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Auto Dealers: Essential Businesses or Not?

Toby Graham /
dealership care

Is an automotive dealership an essential business?

In normal times, that would be a hypothetical question with (in my opinion) a pretty obvious answer. People need cars to get around, and we need places to buy those cars, so we need dealerships.

But as I’m sure you’re painfully aware, we no longer live in normal times. The COVID-19 crisis has thoroughly upended American society, casting that question in a new light. How important are dealers when there’s nowhere to go? How many people really need to buy vehicles right now? Can auto sales really be considered an “essential” service?

Recent federal guidelines clarify that yes, dealerships are essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In guidance released on April 17, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) listed the following among workers considered essential:

“Workers critical to the manufacturing, distribution, sales, rental, leasing, repair, and maintenance of vehicles and other transportation equipment (including electric vehicle charging stations) and the supply chains that enable these operations to facilitate continuity of travel-related operations for essential workers.”

According to CISA, dealerships and their employees are part of the “critical infrastructure” of our country and communities. That means—unless state and local officials say otherwise—your dealership can and perhaps should continue to operate right now.

This is good news in some respects. You get to stay while millions of other organizations are stuck in limbo. But doing business during the pandemic isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. In addition to the alphabet soup of regulations and agencies you’re already dealing with, you’ll need to carefully manage the health and safety of your employees and customers. You’ll need to implement rigorous controls, from social distancing protocols and regimented hand washing, to the use of masks of gloves—and even temperature checks. And you’ll need to do it all in increasingly bleak economic conditions, where many people lack the means to purchase vehicles, let alone the nerve to leave their houses.

Let us help you. Your employees are essential. Your business is essential. Don’t neglect either factor by trying to manage everything yourself. Make sure you’re keeping everyone safe and operating as efficiently as possible by taking advantage of the COVID-19 tools and insights in KPA’s Coronavirus Resource Center. Or, if you’d like personalized help, give us a call and we can give you some recommendations.

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