By Desiree Homer
Innovating during the Coronavirus has led to some pretty remarkable ideas. Dealers nationwide have been jumping in and adapting to their markets, customer preferences, and with the best safety policies in mind. One Las Vegas-based Ford dealership created what they call, “The Gaudin Go Van.” This group has pioneered a method with which they can still have those trusted, face-to-face interactions with their customers in a safe and convenient way. It’s an idea that worked well a month ago during showroom shutdowns, but still continues to grow as an engagement channel today.
When the Las Vegas Strip Went Dark
Gaudin Ford’s General Manager, Wesley Gregg, shared insights about the effects the COVID-19 shelter in place orders affected the Las Vegas strip. It’s said the always bustling hotspot went dark for the first time since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The locals were terrified about the economic impact, and Gregg said it would be difficult to find anyone who didn’t either work on the strip themselves or had family who did. Like in most other parts of the country, area dealerships experienced stark declines in sales. By the end of March, the Gaudin Ford team knew they had to do something to reach those remote car buyers.
A Resourceful Solution
This dealership began brainstorming and chose a used Ford Transit off their lot. On their own, they transformed the van to a makeshift finance office. The techs bolted down a table and a chair and brought in a Wi-Fi hotspot. They hooked up the computer and printer and did a few test runs with the software. The F&I manager, a sales representative, and a concierge of sorts, dedicated to cleaning and sanitizing on the move, all loaded up into the Gaudin Go Van. The dealership had created a car sales mobile unit. Customers weren’t allowed in the van but instead finalized their deals on a moving table and chair set up, outside the van. This allowed the dealership staff to have those in-person, relationship-building conversations with customers, despite the showroom shutdowns.
Reopening & Consumer Confidence Shifts
As we move toward reopening, albeit, at different paces throughout the country, solutions like the Gaudin Go Van can still be resourceful options. Customers may be able to come to your showroom, but others may still be hesitant to venture out. Still offering remote buying options can help dealers continue to leverage sales from both sides of the consumer confidence spectrum. F&I on the road is just one of many innovative ways to do just that.
The van life has worked well for Gaudin Ford, so much so they’re adding a second mobile van next month. It will handle quick-lane service at remote locations. Wesley Gregg says he doesn’t anticipate the remote buying, and service options will be going anywhere anytime soon. And to him, it’s a significant enough segment to accommodate. It’s a sentiment former Hyundai CEO and Senior Partner at motormindz, Dave Zuchowski shares. Tune into a recent Dealer News Today podcast to learn what operational investments he suggests dealers should be making right now to best navigate this post-lockdown landscape.