Low Density Retail, High Customer Involvement

Emerging from winter and preparing for the spring and summer seasons is a whole different ballgame this year. You have an advantage in that most of your stores are not high density, but high customer involvement. You can be a valuable resource in your community and naturally provide the social distancing necessary today.

There is a great unknown for all of us, but what is certain is that people are spending a lot of time at home. With much of the population spending the vast majority of their time in their houses, I think there is an opportunity to talk to your customers as the experts you are.

Right now, there are countless videos posted on YouTube or sent to the local news teams of people cleaning, organizing, doing yard work and home projects during the quarantine.

If you are so inclined, make a video showing what you have available to help customers with their projects and how you can safely make those products available to them. Email the video link to your customers with guidance regarding how you are conducting business now. As a person who is used to working from home, but now has 2nd and 5th grade kids with me during the day, I would appreciate some ideas of projects that I could do with my kids during breaks from my work and theirs that don’t involve making another craft. I would like to get real work done on the property and teach them skills.

Keep each video short and keep to an individual topic — 1-2 minutes is fine for a simple topic. You know what your customers have purchased and what they need. Talk to them about ideas you have.

If your store is open but you cannot have customers in your store, reach out via email or call your customers with their typical needs at this time of the year. People appreciate the touch and are interested in helping their local businesses succeed in challenging times. For example, you could arrange “contactless” pick up and drop off of equipment that needs to be serviced or new purchases. You could put together a number of packages that could be purchased or pre-paid services.

If your store is closed or has limited hours, take advantage of the time to get organized and do those disruptive projects that you usually don’t have time for. You will improve your store dramatically and be prepared for welcoming customers again. We are hearing from many family owned dealerships that they are doing the projects together and asking for plans from us that they can start now.

Declutter: It is time to purge all of the old literature, posters, service manuals and general clutter from the dealership. If you need to keep any of it for reference, create a specific area on a shelf in back. This will ensure that you and your employees have space to work and that your customers have space to shop.

Get Organized: This is an excellent time to tackle the part’s room project that is always on the back of your mind. If it isn’t that, you have another one in mind. This goes hand in hand with decluttering. Think about time and motion efficiency. How does your work flow? What makes sense for you and your employee’s roles and responsibilities?

Deep Clean: It is important to create a clean slate. Customers are more apt to trust that your dealership is clean if you deal with those challenging spots; woodwork, ceilings and corners to name a few. This is important all of the time, but in today’s environment, you have to have an effective, standardized cleaning regimen.

Lighting: This is an excellent time to replace those mismatched or burned out bulbs. While you are up there, clean the ceiling and the light fixtures. This is a typically ignored area, but makes a huge difference.

Do those disruptive projects, too.

Paint: This is an excellent time to patch and paint your walls. Keep it neutral and complementary to your dealership.

Floors: Your floors get a lot of tough use. This is a great time to clear the floor and deep clean, refinish or replace your floor. Clean, polished concrete is perfectly acceptable in this retail category. This is an excellent time to get that paint that is flaking and chipping off the floor.

I would be irresponsible if I didn’t mention COVID-19. Depending on what state or province you are in, you may be operating under different guidelines, so please understand and follow the guidelines governing your area before you act.

We know that customers will feel better about an environment that is clean and clutter free when they are welcomed back in your stores.

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