‘When you stop giving and offering something to the rest of the world, it’s time to turn out the lights.’
- Comedian, George Burns
Hard work, honesty, good humour and giving back to the community, have done more than keep the lights on at Grand Prix Mazda Aspley during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
While car sales across the nation plummeted to a 30-year low, dropping almost 50 per cent during the peak of the health crisis, in April, GPMA dealer principal Luke Camilleri purposefully met the crisis head-on, shifting gears and leading his team to meet customer needs wherever they are. Literally.
As he explains: “We put our hard hats on and got to work, not just to ensure we’d come out the other side, but to reassure customers knew we’re open for business and willing to go the extra mile to meet their needs as quickly and safely as possible. We now joke that we’re a bit like the pizza guys, but instead of delivering pizza, we’ll bring your car!”
Since the dawn of COVID-19 physical distancing measures, Luke’s team has been doing that and more. Their efforts have been rewarded with record sales, but more importantly, the life-affirming win-win of helping others in an unprecedented time of need.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE
The trusted family dealership’s promise to ‘go the extra mile’ – as reflected in its free home-delivery strategy, borne out of COVID-19 – extends beyond handover of shiny new and used cars at customers’ doors to other practical considerations. Everything from at-home test drives and demonstrations to finance applications, appraisals, and even pick-up-and-delivery servicing.
A very different kind of ‘remote work’, which, in tandem with zero-contact, digital-led experiences – including a virtual showroom and video demos by GPMA’s sales experts – has enabled Luke to keep customers safe and his team fully employed during a period of economic and social uncertainty.
His strategy is robust, but simple. Those who care, win.
As a result, at GPMA, ‘going the extra mile’ involves going a whole lot further, thanks to a no-cap policy on the distance Luke’s team will travel to meet customers’ needs, wherever they are. Well beyond the dealership’s HQ – as far as Redcliffe (25km north-east); Dayboro (31km north-west); Samford (21km west) and Capalaba (32km south).
“Our relationships with customers are everything… they always come first,” says Luke, in the same breath adding that physical distancing doesn’t mean customer distancing.
“What became clear during COVID-19 is that it’s impossible to put a value on delivering peace of mind to customers, particularly when everything else in life seems so uncertain, which is why we avoided placing an operational radius on taking our business to them.
“We also know everyone’s situation is different and that we need to be very, very accommodating of each situation, whether providing the right advice on new cars, used cars, trade-ins, finance or whatever best suits customers’ ‘needs’ as opposed to ‘wants’.
“We want our customers to be with us for life and, during COVID-19, we wanted to show them that we’re genuinely in it for them – committed to offering support and giving back, any way we can.”
Another ongoing initiative – and way of giving back to the community – echoes in GPMA’s offer of free oil changes and safety inspections for cars belonging to healthcare workers.
The positive ripple effect of the dealership’s genuine care and generosity of spirit in a time of crisis is evident in heightened customer loyalty and accelerated new business, notably including a spike in used car sales. According to Luke, GPMA’s customer base is largely driven by word-of-mouth, representing 60 to 70 per cent of business.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
GPMA has happily absorbed COVID-19 related expenses arising from new business measures, including free delivery of all services to customers, wherever they are. An ‘experience’ many other dealerships reserve for VIP clients.
The reason, according to Luke, is two-fold. Firstly, customers come first. Period. And, secondly, the dealership has emerged stronger than ever, both in terms of internal culture and external customer relationships.
During the peak of COVID-19 restrictions, when car dealerships were among a handful of businesses allowed to remain open as ‘essential services’, Luke says there’s no question GPMA’s success and resilience boiled down to the positive ‘can-do’ attitude and multi-tasking willingness of his team.
“It became a truly united dealership effort to go the extra mile to get the job done, which also meant using staff from different departments to make it possible,” he says.
Teamwork shone through in tangible application of the dealership’s ‘one goal, one vision’ mandate – notably in unexpected diversification of roles. For example, sales staff filled downtime by stepping up to support the service centre, moonlighting as driveway concierges or valets in the considerable task of door-to-door pick-up and drop-off of customer vehicles.
“One of the biggest ‘Eureka moments’ was how the experience taught the whole team – myself included – to be more productive, efficient and resilient,” Luke says. “It’s something we’re going to continue via a closer working platform between the sales and service departments.”
CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS
GPMA’s focus on strict hygiene measures, including regularly sanitising the dealership – and everything in it – and maintaining highest safety standards during car servicing (using protective interior covers and fresh gloves for each car) will also continue as ‘standard procedure’.
WELCOME TO THE ‘NEW NORMAL’
COVID-19 has forever changed how the world works, lives and plays. It has also forced a welcome re-evaluation of what customer care genuinely means, and the need for businesses to work smarter – not just harder – in raising the bar to step beyond ‘customer service’ to ‘customer experience’.
At GPMA, the ‘new normal’ started during COVID-19.
Capitalising on learnings from the crisis, the dealership is continuing its commitment to meeting customers wherever they are, including free at-home service and meaningful use of digital tools.
“Our partnership with Collaborative Media Group and its team of creative thinkers and collaborative problem solvers also kept us agile and ahead of the game,” says Luke.
“The right marketing strategy and customer service go hand-in-hand, and CMG were point perfect in their advice, which saw GPMA reduce traditional advertising spend and accelerate digital presence, including increased social media marketing.
“We’re delighted the message that ‘we’re here and open for business’ was heard loud and clear.”