Covid-19 has turned the world upside down in just about every way we can imagine, including how we dine, shop, work, play, celebrate holidays, and how businesses operate.
Business owners have had not only had to adjust to changes in their personal lives but also in how they run their business. At the outset of the pandemic, no one really knew how to maintain or increase sales during such a situation; it was a learning curve for business owners and marketing professionals alike.
The good news is that the worst fears—that every business could be unsustainable—did not come to pass. While certain segments, such as hospitality, certainly suffered greatly and still do, other businesses were able to make some adjustments that allowed their business to continue to thrive.
Here are some top tips for increasing sales during a pandemic.
In a business that depends on face-to-face interactions, such as car dealerships, Covid-19 required re-writing the playbook. One question was how salesmen can continue to sell cars without being able to meet customers in person.
Even when restrictions were loosened, many customers were still not comfortable going to a dealership. That means contingencies had to be created that allowed for a modified car-buying experience that still delivered the same effectiveness as in-person buying.
Test Drive Appointments
At-Home Test Drives
No-Contact Car Delivery
Allowing a Limited Number of Buyers at One Time
Online Financing Approval
Of course, these options to make buyers feel safer by minimizing their contact with other people takes place along with appropriate masking, social distancing, and other requirements mandated by your state.
Some buyers want a new car but are thinking about waiting until they feel it’s safer. Having these safer options in place can assuage any fears and turn a down-the-road buyer into a right-now buyer.
Getting the Word Out
Even the best-laid Covid-19 contingency plans will only make a difference if people know about them. Every car dealership and other types of businesses should have their Covid-19 plans linked at the top of their home page and at the top of any landing pages—it should be one of the first things a visitor to your site sees.
The most effective way to accomplish this is by placing a banner at the top of the page. Choose the colors for the banner carefully. It shouldn’t blend in so much that it’s not noticeable, so consider a color that complements your main color scheme yet is a color not seen anywhere else on the page.
Once a visitor clicks the link, they should see a bullet-pointed list of the things you’re doing to make the shopping experience safer and more convenient. This is preferable to a wall of text explaining your plans as many visitors will not take time to read big blocks of text.
In addition to your website, your pandemic contingencies should be mentioned in all other advertising as well, even if only to say something like “Visit our website to learn how we’re working to keep you safe during these trying times.”
Inform, but Don’t Alienate
As a business owner, it’s important to remember that the Covid-19 pandemic and how to handle it are very divisive topics. Some business owners are taking this time to make a principled stand one way or another, but that’s a route best avoided as it can easily cost you business not just now but in the future as well.
Not to say you should compromise on safety measures, but there are ways to put the information out there without alienating the half of the population who sees things differently than you. As the owner of a dealership, your business is selling cars—it’s not trying to persuade people to change their political opinions.
Here are two examples of verbiage that we consider to be a mistake:
“Masks NOT Required! We Value Freedom Over Fear.”
This is insulting to the people who think masks are or could be helpful. It implies the only reason they are wearing a mask is that they are shaking in fear. This type of messaging could also be problematic to people how are rule followers, aka those who follow the mask and social distancing mandates even if they don’t necessarily agree with them.
“If You’re Too Selfish to Wear a Mask, We Don’t Want Your Business!”
It should go without saying that calling potential customers “selfish” is bad business, yet we’ve seen verbiage very similar to this being used. It’s never a good idea to alienate any large segment of your potential customer base, and there is no reason to do so.
You can do whatever is you feel is best without insulting people who feel differently. Remember, this is not something that will be forgotten when the pandemic is over, so you have to decide if it’s worth the lifelong loss of a customer to make a point—especially when such tactics are highly unlikely to change anyone’s mind.
Optimizing Google My Business with Pandemic-Related Information
The first impression many people will have of your dealership or other business is what they see on Google, so update your Google My Business description immediately if you haven’t already.
Shut Off Hours
If you’ve looked up a business lately, you may have seen a disclaimer that says, “Hours May be Affected by Covid-19.” Even if your business is operating regular hours, it can be confusing and frustrating to customers not to know for sure.
Instead, shut off hours, but make certain your phone number is visible. That way, they’ll be likely to call for your hours of operation.
Update the Description
You can include instructions to call for hours and provide a short summary of changes in business practices due to Covid-19. Updating the summary is quick and easy, so make doing so a priority anytime there is a change in your operation.
Contact MOTiiV today for more assistance in growing your business during the pandemic and beyond. We provide custom solutions for dealerships to help maximize profits. Learn more about our services and discuss your plans with one of our business growth specialists.