It was FDR who said to the American public in our darkest days, March 4, 1933, “all we have to fear is fear itself”. As we start to reopen for business, after the COVID 19 shutdown, it is important to keep in mind that many of our customers are still very fearful of returning to business as usual. In some parts of our country it is like this never happened and why are we going through this lock down? In others, it is very real, and many people have suffered greatly from this pandemic. Just today I got word that one of the sales managers in one of our stores is in the hospital fighting for his life due to contracting the virus. We also found out today that one of our stores had to shut down completely because four of their employees have tested positive for the virus. No matter if you are in a region lightly effected or one that has been devastated, the safety of our customers and our co-workers must be priority number one.
So, how do we deal with this fear? Some people will think they do not need a mask. They have never even met anyone who has had the coronavirus. Why are we wasting all this time and money sanitizing everything when we could be putting the time and money to other uses? All this pick-up and delivery stuff is one more operating expense that affects our bottom line. Sad yes, but I have heard all these comments in the last three weeks. If we do not mandate processes to allay the fears of our customers, regardless of our own personal beliefs, then our businesses will suffer. Minimizing or removing this fear needs to start with us. It is more important than ever.
Over the past ten years, most of us have been working hard to develop a loyal customer base to help grow our business. Now is the time to reach out to these customers to let them know what processes we have put in place to protect them when they visit us. Use the same tools that developed their loyalty to calm their fears. A lot of people, who are still on lockdown, are spending hours a day on the internet. Take advantage of this by designing a marketing campaign to address what procedures you have put in place. Social distancing, masks mandatory for all employees, sanitizing, not only their car when they bring it in, but all the waiting rooms and the restrooms. Dealership for Life graphics department has developed some great current campaigns, and these can go out to your entire database. Design a questionnaire to allow customers to have input into what are the best ways to serve them during this crazy time. Give an incentive of bonus rewards points to customers who return the questionnaire. Change your point of sale material into safety messages. Add these messages to your mobile app notifications. Calming these fears will be the first step in the return to normalcy.
Using Transform disinfectant/sanitizer is an excellent, cost-efficient, method to announce to your customers that you care about their safety and you are taking steps to make your business as safe as humanely possible. It is so cost-effective (less than $1.00 per vehicle) that you can absorb this as a cost of doing business to help you keep the business you have already earned. Use Transform after servicing to deliver a sanitized vehicle to the owner, after a demo drive so that it is sanitized for the next potential customer, wipe down chairs, tables, remotes in customer lounge before the next customer uses them.
Yes, this will pass, but in-order for us to make a smooth transition for both our customers and employees, we need to not only be safe, but we need to promote safety as job number one.