Getting Ready for the New Normal

The automotive industry is one of the industries that is severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Locally, Q1 sales has dropped close to 40%. This trend is expected to continue at least within this year, even after the lifting of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Demand is seen to go down as consumers are expected to prioritize spending on urgent and basic needs. Until a cure or a vaccine is developed to completely eradicate Covid-19, the way the industry conducts business will definitely change.

Although sales, generally, is expected to drop, there is still a silver lining. There will be people who would consider buying a new car instead of taking the risk of getting infected while commuting. The entire customer journey will now be reshaped by issues on health and safety. Customer satisfaction will not just revolve around who is fast, who has the best product, who has the best service – it will go beyond what these usual parameters. It goes without saying that the current business process and transactions within an auto-dealership, will need to change.

So, what will these changes be in the new normal? What steps in the process should still be maintained on site, which can be automated and which can be done online? The emerging trend now is going digital where activities, as much as possible, should be done mobile or online. Food or groceries are ordered online and delivered, people communicate electronically and even trainings, meetings, classes, seminars are all conducted online. This is the new normal that the pandemic introduced, where the less (no) contact, the better.

Contactless service

Whether you are buying a new car or getting your vehicle serviced, having it done remotely is something the consumer would want to have as an option. Some sales agents are already doing sales activities through social media. However, it would be a challenge for dealership to have all these activities monitored. Now is the best time to be able to manage enquiry and sales via a dealer website (info such as model, price, stock availability, delivery schedule, assign Sales Consultant, etc.). Customers would also appreciate it if they can have their car serviced on-call so they won’t have to go out of their homes for it. They just need to call/message to set an appointment for car servicing and have it picked up and delivered after.

Walk-ins

However hard we try, not everything can be done online and not everyone would be comfortable to transact without face to face interaction. The OEM and dealership should be prepared to address the requirement for health and safety, not only for the consumers but for their staff as well. Whether it is in the showroom or service center, social distancing should be observed. Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) should be made available for both employees and customers visiting the facility. Doing walk-arounds, vehicle demo and test drives should be done with health and safety considerations embedded in the process.

The Central Bank of the Philippines (BSP) noted that the coronavirus outbreak would have a major impact on the Philippine economy in the coming months. There’s quite a number of different scenarios to play with regarding how the impact would be like. One thing is for certain though and that is, business will still continue. Getting ready for the new normal is something every business should consider. While the pandemic has changed a lot with the economy, consumers will always be the deciding factor of any business. Drawing customer-centric actions will benefit business as we move towards a Covid-free nation.

The automotive industry in need for assistance and at Differential Asia, we have helped many to become efficient and profitable with our patented products. Please feel free to reach out to our Philippines Country Manager – Sigfred Doloroso, sigfred.doloroso@differential.com.sg