This is an agnostic question. You can be a dealership employee, a manager, a senior manager, general manager or dealer. The question is the same for everyone because it's important for accountability. Everyone has had to cut lately and it has hurt, likely a hell of a lot. Nobody in their right mind should tell you to do otherwise in any context.
Now, are you cutting too much? History will be able to tell you rather than you hearing it from me, your ad agency, another consultant, your brand's district sales manager or vendors. No matter what, there is a point that you can cut too much. Your marketing, your expenses, your store upkeep, your maintenance, your presence are all likely recipients of the cut, cut, cut mentality. You might be able to get away with a lot of that and not hear from more than 1% of your clients that they can tell you've cut back somehow.
If you want to hear from the other 99%, let them know you are still selling, deals are great, financing is available, service is better than ever, selection is not as important as the one car they'll leave in and, the most important part, that you're still here for your clients.
Are you leaving it up to the media to tell your customers what to do? Please tell me you're not. Right now, today, tomorrow or as soon as you can, you can contact everyone that has come into your store (via the web, service drive, parts counter, and -ahem- the sales floor) and tell them that you're in business and ready to help them and here's the great part...you can tell them for free.
Since we know your staff has already stored every email address and every cell phone number (and service provider), your sales team has the time to email or text every guest that now is the right time to buy.
In talking with a lender recently (OK, if you must know it was CUDL) as well as a number of dealers in reference to their financing options, you know what we found? Our less-than-scientific survey revealed that every single dealer spoken with still has the ability to put a 'butt in a seat' with just a handful of fewer options than 90 days ago.
The constraints today may truly be greater than any time in recent history. Don't go rush to bury your head in the sand though friends! Challenging times always produce winners. Tough times call for tough measures. If the business is not the same, don't act the same. The dealers that market smarter right now will win, period.
Will fewer cars be sold? Maybe for some time to come and nobody wants that. But completely stopping what fundamentally makes us operate is insanity. Be solution oriented, understand all of your marketing options including free or low-cost ones, try something new (yes it is the time do to that), ask your customers more questions and keep your brand in front of people.
Dealers, the overwhelming majority of you are not exercising your options anywhere close to what you need to be doing. This is not an insult or a challenge. It is a reminder that you're the marketer. Not the brand. Not your agency. Not your district or regional association. It is your brand, your store, your inventory, your staff, your overhead. It's also your opportunity.
Live by solutions, on solutions, for solutions, with solutions and via solutions. Recognize issues and resolve them with solutions. Don't own problems, they are guaranteed to stop your dead in your tracks. If you don't believe that your current team (vendors, contractors, salespeople, management) can do it, then you have some decisions to make.
If you've still not decided to really go with web marketing, now is the time. Take any amount of ad dollars, even your last ones this month, and get with a knowledgeable, reputable consultant and/or company that has a track record (that you can check on) and don't look back. And quit listening to the people who don't know and will tell you otherwise.
It's time to pick yourselves up by the bootstraps and 'Get 'R Done'! Give people a place they want to come to, people they want to deal with, an experience that have been looking for and you ARE the solution. And be great!
Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results