Most Virginia dealers are at least somewhat concerned about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their business, according to results of a VADA survey conducted in early March. A third of respondents are concerned or extremely concerned, while 10 percent say the virus – which has been largely concentrated in Asia and Italy – already is making its mark.
At the top of the list are worries about interruptions in the supply chain, fluctuations in the stock market, and decreases in customer traffic as consumers avoid public areas where they might be exposed to the virus. Some dealers report that they are preparing for disruptions and lost business that could last for months – if a large outbreak were to occur locally.
“Tough financial and personnel issues will need to be addressed quickly, compassionately, and intelligently,” one dealer said. “This virus could inflict more damage than the last recession.”
However, dealers also called for looking beyond any public panic and focusing on the business. “It is my job to keep the employees focused on doing their duties and not have them worry about things that they – or, for that matter, any of us – [do not] have control over. We, as dealers, need to be cognizant of the facts and not allow the media to whip us into a frenzy that will most definitely negatively impact the business.”
Here’s what respondents shared:
· The concern is about the supply of new vehicle parts and repair parts, particularly those coming from Asian production facilities. “A disruption in the supply chain would affect all areas of our business.”
· On top of a tough flu season, keeping employees – and customers – healthy is essential. “We need accurate info and sensible steps to keep our employees, customers, and the community we serve safe.”
· Stock market volatility is hitting every segment, but one luxury brand dealer noted a significant drop-off in business after the last week of February.
· Follow sound preventative care, starting with encouraging staff to wash their hands frequently. One dealer provided hand-sanitizing stations for customers and employees.