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How to reopen your car dealership safely during COVID-19 

With lockdown measures gradually easing in the UK, car dealerships are preparing to reopen showrooms.

But with scattered information and contrasting advice, knowing where to start can be a confusing experience. We’ve pulled together some key guidance to help you reopen your dealership safely and successfully during the crisis.

Preparing for social distancing rules at your dealership

First and foremost, it’s crucial to be aware of and adhering to the various social distancing measures and guidance to ensure the safety of both your staff and your customers, at all times. Before reopening, it’s important that these are not only in place but that your team understands them and you have clearly communicated the changes to everyone.

Understand your local rules 

Governmental advice is being rolled out in phases and will affect you differently depending on where you live. Be aware of the guidance in your area and bear in mind customers outside of your region. Keep up to date with the latest advice and news on a daily basis.

Use clear signage and markings 

Aim to maintain a safe social distance of two metres apart, at all times. Use arrows and floor markings with tape to facilitate the correct distance and direct visitors around a one-way system. Ensure staff are on hand to guide visitors and remind them of the procedures.

Where possible, use a separate entrance and exit to ensure space between those coming in and those leaving the premises.

Prevent large crowds and queues 

One of the key concerns for businesses is the possible influx of visitors news of reopening may bring. Consider the ways your dealership can help to minimise crowds or large queues to prevent social distancing measures being obstructed.

Create safe space within waiting areas by reducing seating, and again using appropriate floor markings and signage to indicate the correct social distance.

Reducing car parking spaces could be an effective way of deterring crowds and capping the number of people entering your showroom at any one time. Or, introducing an appointment booking process could also prove efficient for limiting visitors as well as setting an expectation for you and your team on the number of customers, buying you more time to prepare and staff accordingly.

Encourage good hygiene and protection 

Provide staff and customers with the necessary protective equipment and sanitisation supplies to help everyone feel comfortable and safe.

Consider implementing perspex screens at reception or sales desks and encourage the use of face masks as often as possible.

Ensure hand sanitiser is readily available to all staff and visitors at both entrance and exit points as well as throughout your showroom at desks and toilets. Disinfect all surfaces frequently throughout the day, including car touchpoints and keys prior to each customer interaction.

Some dealerships will also be limiting test drives to just one person, providing the relevant insurance and trade plates are in place.

Having these measures in place will help alleviate any anxiety from customers visiting your showroom and will help everyone to feel safe.

Communicate with staff and customers

Keeping lines of communication open and transparent will be vital to success during the pandemic. Be sure to communicate regularly with all of your employees, even those who may still be on furlough, and ensure that everyone understands the new measures and is comfortable within their role.

Continue to check in with both staff and customers, particularly within the first few weeks of reopening, to ensure everyone feels safe and any concerns or areas for improvement can be addressed.

Be accessible

Many dealerships will be returning to the showroom with reduced staff and, as mentioned above, will be limiting visitor numbers. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to ensure customers have an external channel on which to reach your dealership.

In times of crisis, customers need reassurance and human interaction becomes even more valuable. With 43% of businesses agreeing that phone calls are more important now than ever before, as a result of lockdown, ensuring there is always someone to answer the phone and provide support will be key to a successful and fast recovery.

What’s more, providing an online channel, such as live chat, will enable your staff to engage with customers, effectively triage their enquiries, and offer instantaneous answers prior to them visiting your showroom, with auto-prompts to communicate key information and messaging.

Gain additional support

If you’re returning to the showroom with less staff than usual, or you’re anticipating a potential influx of enquiries – particularly if you’re looking to introduce an appointment booking process – then gaining additional support on an overflow basis can be a cost-effective way of dealing with demand and driving sales.

Speak to Moneypenny today to discover how your dealership can gain flexible support with our powerful business continuity solutions and dedicated automotive answering services. Our experienced receptionists look after calls and chats for the UK’s leading automotive brands. Call us today on 0333 202 1005 to find out more.

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