COVID-19 is changing the way automotive businesses approach their communications. Messaging around home delivery, contactless service, digital deals and hygiene has now become foundational as businesses make every effort to ensure customers feel safe enough to set foot in a showroom or dealership. In place of sales promotions, many dealerships have flipped their messaging to reassure customers that all the right health and safety measures are in place and they are ready to do business.
The industry is faced with the huge challenge of restarting demand and driving sales following the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) forecast of a record 25% drop in EU car sales as a result of the pandemic and calls within the sector for vehicle incentives to help aid economic recovery.
In place of sales promotions, many dealerships have flipped their messaging to reassure customers that all the right health and safety measures are in place and they are ready to do business
With some governments granting motorists extensions on vehicle MOTs, garages will be keen to attract customers to book in their vehicles quickly in order to help their businesses recover from the shutdown period. Dealerships will be eager to tempt consumers into their showrooms and forecourts to help kick-start sales and encourage them to explore their stock, take test drives and purchase a new vehicle.
Automotive businesses have no choice but to get into position to respond to industry changes and update their communications quickly. This means being able to create new signage as soon as the COVID-19 restrictions change. Much of this comes down to being able to print signage in-house as and when it is needed in order to keep the business agile, rather than having to wait for an order to arrive from a supplier. If dealerships fail to have all the right signs in the right places, customers may not feel comfortable and will be deterred from entering, immediately missing out on potential sales that they simply cannot afford to lose.
Once customers are in the showroom or garage, it is vital that they feel confident that the right social distancing measures are in place on site. Businesses should consider self-adhesive floor stickers with messages reminding customers and staff to stay a safe distance apart. These can be placed in areas where people typically congregate such as workshop floors, staff break-rooms, customer waiting areas and offices where customers pay for services. By investing in a single printer, automotive businesses can produce everything they need, from indoor and outdoor signage, banners, self-adhesive floor and window stickers to direct mailers, hanging tags for steering wheels and mirrors, MOT and servicing documents and even number plates.
The use of high-impact visual communications is an effective way to get customers back through the doors and generate interest in products and services
The use of high-impact visual communications is an effective way to get customers back through the doors and generate interest in products and services and can be done quickly and cost-effectively in-house, meeting the day-to-day needs of automotive businesses. For car dealerships in particular, the focus is not just on getting customers back in the showroom but encouraging them to purchase once they are there. Many customers may be hesitant to make an investment due to the current climate, but the use of window graphics, in-store adverts, banners to promote vehicles and test drives, etc can help encourage potential buyers to take the leap.
All of these measures together will provide automotive businesses with the agility to respond to changing regulations and provide customers with the confidence to re-enter show rooms and help the sector to quickly spring back to business as usual.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Javier Lopez is Industry Vertical General Manager, Business Development Transformation EMEA, at OKI Europe Ltd
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