Is Bad News Souring Your Customers’ Expectations?

By Desiree Homer

Or Worse Yet, Is It Souring Yours?

Listen, we get it. The hardships right now are real – for everyone. Thousands are still out of work. Thousands more facing a second surge of COVID-19. Parents are anxiety-ridden about whether or not to send their kids back to school. And let’s not forget that there is still an echoing voice and social equality movement happening in cities across America. With all of these life-changing events, potential dangers, and political and economic unrest, people can get used to hearing bad news. Getting used to the bad news can inadvertently program people to dwell in the negative, and almost expect it around every corner.

While all of these current conditions present risks to life, liberty, and business, some dealerships are finding ways to be the ray of positive sunshine. It’s about being a neutral partner during these crazy times who just wants to make sure the dealership employees still have jobs, and the local community still has cars and service. It’s this positivity that will serve as a beacon to customers who routinely expect more doom and gloom. Positive outlooks during even the toughest of times can attract customers like a moth to a flame.

Resiliency through Round One Doesn’t Mean Round Two Won’t Sting

June has been phenomenal for many dealers. The culmination of incentives, states reopening their businesses, and relief checks, created a perfect storm of car sales. In episode 62 of the Dealer News Today podcast, Dave and Andy talk about the strength of June and how it painted a picture that the rebound was upon us. Then Jonathan Smoke, the Chief Economist with Cox Automotive, joined the conversation and confirmed that the data he sees also supports what the dealers are reporting. June definitely surged back, in a big way. And it proves just how resilient dealers have been through these last several months of closures and pandemic conditions.

With those booming sales for June, comes the expectation that dealers out of the woods. But Jonathan Smoke, whose expertise lies within interpreting real-life results from data and analytics, says dealers need to proceed through July and August with caution. In fact, the next three months could prove to swing that pendulum back to dismal again. The real-time effects of limited new inventory, meshed with the volatile used pricing and inventory, could be hitting pause on that rebound, in the months to come. Don’t get caught off guard with unrealistic expectations that the worst is behind us.

Expectations and the Shape of the Business Recovery

Let’s face it. Managing expectations is like wrangling cats. Just when you think you think you have a handle on the curve of business in your market or on the pulse of your community, you find you’re faced with yet another challenge. The truth is, success is about managing expectations. Jonathan Smoke of Cox Automotive talks about all the expert graphs out there that tried to tell dealers what shape the recovery would take. Smoke also points out that many of those predictions are just that, predictions. Expecting certain outcomes during unprecedented times and conditions can lead dealers to make unfounded business decisions. Smoke advises that dealer owners should stop relying on potential recovery models, and whether or not we’re experiencing a “V-shaped” or Nike swoosh-shaped rebound. Instead, dealers should be tackling the challenges in the moment and making appropriate decisions in the business of today. Doing so can help carve a positive trending arch. Managing your industry expectations in a way that allows you to make the smartest decisions now and solidifying your efforts to protect for an unknown tomorrow, will keep you on pace to profitability.

Bad News Can Sour Customers, Too

Managing your expectations is only half the battle. Remember that your car buyers and service customers are being bombarded with negative news, as well. Consumer confidence will directly impact spending. As you embark into the next few months, despite the predictions that they won’t be as productive as June has been, be mindful of staying positive. Your positivity in the face of any challenges is contagious and will foster an environment of good vibes among your teams. They will then remain positive when they engage with your customers.

There’s a difference between maintaining a positive attitude and blindly viewing life through rose-colored glasses. Of course, dealers should be prudent and realistic about their situations at hand. But in the end, staying calm and making educated decisions to tackle problems as they arise, can help preserve momentum to press forward. 

Now’s the time to embrace the new tech, manage the aging inventory, and keep making those community support efforts. Enjoy the rise in sales now and be ready for anything, including a slump, in the coming months. Managing your own expectations can help you stay positive regardless of what the industry does. And out of all the critical conditions everyone’s facing right now, preserving your attitude may be the only thing you can actually control.