BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Car dealerships like Jim Burke and Hoover Toyota are trying to adjust to the decrease in sales due to COVID-19 and the statewide “shelter in place” order.
Car dealerships and services are deemed essential in the state of Alabama.
Melvin Raymond, finance director for Jim Burke dealerships, said it’s a tough time for everyone, but they are finding ways to still service their customers. He said that while people aren’t buying cars, there’s actually some really great deals going on.
“APR are at its lowest. Differ payment is up to 120 days, rebates are also. Auctions are close. Some of our manufactures are closed, but the best time to actually buy a car is now because once everything opens back up, auctions open up, prices go up so best time to buy a car is buy a car today,” Raymond said.
At Hoover Toyota, owner Gordon Stewart said sales have been impacted by 90% and he’s worried how long this will continue.
“That’s probably the saddest thing I’ve ever had to do in my career is make lists of who stays and who goes. Its a bizarre thing to do. I’ve never done that in my life and naturally you have a hierarchy of skilled people which are obviously the crown jewels like master technician, but I had to reevaluate all part time workers,” Stewart said.
Several car expert websites have reported sales dropping by 37% in March are expected to drop 50-60% in April.
Car dealerships are offering to bring a car to your home for a test drive and are finding other ways to operate and follow social distancing.
“Profit is not something I can worry about right now. This is not an opportunity for greed at all, this is a survival mode we’re in and we need to be able to provide services that are essential to community and I need people to know we’re not open to get a profit, we’re open because we’ve been doomed to be essential and we do provide important services to people who really need help with their cars,” Stewart said.
Raymond said that while the car business is not doing as well right now as it once was, they will be fine.
“The biggest thing is if everyone follow the rules, do what they’re told, this thing will be over and we can move on,” Raymond said.
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