The Car Buying Experience and The Auto Industry During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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How has the car buying experience changed amid the COVID-19 global pandemic? Rod Alberts, executive director, of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) and the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS); and Doug North, chairman of the NAIAS and president of North Brothers Ford shared how car dealers across the state are ensuring the process is safe for consumers.

Auto Shows in the Future

Testing the limits to what can be done is defiantly a key aspect in finding ways to be innovative in the future.

“I think car shows, or some kind of display, is always going to have its place combined with technology…the virtual sites aren’t going away. We can’t get rid of technology. We want it,” said North.

With this year’s show canceled, many are looking forward to next year’s show.

“[We] will continue to push and refine and make the show even better than it would have been this past June. We already got some plans in the works that we want to announce in three months. So, expect bigger and better for June 2021,” said North.

Dealers Impacted by COVID-19

All dealers have a different situation depending on the dealership locations. Every dealer has their code with a preparation plan in place to combat all the different stages of re-opening.

The dealers are “quick to want to do the right thing to protect their employees and customers in Southeast Michigan. June was up year over year. So, it kind of speaks to the fact that there was pent up demand and that people still want to buy cars even though they recognize, you know, it’s kind of a new normal,” said North.

Customers and dealerships have been supportive of all the new safety protocols and want to continue the safety practices to ensure that both the customers and the employees are safe. A unique way that dealers have pivoted is by offering distant buying and distant shopping. Browsing cars online or even by phone calls have made customers feel safe. Some dealers are even offering employees to take a product to a potential customer’s house to have them look at the car.

Business Practices Continuing After the Pandemic

Even though new practices are a new reality, a lot of the same process will remain the same. Things such as the disinfecting processes, the cleaning process both from a vehicle standpoint, and a facility standpoint will all remain.

“We don’t look at that as a hardship, it’s just a little different way of doing business. We’re adaptable. And the consumers really seem to be as well,” said North.

There is a time for a change, and most businesses are experiencing that change right now. Embracing the change is important to how successful a business will be in the future.

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