In last week’s fusionZONE blog post, we covered several ways to increase service profitability. This week, we’re diving deeper with even more tips to enhance your dealership’s fixed operations revenue.

If the challenges of 2020 and what’s followed have taught us all anything, it’s that nothing is certain. The auto industry faces unprecedented changes, including a shift to electrified and autonomous vehicles, as well as the digital-first age.
But few in the industry were expecting such challenges as supply shortages.

For many dealerships, fixed operations like their service department have become even more vital than ever. Most service centers produce roughly 50% of a dealership’s gross profit, and with recent shortages in new and used cars for sale, fixed ops have undoubtedly saved the day for some.

So, how can you ensure that you’re maximizing your service center’s profitability in 2021 and beyond? Here are 10 tips for doing just that!

  1. Increase upselling and lines per RO. It’s great to boost your total ROs or Repair Orders, but are you also trying to maximize the services per RO? Whether through upselling or creating bundles that customers can’t afford to pass up, there are many ways to improve in this area.
  2. Motivate your Service Advisors. Are you incentivizing your client-facing service staff to upsell or increase lines per RO? Consider weekly or monthly gift cards or bonuses to the Service Advisor that knocks it out of the park!
  3. Make your services visible online to local motorists. Depending on your market, you may be missing out on potential service center customers outside of your city or immediate area. By implementing effective SEO and targeting key serving cities around your dealership, you could attract drivers who are looking for a new service department for everything from routine maintenance to high-ticket repair work.
  4. Allow access to all of your services via your website. Are you promoting all of your top services online? Whether your auto service center is known for certain procedures or you’re looking to bring in more business for certain services like multi-point inspections or tire installation, you should make it clear what you offer through your website.
  5. Inform customers about your services through text and video content. You can educate drivers about your services and why it’s important to keep up on routine maintenance through online video and text content on your website. A customer may already know that it’s time for an oil change, but you could potentially upsell online by providing more details about other complementary maintenance you offer.
  6. Reach out to customers regularly. Utilize your customer email list, social media channels and text or SMS-based marketing to keep your customers in the loop of current promotions. Sometimes a simple reminder and a deal or coupon are all that it takes to get someone to make that overdue service appointment.
  7. Don’t forget about free marketing options. Have you updated your Google My Business and social media profiles and pages lately? There are plenty of free ways to keep your dealership’s service department top-of-mind for customers when it’s about time for a tune-up.
  8. Invest more of your marketing budget on fixed operations. It’s true that completely free marketing will only take you so far. If your dealership’s marketing budget is heavily focused on new and used car sales, consider simply shifting some of your marketing spend to the department that generates the most revenue. Or, you could increase your total budget to accommodate a greater focus on service center marketing.
  9. Promote customer loyalty through rewards. Since acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining an existing one, you’d better have a plan to keep your sales and service department customers around when it’s time for car repair or maintenance. A VIP loyalty program with rewards toward parts and service could help keep your current customers from ever looking elsewhere for oil changes or inspections.
  10. Encourage new and returning customers to convert. Lastly, your website’s service-related pages should be designed to encourage service appointment scheduling. Make it easy for customers to book a service visit, find your current offers and coupons and contact your service team with questions.

For more tips on how to increase the profitability of your service department and other fixed operations, turn to the team at fusionZONE. Reach out if you’d like assistance with enhancing your SEO, website or digital marketing initiatives.

A Guide to Increasing Service Center Profitability

Every full-service car dealership knows that their fixed operations, including their service center, are a key driver of profitability. However, an estimated 90% of dealership marketing budgets are spent on new and used vehicles, often leaving little left for marketing of fixed operations.

That’s right; while a service department typically produces nearly 50% of a dealership’s gross profit, it accounts for less than 10% of the average dealership’s marketing budget!

So how can you increase service center profitability without going all-in on costly marketing campaigns? The team at fusionZONE Automotive has the answers in this week’s edition of the fusionZONE blog.

Here are a few tips and tricks that Service Directors, Service Managers and anyone working in a dealership’s fixed operations can use to help increase profitability through the service department.

Offer a Customer Loyalty Program

Location and convenience are certainly two major factors when motorists select their preferred auto service center. Pricing is a third reason, and some drivers prefer to service where they bought their car — assuming they had a pleasant purchase experience.

But what if your dealership and service center are located in an area with plenty of convenient options for local drivers seeking auto maintenance or car repair? You can set your service facility apart from the rest with not only top-notch customer service and repair expertise but with a loyalty or rewards program.

If you’re looking to retain new or used car buyers when it’s time for routine maintenance, offer special deals for those who purchased any vehicle at your dealership, such as a free first oil change or exclusive offers on tires and parts.

Whether you decide to create a VIP loyalty program, customer rewards program, customer appreciation program — or a combination of these — service center visitors will feel they’re gaining added value and benefits for being a consistent customer.

Service Team Goals & Incentives

Are you incentivizing your Service Advisors to reach daily, weekly or monthly goals? Creating goals and even some healthy competition among your service staff can certainly help the bottom line of your fixed operations and the dealership as a whole.

Maybe you offer gift cards or other perks to the service team member who meets or exceeds a certain goal or who tops all others during a given week or month.

Whether you’re looking to promote a certain maintenance procedure or simply want to increase the average dollar spend per visit, there are ways to increase service center profitability that start with your customer-facing team.

Encourage Upselling

The next tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. Upselling is a crucial component of any successful service department. Your Service Advisors are on the front lines every day, working to keep customers happy and cars moving through your service bays. And upselling should be a part of their daily routine.

Your goals and incentives can be tied directly or indirectly to upsells. For instance, maybe some of your Service Advisors excel at upsells while others simply bring in more repeat visitors or can consistently churn out higher Repair Order or RO counts.

Of course, any highly respected service center will find a balance in upselling; that is, by only promoting maintenance or repair procedures that may actually benefit each unique customer and vehicle.

Create Customer Rewards for Referrals

Did you know? Acquiring a new customer is 5 times more expensive than retaining an existing one?

Like our first tip, you can utilize rewards to attract new service center customers. Consider incentivizing current customers to spread the word about your service department with a referral rewards program.

Maybe it’s a free multi-point inspection or a service coupon for referring a local driver to visit your shop for their next oil change or any other service. Whatever it is, you’ll have to make it worthwhile for your customer; and remember, you’ll likely come out ahead if you can attract and retain that new customer!

Optimize Your Marketing Plan & Budget

Lastly, perhaps your dealership can afford to either spend a bit more on a service marketing budget or shift some of its current dealership-wide budget toward fixed operations. Considering the profit makeup of the average dealership and the significant weight that fixed ops hold, maybe an increase in the service marketing budget can lead to a substantial increase in overall profitability.

If you’d like assistance with these service marketing tips or your current digital marketing efforts across fixed operations or your entire dealership, feel free to reach out to the fusionZONE team. We’re experts in creating compelling marketing campaigns that drive leads and sales!

Coversion Rate Optimization

A 15-Minute Check Can Create More Opportunities and Sales!

Feeling like your web presence just isn’t clicking the way it used to? Not getting enough business? Worried about the competition?

Many of our customers come to us with the same questions. If you’re searching for answers, a fresh website is a great place to start.

Often, the solution is usually much simpler and is a better use of your time than a massive overhaul: your SRP and VDP probably just need to be revisited. With some minor changes, you could see a massive boost to your lead generation!

In this article, we’re going to share our secret sauce for generating high-quality leads. These are easy to do yourself without bringing in support teams.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a way of increasing the number of users who perform an intended action on a website, which can be buying a product, signing up for a service, or clicking ‘add to cart’.

Why Should You Care About CRO?

Because that’s how you sell more cars! Your operational management team’s goal is crafting your floor team into a conveyor belt that turns customers into sales. Why wouldn’t you want your website to operate on the same principle?

There is a ton that goes into a successful website and CRO is among the most important items. CRO is about the long game. You’ll find it well worth your effort.

How Do You Calculate Conversion Rates?

Conversion rate can be calculated by using this formula:

(leads generated ÷ website traffic) * 100 = Your conversion rate %!

So if your website gets an average of 200 leads and 5000 sessions (using Google Analytics as a tracker) per month, your conversion rate would be:

(200 ÷ 5000) * 100 = 4% Conversion Rate

 

What Counts as a Conversion?

This is the part that we believe some people overlook. In our humble opinion, you should only be reviewing anything that can be converted into a sale.

This means calls, website chats, and lead generation forms (inventory, finance, trade-ins, service requests, etc.) that lead to sales.

This does not mean form starts (but not finished!) or landing page views.

Landing page views and form engagement are incredibly important to building an audience profile, but they do not count as conversions.

How Do You Track Your Conversions?

There are several tools available to you that you can use to track your conversion, such as

  • Google Analytics
  • Adobe Analytics
  • Your website CMS

Ask your website provider how they track conversions and if you need assistance setting them up. They might already be tracking them as far as you know!

If you are using a 3rd-party provider for your financing applications, get in touch with your support representative and they will most likely know how to connect all of your conversion tracking tools to your analytics platform of choice.

What is a Good Conversion Rate?

Now that you understand what CRO is and how to track it, what do you do if you find out your results are poor? Do you need to change everything up or make minor adjustments?

The answer is the most important response in all of web design. Ready?

It depends.

That’s not very helpful, we know! Let’s dive in and get to a more actionable solution.

The commonly accepted average conversion rate for web leads in the automotive vertical is around 1.5%.

This number will fluctuate. Don’t panic if you’re at 1.51% and a new study comes out that says the floor is 1.75%.

Why? Ultimately, this number is useless for you. This may be surprising due to all the sales pitches from digital marketing companies. But it’s the truth.

The reason why it’s not very useful is because your conversion rate depends on several factors completely out of your control. These can be:

  • Location: Rural vs. Urban
  • Region of the Country: (the southeast of the U.S. is far more hospitable to a Get Best Price button than the northeast)
  • OEM: A Honda dealer will receive more leads than most Acura dealers. If you can afford an NSX, you probably aren’t likely to put in a lead online.

If you’re a Chevrolet dealer near Atlanta, GA, you would not be as shocked to learn that your website operates on a 10% conversion rate on web leads. If you said that you’re an Acura dealer in the northeast and you are pulling a 6%, we’d be more impressed.

Keep this in mind!

 

Your Website is Your Digital Showroom

Here are some tricks and strategies to help you improve your website conversions.

SRPs and VDPs: Keep It Simple!

First things first, a clean, simple website will usually outperform one that is a visual nightmare. If things start to look busy to you, the website owner, they are likely twice as confusing for a customer. Good UI/UX (user interface/user experience) is crucial!

In short: simplicity wins.

 

Call to Action

Automotive Dealer Inventory Calls to Actions

 

Your call-to-action (or CTA) should be readable and clickable on both mobile and desktop. These are the most important items on your site besides your inventory!

On your SRPs, keep your calls to action minimal. Remember, this is the first time a customer is viewing this inventory. Reduce your CTAs to the absolute minimum.

Customers can become paralyzed by choice and will ultimately decide to move on. If you keep your CTAs simple, it’s easier for a customer to focus on finding a vehicle with the right price and less on all myriad of options and considerations they could be making.

CTAs should also create a sense of urgency.  “Check Availability” is one of the least performing CTAs you could possibly use. Most customers know that if they see the vehicle on the site, you most likely have one in stock. And if you don’t, they definitely know you can get them one.

If you’re adding a third or more CTAs, ask yourself: “Is this absolutely necessary to have right here on this page?” If it’s not, dump it. Your customers will appreciate it.

Price is a larger determining factor for a customer’s inclination to submit a lead. “Get Our Best Price” is still one of the best lead-submission generating lines around.

If you have digital retailing tools, focus more on utility. “Get Financed” or “Start Checkout” do not really cut it in our experience. You’re more likely to pique someone’s interest with “Build Your Deal” (as they aren’t feeling the pressure to finish right here, right now).

Images

Another important piece is ensuring your vehicles have images of the vehicle. The vehicle could do well to swap out the stock photo for an actual image. Seeing the vehicle is one of the largest deciding factors to whether or not someone submits a lead!

Pricing

It may seem obvious, but you could have a website designed by Amazon themselves and if your truck is $3,000 more expensive on your site than a competitor’s down the road, customer are not likely to give you their information. They’re calling the other listing.

Make sure your pricing is competitive. We recommend tweaking the following:

  1. Showing discounts before or after the Best Price lead is submitted.
  2. Deciding whether to use Best Price at all.
  3. When compliant, using a red strikethrough to indicate a greater price beyond the Best Price.

If you change your pricing, be sure to change your CTA verbiage as well to match. You do not want to claim there is a better price beyond a CTA only to show nothing!

Forms

This one also seems relatively simple, but it’s missed all the time. Make your customers do the least amount of work possible. That means lowering how many forms you require them to submit or filling out the least amount of information on them. This applies to your service forms, credit applications, SRP/VDP Best price forms; all of them. If you don’t like filling them out yourself, your customers won’t like them either.

Requiring a name, address, phone number, and email address is often too much. If you’re struggling to generate incoming leads, only require name, address, and your preference between email or phone number. Another possibility is to let your customers choose which of the two they prefer. Requiring both can be overkill.

Think Outside the SRP

Reviews also play a huge part into a customer’s likelihood that they submit a lead.

There are two factors that goes into this: average rating and number of reviews. If you have a 5.0 rating on Google, that’s great! If there are only two reviews, that’s less great.

Think of everyone’s favorite ecommerce site: Amazon.

Amazon Shopping Review Features

 

Obviously, you shouldn’t copy everything from Amazon. We created a three-part feature on that mindset, after-all.  But there are some features that are worth mentioning.

Amazon lets you sort through their inventory from highest to lowest reviews.

Anecdotally, most people who use Amazon swear by shopping with this filter. It’s human nature to not to be first to take the plunge on a brand-new

Ask yourself: why would a customer take a chance on your dealership if you’re sporting a 3.0 average and only 20 reviews? Quality and quantity count.

Customer service very much translates into the digital world. Keep this in mind and get happy customers to leave you glowing reviews online.

Videos – More Important Than Ever

A massive change from 2020 to 2021 is the necessity to have video content on your website. Due to COVID-19, shoppers became accustomed to shopping online at a rate that has never been seen before.

No longer will your text descriptions and feature lists suffice!

Now, you’ll need to showcase your inventory with video walkarounds and feature overviews so that customers can have the showroom experience right from the comfort of their couch.

Our recommendations for improving your video walkarounds can be found in this article made by fusionZONE Automotive. The key points you should take from it are:

  1.  Schedule your videos in advance
  2. Take your time and be thorough / be detailed
  3. Have a way for your customers to follow-up for more information

Don’t feel pressured to make a video for every vehicle on your lot tomorrow. Do them in chunks, week by week, and make it a habit Before you know it, it’ll be a natural part of your process and you’ll reap the benefits of a higher time on site and more conversions!

Test, Test, and Test Some More

One of the best pieces of advices is to take it slow and change only a few small things at a time. A/B split-testing can help save you a lot of headaches in the future! Believe us, it’s the worst feeling changing a website’s layout only to find it performs worse than before and getting a third of the leads. For example, you could change one vehicle’s layout, then see if it’s working over the course of a month, then apply it to the rest.

We hope you find these tips and tricks useful! For more exclusive strategies on how to boost your online presence, subscribe to our newsletter! We’ll send the latest issues directly to you so you can stay ahead of the curve.

CEO Ed Barton talks about when and why you should be updating content to not only rank better with Google, but also to attract more users.

Ed Barton, fusionZONE CEO, gives you the red flags to look for when picking a digital marketing vendor.

fusionZONE Automotive, LLC, the automotive industry’s highest-performing dealer website solution, and WheelsTV, the automotive industry’s standard of excellence in video test drive reports for more than a decade, today announced a partnership in which fusionZONE will offer their customers access to WheelsTV’s 6,000+ video test drive reports.

The partnership provides a timely video solution for fusionZONE’s clients to address increased consumer demand for visual content, in part due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. WheelsTV delivers essential vehicle information in an independent, concise, and upbeat video presentation highlighting today’s most searched car shopping resources online: vehicle test drives, key features and options, and walkthroughs of the interior and/or exterior of the vehicle.

Dealers can now help their site visitors conduct two hours of research in just two minutes by viewing WheelsTV videos on fusionZONE websites, all while increasing time-on-site and guiding the shopper down the purchase funnel.

“We now live in a Video Economy© where car buyers’ demand for full-motion ‘on the road’ video test drives are at an all-time high,” WheelsTV CEO Jim Barisano said. “Today, most dealers struggle with high-quality, relevant year-make-model video content. And now, with access to the most extensive video test drive library in existence, covering year-make-models 2008 to present, fusionZONE dealers will have a video for almost every car on their lot.”

WheelsTV’s videos provide three significant benefits:

Consumers stay on the dealer’s website longer to research and make more informed purchases.
Increases trust between the dealer and the consumer.
Increases engagement and advances the car shopper’s path to purchase.

“We are excited to offer WheelsTV video test drive reports to our customers. Dealerships simply don’t have the time or budget to produce ‘on the road’ video test drives for every car they sell – but now, with WheelsTV, they’ll have a video for almost every vehicle on the lot,” fusionZONE’s CEO, Ed Barton, said. “The videos will support our dealers’ site visitors by providing the essential facts, vehicle specs, and professional insights in a quick, energized, ‘on the road’ presentation. There’s no sales pitch, so consumers gain trust and rapport with the dealer, which will result in increased sales.”

The fusionZONE/WheelsTV partnership adds an essential research, marketing, and sales tool to fusionZONE’s industry-leading lineup of dealership websites, further helping to speed the sales process for consumers and dealers.

About fusionZONE Automotive, LLC
fusionZONE Automotive offers automotive dealers the nation’s fastest, most cutting-edge customized and responsive websites. fusionZONE Automotive websites drive website conversions and leads, helping dealers sell more cars. fusionZONE also offers complete, progressive digital marketing solutions, streamlining the digital process for dealerships of all sizes. fusionZONE Automotive websites are designed to not only garner as much traffic as possible for dealer clients, but to actively convert that traffic into leads and sales.

fusionZONE is based in Lakeland, FL.

About WheelsTV:

WheelsTV is the industry standard in video test drive reports. With the world’s most extensive library in existence, over 6,000 independent videos covering 95% of the North American new and pre-owned light vehicle market. WheelsTV’s video reports provide deeper engagement, greater excitement, and quick answers to millions of car shoppers across North America. By helping car shoppers speed their vehicle research with video test drive reports, dealerships grow sales and build long-term consumer trust.

The WheelsTV production team’s lineage extends to popular primetime automotive television series seen on the Discovery Network, PBS, Speedvision, the Family Channel, and in 104 countries worldwide.

WheelsTV is based in Boston, MA, and Groton, MA.

 

Read more about WheelsTV here.

Whether it’s painting your house, buying a car, or designing your website, color plays an essential factor. We all have favorite colors, but have you ever wondered why?

In addition to looking a certain way, colors make us feel a certain way. This is important when designing marketing materials for your business. How your customers feel will impact their behavior, buying habits, and impression of your brand.

So, what colors should you choose when marketing your business? Continue reading to discover how color psychology can impact the success of your marketing and, thus, the success of your business.

The Theory Behind Color Psychology

We all know red and green make us think of Christmas, but do you know why?

When trying to understand how color impacts your marketing materials’ delivery, the first concept to grasp is primary colors vs. secondary colors vs. tertiary colors:

  • The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow.
  • Secondary colors are the colors derived from mixing primary colors. Anybody who’s ever used a “yellow and blue make green” knows that.
  • Tertiary colors are a hyphenate created by combining a primary color and a secondary color. For instance, red-orange or yellow-green.

Within all colors, there are tints, shades, tones, and contrast. The color wheel below demonstrates what we mean.

Basic color wheel and associated temperatures

So, now that we’re familiar with these terms, what colors should you use when designing your next marketing campaign?

Knowing What Creates Contrast

Contrast isn’t just a difference in color; it is also a difference in tone. In fashion, you’d never wear a brown belt with black shoes because, while different, these colors have little contrast with each other.

By mixing colors and contrast, you can create content that is visually appealing and easy to read. The goal is to attract potential customers and deliver your message.

You can deliver effective marketing by choosing two or three simple color combinations that offer a mix of high and low contrasting tones. The color wheel above can help you choose those colors.

Color Opposites Attract

Blue and orange, yellow and purple, and the aforementioned red and green are opposites. When it comes to readability, the importance of color pairing should be considered in the product itself.

For instance, many watch companies use blue and orange when designing their timepieces because blue and orange are opposites. A blue face with orange hands creates an attractive design and easy readability, so the wearer doesn’t have to struggle to tell the time.

But is there balance?

In the case of the watch, we can picture a blue circle with two little orange lines. Blue is the dominant color, while the orange gives us a visual break. Our eyes naturally look for a second color. As marketers, you get to decide what you want that secondary color to tell the viewer.

What Do All the Colors Mean

Now that you know how to pick opposite colors and use contrast to your advantage, let’s take a look at how our brains interpret specific colors. The question we’re asking here is, why is Valentine’s Day red?

Red is a powerful color that conveys many emotions. From Valentine’s Day to horror movies, red quickly gets attention because it elicits powerful reactions of love and fear. Use this powerful color strategically and sparingly.

While red is powerful and yellow is friendly, orange is a warm mix. Orange is a very soothing color with effective usage energy drinks on the sporting event sidelines, vitamin bottles, and board games.

Green often connects us to nature, an overall sense of wellness, and makes us think of growth in both plants and wealth. Blue evokes a feeling of trust and dependability. Blue is often found in hospitals, spas, and fitness studios because of its soothing nature.

The color blue is also used on the Facebook website and marketing materials because the founder of the social media juggernaut, Mark Zuckerberg, is red-green colorblind (colorblindness is yet another important factor to consider when designing an effective marketing campaign based around color).

Brown is comforting and used in home furnishings. Gold is the color of luxury. Black is for professional attire and limos. White can represent purity and cleanliness.

Every color has a connotation, whether we’re consciously aware or not.

Using Word and Color Combinations To Convey Your Message

Are you trying to convey trust or speed? Courage or reliability? After you decide what your company stands for, you can choose the colors that deliver that message the best. From there, implement the strategies outlined above when drafting some snappy headlines for your campaign.

The chart below shows how all these ideas come together to help you convey the message you want to deliver.

Colors and word association

Know Your Demo

Men and women are different and experience colors differently. By knowing the demographics who shop your brand, you can deliver effective color-based marketing content.

Men typically like blue, green, and red, while women usually like blue, green, and purple. If women are the biggest consumer of your product, you could be better off using a little more purple and a little less red.

Women also see a greater spectrum of differentiation in a single color than men do. This point was hit home by Meryl Streep’s character in “The Devil Wears Prada,” when she lectured Anne Hathaway’s character about the color cerulean. Where women might see cerulean, turquoise, or teal, men generally see blue… Just blue.

To summarize, we all have preconceived notions of what colors mean and how they affect us. Couches are most often brown for a reason. Firetrucks are red so they can stand out. By thinking of how color connects to emotion, we can direct the consumer to our brand by delivering the most effective message possible.

If you’d like further assistance with your website UX and layout strategy, contact the fusionZONE team.

If you’re reading this, you have an email address. And if you have email, you’ve undoubtedly received more messages from every company you have ever purchased an item from about their plans to address COVID-19.

Top automotive manufacturers from around the globe have also announced various offers struggling customers and strategic initiatives give back to the community. We’re going to save you the trouble of digging into each one yourself!

Below is a synopsis of what a few automotive manufacturer responses to the virus have been. Hopefully, the virus is on its way out, but as more information becomes available, we’ll be sure to have future blog posts detailing what you need to know.

 

Toyota

Toyota has suspended operations at all automobile factories in North America until at least May 1st. For service, Toyota has been following state guidelines for essential business and have made no announcements as to shutting their service centers down nationwide.

For owners of Toyota products, they have created several specials to help those in need. Some examples are the Payment Relief program, 90-day Payment Deferral, and Lease-End support. This directly helps those who have been let go from their position or furloughed.

For new and Certified Used sales, Toyota is offering a 90-day deferment pricing plan.  This plan also includes ToyotaCare, which is the no-cost maintenance plan that lasts for 2 years or 25,000 miles.

They have made a considerable donation to the United Way, a non-profit that provides food, water, and other essential items.

You can read more about Toyota’s official plan here.

 

Honda

Honda has also announced that they will be announcing a deferred payment or payment extension program. For most customers, all you need to do is contact Honda Financial Services to take advantage.

All Honda service stations are still open, but Honda directs its consumer base to check with state and local government’s declarations of essential needs.

While COVID-19 has dominated the news cycles, Honda still has their Honda Dream Garage Spring event, which includes offers for lease, financing, and other special programs. Specifically, to help during COVID-19, Honda is offering a 90-day deferred payment program and $500 new-vehicle credit to first responders and healthcare workers.

Shop Simple is Honda’s online purchasing option that is only available in Portland, OR and Nashville, TN. It currently is not available for the rest of the country, but Honda has made a commitment to an expanded roll-out as soon as possible.

And finally, Honda is also contributing $1 million to food banks and meal programs, donating personal protective equipment and creating protective face shields via 3-D printers.

If you would like to read more about Honda’s Coronavirus efforts, check out this link.

 

Kia 

Kia has suspended all service technician training, expanded their vehicle sanitization process, and are extending sanitation requirements to include any vehicle brought in for service.

For financing, Kia offers a 120-day payment deferment on 0% APR contracts with an under-75-month commitment.

Current customers also have the option of deferment as well. Kia owners can request a 30-day payment extension up to three times.

Customers who were under the Kia Promise warranty coverage program were granted an extension that lasts until June 30th, 2020.

For their workers around the country, Kia has delivered 15,000 face shields to their manufacturing plants. They have used their West Point, GA factory to assemble medical grade masks for healthcare workers in the US. Kia’s contributions also included a $1 million donation to several non-profit partners to combat homelessness, children, and families.

Their press release on the manner can be found here with several other helpful links on the page.

 

Nissan 

For qualified shoppers, Nissan has rolled out their payment plans to combat stagnant wages. They are offering a 3-month deferred payment plan with up to 2 months of payment relief for 11 of their 2020 models.

Current owners can use a similar program for payment extensions for purchases and leases. This program is currently flexible as it is dependent on your current situation.

Nissan is complying with local and state ordinances which includes their operations and corporate teams working remotely since March 16th. This stay-at-home mandate includes a total shutdown of US manufacturing facilities until mid-May.

Just like many of the other brands, Nissan is committed to using their vast manufacturing infrastructure to produce medical protective masks to help those on the front lines.

More information regarding Nissan’s COVID-19 response can be read here.

 

Acura

Acura offers several financial assistance options for those in need. They are offering a 90-day deferment plan on select new vehicles if financed by Acura Financial Services.

First responders and healthcare professionals receive $750 toward Cap Cost Reduction or Down Payment Assistance on any 2020 or newer Acura vehicle.

For customers looking to purchase, $500 bonus cash offers exist toward the lease or purchase of a 2020 Acura. Finally, there are select certified pre-owned specials for the TLX and RDX models, making Acura one of the few OEMs to extend their offers to pre-owned.

Acura is imploring all of their customers to make use of home delivery and pickup options for service.

More information on Acura’s COVID-19 response can be found on this page.

 

Hyundai

Hyundai is one of the few providers who are pushing an online purchasing tool through their Click To Buy program. This allows customers to run through the entire shopping experience online without the need of entering the store. Dealers must opt into this program.

For current customers, Hyundai is offering payment deferment plans for those who lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Those who need assistance are being directed to use Hyundai Motor Financing instead.

They have also expanded their warranty program. If your current warranty expires between March and June of 2020, it will automatically extend until June 30th, 2020.

Hyundai is one of the few OEMs that have also mentioned what they are doing to help the dealerships themselves. They created assistance programs aimed to keep locally owned stores open without laying off employees. Specialized sanitation equipment is being delivered to stores. Interestingly, Hyundai also has a deferred floorplan interest program to accommodate dealers who finance their inventory with Hyundai Motor Finance.

For Hyundai, the standout example of their commitment to giving back to their community is their $4 million donation to Hope on Wheels. This charity focuses on providing testing coverage for children’s hospitals around the US. To help medical professionals, they have expanded their existing offers for First Responders to include hospital employees and other healthcare workers.

All of this information and more can be found here for Hyundai.

 

We hope that you have found this summary guide useful! Please continue to stay safe and follow CDC and local recommendations for COVID-19. Don’t forget to check back often for more updates for all things digital and automotive.

Don’t Let The Phones Keep Ringing

A strong online presence usually means a higher call volume. This means you need to work the phones better than ever.  Questions you should be asking:

  • When a customer calls the dealership, where does that call go?  Make sure your associates in-store are prepared to respond accordingly.
  • If your BDC is currently working from home, are calls routed to their personal phones?
  • What happens if a customer has service needs? Can you accommodate them at their home, or can a technician offer some tips?
  • Is your team set to text prospects?

The digital workforce depends on phones. Make sure your sales department has one or more active sales routing options to capture people’s interest and turn them into sales.
 
For those customers shopping from home, invite them to speak with a member of the sales team to discuss buying and delivery options on new and pre-owned inventory.
 
Get Some FaceTime

Consider taking to video. Do all you can to help simulate the car-buying experience from a virtual setting. 
Don’t shy away from being creative. Here are some ideas to think about:

  • Use your service scheduling tool to make FaceTime appointments to discuss inventory and delivery options.
  • Record more vehicle walk-throughs and feature demos on video. (Video test drives are not recommended.)
  • Consider going live on a social media platform to open a Q&A on financing options, test drive deliveries, at-home vehicle service, or other ways your dealership is adapting to current concerns.

Be aware, the purpose of these calls may vary greatly right now, based on circumstance. These calls could range from the “discovery/information-gathering” phase, where prospects are early in the buying process, to the “buy now” phase, where customers are looking for convenience and immediacy for vehicle purchase and delivery.
 
Buyers still value face-to-face interaction. If you can’t get in front of them all in person, be creative and use technology.

 

Get the Message Out

How is your dealership responding to the COVID-19 outbreak?  The first step is to communication. Consumers want reassurance you’re taking the coronavirus threat seriously and prioritizing their safety.  Let your customers know and start with the basics.  

Ways to Communicate

How do you get the message out? Whether it’s texting, FaceTime, or social media, people are as connected and plugged in with technology as ever before. You should embrace this.

Think website first, with a landing page and/or pop-over informing customers of dealership updates specific to COVID-19. Use email to directly broadcast your message to a wider group.

Customers also frequent social media. Spread the word and exist where your audience is. Consider using a hashtag to index coronavirus updates:

  • #DealershipNameCOVID19Updates
  • #AlertNotAnxious
  • #ShopAtHome
  • #ShopDistancing

Be sure to also update your Google My Business Page and your website’s hours of operation. If they’re different from the usual operating hours, make that known. If there’s no change, acknowledge its business as usual, while also pointing out precautionary measures taken.

If you are changing operations or services, provide clear steps for customers to take so they can remain in contact with you. You may even be surprised to see how customers respond to humanized communication.

Ideally, you should spread the word in as many ways as you can. At a minimum:

  • Confirm if/how operating hours are affected by COVID-19.
  • Share updates with customers via your website, social media, and email.

You don’t have to be a virologist to communicate with your customers about how you are facing challenges head-first. Keep your customers informed with upbeat, clear, and concise updates. 

Safety First

What safety measures are you taking in response to COVID-19? 

  • Is hand sanitizer available where hand-to-hand contact may occur?
  • Has hand-washing become a focal point for employees?
  • How frequently is the dealership deep cleaned everyday?

All additional measures count.

Think Outside the Box

Make your dealership stand out from the rest. How? Here are some ideas on how to accommodate your customers while public transportation is a minimum:

  • Home delivery on vehicle purchases.
  • At-home car detailing and deep cleaning.
  • Complete the F&I process at home or online.

 

Consider the circumstances and try to relieve the burden for your customers, as best as you can.