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7 Facts & Tips For Car Dealers During COVID-19

Post by
Milica Momirov

During these difficult times, our everyday routines are changing as well as our buying habits. We’re trying to understand what car shoppers are doing, how they’re buying used cars, and what we can do to help them.

Major retailers from Apple to Nike have closed outlets within the U.S., among other nations, however, numerous car dealerships are still open. Chances are, your dealership has already seen a major decline in the number of visitors that are coming in.

During this time, you must understand what the customer is thinking and find the best way to communicate with him.

Based on consumer behavior and shopping habits we’ve gathered the following seven key facts that will help your dealership during this time.

1. CAR SHOPPERS ARE ONLINE

Most of the car research, credit application, and negotiations are done online, without customers leaving home. Despite the ups and downs of the stock market and consumer fears in general, people are still shopping for cars.

TIP: If a customer is qualified but doesn't want to spend a few hours on the lot, consider offering them a quick test drive and doing the paperwork from home. Some dealers are even driving the vehicle to the client’s home. 

TIP 2: Offer them a video test-drive in which you’ll show them the vehicle and answer any questions. Do this by using Apple iMessage, Zoom Conference or any other free conferencing tool you can find.

2. SHOPPERS ARE LESS LIKELY TO VISIT THE SHOWROOM 

Half of the shoppers now say they prefer not to visit the showroom of a dealership. With online shopping becoming the norm, consumers expect to be able to do more, if not most, of the car-buying process online. 

TIP: If you are not able to have an online shopping process on your website, you can always advertise appointments on your social media to prevent crowds. This will make interested shoppers feel safer when visiting your showroom. Because they will make online appointments and avoid standing in a line.

3. CUSTOMERS ARE POSTPONING REPAIRS

Right now, they’d usually be scheduling tire changeovers in the northern parts of the country. But, for many, that’s not the case this spring. Most of the customers are postponing repair work for fear of exposure to COVID-19.

TIP: Exceed customer expectations by offering at-home services like vehicle pick-ups and drop-offs.

4. SHOW CAR SHOPPERS THAT YOU’RE TAKING PRECAUTIONS

The health and safety of customers and employees should be a priority for dealers everywhere across the country. 


TIP: Continue to encourage shoppers to do more online while communicating your dealership’s COVID-19 preventative measures on your website, or social media. Also, show that all your employees are taking all the necessary precaution measures, wearing masks and gloves. 

5. FOCUS ON TRUCKS AND SUV’s

Data shows that searches for trucks and SUV’s is on the rise during the Coronavirus.

TIP: If you have these vehicles in inventory, prioritize them on your website and social media. They may move much faster than you’d expect.

6. DEALERS ARE OPTIMISTIC

While we’re all still affected by COVID-19, it’s worth pointing out that more than half of the dealers believe that they’ll resume business as normal by the end of June.

TIP: Now is the time to turn up your efforts online, including sales and service. Keep connected to your customers through these challenges and let them know you’re still very much open for business.

To recap, as strange as it may sound - some used car dealers will sell more inventory during this crisis than ever before, just like some real estate agents sold more homes in the crash of 2008 than in the best of times.

The only question is which dealers and how.

Our advice is to react fast to any change and to know which channels to use and how. Don’t panic, implement everything you can to address the shopper’s concerns, and in the process - prepare your dealership for success and to come out on top once this passes.

7. UNDERSTAND YOUR MARKETING COSTS

It’s not enough just to cut expenses on your marketing. More importantly, you have to find out which of these platforms is driving real leads that actually convert. So maybe Craigslist posting is getting you less leads than cars.com but more of those leads convert into deals. Now is the time to figure that out.

TIP: Your CRM should give you the option to track a “Cost Per Lead” once you input your expenses for that channel. Simply invest more into the best performers and cut the rest. 

If you have any questions on tracking your craigslist leads or any other marketing channel leads, let us know - we’d love to help!

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