The New Norm
July 27 - August 2, 2020
Car business still boomin’
By Cait Smith
The last thing I would have thought about doing during a pandemic was buy a car. But since car dealerships were deemed an essential business, that motivated people even more to drive off lots in a new set of wheels. Just in the last two months I have seen several friends post celebratory pictures of themselves posing next to their sweet new ride on Facebook. After liking and commenting on their photos, I wondered how difficult the buying process was seeing as close contact is out of the question.
So, I inquired about it from a good friend of mine in the car business, Aaron Vanetten, who is the used car/sales manager at Steve Landers Kia in Little Rock. “Many of the customers do not feel comfortable coming into the store still, so they will opt for delivery options. After the deal is finalized, one of our team members will deliver the customer’s car and paperwork to their homes,” he explained. Since this switch over at Steve Landers, things have returned to normal as customers have safer ways to purchase a car. “Business was slow in the beginning but now it has picked back up thanks to the delivery option,” Vanetten said.
But just because things are high up now, Vanetten expressed how it was difficult at the beginning of the quarantine. “The biggest difference was in our scheduling … they separated us into two teams. Each team worked every other week that way we could practice social distancing.” However, just because the Steve Landers crew was still working did not mean the customers were coming. And as result, a few salesmen took a blow. “Most of us work on commission. If you cannot sell cars, you cannot get paid,” Vanetten said.
Meanwhile some car dealerships did not even have the privilege to remain open. “I think [Steve Landers Kia] did a good job to ensure that we were taken care of during this situation,” Vanetten said. “I am appreciative that us employees we were allowed to proceed with work and be able to get paid.” Like other local businesses, smaller dealerships are still closed as the virus continues to linger in the state.
Also, car salesman lost a vital component when transacting a deal, in-person interactions. “When you land a deal, you shake the person’s hand but now that is not the case. Most of the customers are choosing delivery options, so we are losing that face-to-face engagem909ent,” said Vanetten.
But at last, the world has settled into a new routine of safety protocols and so has the team at Steve Landers. “We are keeping business flowing as usual but remaining safe while doing it. Whether you prefer car services in the store or through delivery, we are here to take care of you the best way we can,” he said.
With such efforts these car dealerships are putting place, maybe I will cruise the car market here soon.