Covid-19 brought many challenges to small businesses across Australia in 2020. At German Auto Haus we decided that how we responded to the challenges presented by Covid-19 would have a lot to do with how they would ultimately affect us. We chose to see the challenges as opportunities, so we worked harder than ever before to build ourselves into a better business for our customers. Here are some of the initiatives we undertook in 2020 in response to Covid-19:
Fully Utilising our VACC Membership
Throughout 2020 it was imperative that we stay up to date with the constantly shifting goal posts within the Covid-19 environment. As a responsible business it was imperative that we ensured we complied with all laws, regulations and guidelines governing our operations and interactions with our customers. Staying in contact with our VACC representatives throughout this period enabled us to be proactive in our actions and responsive in our approach.
Whilst some days it was hard to stay motivated, we made a concerted effort to stay open every day throughout 2020. With so many local small businesses around us struggling, we felt it was important to show our customers we were still here. We used the quiet times to focus our energies on improving our processes, products and services and stay connected to our customer base.
Keeping Up Appearances
We made a concerted effort during 2020 to ensure we put our ‘best face’ forward to our customers. We installed new lighting, painted our floors, decluttered our workshop and reception area, got new uniforms and branded caps and face masks. We put up fresh new signage outside our building, updated our business cards and number plate covers, designed new ‘next service due’ stickers and had our graphic design artist create stunning new ads which we used to shamelessly promote ourselves through our FaceBook page.
We implemented a comprehensive COVIDSafe Plan across our business and have a VicGov QR Code available for scanning in our reception area.
Personalised Service Reminder Calls
Covid-19 meant that all of a sudden there was more distance between us all. Being a customer focussed business proud of providing a personalised service, we found this challenging. So, we looked for ways we could safely stay in contact with our customer base and repair the ‘disconnect’. We began phoning customers to personally to remind them their next service was due. This enabled us to stay in direct contact with, and support our customers throughout the year. This process proved so successful that it remains in place today.
Website and ‘Google My Business’ Update
We updated and refreshed our website, adding our ‘Vehicle Sanitation Video’, a ‘Reviews’ page and a ‘Blogs’ page. The blogs page in particular has been a success as it enables us to stay in touch with our customer base by providing interesting and informative information about our business and within the industry. We also updated and refreshed our ‘Google My Business’ listing and our added a heap of photos of our mechanics servicing cars in our workshop so that potential new customers could see for themselves how we operate.
Sponsorship BMW DCM
We made a strategic decision to align ourselves with our favourite driving club BMW DCM. Our sponsorship of BMW DCM provides us with many benefits, including the ability to strengthen our brand through association with this great club and means our customers can be assured that we are genuinely passionate motoring enthusiasts. Our sponsorship also provides our business with valuable exposure to BMW DCM’s constantly growing membership base as it enables us to promote our brand through the club magazine and FaceBook page. We have renewed our sponsorship for 2021 and look forward to another year supporting this great club.
Promoting Our Favourite Car Clubs
Whilst car clubs are full of passionate car enthusiasts the clubs struggled to get much traction in 2020 as club events and drive days were difficult to organise with the imposition of lockdowns and restrictions. Specialising in prestige German cars, we made an effort to actively promote clubs that aligned with our brand. We contacted Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen clubs to discuss ways we could help promote those clubs through our business. We promoted club events via our website and FaceBook page and began placing a complimentary club magazine in every car serviced. Our customers love receiving the club magazines and this proved to be an easy and effective way to promote the clubs to our customers.
Customer Retention Program – Staying Relevant
With restrictions and lockdowns we found ourselves being more and more disconnected from our customers. Our customers faced challenges such as economic insecurity, reduced working hours, working from home, and the 5km travel restriction. It was now more important than ever to stay connected to our customer base. We called customers to say hi, see how they were going, and let them know we were still here for them. Whilst we may not have been able to physically service our customers cars during this time, these phone calls enabled us to stay at the forefront of their minds when their next service became due.
We prohibited public access to our workshop and our staff all practising safe distancing. Staff are prohibited from signing for receipt of deliveries and limit the number of customers in our reception area at any one time.
No Contact & Concierge Services
We offered ‘No Contact’ and ‘Concierge’ services. The ‘No Contact’ service popular with customers bringing their cars to the workshop. The ‘Concierge’ service popular with customers working from home or self-isolating. We continue to offer both services. Both services include complimentary wash, vacuum and vehicle sanitation.
Workshop and Reception Hygiene
Whilst we have always kept a tidy workplace, Covid-19 forced us to take things up a notch. But we see this as a good thing. All high traffic areas and high contact points in our workshop, parts room and reception area are now cleaned daily and face masks and hand sanitiser are available for customers in reception.
Vehicle Hygiene and Sanitation
The safety of our customers and staff is paramount. We reviewed our processes and looked for areas that posed a high risk of transmission and began offering complimentary vehicle sanitations. The vehicle sanitation process protects staff and customers by ensuring the main contact points on all vehicles are sanitised. This process remains in place today.
Vehicle Sanitation Video
German Auto Haus was one of the first workshops in Melbourne (including the dealerships) to start sanitising vehciles. Proud of our proactive approach to customer health and safety, we produced a vehicle sanitation video which we promoted via direct email to our customers and through our FaceBook page. The video is still available for viewing via our website on our ‘Service & Maintenance’ page.
Cleanliness and Safety During Servicing
After being sanitised, the main contact points on the vehicle are protected with plastic covers which remain on for the duration of the service and our mechanics use a fresh pair of gloves for each service. These processes ensure the vehicle remains clean and the risk of transmission is reduced.
Thank You Letters
Another Covid-19 initiative was to place a ‘Thank You’ letter in every car serviced, thanking our customers for support us during such a difficult time. The letter outlines measures undertaken to ensure the customers health and safety during their visit. Still grateful for our customers support, this process remains in place today.
‘How Was The Service?’ Email
Taking on the challenges of 2020 meant that we had to become flexible, responsive and able to adapt to change. We wanted to know if the changes we were making translated into an improved service experience for our customers. So, we asked them. The request for feedback was a success. We received many positive reviews as a result and remain flexible and open to any opportunities for improvement.
Supporting Local Small Businesses
With the imposition of lockdown and restrictions we saw so many local small businesses around us struggle. We adopted a ‘Support Local’ program and created our own ‘Local Business Listing’. With 75% of our customers within 5kms of our workshop, we encouraged our customers to shop local. We promoted our local businesses via our FaceBook page and through direct email mail out to our customer base.
Thanks For Your Support
Whilst 2020 was a tough year there were many benefits coming out of the challenges we faced. We improved our processes and our service delivery and became stronger in the process and would like to thank all our customers for their ongoing support. German Auto Haus has been operating since 1993 and we look forward to continuing to service our customers automotive needs for a long time into the future.
Andreas Doelling - German Auto Haus
With over 30 years experience specialising in prestige German cars, the mechanics at German Auto Haus are dedicated to providing your prestige vehicle with first-class service. For more information or to book in for service call Andreas on 03 9427 0766 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.