It's time to segregate our showrooms

The time is here to put up dividers between sales and service. It is only a matter of time before our dealerships will have to function as in two halves. We need to figure the traffic flow now and not wait until we are forced to.
It will cause an immediate jump in our social distancing.

Status – COVID EVENT – March 24

In the foxhole

Here is my operational notes I am working off of:
Just like your showroom experience for a customer, the online
experience needs to be a good one.
You have 2 sites.  Desktop and Mobile.  Both are different experience and different context.
-Easy Navigation
-Easy Communication ( Chat/Text/Email/Call)
-Clear Messaging ( 1st Slide )
-Clear Messaging ( SRP )
-Clear Messaging ( VDP )
-Vehicle Photos/Videos
-OEM Promos included

What we do today impacts tomorrows sales


Confident Team Equals a Confident Customer

Share the measures you’re taking with the team and train everyone involved
• Clearly discuss tone, phrasing, and messaging to customers that keep in mind the delicate nature of people’s concerns and worries of the future.
Keep your team focused on the customer experience and the questions they might have.
– What measures are you taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in both Sales and Service to protect your team?
• Regular, more frequent deep-cleans to the facilities
• Quarantining employees…
• Who have traveled
• Who have shown early symptoms
• Other directives from local/community public health officials

We understand the problem
• We are making enhancements to our already strict standards
• We offer at-home solutions
• Here’s how to take advantage of them
• We care about your health and safety
• We are committed to our community
• We will get through this together

Establish frame of mind: Treat every lead like it’s the biggest close they’ll have all year.
Show your customers your willingness to help during this difficult time.
Educate on Options: Every team member who speaks with customers needs to be a master in three things:
 1. What’s available to the customer from the Government, to the OEM to your dealership.
2. What steps you’re taking at your dealership to put them at ease
3. Customer service – now is the time to show customers HOW you can help
For Internt Lead Handling: Arm your team with information and authority
Don’t allow a customer to close that chat or stop replying because a lead handler has to go back and forth with management. If your team has multiple steps to get quotes, ensure the team has easily written steps and the tools they need to work those numbers quickly OR have access to the manager that can via chat. As instant as possible is the goal.

Find new ways to provide shopping experiences for your customers • Provide webcams and tools for F&I to try to be face to face with customers
• Virtual appointments through FaceTime
• Showroom precaution walkthroughs (how you’re protecting your customers and your team, how you’re sanitizing vehicles, etc.)
• A fully thought out Modern Retail Experience VIDEO. VIDEO. VIDEO
• Virtual vehicle walk-arounds and test drives
• Illustrate what a home delivery is like
• Walking through the steps to shop from the comfort of their home.

Make sure we can easily communicate
• No Payments for 3 or 6 months
• The first 3 or 6 payments are on us!
• 0% APR For 72 Months
• We’ll take back your new car if you purchased it within the last 3 months
• Extra $1,000 off if your job has been affected by COVID-19
• Low daily payment
REMINDER THESE ARE EXAMPLES, define what is your stores hooks, role play until becomes easy for sales people to deliver.

Lets change some hours in response to COVID19

Keeping customers informed has become some of the most important work I do. It’s not sexy nor is it cool.
A change in our stores operational hours is one key bit of information to get in front of customers.

Getting it there can offer a challenge. And uncover weaknesses. Like keeping up with your passwords or access changes.
I found that my Group level login to AutoTrader had either been changed or got caught up in Cox Automotive push to a unified login… which I had been avoiding … so shame on me. Being a hard head can get you hard results.
Found that it is best to deal with it in the most kind way possible. I have said it before. There are going to be many many unforeseen roadblocks to overcome in the near future. Being a dick, does not help get things done.


I started with our website… although that was not what I thought was most important. The most important is the Google My Business page. But, I need to make sure I had the website update first so that when Google went about checking to verify, the info would be there. And our Google Maps presence would get it’s update from there.
And then went about all the other places.
Our CRM Eleads so that inbound leads could be timed properly.
CarNow our chat provider to allow the reps that handled our after hours and overflow chat sessions would have the right info to share with customers.
Yelp needs updating, although like a lot of automotive folks, I even hate just logging into the platform. #thehateisreal. But it must be done, Apple references Yelp, so you gotta do it.
Apple Maps got it’s update to, ’cause lets face it, even if I do not, there are people who use apple maps.
Updating Cargurus I found a happy surprise. Cargurus is the easiest place I found to update a dealerships hours. They give you a slider to move. Fast and easy. Thanks CarGurus !
Then there are the other online classifieds, CarsdotCom and Autotrader.
Lord help me if I didn’t get feckin Facebook updated. Jeeze.
Last ( for now) but not least getting the OEM to update there pages and references to the dealership to reflect the proper, correct hours.

What seems like a simple operation… of course works out not to be simple.

Waiting on “Dealing with it mode”

The search volume for automotive terms has seen a dramatic
drop over the past week in Georgia.
And that trend will continue.
We are being replaced by searches for toilet paper
and things for kids to do at home, crafts, and learning.

Fast approaching is that first positive in mid-ga when
we will really feel like we are shut out.

That should occur in the next 8 days.
So yes, we are taking it day by day.
But I look at it week by week.
We are ok this week.
A bit slow…
This time next week is when we will have
to make some decisions on advertising.

By then our dealerships should have a way
to sanitize cars. Before delivery, after
test drives.
We also will have with the stores good communication
around our staff’s health and how they are dealing
with school being out and possible sick family members.

Then the bottom will drop out on demand.
How many days in a row can a store go with
a vehicle sale?
What is our tolerance level?

The time we are waiting on is what I call
“Dealing with it mode”.
When all of us are settled in and we are doing
the day to day care of each other.
We are watching the numbers climb.
When we are looking at another set of metrics
entirely. Infection rates, quarantine, lockdowns
become very real to us.
Up close and personal.
We will be dealing with it.

It will be during this time that our websites
will be crawled with casual visitors time and time
again. On desktops from homes.
I expect time on-site to increase.
VDPs to go up.
Shopping. Considering. Dreaming. Planning.

Because there will be a time when we have peaked
and start to come down.
And down, and down.
When June finally comes… we will see people return
to buying cars in small numbers.
July will bring the lions share back into the market.
Back into our showrooms.

We must maintain our websites.
We must maintain our communication with the homebound.

When the bounce up happens we can reap the benefit.

My initial COVID action notes

Here are my initial notes I am bringing into our action plan meeting.
Will be interesting to see what comes out on the other side

-Severe reduction in demand and supply chain disruption. 
-Local Governments decisions will have the greatest impact. 
-Employee health and family situations. 
- What  is your dealerships services status. (open / closed – hours) 
- Any special instructions for parking or changes in the service areas 
- In store signage (directional, notices) 
- Show / demonstrate what steps are being taking to protect/mitigate 
- Google My Business page is first to update. (I have control of all except CDJR)  
then website, followed by Social outlets. 
-Informational eblast thru Eleads / Autopoint 
SUSPEND LEAD PROVIDERS (30 Day notice that can be extended if needed) 
- Go ahead and submit 30-day outs 
- Same for OEM lead programs – if unable, then shrink the radius 
-Strip out all third party (paid) widgets 
-Unless managed in-house remove chat (prefer we keep chat if can) 
-SEM should be reduced to core model keywords along with fixed ops.  
-SEO can be suspended until on the other side. 
-Display can be suspend until on the other side. 
-Online video, OTT, PVOD should continue or even increase. 
-Social advertising should continue or even increase 
Scaling back TV and Radio vs Going Dark 
-Public will likely be in homes consuming media, keeping a limited top of mind TV/Radio presence will benefit us as we start to ease out of this COVID event. 
-Going dark will make it difficult to "ramp back up". And more expensive in the long run. 
-Reputation management can be suspended until the event is over  
-*Vehicle pictures/merchandising/ window stickers will present a problem.  Some do in-house.  Others depend on a third party that cannot be relied on to provide that service. 
-Newsletter providers like DSplus, Outsell, ?BMW's can be suspended until after the event. 
-Data mining like AutoLoop, Mastermind, 
-We use a bare bones cleaning service.  We are going to HAVE TO SHOW that we are upping the cleanliness of our facilities. 
- In store signage. 
-Social distancing.  Most Service advisors are too close and in a small space with customers. 
-At what point do we mask up?-See something, say something.  If someone in store appears sick, we need a mechanism to report and a chain of authority to act. 
- We have GM's that travel a good distance.  Their local situation may prevent them from being at the store.  Need to define/designate a chain of succession. 
-We would have to show/prove our employee doing the delivery has tested negative. 
-We would have to protect our employees from being exposed to customers in their homes. 
-Expect less law enforcement as they will be strained by this event as well as their own personnel will be affected. 
-We should ask all vendors for a reduced rate until July 2020.