Surviving and Thriving Used Auto Sales During and After COVID-19

By Nick Gerlach

What does it mean now that auto sales are categorized as essential, and lights can go on and doors can open? What it doesn’t mean is business as usual. Everyone is faced with a new challenge: How do I operate profitably during this transition to “normal?” 

In this 3-part blog series, we will share some tips and considerations for dealers as they prepare for major reductions in showroom traffic, lower marketing budgets, and limited staff.

The good news is that dealers shouldn’t throw in the towel and chalk it up to a bad 2020. Retail operators that are able to successfully navigate this crisis will not only pull market share away from their less effective competitors but position themselves to succeed for many years to come. 

Blog Series Part 1

Short Term: Operating with Remote Staff

When your doors open things will look and feel a little different. For example, expect mandatory wearing of face masks, limited number of people in stores at one time, and limited and/or "no contact" transactions (e.g. internet business only). For health and safety, dealers should determine which employees are essential to their in-store operations, and which can perform their duties remotely. Non-customer facing employees like accounting staff, billers in the service department, BDC managers, and even some salespeople may be able to perform a portion of their job, if not all of it, at home. 

A dispersed team doesn’t have to mean a lack of team spirit. Everyone is using video chat technologies now and you should too. Phone calls are helpful, but the (screen)face-to-(screen)face helps keep everyone engaged, socializing, and operating at a high level. Conducting daily, company-wide Zoom meetings with leaders that include both in-store and at home employees creates structure and accountability.

Need some help with daily meeting agendas? Try some of these:

  • Set individual daily goals for each producer, set progress expectations, and have each person verbally share their results on that call from the prior day.
  • Want your BDC Manager to drive sales? Find out how many appointments they set yesterday. How many customers showed up? What was their follow up? Did they confirm the appointment the day before and morning of? Once the customer showed up, did you appraise the car? Did the customer test drive the new one? Did they meet a manager?

What gets measured gets improved. Few people want to announce during a department wide meeting that they didn't accomplish anything yesterday. In fact, most people are naturally competitive and will lean into the challenge. 


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Author: Nick Gerlach, CarOffer VP of Dealer Relations | Follow Nick on LinkedIn