Winter Tips for Better Dealership Processes

Have You Winterized Your Dealership Processes Yet?

Written By Carol Marshall

Dare I say it...soon enough, it’s going to be winter. And when winter comes, you’re not going to share another Game of Thrones meme, but you are going to ensure that everyone (your staff, your vendors, etc.) is prepared for what happens in winter - such as holidays, bad weather, illness...maybe even snowball fights.

So, what kind of processes are we talking about? Where can you get started in preparing for winter?

Well, first let’s talk about the cheery stuff!

Send Your Team Home for the Holidays

When holidays come around, sometimes dealerships have closings so their employees can be with their families. However, your chat provider doesn’t always know when those closings are - unless you tell them.

It’s imperative to communicate with your chat provider about any closings or change in hours you may have during the holidays so that they can relay that information to your online shoppers during chat conversations. You don’t want car buyers coming into your dealership when you are closed (no one likes to get upset during the holidays!), so make sure everyone is on the same page regarding your changes in hours.

Furthermore, in case a shopper calls your store directly, it’s important to update your phone prompts so that it mentions you are closed - cover all of your bases when customers try to contact your store!

Right now is also a very good time to start thinking about how you will bring in more business during the holidays for your Sales Department.

Questions to Ask:

  • Are you going to have Santa visit your dealership?
  • Are you going to have a special Winter Sales Event?
  • What is your winter marketing strategy going to be to sell more cars?
  • Are you using winterized keywords on your website?

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like....a Winter Storm!

When bad weather comes through your area, sometimes your electricity goes down which means no phones or computers for your team to communicate with customers! To ensure your digital showroom stays up and running, make sure to have a managed chat service that can take over for you during emergencies. A managed chat team may not be located in your direct area (but hopefully in North America!), allowing them to be available when you are not able.

If your employees are unable to make it to work or you have to close during a storm, be sure to have a process in place to contact your chat provider to let them know! You do not want your shoppers traveling to your dealership on dangerous, icy roads because your chat team told them the dealership is still open for business. Not a great way to spread holiday cheer!

It’s also wise to have a contact system to notify your team when they should not come into work in the case of a nasty storm. Make a plan for who will call the employees, and get everyone’s phone numbers and put them in a Bad Weather Emergency Contact spreadsheet.

Please Stay Home for the Holidays!

During the winter months, your staff may be more prone to illness and need to stay at home to recoup. To ensure you dealership always has enough personnel available to answer all of the chat requests you receive, ask your provider if they offer a dual-service option. This way, in the event your team is unavailable to chat, their managed chat team can pick up chats for you and provide a seamless service.

Please note: Making shoppers wait for answers does not give a good first impression of your dealership so steer clear of the “backup” services that wait 30 seconds before responding to chats. Rather, look for a service in which the managed chat team can help you pick up chats at any time without additional time delays for the shopper. For an excellent example, see ActivEngage’s Race to Chat.

You may also want to look for a web-based or mobile chat solution. Even if your store’s computers are down, you can still chat with shoppers on your mobile devices, or anywhere there is an Internet connection (like your living room couch)!

Additionally, if you have one manager that handles the distribution of incoming leads to your team (rather than a round robin approach), you need a backup employee if that manager gets sick or can’t make it in. Without a secondary process, your incoming leads will not be responded to immediately or will go unanswered.

Question to Ask: Who will take over the process of handing out leads if the manager gets sick?

How to Get Your Service Center Ready for Winter

Your Service Department needs to start implementing specials and programs for the winter months before the 10 inches of snow arrives!

To help your shoppers winterize their vehicles, consider promoting specials for:

  • Winter Tires
  • Brakes
  • Cooling System
  • Full Winter Car Care Packages

Send out coupons for these services via direct mail or email before winter hits that will attract those proactive customers to visit your dealership for all of their winter prep needs.

You may even want to promote a Winter Survival Car Kit Giveaway contest on social media. This contest could not only add original content to your social media strategy, but it also gets your followers thinking about their needs for the winter months!

Ideas for items to include in the Winter Survival Car Kit:

  • Blanket
  • Small Shovel
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Hand/Feet Warmers
  • Matches/Lighter
  • Candle
  • Cat Litter or Sand
  • Bottled Water
  • Flares
  • Whistle
  • First-Aid Supplies
  • Tire Chains
  • Ice Scraper/Snow Brush

Don’t wait until the last minute to implement these processes! Get started NOW.


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