By Desiree Homer
Many dealerships adapted quickly to the necessary changes and safety requirements for their service drives. As we head toward the coming weeks of economic recovery and potential business reopening, dealers may be looking at permanent enhancements in a post-COVID-19 environment. There are some conveniences, inspired by COVID-19 related mitigation efforts, that may help transform how dealers engage their maintenance customers moving forward.
Pick-Up & Delivery Services Are Here to Stay
Most dealers, whose doors have remained open during the pandemic shelter-in-place conditions, began offering pick-up and delivery services for service drive customers. Technicians are also engaging in extra steps, like sanitizing and cleaning customer vehicles. These are customer service best practices for a pandemic environment, that may be adopted permanently moving forward. Even with the lifting of social distancing requirements, dealers not offering these services may lose out to competitors who continue to provide these processes.
A New Benefit of Service Drive Kiosks
Kiosks in the service drive were becoming popular before the Coronavirus hit. But there were several dealers of the mindset that kiosks would affect the needs for certain service writer staff positions. Others were hesitant to adopt the strategy, recognizing that their local customers still preferred the personal attention and in-person service drive experience. As we peer through the lens toward the future post-pandemic, the kiosk touchpoint may offer a new safety perk. Customers who may be hesitant to get back to the in-person engagement will appreciate a socially distant option kiosks provide. If your dealership hadn’t embraced these units before, it might be worth considering now for future implementation.
Special Attention to Waiting Room Areas
Customers are sharing their appreciation for their dealers who are offering sanitized and carefully managed entry points. One senior citizen customer praised her dealer, who had adequately spaced the seats within the waiting room area. Another cited his thanks for his dealership’s service drive process, which was complete with a walkway of arrows and safe distance markers, to ensure minimal risks to customers. Many retailers have signage posted outside and within the dealership, outlining measures for cleaning and ongoing safe distancing suggestions. Even “no handshaking zones” are marked within showrooms and common areas. These efforts are a necessity now but maybe welcomed and preferred environments for customers in the months to come as well.
Enhancing a Digital Scheduling & Payment Process
It’s not uncommon for dealers to offer scheduling and payment tools online for their service customers. However, in today’s restricted interaction environment, those processes are often the preferred methods of engagement. Consider upgrading your existing online tools if necessary, or enhancing them for ongoing use post-COVID-19. Not having such capabilities could cost a service drive new customers.
In the end, it’s about offering the convenience and safest environments ongoing within your service drive. Methods that make sense today may become benchmark services for the long haul. With talks of the Coronavirus resurgence later in a seasonal trend, there is an implication that we’ll all need to be mindful of socially distance behavior continuously. Even if your region is not seeing a rash of positive cases, adopting some of these strategies can help. Troy Duhon, the CEO of Premier Automotive in Louisiana, says, “one thing an auto group does not want to be known for is the most cases of Coronavirus.” Listen to the recent Dealer News Today podcast with Duhon and Dave Cantin, to learn how this 22 location strong auto group is making a difference, within its operations and for its community.