One suggested method for doing this is to identify customers whose vehicles have a recall and contact them for that service.
“This is the time to earn the customer’s loyalty," Renaud said. "Show the customer you’re there for them and that you deserve their business.”
Although limited funds may make it necessary to reduce advertising budgets, it’s counterproductive to eliminate marketing altogether. Instead, invest in platforms that target specific audiences.
“Most of our budget right now is going to service," Berkley said. "It’s all directed to service and the customer, how we’re going to take care of them.”
“We’ve taken the time to scrub all of our advertising, asking ourselves, ‘What’s the perception on this?’ We’ve even removed all hard offers on our website and are really trying to communicate the stance ‘We’re here; we’re here to help you’ and ‘What can we do to accommodate you in this time?’" Beaton added. "I think playing the supporting role is the role to play right now. By playing that role, people will find you and will come to you either way.”
Conversations with current customers can be a little more sales-driven, and communicating incentives and specials can help create a positive brand image.
“We need to show the community [we care], but I wouldn’t say totally abandon your inventory ads," Sneed suggested. "Because at the end of the day, we are who we are. We’re auto dealerships: we sell cars! And now some OEMs are supporting more heavily with incentives…we can still be the guide and supporter and say, ‘If you’re hurting in a financial crisis, you can have a newer vehicle with no payments for six months’ and that can bridge the gap. If you do it in a classy way, you don’t come across as sleazy.”
“This is the time to innovate, to adapt and to really think about your customers’ needs,” Petersen contributed. “This will set you apart when we come out of this.”
Finally, shops need to play the long game to ensure they are still viable when this crisis passes. Building brand recognition through community involvement, especially in this time of need, can go a long way to cultivating customer loyalty, because they will remember who stepped up when times were tough.