Coronavirus has been a quick moving pandemic, catching dealers everywhere off guard. Sales so far this year have been good, so what does a smart dealer do now? The demand that existed in February didn’t just evaporate overnight.
The answer is not to bury your head in the sand and wait for this to pass. This is not the same as 2009 where the entire financial system was in a meltdown. We will be back to normal shortly.
At this point, let’s look at what we are seeing so far. Paid traffic is down across markets, but conversion (Leads) is actually up in certain areas. What we have is a ton of people home on their computers trying to pass the time. Car shopping is a great way for them to put some normalcy in their day. We are seeing competitors trying to gain some market share across brands (i.e. a Lexus store buying BMW clicks, etc.). Bottom line—the demand is there. It will need to be refocused, but it’s there.
Assuming that you are like the majority of dealers, you are in an area where service drives have kept the dealers open as essential businesses. You will be looking for ways to keep some sales going within the COVID-19 playbook. Here is what you will want to focus on:
- OEM Programs: They have just gotten much better with lower rates and extended no payments until…[inset dates here]
- Lease End Customer: These people are hearing the footsteps(My lease is up in 60 days, My interest hasn’t gone away, for sure). If we can provide a path, we stand a good chance of selling these people.
- College Grad: Students are still graduating this year. They will be looking to take advantage of this program.
- Dealership messaging regarding Coronavirus
- We are Open!
- Shop/Buy From Home: Point visitors to a landing page with your Digital Retailing tool and lay out a sales process for them, so they can visualize how to shop without too much risk.
- We Will Bring the Vehicle to You!
- We Will Sanitize a Vehicle for You to Look At
- Unaccompanied Test Drives
- Service Pick Up/Drop Off Service
- Campaigns designed to help the shopper decide what/where/when to buy.
- Bonus points for placing extra content on the site as a landing page and to help shoppers know what to do and how to buy.
Dealers should think about reallocating some money a notch up the sales funnel. For low funnel campaigns, ad text should be something more relevant to the current situation, like the dealership messaging above.
For dealers in an area that is completely shut down, the messaging should be more along the lines of helping the shopper choose you as a place where they want to do business(when they can) and helping them pick a vehicle. Remember, the demand here hasn’t gone away either, people just can’t get to you.
In conclusion…This crisis is destined to be relatively short in duration. Even the masses that have been laid off will be returning to work when the crisis is over. It definitely makes sense to reevaluate your marketing campaigns, but if you lose market share to the competition during this time, it will take a long time to build that volume back. The strongest dealers today are the ones that kept their heads down in 2009 and pushed through. This event will be nowhere near as disruptive or as long.
Please feel free to reach out for a more detailed discussion of individual dealership accounts. We are happy to help, whether you are a DEP customer or not!