We have all been given extra time that we did not want. Time away from customers. Possibly time away from the dealership. In a weird twist of fate, it is now time to do all the things you have been putting off until you “had time”. Don’t sit around and wait for “normal” to return. This is our new normal, and we, as an industry, need to pivot quickly to lead the way! Here are a few things I would tackle first:

Connecting with Customers is a Priority

With all of the lay-offs and furloughs that may have been necessary, do you have people answering leads, providing service, and connecting with customers? I was talking with a dealer friend in Chicago earlier this week. They were mandated to close the sales portion of the dealership, but could keep the service side open if desired. The service manager did not want to stay open for a few oil changes or recalls, but the GM insisted they did for the following reason. If someone cannot come to your dealership, they will go somewhere else. That “somewhere else” becomes their new dealership because they were open in a time of need and provided the service they desired. If at all possible, maintain as much normalcy in your business as possible. The cool headed people are the ones who prevail in these situations.

If you are spending money on advertising, ensure you have a few people responding to and connecting with customers. You are throwing advertising dollars in the wind if you do not have a few designated staff members still replying to and connecting with customers. If you are unable to keep staff on hand, there are companies who will respond to your leads (sales and service) at a fraction of the cost of an employee. Again, reach out if you need suggestions. Regardless- you must continue to communicate with and to your customers so that they know you are there when they need you.

And they will need you. Once this is over, once people are back to work, once the “Stay at Home” orders are lifted, they will be acting on all of those VDP views, marketing interaction, and form fills. They will be ready to buy–so connecting now is more important than ever!

Review Your Social Media Presence

One thing we have learned through this forced slow-down is that people are on social media and streaming devices at exponential numbers. 

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76 % increase in Instagram likes just within the past two weeks. 

Television streaming increased 85% in March.

With all of these eyes on these platforms, what message are you sending? Are you tone-deaf to the current situations and still running ads trying to get customers into the store? I was scrolling through Instagram and was targeted by one of my local dealerships to “come on in” to the store and “Buy for a Dime.” I can promise you that I will not be coming in to look at a car–we are currently on a “Stay at Home” order. This is a waste of money, and an epic fail on the part of the marketing team. Take that ad spend and focus on at home test drives, deliveries, and SERVICE SERVICE SERVICE! 

Let the customers know you are open for service and provide offers that are appealing and interesting. Another local dealer group near me has done a phenomenal job with relevant social media. I received a FB ad for a $10.95 oil change. I have never used this dealership for service, but my daughter needs an oil change, and that is where we are now going.

Do you know all the ads that are currently running?

Make sure you review and evaluate all ads running, and remove any that are not timely or insensitive right now.  To check what is running on Facebook, simply go to your dealership’s Facebook page, click on Page Transparency, and scroll down to Ad Library.  That is where any ad running will show, and you can then work with your agency to either adjust, remove, or keep the specific ads that you want. The more you know 🙂

For your other ads, connect with your agency and make sure the message you are sending is appropriate and consistent. Remove old ad copy and refresh with the RIGHT message on the RIGHT medium.

Maximize Service Ads

Sales are still happening, and will continue to happen in small increments until we are back to a full operational system. But Service is fully functional, and this is the best way to reach out to and retain customers AS WELL AS find some additional sales in the mix. 

Modify ads running to focus on service. Reallocate your spend to service campaigns and adjust the spend to where the eyes are: think social media, CTV/OTT (TV Streaming Services), video. Possibly divert some funds from PPC to these areas (consider removing AdWord campaigns for Used vehicles. These will be covered by your 3rd party Edmenic leads. Divert those funds to service). There are some groundbreaking companies in this space doing amazing things with hyper-targeted ads and I would love to connect you with the right solution if needed. Again, there was an 85% increase in TV Streaming in March–makes sure you are marketing on the right platforms.

What Now?

  • Review all social media and edit content so is timely and relevant to our current situation (think at home test-drives, service offers, and protective measures taken to make experiences safe and easy for the customer)
  • Adjust marketing to focus on your new objectives.
  • Ensure you are staffed enough to respond with and to customers for both sales and service. This WILL end, and you will be prepared to recover!