Those in automotive retailing know that COVID-19 shut off sales and service business like someone turned off the spigot to a garden hose. Gone were drive-ups and walk-ins, and there was a dramatic rise in online inquiries and phone calls. Most were to simply ask if the dealership was open, while others needed a vehicle and service and were willing to come out of their safe harbor to buy a new or used vehicle or get needed service work performed on their vehicle. These were red hot leads, and needed immediate follow-up and a process in place to address their safety and security concerns.

As a surge in new cases has occurred across the country, now is the time to put into full use those things we learned during the height of the state-wide shutdowns, just a couple of short months ago.

Conduct outbound call and text campaigns to existing customers, and especially those customers who are due for their first service appointment. Dealers that don’t make it convenient and safe for customers and prospects to purchase a vehicle or to get service at your dealership, they will go somewhere that does. With just a click on a link or a quick text message, they can alert a well-trained team member to follow-up with customers and prospects in real time.

We know texting is the most powerful communication tool in use today. Survey after survey from prominent, third-party researchers have found that 90 percent of those who receive a text read within 3 minutes, and 40 percent respond within 15 minutes. Of those consumers who opt-in to text or messaging platform, never opt out.

Put this powerful communication tool to work for you. Solicit new business. Contact those customers with outstanding recalls, text them details of what needs to be done, how long with it take, and provide links to the prominently displayed COVID-19 protections you’ve put into place and your “contactless” service and sales operations on your website.

As the re-openings have occurred, dealers have reported seeing vehicles move off their lots with a lot of pent-up demand. Don’t let a surge in new cases hurt your business operations. Put texting and what you’ve learned about serving your customers to work for you.