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Calm down on COVID-19 fears

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This week started with a change to nearly every life in the United States. People love change! They respond well to it and always react rationally. They do not hoard, they shy away from rumors of worse things, and they absolutely continue onward with their big purchase decisions. Oh, wait… No, they don’t.

People are trying to adjust to the situation none of us volunteered for. This is a 100% normal psychological reaction to the unknown. Once people adjust, they will begin to think rationally again.

What about you? Are you thinking rationally? Did you cancel all your vendors yesterday? Lay off your employees? Second mortgage the dealership? Ship your inventory to auction? While you were at it, did you buy enough toilet paper?

In my career, I’ve seen car shopping come to an end on September 11th, 2001, and again after September 2008. It wasn’t fun. But I also remember how much money I made selling cars in 2002, and recall how we knocked Cash for Clunkers out of the park, selling out of cars well before our competitors did. I was fortunate to work for a forward-thinking dealer group. Yes, we had layoffs in 2008. And yes, it was scary. But it passed. And this too shall pass.

I just got off a call with what I would consider to be a more "traditional" dealer group. The owner said, "the world changed on Monday, and now our eyes are open" while looking for ways to help customers do more online.

Obviously, floor traffic is down and rightfully so! Phone ups are down too. What isn’t down nearly as much is online traffic. My company, FRIKINtech, is monitoring a slight dip since March 15th, and our friends at Driven Data are showing the same trends. This means people are still in the market.

I’m betting more people will be on your website, third party classifieds, and Googling cars up once they get supremely stir crazy at home. How are you going to capitalize on all those opportunities?

I’m also betting the two months after COVID-19 has become less threatening will be record months for the dealers that get their acts together now!

  • Stay engaged with everyone in your CRM who was entered in the last 90 days (even the lost ones)
  • It is going to be hard to acquire cars, so start working your database to pull customers out of their current vehicles early. OEM incentives and interest rates will probably continue to get better for this effort.
  • Concentrate on engaging with your Internet leads more than ever
  • Be sure your responses to new leads are not your typical automated/templated ones you usually use
  • If you are a manager, think of your Internet team as your salespeople – give them more attention than you give the floor staff. They are your key to future success right now!
  • THINK LIKE A CUSTOMER, not a dealer. If you were stuck at home with two crazy kids driving you nuts and tired of your spouse, how excited would you be? How can you make their life easier today, tomorrow, and beyond?

The dealership that stays engaged now wins tomorrow. And if you like history, it will tell you some of the best years to be in the car business were after 2001 and after 2008. I like history.

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...

ChrisR

Boss
Oct 12, 2015
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Christian
We put together a plan, fixed & variable, to pick up/drop off vehicles, do deals over the phone/online, and anything else we can do to assist people, and help them through this time.

Going over the symptoms, my wife is 99% certain her and our daughter had COVID19 in January, a lot of our friends in Vegas had the same symptoms, and everybody was baffled by this new "flu" that wasn't responding to traditional treatments. Now we all have to weather the slowdown, and work to keep things moving forward, until they are back to a steady volume.

On a comical side note, everybody hoarding TP, did you think 3 moves ahead?

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Alexander Lau

Under the Bridge
Feb 11, 2015
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Alex




Coronavirus Wrecked China's Car Sales, and America Is Probably Next
How the pandemic's supply chain disruptions and chilling effect on car buyers could spell trouble for U.S. auto sales.

Buyers Staying Home
It may not matter, though, if customers stay home. Individual outbreaks and precautionary measures like bans on large gatherings across the country will keep potential car buyers out of showrooms. Dealers in affected areas are already reporting lower foot traffic. Even areas not yet touched by the coronavirus are seeing smaller crowds at dealerships as people avoid public areas and practice social distancing.

More than just a fear of catching the virus, many people are likely to put off a major purchase over economic uncertainty. After all, a car is the second-most expensive purchase the average person makes in their life behind a house. While the economy hasn't crashed as of this writing, Wall Street has had several of its worst days on record in just the past week and the cancellation of major festivals and sporting events will have a noticeable economic impact. With a great deal of uncertainty over the state of the economy, consumers are likely to keep their money in savings until things get better, just as they did during the Great Recession. If people start losing their jobs or the country falls into a serious recession, it will only exacerbate the downturn in car sales.
 
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Alexander Lau

Under the Bridge
Feb 11, 2015
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Alex
You are dying for attention today, huh @Alexander Lau?
Just bored, plus you posted it, too damn easy... and that's optimistic - who the fuck is going to buy cars coming out of this thing when they're broke?

*Back to being bored, yeah this site is definitely boring... meh, outta' here.
 
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Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
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You posted it, too damn easy... and that's optimistic - who the fuck is going to buy cars coming out of this thing when they're broke?
You 100% miss the point. And I don't feel like explaining it to you because you are hell-bent on being a total asshole. Many of the other automotive communities have asked us why we haven't banned you yet - the ones who have given you the boot. You're making it awfully tempting with your other posts today.
 

Alexander Lau

Under the Bridge
Feb 11, 2015
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Alex
You 100% miss the point. And I don't feel like explaining it to you because you are hell-bent on being a total asshole. Many of the other automotive communities have asked us why we haven't banned you yet - the ones who have given you the boot. You're making it awfully tempting with your other posts today.
Oh no... I got the point and don't really care. I'm pretty damn sure my credentials still work on the other forums. Chances are you'll find nothing but the elderly and noobs pestering those waters and no one in between with very little practical knowledge indeed. I'm entitled to my opinion on Pasch, etc. You talk shit on him and then act like he's worthy. Give me a break dude.
 

john.quinn

Boss
Dec 2, 2009
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John
Just bored, plus you posted it, too damn easy... and that's optimistic - who the fuck is going to buy cars coming out of this thing when they're broke?
Smart people who recognize a deal and their sudden IMMENSE buying power.
 

Alexander Lau

Under the Bridge
Feb 11, 2015
2,432
754
First Name
Alex
Smart people who recognize a deal and their sudden IMMENSE buying power.
For your sake, I hope you're right and I'm being serious. I just don't see it. Call me a smart ass if you will, but it's tanking.

As the virus spreads, it will continue to have a negative impact on the auto industry, said Jeff Schuster, LMC president of global vehicle forecasts, adding, “volatility will remain with us until there is evidence of containment globally, and the lasting effect could spill into 2021.”
 

john.quinn

Boss
Dec 2, 2009
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John
For your sake, I hope you're right and I'm being serious. I just don't see it. Call me a smart ass if you will, but it's tanking.
Well of course it's tanking now -- when the tornado hits, people hunker down. When it passes, they come out of the basement.

AS said it well above: worse than the actual virus right now is the FEAR of the virus. That FEAR will not last - people will adjust to the new normal -- and they will adjust relatively quickly. Right now the tornado is swirling in the sky directly overhead.

While the actual virus numbers haven't yet peaked the actual friggin RHETORIC meter is off the charts -- the fear and panic far outweighs the actual consequences of the virus.

And let's be real: the political nature of the national narrative is in full swing -- one Leader is doing his/her best to outdo his/her neighbor leader, lest they be pegged/viewed/blasted "complacent" by the media. All the while, the doomsday profits who make a living drawing eyeballs for clicks are having a field day... there is a monetized, vested interest in panic. That "panic money model" is very real. Fucking morons like Bill Ackman stoking the flame, driving the panic, laughing all the while as he's Buying Low.

NOW is when we need to heed the immortal words of Aaron Rodgers:

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