Customers who log onto their dealership’s website are increasingly likely to be greeted by a message outlining what that store is doing to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What those messages say depends in large part on where the dealership is located and what the store’s management feels most comfortable with doing. Stores in Ontario, for instance, might have notices of temporary closure, or at least the closure of the sales department, as dealerships navigate the province’s order to close non-essential businesses.
Dealerships in Ontario “are not compelled to remain open but may do so at the proprietor’s discretion,” the premier’s office said.
Other customers might instead read messages outlining plans to sell vehicles online, while others go over how dealerships have increased social distancing measures at their stores.
It’s a reflection of the many ways dealerships are adapting to customers choosing to stay home and governments closing non-essential businesses in the wake of the coronavirus. Below are samplings of how some dealers are changing their ways.
TEMPORARY CLOSURES, ONLINE SALES
- Downtown Automotive Group: The Toronto auto group is temporarily shutting its doors, save for “urgent and emergency services” to customers. “We are finding it increasingly more difficult to rationalize maintaining a full operation within Downtown Auto Group and not be concerned with potentially jeopardizing safety and health of our team members, as well as our customers,” CEO Shahin Alizadeh wrote in a LinkedIn post.
- Policaro Group: The Toronto group is closing, though it promises on its website to deliver all previously purchased vehicles at its dealerships and to “attend to emergency services such as safety recalls and critical vehicle and mechanical failures” by appointment.
- Pfaff Automotive Partners: Pfaff’s group of stores are closed until April 8 due to the coronavirus outbreak, though sales representatives would continue to be made available over the phone and through social media.
- Smaller groups and single-point dealerships are also closing: For example, a closure message greets visitors to the Toronto-based Ken Shaw Toyota. University Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Hamilton, Ont., said on its website that its sales department is closed, though the service department remains open during normal hours.
- MacDonald Buick GMC Cadillac in Moncton, N.B., is among dealerships launching online sales, according to a video posted on Facebook by Dan Dormer, general sales manager. Dormer said the dealership has put cell phone numbers on its website so customers can contact the dealership’s employees. “We can’t physically be in the showroom, so let’s do it from home,” he said.
- Yorkdale Ford in Toronto said on its website that it has launched an online shopping service. “We will work remotely with you to find the right vehicle, create a quote and review all eligible rebates and incentives, process a secure credit application, and deliver the vehicle directly to you,” a post on the dealership’s website reads.
Nav Bhatia, Toronto Raptors’ superfan and Canada’s best-known dealer, has turned his Mississauga Hyundai dealership website into a veritable public service bulletin board on COVID-19.Effective Wednesday, the store will close for 14 days, outlining steps customers can take to reach sales and service staff via phone. But the website also features a running blog from Bhatia, offering everything from online resources for parents home-schooling their kids during the pandemic to links for such organizations as the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization.Bhatia also owns a Genesis and Hyundai dealership in the GTA.
Several dealers and dealership groups have posts on their websites explaining the steps they are taking to make their dealerships safe, including increasing social distancing at their stores, urging employees and customers who are sick to not come in, increasing sanitation and other steps. Those steps are often in conjunction with increasing online and remote offerings.
The following were the dealers and groups with such posts as of Tuesday: