FADA has prepared this information as guidance to your local governments considering stay at home orders and listing essential services:
Message to Commissioners
Thank you for all you are doing to provide safety, while still ensuring citizens have access to important services and products. New car dealers are part of the very fabric of this vital community and we are so honored to be able to continue to serve customers who may find themselves without transportation due to an accident, loss, or lease restrictions. New work vehicles may also be needed as businesses avoid flying or other mass transit.
Your franchised new car dealers are operating with one goal in mind: to ensure the safety of their customers and employees while being able to meet the needs of customers in their sales and service departments.
As you contemplate local orders to declare safety we hope you will agree that new car dealerships (both sales and service) are essential to the ongoing safety and well-being of your community, fulfilling the following important functions for Florida consumers who require safe access to transportation:
- Doing the back-stage work to complete online sales – things like titling and registration required before a car can be delivered
- Lease turn-ins, as every day Florida leases end and sales departments handle returns – without this service individuals and companies leasing vehicles could face penalties from leasing companies
- Replacement of damaged vehicles in accidents – when vehicles are damaged or totaled the family must be able to secure a replacement vehicle
- With many businesses shutting down retail operations, new commercial vehicles will be required for home deliveries
- Purchasing a vehicle when repair facilities are not available or when the costs of repair make a new vehicle purchase more practical
- New interest-free loans from OEM’s, dealers can help customers reduce payments and free up funds for their immediate needs
- Getting to medical services and food facilities or grocery stores
- Traveling safely and avoiding public transportation or ride sharing conditions that may not be safe
- Helping family members who may need emergency assistance or care
- First responders who must be able to reach deployment
An example from Broward County is appropriate:
Section 3. The following retail and commercial businesses are deemed essential and existing retail and commercial business locations of these businesses may remain open, but shall practice, and ensure persons interacting with and within such businesses practice, social distancing and all other measures as advised by the CDC: Gas stations, new and used automobile dealerships, and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;
With your adoption of this language your new car, franchised dealers commit to adhere to these minimal guidelines as we serve our customers:
Today’s new car dealership is a virtual store and allows for a digital experience to lessen the functions required in sales, but some store employees are required to support these functions and some customers will want to come to the store for private and exclusive presentations.
- Use of virtual tours
A great advantage of being in the car market in 2020 is technology capable of providing all of the traditional aspects of the car-buying experience, but from the comfort and safety of home.
No matter the car you are interested in, dealerships can provide a digital walk-around of the vehicle. You’ll be able to see everything about the car (interior and exterior), as well as peek into the engine bay to see stand-out features demonstrated.
For those customers who want to visit a store we have modified hours, alternated sales teams and we are maintaining CDC guidelines for employee and customer interactions.
- Home visits replace store visits where possible
Keeping a reduced crew of in-store sales employees is needed to handle some specific details, such as titling and registration, in order to facilitate the online/in-home sales process.
- Test driving at the customer’s home
Test driving in the traditional form typically involves going to the dealership, meeting with a client advisor, and going for a spin around the dealership. With the current social distancing guidelines, the vehicle you’ve had your eye on can be brought to you at your home —wiped down and sanitized — ready for you to explore and experience as you wish. After your test drive and exploration of the vehicle, the client advisor will follow strict sanitation guidelines in wiping down and cleaning the car for the next customer to test drive it.
- Online financing and online calculators
If you’re interested in knowing what your new payments could look like for the vehicle, for purchases and leases, your dealership’s website has a helpful calculator for estimating your payment, whether it be for purchases or leases.
After your calculations and estimates, it’s easy to take the next step and apply for financing online. This will reduce the time required at the dealership later when you purchase your new car.
Right now payment relief is being offered at many stores. Some are offering zero payments for six months and 0% APR for five years.
- Online trade-ins
If you have a vehicle you would like to trade-in, it’s easier than ever to negotiate your trade deal online. Whether it be over the phone, text or over email, your client advisor will be able to collect the data required for your trade and be able to work out the details for you.
- Over-the-phone contact
In addition to working out your trade, your dealership’s client advisor can work through all of the purchasing steps over the phone. This means that credit qualifications, finance options, interest rates, payments and down payments can all be negotiated over a phone call, email or text.
Financed add-ons like extended warranties, interior protection services, or prepaid maintenance items can also be handled remotely. The only thing you can’t do remotely is sign the final line.
- Our safe signing experience
You can now purchase or lease a car without leaving your home at your dealership. Our client advisors can bring all the necessary paperwork and the vehicle to your home, and you can still conference with our finance manager to ensure all your questions are answered and you are completely satisfied with your vehicle purchase.
- Cleanliness and spacing
If you choose to go to the dealership, rest assured all common areas have been sanitized down to the pens. We will only allow one person at a time to meet with you so you can maintain all social distancing protocols.
COVID-19 and social distancing measures might change your routine, but they don’t need to limit your car buying options. If you are interested in a new car, know that your dealership is committed to making your car buying experience the best it can be even during these unprecedented times.
New car dealerships are vital to the economy of Florida. Nearly $4 billion in sales tax is collected by the retail auto sector, the largest of any single industry at 14% of all sales tax collected. Right now, continuing sales and service is an important “essential service” and is equally important to the economy of our great State.