How Coronavirus is Impacting the Automotive Industry

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The spread of the Coronavirus has been the top story in the headlines for weeks, and as it leaps over continents and across borders, health officials are calling it the next pandemic. As I sit here to write this article, part of me hopes by the time this article is published it’s no longer a relevant topic and we can return to normalcy. The truth is, initially I brushed off the news as hysteria as I thought it was much ado about nothing. Now, I’m scratching my head wondering if there is something to worry about and take action on. Do I need to run to Costco and stock up on paper towels, water and toilet paper? Oh wait, I forgot, the shelves are empty.  I still place myself in the camp of wait and see and take precautions to do the basics, like wash my hands, which in full disclosure, I did anyway before it became fashionable.

What is undeniable is the impact this is having on the global economy.  Not only has it sent stocks tumbling, it’s had a ripple effect across multiple industries including travel, technology, and even automotive. As factories across the country shut down, flights cancelled, borders closed, and events like the NY Auto Show get postponed, how is this going to impact everyday Americans and how can we weather it until it passes? How does it affect you in the automotive industry? Are you going to get the inventory you need to provide the best service to your customers?

It’s hard to predict when this will pass, but the automotive manufacturing shutdowns across Asia have already disrupted the supply chain and have spawned the creation of a new task force to combat the impact of the coronavirus called the “New Coronavirus Countermeasures Automobile Council”.  This council, spearheaded by the Japanese government together with Automakers and parts manufacturers, will aim to provide countermeasures to offset the disruption to the market. 

Here are some things you can do to make sure your dealership thrives during these trying times:

  1. Don’t panic, this too shall pass. Yes, people may be more homebound, but as of now they still need to drive.  In many cases, people may feel more comfort driving than flying so the need for service and maintenance is still relevant. As more people cancel flights, they are relying on road trips as an alternative vacation. 
  2. Make sure your shoppers feel at ease and safe. Again, the CDC informs us that you should avoid shaking hands and that’s ok. Your shoppers will thank you for being extra cautious. You can let shoppers know you too are taking precautions and sterilizing the dealership each day and wiping down the interior surfaces of the vehicles before and after each test drive.
  3. Take care of your staff. Yes, your sales team works on commission and when they don’t work, they don’t get paid, however, you should encourage all employees to stay home if they are not feeling well.
  4. Take advantage of downtime. If showroom traffic is low, take advantage of the lull by catching up on training. Refocus your priorities and shift as needed – that’s what makes a great manager.  You may want to step up your outbound calls to sold clients. Make sure they’re doing ok and see if they need any help. This is a great time to make connections and stay top of mind. 

Your customers will take note of how you respond to this situation and your actions can either create clients for life….or not. 

We all can agree this outbreak has caused some uncertainty and concern across the world, But keep the big picture in mind. Taking perspective and caring for your customers and employees should be the top priority.  The need for cars isn’t going away and in time this will be a distant memory. In the meantime, we’re here to help you and to boost sales in both a good and bad economy. Reach out for a demo on how we can help you bring more people into the showroom no matter what environment you’re facing.



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