PIVOT SERIES - How "Spirit Motor Group " has pivoted during the lockdown

Spirit Motor Group is one of Ireland’s largest automotive retail groups. Operating from nine locations we offer a vast selection of new and used cars and commercial vehicles.  Established in 2004, we are proud to represent some of the world’s most celebrated brands, including Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Ford, ŠKODA, SEAT and Volkswagen service.  In addition to our franchised dealerships in Sandyford and Baldonnell, we have two specialist used car facilities – Spirit Premium in Sandyford and Spirit Burton in Kilpedder, Co. Wicklow. 

Our state-of-the-art showrooms provide a fitting showcase for our range of vehicles but also put the customer at the heart of every aspect of our business.  We have invested heavily in the development of our locations over the past number of years and we welcome customers six days a week for test drives and service appointments.  The closure of our premises due to Covid-19 forced us to quickly adapt the way we do business.

Offering new services:

Change is hard. Changing your entire business overnight is even harder. Overnight, all staff except those covering essential breakdown cover began working from home. This was a fundamental shift in how we operate as many of our staff have never worked from home before. Thankfully, our IT department had invested in Microsoft Teams pre-lockdown and this became a vital tool for us all to keep in contact and host meetings. Staff were granted full remote access to all files successfully continuing their work from home with little disruption and soon got used to working virtually together.  Managers worked with their teams to ensure staff were comfortable and had everything possible to make their jobs easier.

However, getting staff familiar and comfortable working at home was only one of our challenges. While Spirit Motor Group’s online presence has evolved in recent years, most of our transactions still take place within our showrooms and Covid-19 restrictions made this impossible.   Thankfully we were able to respond to this in a timely manner since we had invested in a new e-commerce website platform in late 2019 and this was already up and running.  Our new website enables us to offer remote services to customers, including reserving a vehicle with an online deposit, as well as applying for finance.  Customers can also chat with our Sales teams in real time through a chat function on the site. This “Digital Showroom” became our biggest asset during lockdown as we could still offer customers the ability to secure a vehicle when needed. Our website is jam-packed with information to make the buying process easier, with an engaging and enhanced user journey.     Indeed, we saw a marked increase in the number of general enquiries, online deposits and finance applications coming through the site during the lockdown period and we are encouraged by the level of engagement we’re still seeing now that restrictions are easing.

Keeping in contact:

Keeping in contact with our customers was also a priority for us. We wanted to ensure our customers understood that although our showrooms had to close, we were still very much open for business and on-call should they have any questions or concerns about their vehicle. Our communications plan consisted of updating customers on our Digital Showroom to ensure they knew what facilities were available to them. We also offered customers some entertainment with lifestyle focused newsletters with colouring templates and other offers for the family to enjoy during lockdown. We contacted customers using a range of tools including email, SMS, direct mail and over the telephone depending on the customers’ preferences. Our sales staff were also facilitating daily calls or virtual meetings should a customer need more information. Maintaining and nurturing our relationships with our customers is very important to us whether we are physically open or not.

Hybrid mentality:

Our businesses reopened in line with the government’s health and safety guidelines on 18th May. We decided a video would be the most impactful way to communicate our reopening to our customers. Video has enabled us to show exactly how our new sales and service processes work so our customers can always be assured their health and safety is our priority and that our high levels of customer service have not been impacted. The video highlights screens at all our reception desks within showrooms, hand-washing stations, disinfectant gels, and one-way pathways for customers to follow reducing foot traffic in showrooms. These measures were tested by staff multiple times before reopening and are performing very well.

We will continue to invest in our Digital Showroom and to offer customers a hybrid sales process; those who would rather not visit a showroom do not need to. We are offering at-home test-drives, bespoke videos of vehicles, online Q&As and a pickup / drop off for service customers who need it most. We are confident that any Spirit customer who needs help will receive it in the most appropriate way for their circumstance.

We are confident about the future and are proud of the measures we have taken during lockdown to keep our business going strong. We are delighted to welcome all our customers back to our showrooms, whether physically or digitally knowing that in both cases we will continue to offer an outstanding level of attention and service.

https://www.spiritmotorgroup.ie/

Sinéad Farrell

Senior Marketing Executive

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