Hi folks, I know it’s a little crazy out there right now, but I’ve talked to a bunch of dealers over the past couple of days and wanted to hop on for a few minutes to talk about some things those dealers are already doing and some things you may want to consider in your own business.
First of all, the grass is going to grow and farmers, who are so central to the country’s forward movement, are still going to do what the do, come hell or high water. Commercial cutters are likely still going to be serving customers and they’ll need parts and service like always. And the homeowners are going to have a lot of time on their hands sitting at home when the sun starts to shine, they’re going to be mowing as well. So the start of the season might be dulled, but the season will come, one way or the other. Some of these ideas could actually be permanent adjustments to the way your store does business.
- Take time to make sure you update your social channels and especially Google My Business if you have adjusted your normal hours of operation. These are the first places customers are going to go to find out what you’ve got going on. Use these channels to let your customers know how you are addressing the pandemic, that the safety of your employees and customers are of utmost importance.
- Follow the government’s guidelines on social distancing when interacting with customers in store or at the parts counter. Tape off an area around your service and parts counters.
- Offer curbside pickup or home delivery. Some OEMs like Cub Cadet offer online purchasing for whole goods that can be shipped directly to your door while still giving you credit for the sale. Support another local business and have a permanent sign made for designated parking spot for pickup and dropoff.
- Allow customers to schedule a virtual call with a salesperson. Use Facebook Messenger or Skype to make free video calls that allow customers to virtual shopping in your showroom.
- Review your marketing calendar – The beginning of the season is always nuts and OEM promotions are typically rolling out just in time so most of the dealers I talk to sometimes barely have time to keep current on those promotions before the sales crush hits. If you need to pause advertising, let your vendors (like us) know and they’ll work with you to restructure campaigns. Remember, the season isn’t going away, it’s just going to be delayed (we hope).
- Check with your OEMs to see what they are doing to ease the strain, extensions on terms, additional promotions. If they haven’t already announced them, they should have something in the works. No shame in pressing them to help.
Some things to consider on the business front.
The government is working to put stimulus programs in place in the form of cash payment to most families tentatively on April 6th and May 18th. That’s right in the middle of spring selling season so there is potential for some cash influx that you can wrap promotions around if you offer special cash pricing or use it to tie into one of the many promotions most OEM dealers will have during that time anyway.
We’re a small business, just like you and we’ve been watching pretty closely as the government is also pushing special SBA loans for qualifying businesses. With most of you sitting on a lot inventory that may not move for the next few months, it may make sense to look into the temporary relief that the SBA program can provide for payroll and other expenses. Check out the programs details from the SBA here.
Another thing to consider if you’ve racked up some credit card debt that’s killing cash flow, American Express may waive interested and late fees for businesses that are hit hard by the pandemic. Find out more details on that program here.
Here’s hoping some of this helps you and your business. Remember to try to enjoy some of this time with your families and have faith that things are going to be back to normal again real soon.