Thanks to COVID-19, in an instant the automotive retail business has transformed. How severely and for how long is what the future will tell. At the time of writing this, in early April, dealerships are largely shuttered or working at marginal capacity. In some provinces auto dealerships have been deemed essential and stay open, while other provinces reckon they are not essential and ordered them closed.
Either way, given the existing social distancing regime, foot traffic has come to a virtual halt into physical bricks and mortar showrooms. Overall sales numbers for March, April and likely May, will be weak, to say the least. So dealers are being forced to adapt and find ways to stay productive and where possible continue
doing business. At the very least dealer principals and managers need to keep their closed stores secure. After all, that is a lot of valuable inventory to be sitting for weeks on end, with little or no staff to keep watch.
Portable magnetic GPS trackers, such as those offered by Trackem or WhereSafe, can be placed in virtually any hard to find location in a vehicle, allowing dealers to instantly know the location of that asset. That same magnetic tracker can be moved from vehicle to vehicle based on security needs. These portable trackers can be spread across the lot and showroom based on priority given to high value vehicles, or known targeted models, or cars in less secure areas of the lot. Ultimately, they can be placed in every vehicle in the inventory if necessary.
A geofence (a predefined GPS monitored area) can be placed around the entire property of the dealership, so if any GPS secured vehicle leaves the lot, a notification will be instantly sent to those that need to know. All the while, the dealer can see in real-time, via mobile app, exactly where a given vehicle is at that moment.
But portable GPS trackers offer much more than just lot security. For example, to comply with social distancing best practices, with a GPS tracked vehicle, dealers could easily entrust customers to test drive a vehicle alone, without a sales rep onboard. The rep could monitor the route, time, and speed of the customer and stay in contact with them, if needed, throughout the test drive. The dealer would get instant notifications as a result of any wrong doing, such as excessive speed, travel beyond predefined geographical limits and time limits.
Customer service managers can also leverage the use of GPS installed into courtesy cars and dealer shuttles. This can give customer service direct knowledge of locations and routes, which is information that can help planning resulting in fuel savings. All information and reports can be accessed from home and monitored on the app.
These same GPS powered lot security and sales tools, can also be resold to end customers. During hard times like this, when several jurisdictions around the world are reporting spikes in personal theft, GPS tracking for high valued assets is a very attractive and affordable add-on.
This becomes another item for F&I or the sales rep to sell, to increase revenues and profits per unit sale. In fact, dealers could sell a single client multiple units to track other vehicles in their household or business fleets, or for other assets such as ATVs, boats, tractors and more.
GPS technology re-sold to end clients is fully supported by the vendor. In fact, other than the units on the lot for security, test drives and shuttles, the dealer does not have to stock any portable GPS tracker inventory. Companies such as Trackem and WhereSafe, fully market, stock and fulfill orders.
The end process for the customer is turnkey. Simply install the magnetic tracker in a good hidden location on the vehicle, download the app and they are ready. This requires no training time for the dealer.
These uncertain times have already changed the way we do business. To keep above water and flourish in the future we must find new ways to help, sell, save, and be secure. GPS technology certainly does not hold all the answers to keeping auto dealers strong, however, it can certainly help for a number of changing business practices and simultaneously provide some peace of mind.
To get more specific information on GPS technology and how it can help your dealership or business, contact Vince Poloniato at firstname.lastname@example.org.