Save the date for our second Survival Tactics in a COVID-19 World webinar.
Last Thursday, May 21, The Cannata Reported hosted the first of its two Survival Tactics in a COVID-19 World webinars featuring members of our Dealer Advisory Board. Our first webinar included Doug Pitassi, president of POA, AJ Baggott, COO of RJ Young, and Jim George, president of Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises (DME). Our second webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, June 3 at 2:30 p.m. EST. Panelists will feature Deb Dellaposta, president and CEO, Doing Better Business, Steve Gau, vice president, Marco, Inc., and Troy Olson, chief business development officer, Les Olson Company. You can register for the June 3 webinar here.
In our first webinar, participants shared their thoughts on the tough decisions they’ve had to make to keep their dealerships open, projected declines in print for 2020 and 2021 as a result of the pandemic, how they are preparing their dealerships for this scenario, new opportunities that the crisis has brought to light, keeping the sales funnel flowing, steps to bring their dealership and people back online as businesses and offices reopen, and more.
Next week’s panelists will respond to some of the same questions as the first group as well as questions submitted by dealers who attended the first session.
Here’s five strategies our panelists are using to remain relevant with customers and to ensure their dealership’s survival in the short and long-term. Although you may not find many surprises here, hopefully it validates what you’ve been doing in your dealership during the crisis.
- Services and software rule – “It’s a math problem,” observed POA’s Pitassi about finding other opportunities fil fill the gap from the loss of print. Managed services, MPS cybersecurity, if it’s a service or software as a service, there’s still an opportunity in this environment. While these opportunities can’t completely make up for the massive decline in print, they are helping some dealers stay busy.
- Doctor’s orders – Where there is a need, there is a dealer willing to fill it. As Pitassi observed, it’s the ability to pivot. Two needs that some panelists are filling are requests for temperature kiosks and hand sanitizer. Prior to the pandemic, those products may not have sounded all that sexy or were even in a dealer’s wheelhouse but look what’s sexy now!
- Continue to engage with customers – DME, for example has been hosting virtual webinars for its customers. Its sales reps are actively engaging with customers to identify areas where DME can help save them money. George expects this engagement model to continue after the pandemic subsides. Here’s a unique twist, George is offering his sales reps big incentives to sell off the equipment in the DME showroom because he doesn’t expect customers to pay any onsite visits to DME for at least the next six to seven months.
- Protecting their employees – None of our panelists have taken the pandemic lightly and their companies are doing their best to protect employees and customers whether it is following CDC guidelines, working remotely, social distancing, keeping facilities clean, taking temperatures, or wearing face masks. As George noted, “We’re doing everything we can to make everybody feel comfortable.” Meanwhile at RJ Young, all service and delivery personnel are required to do a temperature check each morning before starting work. RJ Young has also invested in a sanitizing machine that uses a mist to sanitize the office before employees arrive for work in the morning.
- Stay optimistic – With some dealers expecting their business to be down as much as 40-60% in 2020, our panelists are still bullish on the future of their dealerships. “We are in a recession-proof business,” opined Pitassi. “We sell products and services to every vertical, there’s plenty of opportunity.” RJ Young’s AJ Baggott is optimistic as well. “We’ve talked about the different offerings and we did some math and we can triple the size of RJ Young if we sold one additional service to every current customer.” Meanwhile, George acknowledged that some of his dealership’s and the industry’s benchmarks will change as dealers identify new revenue opportunities. “We’re going to measure it all the way down to the rep level and make it a math problem and figure out how we can make sure that they are making the money that they signed up for, and that the organization is healthy and we’re growing. We’re a resilient industry. We will not fail. We will continue to grow.” And here’s a bit of good news from DME to wrap things up: Even though schools are closed, DME was able to close four deals with four schools over the last two weeks.
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