Business Transitions Forum

We recently spoke with Laura Zanchin, Principal, Zanchin Automotive Group, who will be sharing her business “Survival Story” at BTF Now | East.


Laura’s spent her lifetime in the automotive business, with her earliest memories including the smell of gas and sound of laughter in the showroom of her family’s car dealerships. Join us and hear Laura share her learnings on successfully operating a business during a pandemic and the strategies and tactics used to keep it operating safely and effectively.  


Q: How did you get involved in your family business?

LZ: My dad started the business in 1973. By the time I was 8, I was helping in the stores. It was all hands on deck – everyone helped out as much as they could. Most kids in the car business follow this path. It’s never posed to you – being Italian, it’s expected. But I liked it and it’s been a great adventure.


Q: You are part of the “Survival Stories” panel at BTF Now East. How has the global pandemic impacted your business?

LZ: Everyday was about survival. It took a lot of courage. Nobody knew what was going on back then. Our service departments remained open and we had to think how can we do this as safely as possible? Even now, it’s not the same experience. Some customers were afraid to come into a store; some now want to buy online and some want to do a test drive. We’ve had to adapt or die.


Things are changing and they may not go back the way they were. We have to be able to move and think quickly and have a game plan in place.


Q: What survival strategies did you implement?

LZ:  What haven’t we done? You’ve got to be in survival mode. Safety comes first but we had to think about both sides — how can we work as safely and productively as possible without getting killed with expenses.


Everybody learned to do a number of different things not just their usual role. My sister and I were answering phones, sanitizing things every two to three hours. If it’s your business, you have to show your face. I am so proud and appreciative of everyone who stood by us and helped — we were lucky as an organization.


Q: In general, how have you adapted your business?

LZ: This has been a great test. You have to really plan and be prepared for anything. We take every store into consideration and see it as its own ecosystem to consider how we will take it through the pandemic and what we will do when it’s over. No matter what you do, you have to allow for certain circumstances in your business.


When you are a family business, there is more pressure to maintain a set of standards for the people that work for you. It’s our name – our integrity is first – you need to be surrounded by people who are respectful of that and have integrity.


Q: Why is it important for people to attend BTF Now | East? Why do you believe there is value?

LZ: The stories are incredible and you learn so much from everybody’s experience. And with it being available online you can really choose what you want to listen to and what makes sense for you.  It’s nice to meet everyone in conferences but when we can’t do that, this is the next best thing.


Join Laura and other business owners to hear real-life experiences and expert advice on successfully weathering both a pandemic and market downturns. Register for BTF Now | East today.