The impact of COVID-19 sent car sales plummeting at auto dealerships throughout the country. Stay-at-home orders forced many dealers to shutter their locations while others stopped hiring outside vendors to cut costs. Auto sales volume and pace in the United States is likely to reach historic lows following the onset of the pandemic, according to Cox Automotive, publisher of Kelly Blue Book. Car sales were expected to fall 53 percent in April, compared with the prior year. Despite sales shortfalls, Cox Automotive predicted sales should show modest improvements as the country gradually reopens and dealerships implement new strategies to sell and deliver vehicles in ways that are consistent with social-distancing guidelines.
“This is the darkest time for a lot of people in the industry,” said Ron Mahon, Manager of CCI Milwaukee. “With the products and services CCI provides, franchisees are in a better position than ever before to take care of our customers.”
Shortly after the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in the United States, the mobile leather and vinyl repair company went to work developing a way to help its franchisees adapt sales during the pandemic. Their new Sanitizer & Disinfectant is designed to kill viruses, bacteria, mold, and mildew. The hospital-grade sanitizer is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to be used to safely disinfect against COVID-19 and was designed to properly disinfect interior surfaces of cars without drying or fading the material.
Mahon hit the ground running with the new sanitizer to maintain sales at the auto dealerships his company services. Mahon relies on a positive attitude, marketing assistance from the corporate office, and tenacity to keep building his business during the pandemic. Here are five tips he employs to keep sales steady during the fallout from the pandemic.
- You are Essential. CCI provides customers with an essential service during this unique time. It is important for CCI franchisees to remember that their business offers an added layer of safety for customers. “We are providing an essential service. You’re only as important as you want to make yourself. It’s important to remember the service you provide can make things better for everyone.”
- Be Proactive. Mahon does not hesitate to contact his network in the auto industry to detail the importance of CCI’s services. Recently he got in touch with a colleague in an auto dealership’s human resources department, rather than the general manager. He knew the human resources manager had faith in CCI’s mission and would pass the message forward. “You have to use resources,” Mahon said. “If you’re waiting for a car dealership to call you, it’s never going to happen.”
- Marketing Materials Provide Professional Touch. Mahon credits the marketing materials provided by CCI for fueling sales during the pandemic. He distributed CCI’s new rack card with information about the sanitizer to all his clients and makes sure to deliver any new materials to each dealership regularly. He also worked with the corporate office to create a sales flyer to appeal to potential customers. “Lip service is one thing but having a piece of paper to acknowledge our professionalism makes a big difference,” Mahon said.
- Offer Incentives. To get the message out about CCI’s new Sanitizer & Disinfectant, Mahon offers a unique incentive. He sanitizes the vehicles he repairs and places a window cling sticker advertising the service on each car. Then he offers to sanitize all of the vehicles on the lot at a reduced rate. Most dealers and car salespeople appreciate the assurance the sticker provides shoppers. “Fuel the fire little by little,” he says. “When auto dealerships get a taste of CCI’s cleaning procedures, they want more. The window stickers provide a morale booster for salespeople because they alert customers the cars are properly treated.”
- Mood Matters. Mahon started giving presentations to managers and sales staff at the dealerships he serves. The presentations give advice on how to interact with clients during the pandemic to set the right tone. He advises employees to maintain a six-foot space with customers and openly wipe down high-touch areas of every vehicle before a customer gets inside. “It’s important for employees at each dealership to lead with best practices, or customers will go somewhere else to buy their next car,” Mahon said. “I try to be upbeat and keep my discussions positive when I visit a dealership. They need to see someone in good spirits. It makes a big difference.
To learn more about CCI’s innovative new services, visit CCI’s website to request a free quote.