Since March, the coronavirus pandemic has forced dealerships to do more digitally, virtually, remotely.
We've chronicled a number of those efforts in our pages, converting our weekly Best Practices feature into stories of dealerships operating in a time of crisis. The fortuitous decision to launch a digital retailing platform before skyrocketing numbers of COVID-19 cases shut showroom doors to limit exposure. Converting a van into a mobile finance-and-insurance office to complete remote transactions. Using video to check in with employees and offer mental health support.
This week, I wrote about Walser Automotive Group in Minnesota, which spun up a suite of remote services — from vehicle pickup and dropoff for service work, to at-home test drives and deliveries — to generate business in the pandemic's early days this spring.
What started as a "fly by the seat of your pants" effort to create the service concierge program has been refined over the weeks into something that can be sustained, said Lindsey Trett, who manages Walser's service business development center. And the concepts behind it can be applied to future projects developed from scratch.
"It's kind of like you have an extra talent that you didn't know you had," Trett told me. "I can do that, so I can do this."
There is no playbook for operating in a pandemic, other than the one being written as we live it. Auto retailers' embrace of new technology and remote practices may have happened out of necessity, but dealership leaders I've talked to said they have no intention of letting them go once the virus is under control. They're now part of the customer experience.
Is that the case at your dealership? What kinds of digital (or virtual, or remote) practices did your stores start this year? Tell me about them: [email protected].