FADA’s recent webinar entitled Digital Retailing Distruption – A Dealer Perspective offers some great advice for dealers in the wake of the COVID disruption. Take a look at our notes (below), and feel free to view the webinar in it’s entirety HERE.

Top three things customers & employees look for in digital space:

  • Safety
  • Efficiency
  • Personalization 


Technology by itself is not the disruptor. Not being customer-centric is the biggest threat to any business:

  • Netflix did not kill Blockbuster. Ridiculous late fees did.
  • Uber did not kill the taxi business. Limited access and fare control did.
  • Apple did not kill the music industry. Being forced to buy full-length albums did.
  • Amazon did not kill other retailers. Poor customer service and experience did.
  • Airbnb isn’t killing the hotel industry. Limited availability and pricing options are.


Goal is not to replace traditional dealership model, but add digital dealership model to traditional offerings.


In the sales pipeline, hardest three areas for digital sales:

  • Demo Drive
  • Trade Evaluation
  • Business Office/F&I Process


A growing # of customers have reported they don’t require a test drive to purchase, if there is a no worry guarantee return.


Definition of a digital sale (for this presentation), flexibility of consumer to:

  • Select a vehicle
  • Get accurate trade appraisal
  • Get bank approval with exact monthly payment amount
  • All without to dealership staff



  • 83% of text messages are opened within 5 minutes of receipt, but consumer only read 1 out of 4 emails
  • Email is a nocturnal activity
  • Use Video to Record Customized Walk Arounds & Feature Highlights
    • With fewer consumers physically in store, your team will have more time to cater to online leads individually
    • Show the vehicle as if it was an in­person walk around
    • Know what the customer is interested in and showcase it! Ex: If a customer wants safety features, highlight safety features
  • This is the time to build the value and rapport
  • Pre-recorded ‘virtual 360’ tour gallery (tip – use manufacturer links to virtual tours)
  • Live ‘webcam 360’ interactive virtual tour/walk-around (Personalized)
  • Professional photo gallery of vehicles – multiple views on website


Demonstration Drive – Methods/Best Practices

  • Consider adding accessors or selecting vehicle with the following:
    • Highest level trim packages or packages that match their checklist Vacuum cleaner hook ups
    • Outdoor sport racks (bikes/kayaks/bags/tents)
    • Vehicles w/ excessive cup holders- fill with  water bottles
    • Spare tire inflation pump demo
  • For Overnight Test Drives
    • Pre-recorded website greeting explaining sanitation process
    • Use video to explain white glove services, sanitation processes and no physical contact process
  • At the Store
    • Directional signs for test drive pickup
    • Provide video in advance of expectations
    • Use loaner fleet as test drive vehicles (minimize cross contamination)
    • Test drive vehicle line up in front of store ready to go
    • Be prepared to greet at appropriate distance (communicate arrival times)
    • Have keys in car ready to go
    • Employees with masks/gloves and extras
    • Preplanned/Customized driving route
    • Virtual salesperson on tablet in vehicle after they leave store
  • At the Customer’s Home
    • Have a radius or process to determine if a home delivery test drive makes sense.
    • Have them see if it fits in their garage – emphasize because they’re delivered to your home or office, you can sort of easily discover basically what it would be like to sort of live with the car
    • Use this opportunity to evaluate any potential trade in vehicles
  • At Alternative Off-Site Location
    • Choose a public place that is empty  – Airport/School/Church Parking Lots as laws allow
    • Provide video in advance of location and the expectations
    • Bring WIFI hotspot
    • Use this opportunity to evaluate any potential trade in vehicles
  • Own Multiple Line-makes – Offer Comparative Test Drives
    • Considering the Honda CRV or Toyota RAV 4? Schedule them side by side and do a cargo test, etc.


Write-Up Trade Evaluations – Best Practices

  • Clients want trust/transparency and technology
  • Dealer Tips for Digital Evaluations
    • Obtain VIN to run a background check- OEM Service History- Auto Check- Car Fax
    • Request- Multiple pictures (at least 20) with a customer check list to guide pictures
    • Simple and transparent disclosure form that all distance evaluations are conditional based on verification
    • Verification must take place during the meeting at the test drive
    • Customer must be allowed to witness verification
    • Possession of the trade must take place during the transaction
    • If transaction is with 3 days of test drive and trade verification
    • Adjustments to evaluation are not as prevalent as initially thought


Business Office | F&l – Best Practices 

  • Give the Customer control – 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase F&l products if they can do research at home prior to purchase


  • Dealer Tips Digital F&I:
    • Be a one-stop shop to “Shop & Purchase” any F&I products 100% Online
    • Offer a research tab on your website – so customer doesn’t need to leave your website
    • Pre-price units online to speed negotiation
    • Offer full menu/pricing of vehicle protection plans
    • Add online shopping cart for protection plans and add ons
    • Provide payment calculator along with rebates/rate programs (for qualifying individuals)
    • Offer Credit Application/Banking Info online
    • Deliver exact payments
    • Maximize use of online software tools for all paperwork that permits e-signature
    • Make sure to get any wet signatures required at delivery


Employee Retention

  • It will become exponentially more difficult to recall valuable associate who have accepted positions with a new company
  • Avoid layoffs and furloughs by maximizing government programs
  • Explore all federal and state unemployment insurance options for associates with reduced hours
  • Promote the steps taken to keep the facilities safe for the associates
  • Equip associates with the needed tools to have the ability to operate remotely
  • Maintain as much “normalcy” as possible to operate without controllable distractions
  • Avoid restructuring of compensation plan
  • Explore options such as mid-month draws to help associates families
  • Continuous Communication- Daily top to bottom of associate structure
  • Daily Online Meetings- Zoom, MS Teams, Adobe, GoToMeeting etc.
  • At minimum- Daily video messages
  • Take the “Long Term” approach to retaining your workforce


Increases Employee Efficiency

  • Put the customer to work  to make your employees more  productive
  • Start the process on the internet
  • Send an interactive deal to the customer with different  scenarios
  • Have the client input their details and answer questions
  • Give the customer educational materials and have them pre-select finance and insurance products on an ipad or kiosk
  • Complete the credit application digitally



Be mindful of federal, state or local rules as some of these recommendations may not be allowed at your locale and need to still follow CDC social distancing requirements.


How do we produce a video/how do we distribute a video?

  • Ideally, use what the customer is using. If using an iphone, do a FaceTime video.
  • There are numerous vendors out there re: producing a video or record on cell phones. 
  • To distribute a video, strongly encourage you to convert your video into a link – youtube, animoto, etc. find the right option for you.


Any Notes on Cleaning Cars?

  • Focus on detailers not lot porters – running longer/staggered shifts – detailing in own bay & typically must already wear PPE due to chemicals


How to do an engine assessment on virtual trade-in?

  • Upfront disclosure that virtual assessments are conditional based on verification
  • While not perfect, have customer take 10-15 sec video of how engine runs/revs


Best creative ideas the speakers have heard re: offsite/test drives, new purchase or general?

  • If PPP loan – likely have sales staff not as busy, repurpose doing functions for personalization for consumer – have car already loaded up with sport package (if that is what they are interested in)
  • Disclose prominently if you require a customer must qualify before test drive. 
  • Offer test drives are available only within X radius of store
  • Wave delivery fee for test drive
  • On home test drives – If employees available for repurposing – have them scope and create custom route for customer re: closest grocery store
  • For sales, create a click and collect/us deliver – get creative as law allows
    • Create a new vehicle purchase lane pick-up – give customer all info before hand – drive into lot – x space – like rental car companies do