It’s easy to focus on the bad news during the coronavirus pandemic – it's nearly all-encompassing. However, focusing on your next move, retaining your current customers, and attracting new ones with an adjusted business model can move your car dealership toward recovery.

Foot Traffic vs. Online Traffic

How Car Dealerships Can Recover During the Coronavirus CrisisThousands of dealers have been ordered to close their showroom doors to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but this doesn’t mean people have stopped looking and/or shopping. Foot traffic may be down, but online traffic is up.

Since the majority of states have advised everyone to stay home and stay safe, prospects are browsing for their next vehicle online. This was already the norm, as most customers research products and prices online before ever walking into any retailer.

Given that car buyers may not be able – or even want – to physically visit your dealership, now is the time that you should be taking steps to increase your online presence, present a clear brand statement, and share how your store is handling the recent outbreak.

Optimizing Online Services at Car Dealerships

Since 1999, analytics company J.D. Power has conducted a semi-annual study of consumer-facing automotive manufacturer websites. The latest study, The J.D. Power 2020 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study, completed in November of 2019, examines “the features and content of OEM-hosted websites across all devices that shoppers find useful and engaging when shopping online for a new vehicle.”

Jon Sundberg, a senior manager at J.D. Power, said this in reference to the study:

“We’ve taken note of the digital advancements OEM websites are implementing to evolve the automotive shopping experience. Items like personalization, customization and digital retailing are being implemented or are on the digital road map for many OEM sites, and we wanted to ensure the customer has a voice in these areas.”

So, the question is, like the OEMs, are you taking steps to make your store’s website is modern, user-friendly, and easy to navigate? One way to tackle this issue is to have you and your management team check out a wide variety of manufacturer websites – especially those that scored well in the latest J.D. Power study – and make note of the steps they've taken to make the online-browsing experience a breeze.

Once you’ve finished, your team should take the time to thoroughly explore your own website and take note of improvements you could make by observing these parameters:

  • How does your site look on a mobile device?
  • How long does it take for your site to load?
  • Do you have virtual tours or multiple pictures of cars in inventory?
  • Are your new hours reflected on your website and search engines, and is your status clear at first glance?
  • If you’re offering at-home test drives or servicing, is it clear how this works and is it easy to sign up for them?
  • If you’re offering at-home shopping, financing, and delivery, how are you providing comfort to your customers that the process is secure, easy, and sanitary?

These are just a few questions that you should ask about your dealership’s procedures, website, and online presence. While the coronavirus outbreak may be temporary, this could cause a paradigm shift. After months of limited access to brick-and-mortar retailers, it’s safe to assume that customers will return to your showroom and service department once stay-at-home orders are lifted.

But before your store fully reopens, a user-friendly website could kick-start your business for a quicker recovery. After a few months of doing their research online, there’s a better chance that you may have prospects walking into your showroom ready to buy with their stimulus and tax refund checks in hand – but only if you set the groundwork now.

Locating New Car Sales Leads Online

Here’s how you set the groundwork: don’t neglect your online shoppers. You can accomplish this by optimizing your website so your prospects can browse with ease, and by helping them understand the steps you're taking to keep them safe while they shop. Your website is a buyer’s first impression, so make the most of it.

Even though sales are down due to stay-at-home orders, essential workers and others still need reliable transportation. This group includes subprime leads who are very motivated to buy, and tend to be very loyal to dealers who helped them get back on the road.

If you’re not targeting these subprime prospects, look to us at Auto Credit Express. We’re an award-winning leader in the subprime space for over 20 years, and we bring subprime leads right to your doors and CRM system.

Our entire team is still working hard for our car dealer partners. You can contact us online, or give us a call at 888-535-2277 to learn more about how we can help your dealership.