Reopening the Dealership: Your Next Steps

By Canada Drives Newsroom | Dealer Services

If you’re a dealer in Ontario or Quebec, it looks like May 4th is the day you’ve been waiting for. Both provinces have announced that the first stage in resuming retail activities since the coronavirus shutdown will commence in most areas on Monday, May 4th.

While it’s great news in both Ontario and Quebec, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for dealers to gear up for a restart. 

One of the first orders of business after getting your team back to the store will be spreading the message: “We’re open for business!”

But how do you do that effectively, and what should you be saying?

Whether you’re based in Ontario, Quebec, or any province that will be announcing reopening dates imminently, here are some helpful tips to help you plan for it.

How to let your customers know

Unfortunately, you won’t reach every current and potential customer with one catch-all solution. Your email list may not be completely filled out, and your social media presence might not be where you need it to be. Therefore, your communication strategy will require a multi-faceted approach. 

Give current customers first notice

Since your current customer base – those who have been a sales, service, or parts customer in the past 12 months – has been loyal, it would be advisable to give them the first notification. 

Your marketing manager is going to be busy drafting emails. Send a message directly to your customers’ inbox. (Don’t worry, we’ve attached an email template for inspiration!) The news that you’re reopening will be a relief for those who need a vehicle upgrade or to deal with their lease return or replacement.

If you’re a dealer who has implemented a smartphone app effectively, now is the time to use push notifications. Send a short note to every contact. Assume that everyone who has your app is a loyal customer eagerly awaiting the news that your showroom will be open once again. 

Leverage social media

Many of your current clients and potential new customers are active on social media. Whether they receive your email or not, seeing something on Facebook or Instagram about your store reopening can reignite interest in a vehicle purchase. 

It’s worth investing in a social media campaign that revolves around your reopening announcements. Post across all social media channels to ensure the message gets to the maximum amount of people. 

Post on your homepage

Some customers have opted out of emails and aren’t on social media. While it’s a passive strategy, a pop-up on your website homepage would inform some shoppers. Keep the pop-up info brief but include a link to a page with all the details. It’s also a good idea to update your Google My Business information.

Pro Tip: In your email, on your website, and on social media, don’t just tell people what you’re doing – show them! Pictures (and videos) are still worth a thousand words and will go further to reassure customers and prospects that you’re following through to prioritize safety.

What to tell your customers about reopening

Getting the word out that your doors will be open is a great first step. However, there are key items that customers will want to know before coming into your store. 

What you communicate through your direct email and social media marketing should answer many of the common questions your customers will have, which will effectively reduce the number of calls you receive asking, “Are you open yet?”

  1. Customer safety is a priority

  2. Everyone has heard it for weeks now and can no longer count how many ‘Stay home, stay safe” emails they’ve received. Still, you should be reiterating your COVID-19 safety efforts to customers, bolstering their sense of confidence in coming back to your business. 

    Let them know how to navigate social distancing safely in your dealership and where you’ve positioned hand sanitizer stations. State how often your facility is cleaned to prevent the virus’ spread. 

    Now is not the time to be lax about health and safety. The Ontario directive says, “Each stage requires careful assessment and monitoring to know whether to adjust, tighten, or loosen measures.” 

    To help in the prevention of a resurgence, dealerships should be considering:

    • Having shields installed at the cashier’s station
    • Reorganizing and designating space to align with physical distancing recommendations
    • Eliminating self-serve coffee and refreshments in the customer lounge
    • Implementing PIN pad, desk surface, and door entrance touchpoint sanitation efforts
    • Supplying PPE for customers and staff alike
  3. Hours of operation

  4. When will you be open? In the first stage of reopening your province’s economy, there remain restrictions on how many people can be in any area. That could be affecting your staffing levels, so it may not be wise to immediately restore normal business hours. Whatever you decide for your hours of operation, communicate it clearly in your email and social media posts. Also, customers will probably check your Google business page first, so it’s important to keep that updated as well as you can. 

  5. What departments are open for business?

  6. Servicing & repairs departments have been deemed essential and, in most stores, have been running throughout the shutdown. So while you’ll want to focus your communication on the sales and financing operations, your customers will want to know about all services on offer. 

    Clearly identify which departments are fully operational versus partially operational versus not yet open. For example, your showroom may be open by appointment only but autobody is business as usual. 

  7. Incentives & promotions

  8. Across Canada, manufacturers are rolling out incentives and promotions to encourage more sales. From payment deferrals to tempting financing rates, there’s a powerful drive to boost interest during these uncertain times. Your communications surrounding reopening should include mention of special deals and sales on offer at your dealership. 

  9. Online shopping

  10. For interested shoppers that are understandably still hesitant to leave their homes, direct them to your online catalogue and discuss what your dealership is doing to make remote car shopping a viable alternative. 


Email Template

Subject Line: Come on in, our showroom is open!

As you may have heard, the Government of <province> has announced the first stage to reopening businesses will begin on <insert date>. At <dealer name>, we’re thrilled to tell you that our sales department will once again be open for business effective <insert date>!

Whether you need to replace an ageing vehicle, your vehicle lease is maturing, or you simply want to capitalize on the fantastic incentives being offered right now by <manufacturer>, our product advisors would be happy to book an appointment and help you on your car-buying journey.

If you’d prefer to shop for your next vehicle without visiting the dealership in person, we’ve made that easy to do. Simply browse our extensive online inventory of new and pre-owned vehicles, contact us by phone or email, and we’ll arrange an off-site demonstration and test drive for your safety and convenience.

We’re open for business!

As you’re probably aware, the service department at <dealer name> has remained open during the shutdown. During this first stage of reopening commerce, you can now confidently shop all departments at our dealership. That includes: 

<include the relevant bullets:>

  • New vehicles in the <manufacturer> lineup
  • Used and certified pre-owned cars of all makes and models
  • Maintenance and repairs in our state-of-the-art service department
  • Parts and accessories in our well-stocked parts department
  • Collision repairs in our <make>-certified autobody shop

Hours of operation

We want to help you find what you’re looking for while keeping you safe during your visit. At this time, our hours have been reduced as follows: 

Sales Hours Service and Parts Hours

<list daily hours> <list daily hours>

We hope to resume normal business hours during the next reopening phase. 

How we’re keeping you safe

At <dealer name>, your health and safety is our top priority. As such, you can expect these efforts will remain in place during your visit:

  • Physical distancing practices remain enforced in all departments
  • All common touchpoints in the dealership and cars are cleaned and sanitized on frequently
  • Our customer lounge and refreshments area remain closed
  • You’ll receive a warm, no-contact greeting when you arrive
  • Vehicles will be sanitized upon delivery
  • Our facility receives a deep clean every <frequency>

We look forward to welcoming you back to <dealer name> very soon!


Canada Drives can deliver high-intent customers to your business. Speak to one of our account managers today to discuss how we can help you tap into new markets and sell more cars .




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