How to run your business through a lockdown (and how to make it stronger at the same time).

Updated: May 24, 2021

boost blog #5


Whatever your feelings about the announcement of renewed COVID-19 lockdowns, once the anger and or frustration subsides there is the job of looking after your business to be done.

Image: United Nations @ Unsplash


There is one thing about the pandemic we do know with certainty. We won’t have protection against future business disruption until we have nationwide full vaccination. We thought we have escaped further lock-downs as we entered 2020 and then look what happened. With that in mind, we thought we would reflect on some tips to help deal with the multiple lockdowns that we may well have in 2021.


There are really two parts to this post. The first part is about quick action and clear communication. The second is about innovation.


Communication

  1. Set up a txt group or WhatsApp group (or Teams, WeChat) for your key senior managers. Use it sparingly but use it to communicate the important key points; ‘What does this alert change mean for us, and what do I need you to do’. The alert level changes seem to hit us outside of office hours; therefore, we need a plan to communicate in a way that works for staff (and customers) that don’t have access to a laptop at home.

  2. Encourage your senior managers to have a similar WhatsApp group etc. for their staff or department (each with a couple of administrators to manage ownership of the groups)

  3. Know what your key lockdown actions are for staff and customers.

  • Communicate and cascade information and expectations for staff; We are open but here are the rules, masks must be worn; we are partially open; these staff must work from home etc.

  • Update Facebook, Instagram and any other social media pages you use telling customers whether you are open, what changes you have made etc (have a clear expectation and responsibility for who owns this)

  • Update your Google, My Business page with a COVID-19 update.

  • Update your website with a message.

4. Don’t feel the need to send customers an email. We really don’t need another ‘uncertain times / we are here for you’ email in our inbox unless it genuinely adds value, and you are offering something truly different. Most don’t.


Innovation

Image: Brett Jordan @ Unsplash

Have a good think about how you can deliver parts or all of the sales (and aftersales) process in a paperless and contactless way. What worked well (or nearly worked) over the first lock-down that you could do again? What could you improve upon? What did you just plain get wrong and learn from? Some of the changes you made might still be in use. Some you will have stopped doing. Call your senior managers together over a Zoom call and brainstorm improvements to be made. Remember the way to solve issues are to frame the question, 'How might we complete more customer transactions or interactions online....' Here are some suggestions or examples.

  1. Put yourself in the customer shoes. If you are a concerned consumer, how do you remove the risk for this particular customer group. This requires you to think harder than ‘we will comply with the law’.

  2. One brand offered virtual walk-arounds of cars during the first lock-down. This is easy to do. It does not have to be award winning cinematography. In the era of YouTube consumers are forgiving – if the content is accurate. Create a private YouTube Channel and send the link to enquiries about a car. Create one for every car in stock new and used.

  3. Drop off at home service for unaccompanied test drives – you might be able to follow up point 2 with point 3.

  4. Create a click and collect service. We were surprised by how many high-end restaurants moved to take-aways in the first lock down. How can you adapt this for your operation? Part sales should be easy. What about service and vehicle sales?

  5. Make sure your website works like on online retailer. Can you order a car, book a service online? No? Why not? Now is the time to think laterally and pivot.

  6. Use the WFH time to think through the sales and service steps – some temporary solutions might become permanent and potentially more efficient way of doing business.

  7. Don’t cancel your marketing presence – think about tomorrow not just today. Next month or the month after, the market won’t be as strong; stock won’t be so short, and trades might be a little easier. How are you setting yourselves up to take advantage of that?

  8. Don’t be overly opportunistic – deliver trust and quality service at a reasonable price.

  9. Beware the court of public opinion – in the age of social media and online reviews your missteps are amplified. Don’t make COVID-19 an excuse for poor service or under-performing.

  10. Support your existing customers better – create goodwill – go above and beyond.

Many of us moved into 2021 thinking we had dodged a bullet, and thanking our lucky stars that 2020 ended reasonably well, considering. The latest lock-downs have reminded us that we aren't out of the woods yet.


However nearly every cloud has a silver lining. We can use these disruptions to nudge our business forward, to fast forward some of the innovations that might otherwise be forced upon us. These innovations that consumers, who operate in an increasingly online world increasingly expect of us.




Boost Auto works almost exclusively in the automotive environment, helping distributors and dealers improve their effectiveness and efficiency, through sales, marketing and workflow improvements. If you have a business pain point call us or email us for a discussion to see how we can help you (or how might we achieve more sales without spending more money....).

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