Friday, 15 May 2020 21:09

NIADA Survey: Independent Dealers Getting Back to Business


Employees are coming back to work and vehicles are beginning to sell as independent auto dealers ramp up to get back to business, according to a new survey by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association.

The survey of 846 used vehicle dealers conducted from May 9-14---a follow-up to a survey taken a month earlier---found almost two-thirds (63%) of the dealerships that had furloughed or laid off employees a month earlier have begun the process of bringing them back


Overall, 34% of the independent dealers said they are rehiring staff, 20% said they are not and 47% said the question was not applicable, meaning they had remained at full staffing level throughout the COVID-19 pandemic---the same percentage as the previous survey.


Thirty-nine percent of those who are rehiring said they had experienced no problems in doing so, but 31% said their employees were hesitant to come back because they were making more through the government’s enhanced unemployment benefits than they had made at their jobs, and 19% said fear of the coronavirus was an issue.


The survey also showed dealerships opening up again, with 44% doing business as usual (compared to 27% in April), 34% open by appointment only and 10% selling online only. Just 11% remain closed temporarily---down from 27%–--and one percent reported they have closed permanently.


“I am encouraged that the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t put more dealers out of business permanently, as was originally feared,” NIADA CEO Steve Jordan said. “Recovery and signs of life are showing, as 88% of dealers are open for business, with almost half open for ‘business as usual.’


“Unfortunately, open for business as usual doesn’t always mean sales have returned.”


Indeed, sales remain below pre-COVID levels for most dealers---53% of the respondents said their sales were down 50% or more for the previous two weeks. Twelve percent of dealers said their sales were back to normal levels and 6% said sales were actually better than before the pandemic.

Rebuilding sales and customer traffic is by far the greatest challenge currently faced by independent dealers, cited by 38% of respondents. That’s twice as many as the second choice, access to inventory at 19%, which was followed by funding and access to capital at 17%.


The funding issue has been lessened for some dealers by government relief programs such as loans from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.


The survey found 64% of dealers have received some sort of federal or state government funding. Of those who have not, 28% have applied and 4% have been approved. Another 8% said they were approved but told there was no money available.


To view the complete results of the NIADA COVID-19 Dealer Impact Survey, visit covid19.niada.com.


Source: NIADA

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