This incredibly difficult time for you, for your home families, your work families, your communities and business. It is both a time of enormous uncertainty and one of clarity as well. The uncertainty is obvious. The clarity may not be. What is important is how we treat each other. Period. That at the end of every day is the bar for humanity. Everything else springs from that.
We used to think of our sales numbers daily even hourly, that’s not possible anymore. We need to be patient and think about the relationships we are building, not sales alone. We need to have a mindset of what is possible. That is not to say we ignore the financial realities or the tough choices that we need to make. It is about how we make each choice. Some of us have to make tough decisions to layoff or furlough employees, to make reductions in our own pay and pay for other leaders in the organization. None of these choices are easy and should be made with haste. They need to be thought through fully and made through a lens of positioning the company to survive the turmoil and preserve the ability to rehire when the recovery is ready to begin.
We want to guard our brands more than ever and make sure that we are looking at our business starting with how any customer would interact with us. We want to prioritize our limited staffing to be available from any touch point that a customer may reach out for help. So we can make sure their questions are answered with what we can do, no matter how small that may be. We may not be able to sell in any way, but one dealer under those restrictions shared they were simply setting appointments. By letting people know that they look forward to seeing them when it is possible in the future, they are providing hope. As we are patient, our customers will be too.
It is difficult if not impossible to both try to sell someone or try to help them. Let’s help now. Our employees are even more challenged than they have even been in helping our customers. As a leader, let them know they simply need to help, not sell today. Give them the confidence to communicate as they would with any friend or family member reaching out to them right now. Where are the areas where you can honestly reach out and be of help?
Within our portfolio we are entirely focused on the areas where we are lifting financial burdens now. We are focused on where we are giving away access, so that dealerships can see what works for them without any cost or commitment, as well as areas where we can clearly offset expenses. Where are those areas for your dealership?
What about recall service? Can you reach out to help your customers take care of these now while their need to travel may be lower? Can you help them get something done they have been meaning to do and make it the most convenient cost-free transaction they have ever had with a dealership? Imagine if you can pick up those vehicles and deliver them back with a big zero invoice reinforcing that you are making it as easy and safe for that service to be completed.
How can you use this time to move towards the skills and services that you will need more of as you emerge from this really rough time? In the recall example, can you practice a skill you will need more like delivery? What are the ways you will need your team and business to transform and what can you do now to build that capability in by sheer force and ingenuity?
My brother-in-law created a completely safe touch free buying experience by driving in printing out the paperwork for a purchase, putting it on a clipboard in a carefully cleaned car with the keys ready for a test drive. He then watched for his shopper to arrive and test drive solo. Once she was done, she signed the paperwork, set it out for him on top of the vehicle, and closed up the door for him to safely retrieve it. After she was in back in the car, he retrieved the paperwork, waved and thanked her from a safe distance, giving her a great car and experience to remember as she drove away. The gloves, sanitary wipe downs and attention to social distance are new; the heart of service isn’t. Your team is equally creative and kind.
Be patient with your sales results during this time. Be kind to your staff, your customers, and even your vendors. Focus on treating one another well and accommodating whatever level of service that you can provide to build the relationship. Have grace and give it. Accept where we are right now and that some things are truly out of our control, but what we make of it is the grace we are given.
Be well, be safe. I can honestly say that there is no community that I would rather be with to weather this storm. We are a strong community and have made it through world wars and great recessions. Look forward to sharing our stories on the other side of this challenge about how we not only survived but thrived by helping others through.
Watch the DrivingSales webinar, that inspired this post.