We know many dealerships are being forced to change their daily operations for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
At times like this, we believe it’s important to come together as a community to support the entire Canadian dealer network. That’s why we’ve created this resource to help all Canadian dealerships, not just the ones we work with personally. We’re in this together and we’re here to help you navigate this new environment.
Tips for working from home
Around the world, remote work has become a part of daily life. While this is normal for some, many are not used to the potential lack of structure and routine associated with work beyond the workplace. However, when the home office becomes the office – it’s important to manage the shift, stay productive and maintain a healthy work/life balance.
If you or your employees are working remotely as part of social distancing here are some specific tips:
- Communicate: When it comes to working effectively, communication is key. It helps set a structure and a standard for daily operations and becomes even more important when working remotely. You can create clear lines of communication via email and phone, but can also utilize apps and platforms for messaging, video calling, group meetings, and more. You may also encounter difficulties when it comes to adjusting to remote work. You, your boss, and the team you work with should establish a communication plan that determines how you communicate, expectations, check-in times, daily roles, and who to talk to when issues arise.
- Regular virtual coffee dates:Beyond updates on operations, at a time where communication and coming together is key, this helps ensure regular touch base and support between employees and team members. It also offers a chance to check-in both personally and professionally with each other during this difficult time. These can be easy to set up via phone call or web conferencing among your dealership employees in large to small groups to create a consistent connection.
- Share resources and information: As team members are working from home, ensure any training resources, content, and information that could be helpful is being shared. You’ll likely need to rely more on your systems and processes now that you can’t walk across the showroom floor and ask someone a question. It sounds simple but making an extra effort to keep pertinent information centralized so everyone has access to it when they need it can make a huge difference for remote working teams.
- Find focus during this chaotic and ever-evolving situation: dealerships are accustomed to pivoting and adjusting areas of focus to hit targets. Being practical within the current circumstance, think of the areas you’d like to focus on or put in place be that operationally or to help with sales or to better serve your customers.
For more tips on working from home, see Setting Up a Remote Financial Services Office.
Tips for communicating and interacting with customers
It certainly all depends on context, here are some guiding reminders to help you with your physical, phone, or email interactions with customers during this unique time.
- Be transparent: Ensuring the safety of your customers and employees is key right now and it’s important to communicate the measures you’re taking.
- Be sensitive: Whether you’re interacting with customers in-person, over the phone or via email, your customers might be experiencing extreme difficulties right now and it’s important to be sensitive to this. Evaluate every communication for empathy and understanding. Remember to look at all previously automated emails and see if you need to adapt or delay messaging. To alleviate their pain, you may even be able to look at new policies designed to help your most vulnerable customers. You should reach out to your Financial Services Office F&I provider on which ones makes sense.
- Be available digitally: Whether or not your retail stores or showrooms are open, while most citizens are practicing social distancing it’s important to fully utilize your digital capabilities in servicing your customers. To start, make sure it’s easy for your customers to find out how to do business with you during this time. Make sure your website is up-to-date with useful information for your current and prospective customers. Like many other consumer-facing businesses, ensure there is a COVID-19 notice on your website. Provide details on your current opening hours, how to digitally interact, videos of your inventory, special offers, and information on protection products available.
Tips for digital approaches to F&I consultations
Never before has a website been so valuable. With social distancing in place, the safest way for your customers to do business with you is online or over the phone. Internet traffic has surged recently and while everyone may not be considering purchasing a new vehicle right now, that doesn’t mean that they won’t sometime in the future. Here are some of the key pieces to F&I consultative approach in a digital world:
- Website: Whether or not your dealership or showrooms are open, while most citizens are practicing social distancing it’s important to fully utilize your digital capabilities in servicing your customers. Make sure your website is up-to-date with useful information for your current and prospective customers. Build initial awareness by providing easy to access informational content online on your dealership website for in-market consumers who are searching online. Dedicate a section on your website for protection products and clearly explain the benefits of each product. You can also include product features, plan and coverage options, video content and special offers, all designed to help educate your customer.
- Digital Retailing with a Build & Price: Build trust by providing pricing transparency at a consumer’s online consideration and research phase. Your website build & price platform helps your customer assess their budget and needs. It’s important to make them aware of protection products during this phase so they can carefully consider all their options and budget accordingly.
- Digitally consult: Even with helpful resources on your website, some customers will still need to discuss their specific options with you. Help your customer uncover their needs and consult with them on their options either over the phone or through an online assessment. Create a desktop folder for quick access to your PDF product brochures, waiver, product highlight sheet, discount coupons, worksheet, e-menu and any other document that you could refer to when communicating with your customer. Clearly identify each document and send them via email before or during your interactions.
- E-menu selling: Take advantage of digital tools. Customize a package tailored to your customer’s specific needs using a menu tool (we have a great one available for free in LGM HUB) with relevant product information that you can send via email. You can then walk through these options over the phone (including video conference), chat or email and finalize a payment amount depending on the products purchased.
- Introduce relevant customer products and services: Some of your customers might be experiencing difficulties due to the current situation. Identify products and services that can help your customer get some financial relief, assurance, and more. When sharing relevant products, be mindful and sensitive and make sure to evaluate every communication for empathy and understanding.
For more tips on digital approached to F&I, see The Financial Services Office Amid Covid-19.
Tips on best practices for “digitizing” for present (and future) operations
- Train and retrain: While we’re in an unprecedented time right now, being forced to look at operations from a more digital perspective now could help you innovate and position yourself better for the future. Ensure all your employees are trained on systems that will ultimately help better support customers.
- Stay up-to-date: Ensure your website is up-to-date with useful information for your current and future customers, including any COVID-19 notices on your servicing availability during this time. This could include details on your current opening hours, channels to digitally interact, videos of your inventory, special offers, or even information on protection products.
- Use your data: look out for end of factory warranty customers and think of appropriate promotions and reach out to see where they stand and future interest. A phone call to see how they are doing during this time and if they have any questions or future interest can be a sensitive and personalized way to build interest, engage, and ensure customer lifetime value with your dealership.
DEALER PRE-VISIT CHECKLIST
DEALER SUGGESTION BOX
LGM dealer partners can access through My Distinction Learning or your DDM.
OPEN ACCESS COURSES
- NEW Financial Services Office in a Virtual World
- Distinction Financial Services Office Fundamentals
- Improving Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI): Communication Skills
- The Digital Retailing Environment
For specific questions regarding individual dealership concerns, please reach out to your LGM Dealer Development Manager.