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Friday, 15 May 2020 21:09

NIADA Survey: Independent Dealers Getting Back to Business

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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

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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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