COVID-19 Update: Dealerships Are Creating Ways to Help Their Communities

By Desiree Homer

Dealerships nationwide continue to reinvent their operations, to maintain support and connection within their communities while everyone shelters in place. Over the last few weeks, some dealers are going beyond the usual channels to keep employees working and customers safe. In doing so, they’re maintaining an authentic connection with potential customers and, in some cases, are giving back to their markets in the process.

Free Car Steam Sanitizing Service

One dealership has opened its bays to the local community as a place to have vehicles steam cleaned for free. As people sheltered in place, Sands Chevrolet in Glendale, Arizona, recognized there was an opportunity to help. They embraced the pick-up and delivery practices for service customers but also began offering a kiosk service for those who wanted to avoid contact. They then began promoting a free steam sanitation service, free of charge, for anyone concerned about surfaces in their cars. The dealer offers a service line for those wanting to drive in, but also extends the pick-up service for cleaning as well. On the homepage of their website, they share the availability of these services and are also providing service discounts for healthcare workers and first responders.

Communicating What You’re Doing to Keep Everyone Safe

The Larry H. Miller Dealership Group has updated its homepage with a complete outline of efforts being made internally, to keep customers safe. With locations in various states, there are slightly different guidelines required regionally. However, the dealers are united in their efforts and communicating to potential customers about their measures to continually sanitize surfaces, a strict schedule of cleaning times throughout the day, and required cleansing of vehicles after each test drive and service event. To support their mission to keep people safe, the dealer group also offers consumer-facing COVID-19 information about individual safe practices and how to recognize symptoms.

Honda Auto Center of Bellevue, Washington, has adopted a similar model in communicating their efforts online. The homepage features an opening statement about the dealership’s dedication to keeping staff and customers safe while maintaining its commitment to be available for sales and service. The message outlines a specific schedule of disinfecting in the store, with a roster of common surfaces that are cleaned throughout the day. They are offering gloves and hand sanitizer for customers that want to visit the dealership. They also carve out a transparent purchasing process that provides a pick-up and delivery service for anyone interested in an at-home test drive. Service vehicles can also be handled for customers who may not want to leave their homes.

Consumer Reports Offers Car Cleaning Tips

Consumer Reports recently shared some tips for how to clean the inside of a vehicle, without damaging materials and surfaces. It’s a consumer-facing best practices read, but features tips that can easily be adopted at the dealership level or shared with your customers as a helpful resource. Some of the frequently touched surfaces in a car, beyond the steering wheel, include touchscreens, door handles, turn signals, and seat adjusters. Consumers may be unsure how to best clean these areas, presenting an opportunity for dealers to offer insightful information and solutions. In addition to offering cleaning services to customers, there may be an audience of rideshare or taxi drivers, who may benefit from a helper with keeping vehicles safe for passengers.

Dealers can stay connected within their communities, despite the restrictions for sales in many parts of the country, and the lack of showroom foot traffic. Many retailers are making safe practices the focal point of their digital communications, and some are innovating to offer solutions locally. These efforts are keeping the brand connected within the market, and in many cases, is an authentic channel for giving back.