4 Dealership Online Strategies for Coping with COVID-19

By Jazel Auto Marketing

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This is bad. We’re right there with you. It’s a tough situation, and we’re facing challenges that were almost inconceivable just a few months ago. 

But we’re not just here to commiserate. We’re here to (hopefully) help in a tiny way, with tips to help your site (and dealership) survive this storm. 

Here’s the one kinda-good thing, people still need to get places. In fact, being able to get places quickly, easily, and without using public transportation is perhaps more important than ever. So people still need to buy cars and have their cars repaired and serviced. You probably already know all that, though. It’s the reason many of you haven’t had to shut the doors yet. 

With that, here’s our take on tackling business during this difficult time: Other than the strength of your management and solidarity of your team, your dealership website is the most important tool you have to weather this crisis. With online ordering, curbside pick-up, and delivery becoming pretty much the only way to shop, any dealership business that’s going on will be almost entirely online. So it’s time to truly dominate. 

So here are a few website tips to help your dealership survive (and come back stronger): 

1. Adjust Your Online Operations

Suddenly, most of the United States just took a huge jump in the transition to a fully-online purchasing experience. Lean into that. Lean into that as hard as you can. If you haven’t already re-aligned your dealership (and site) to offer fully online purchasing and delivery, that’s your first step. 

Sales might end up taking a back seat for the time being. Which means service scheduling should be made ultra-easy. Now is the time to streamline forms, prioritize menu display, and optimize your site-wide calls to action. If you can’t schedule your car for service in under five minutes on any device in the house, your form needs to be worked on. 

Got something about your website that isn’t the best? Fix it now. Want to improve on your systems and create a site that’s truly exceptional? You have the time. It’s never been more important. 

2. Optimize For A New Situation (And Pay Attention to Optics) 

Okay, all your business is now online and as remote as you can keep it. That means expanding on your online presence to make an impression when it matters. 

As mortifying as it might be to consider additional advertising during this time, if your online shopping, purchasing, and delivery systems are capable of making money – this is the right time to make that known. Spread the word about your availability and capability,

Likewise, if you have something to offer the community (free shuttle service for healthcare workers, delivered meals for kids of out school, etc.), you also want to let the community know. Triple down on social media during this time, and promote posts that show how the dealership is doing it’s part. 

3. Boost Your SEO 

Now’s the time to work on your SEO game. If there was ever a time where your online presence is more important than your lot’s physical appearance, it is now. 

Offering delivery of purchased and/or serviced vehicles as we discussed in the first tip? Great! People will probably be searching for vehicle delivery and alternative shopping options, and you’ll want to be the first thing they see. 

But regardless of new service and opportunities, your baseline SEO is utterly essential. We are constantly saying that your website is an extension of your showroom, and this has never been more true. For the first time (maybe) ever, it is likely that more people will see a dealership’s search result (or webpage) than will drive past and look at the showroom. 

Your site, and subsequent online operations, will become THE source of customer engagement. An ability to bring the professionalism and power of your showroom into the online space is what will help distinguish your dealership in the eyes of internet browsers. 

4. Embrace The New Normal 

Obviously, we won’t be spending the rest of our lives 6 feet away from everyone. But these changes will mean people get used to our new normal of distancing and delivery. In some very specific cases, it’s going to be a better, more convenient, or more enjoyable normal. 

Once customers experience something they prefer (and they may VASTLY prefer online shopping and vehicle test-drive delivery to their on-the-lot experiences), it’s going to be hard to go back to something people feel is inferior. So customers probably won’t. 

Take this time to make permanent changes – to focus on how online car buying will function in the future, and to let go of less-than-sustainable strategies and systems. Bring more of your dealership into cyberspace. 

As scary and chaotic as this time is, it’s also the harbinger of change, and change that has probably been a long time coming. Time to rise to the challenge. 

In Summary…

This is bad. We said that before. And we’ll probably say it again before this is all over. This situation is unprecedented – unlike anything we’ve faced as a nation or an industry. But it’s not the end of the world – and it’s certainly not the end of your dealership. 

We’re all in this together.