketing framework in-place such that your new buyers’ online truck search leads them to your site and you in the first place?  These questions matter especially now, but they have been important for about the last 10 years.  Some of your local competition may already be on top of it; now is your time.

Over the last 2 years, I have been soapboxing essentially these same two things in different ways.  First:  Your buyers are moving more and more of their purchase habits online.  Second:  You need to be prepared, and the support staff/resources you currently have for your digital tools need to get you there.  But, as I’ve also mentioned, that requires your engagement.  Review the online (typically Google Analytics) reports sent to you and ask questions – perhaps starting with “what does this even mean?”, and “what am I supposed to do with this?”.  Ask how you can get more from what you are already paying for, and ask your partners what ideas they have to grow your online presence and capture more viable and interested buyers.  By getting involved and becoming more educated, you’ll get workable solutions that drive you forward.

In the shadow of COVID-19, your customers will fall into two buckets: those currently in operation, and those who’ve had to temporarily close their doors.  More than you might guess are ready to buy now.  Many are ready to off-load their older, distressed units.  There’s opportunity there.  Plenty. 

Now, your website is all they have to help them.  Well, yours, and your competition’s.

This focus on online isn’t going away.  The news is full of reporters and pundits talking about how this massive migration to the digital arena for both workers and shoppers will linger on after things settle down – that this is going to be the new norm, far beyond anything we’ve ever seen in the past. The operable question then is:  Are YOU prepared?  Do YOU have your digital ducks all in a row, or is it now time to really dig in?

Whether nothing much has changed for you, or your doors are shuttered, there is immediate room for improvement.  And if you always knew you needed more online, but didn’t have the time to get it figured out, I’ll wager there is some new time now that you could spend preparing for when you do open back up. If you are ready to learn more, and walk over to the digital side, let us know – we can help get you started.

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