Now, a few days after the long-anticipated big-bang that was to be the “end of lockdown”, it appears that it’s not going to be the “big roll-back” we were perhaps hoping for.
There are many reasons why, notably the spiralling reported daily case numbers and they’re almost certainly driving the clear consumer reticence, (in some quarters at least) to get straight back to normal as quickly as possible. Just how ingrained this view is, may be hard to measure, but according to AM Online’s survey of over 1,300 car buyers, close to 2/3rds of those sampled would avoid showrooms that have ditched Covid safety measures.
Those sort of numbers may be surprising but they certainly represent a signpost of consumer expectations of a softly-softly approach to easing restrictions in-showroom over the coming weeks. What’s more, there’s a strong argument that this represents a real opportunity.
Now’s the time to take stock and have a wholesale review of everything your customers see and touch. While it’s sorely tempting to have a bonfire of everything Covid-related, there are things that the pandemic forced up on the industry that are overwhelmingly popular with consumers and business-owners. Can we really see unaccompanied test drives becoming a thing of the past? Or for that matter would any retailer want to give ground on the often hard-won digitisation of their customer journey, that has driven efficiencies and allowed smaller teams of sales executives to focus on delivering a better experience for showroom visitors?
There is also the opportunity for canny retailers to use safety measures as a differentiator. For many franchised sites this could be a chance to use this most tangible aspect of service as a way to create clear blue water between them and some independents who are more likely to want to press the great re-set button.
There’s highly unlikely to be a wholesale return to normal because, whether we like it or not, this is pretty much the new normal…