The pandemic has changed the way dealers do business, ushering in a seismic shift in the way consumers shop. This unchartered “new normal” has everyone on edge for a host of reasons, and dealers must adapt to survive and thrive.
Universally, dealers are adopting new practices for business operations. Some dealerships are providing antibacterial hand sanitizers, free pickup and delivery for vehicles requiring service or routine maintenance, and rolling out zero physical contact polices (no more handshakes). Showrooms are being reorganized with social distancing in mind, masks are now required and owners are taking extra precautions in cleaning their facilities.
With new procedures in place, fewer cars being sold and increasing car buyer concerns to address, innovative new products from finance and insurance (F&I) providers are essential to drive business.
First and foremost, dealers need safe, easy-to-use, EPA-registered antimicrobial protection for the vehicles in their inventory and for their dealerships — prioritizing the safety of staff and customers alike. Disinfecting treatments must include cleaning and protection processes for interior surfaces, like the dashboard and seats, but should work in a vehicle’s hard-to-reach areas, like the climate control system, by using specialized thermal fogging equipment.
Antimicrobial solutions should be formulated to disinfect and prevent against mold, mildew, bacteria and other microbes like the coronavirus; and be suitable for use on both porous and non-porous surfaces. The pandemic economy demands that treatments should be formulated to kill surface germs, as well as inhibit the future growth of bacteria and microbes.
With the unprecedented rate of unemployment, administrators should also prioritize the development of programs to help dealers provide a level of financial assurance to their customers as they reopen their dealerships. The foundation of F&I is vehicle protection; now more than ever, there is an opportunity to protect dealers and their customers with vehicle-payment assistance programs.
Some leading F&I solutions providers already offer custom vehicle protection products, innovative technology solutions, turnkey reinsurance programs, dealer owned warranty company formation assistance and direct-to-consumer marketing services. Enabling dealers to provide elevated customer service and empowering more vehicle owners with peace of mind are increasingly vital, value-added extensions.
While offering a full suite of vehicle protection products is important, F&I providers who truly value their dealer partners cannot ignore the needs brought to the forefront of our collective conscious by the coronavirus. Payment protection and safe surfaces should be available for all, regardless of the make and model of your vehicle, or area of the country in which you live.