Written by Ruth Tomczyk | 305-389-2586 | ruthtomczyk@M5MS.com
The current situation regarding the COVID-19 outbreak is scary. Travel bans, shutdowns, and closures have us reeling. How do we cope? How do we help our people deal with the unknown and the fear that is all around us? I am not a health expert or scientist. But to me, the first order of business is this: Don’t panic.
Take actions to protect yourself, your employees and others. We have all heard about the obvious, sensible things Mom always taught us. Wash your hands and keep measured distance when interacting with someone. Follow good hygiene protocols at your desk and in your dealership. Take care of yourself, your employees, and your clients. If you, or they, do not feel well, stay home.
On another note, there are some other things that we can do in the dealership world in the current climate that just make good business sense.
- Take care of the people closest to you. There are still clients with needs. And we should do our level best to fill those needs in the proper manner. Keep answering the phones, keep greeting others with a smile (and probably not a handshake right now), and fill the needs we can fill.
- Be available. With offices and schools being closed, there will be people that have some time to get things done that they might not have had time to do before. We need to be there for a customer when they need us. Dead batteries and flat tires never come at a good time.
- Check and follow up on cancellations and offer to reschedule rather than lose the business. Understand that this timing is difficult for many, and we need to be flexible.
- Offer help to clients that might not be able to get out of their homes or their work. Can a vehicle be picked up for a client? In some circumstances, a tow truck could even be sent.
- Could an employee work from home? Warranty administrators, billing, or accounting functions might be possible remote work possibilities.
- Look at the training needs of your staff. Check to see if there are training possibilities for times when the workload is light, such as web-based classes offered by the manufacturer. Plan upcoming training visits and get ready for when we are back to full steam.
- Spend some time with another department. Speak to a sales manager and see if a salesperson could come to an advisor meeting and practice hood and trunk presentations, or show the latest updates, such as active cruise or the latest infotainment offerings. Spend time with the parts manager and check for any parts that were special ordered and not yet installed.
- Expense control – look at your current expenses. Something as simple as looking at your current uniform expense versus the uniform contract might show some opportunities. Have there been changes that took place over time and have not been agreed upon? Look at how many carpeted entry mats are on the floors, or boxes of hand soap are being delivered against the contract. This is just an example, and we should always be reviewing what we are billed for against what was ordered. If you have parts washers, look at the schedule for servicing. Make sure that the rotation for servicing those machines is as was originally agreed. Draft a letter and ask for bids on the items you use regularly. Check the last time you reached out for bids on items you use regularly such as hat tags, or seat covers. Look at the cost of shop supplies, and again, if you have not checked on pricing recently, reach out again and check the market. Remember, a reduction in expenses has a direct impact on profitability.
We need to stay positive.
Those of us in the dealership world are a resilient bunch. We have weathered both figurative and literal storms in the past and will do it again. Give us a call, and we can help with training needs, or expense control methods to help you through the current and upcoming business climate.
Take care and stay safe, and I look forward to seeing you in the dealership soon.