Tips before reopening your showroom

There is a clear trend towards some form of normalisation across Europe with more shops and car dealers re-opening, albeit in a highly controlled manner. With the Government announcing on April 16th that the lockdown would continue for at least another three weeks, it will be May 9th at the earliest before car retailers might be open to the general public. When this date does arrive, there can be little doubt that social distancing measures will remain as a crucial defense against the second wave of COVID-19. So how might dealers adapt to ensure social distancing:

  1. Your own team – before re-opening, start by considering how your team are kept safe at all times;  Provide clear guidance to everyone and the necessary facilities, clothing, etc. to keep them safe;
  2. Suppliers – provide clear guidance to suppliers on contact and delivery procedures, minimising all such contact;
  3. Digitally – create customer confidence and awareness of your social distancing measures across your digital platforms, this should include details on car cleaning for aftersales customers;
  4. Online tools – add functionality such as P/X valuation, deposit-taking facilities to reserve vehicles and interactive F&I tools;
  5. Make cleanliness a priority, especially high footfall areas such as toilets, keeping customers informed on how and when this done;
  6. ‘By appointment’ – encourage sales and service customers to make appointments to visit at allocated time slots. For sales this should include seeking information on any car the car is interested in viewing to ensure it is acceptable and pre-sanitised;
  7. Ask that people visiting the showroom do so solo or in a maximum party of two; request that children under 14 years stay at home as far as possible;
  8.  ‘Drive-through’ service check-in/handover areas, to minimise showroom traffic and personal interaction (for now, a waiting area may not be appropriate);
  9. Review the layout of the showroom and forecourt to provide more space between vehicles and consider how for example you could create a one-way flow of footfall traffic;
  10. Place sanitisers and hand gels at the entrances/exits and near payment and PC terminals, prominently signposting that its use is mandatory;
  11. Seek to keep people (staff and customers) a minimum of 2 metres apart and avoid hand-shaking;
  12. Consider using Perspex screens as protection for any instances where desks are going to be used;
  13. Revisit your policy on test drives. Do you have a plan to allow for unaccompanied test drives?
  14. Add social distancing markers at key points in the showroom where customers might be viewing a vehicle for instance;
  15. Appoint a member of staff as a ‘social distancing’ monitor, to maintain standards and demonstrate your business’s commitment.