As an Agency we have an insight into data from a number of dealerships of all sizes and marques. After taking some time to analyse this, we have seen evidence of customers wishing to continue purchases within days of the pandemic gripping the country, while social activity also showed huge increases in traffic and engagement. One medium-sized group experienced a doubling of page impressions as COVID-19 took effect – 1,179,615 from March 16-25 compared to 656,070 the previous week.
We believe that if customers were interested in a car before all this then they are still interested, it’s just the lead times will change. Furthermore, we are still getting servicing requests, it’s just that people are booking for May rather than April.
Around 90% of our dealer clients are continuing communications – albeit with tweaks – but we believe the crisis will result in long-lasting changes whereby sales executives will have to respond to customers enquiring electronically in the same way. That will be a permanent change. Not all customers will be confident and competent doing it but those who are will be pushed further down the sales funnel before they see a physical dealership. For example, when we updated the wording on our emails to ‘visit our virtual showroom’, it produced instant click-throughs.
It will become the ‘new normal’ for some people and that percentage will grow once dealers and customers realise this isn’t a bad way of doing business. We, therefore, predict demand will grow for digital skillsets with a move away from the traditional sales exec who sits people down and negotiates face-to-face. Meanwhile, ‘service to you’ will be given a boost as consumers realise dealers are able to facilitate drop-offs and pick-ups for test drives and services.