While the coronavirus pandemic has consumed much of our attention in 2020, we find ourselves nearing the end of the calendar. No doubt, this has been a year of change — one that has necessitated changes in the way we do business for the betterment of employees and customers and comes with the election of a new American president. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we should use this moment to reflect on what we are grateful for in a year that has been turned upside down in many ways.
For months, we witnessed a hard-fought presidential campaign with President-Elect Joe Biden poised to step into our nation’s highest office in January. From coast to coast, we also saw the election of new members and incumbents to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
The very nature of an election means some individuals get the results they want, while others are left disappointed. However, we have great responsibilities as Americans to put aside our emotions and differing views. We must support and work with those democratically elected to represent us. We must respect the energy, time, and passion they invest in shaping the future agenda of our country, Commonwealth, and local communities.
America must continue to be the beacon on the hill that sends the message to the world that we have a democracy that works. Part of that democracy means we can choose new leaders, and we can follow the new paths they forge. At the end of the day, our mission must be to pursue the common good and maintain our free society – which should look out for the least among us, as well as those of other economic circumstances.
A Time of Thanks
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we have a natural moment to be reflective. In March, no one – inside the retail auto franchise business or not – could have predicted the significant impact COVID-19 would have on our world.
At first, many were paranoid that our industry would be capsized, left struggling to catch our breath. In those first several weeks of the pandemic, there was probably a little bit of truth to that, as we worked to adapt and stabilize our businesses.
When Governor Ralph Northam and his staff recognized in Virginia that vehicle service was essential, that was a major first step. Sales operations, while considered at the state-level to be non-essential retail, have been permitted to continue throughout the pandemic, a monumental privilege during these difficult times. Through compliance with the Governor’s mandates, we’ve been able to serve first responders, healthcare providers, and everyday individuals needing to go to and from work or the grocery store.
Your VADA team worked to keep dealers like you informed at every step, even as changes were happening sometimes by the hour on both the state and federal level. Our Legislative and Legal Team of Anne Gambardella and Tommy Lukish developed some of the most comprehensive, well-written communications to educate and support you on COVID-19 compliance with the Governor’s and other government orders. Our messaging stood head and shoulders above much of what I saw among national peer associations, as well as other advocacy organizations in Virginia.
I'm thankful that commitment and dedication helped to keep you buckled in as we rode the roller coaster of 2020. By working together, as an industry, we’ve been able to bounce back very quickly. In fact, I’ve talked with many dealers who enjoyed some of the most profitable months they’ve ever had.
Still, I’m thankful that we soon will close the door on 2020. I look forward to 2021 being a refreshingly different experience, starting with more opportunities to see all of our dealers, friends, and sponsors at upcoming events. That includes a return, we hope, to our in-person VADA Annual Convention, scheduled for June 24-27, 2021 at the Omni Homestead.
But let’s not rush ahead of ourselves and weaken our defenses against this virus. As you give thanks with your families, be sure to adhere to gathering limits prescribed by government leaders.
Let’s look forward to 2021 and continue to be outstanding citizens and leaders in our communities. And, as I always like to say, let's lead from the front and make a difference.
In This Issue
- Daniel Banister has been nominated as Virginia’s honoree for TIME’s Dealer of the Year.
- We have a comprehensive package of compliance stories that look at different topics in overcoming the pandemic: F&I issues with social justice, inflexible service agreements, franchise lessons, and operating in the digital world.
- VADA has updated our Processing Fees brochure, so be sure to order your copies that help explain fees to your customers.
- Our staff profile introduces you to Nary Sze on our Integrum team.
- Drivers can’t use handheld mobile devices beginning in January, in a move to reduce cases of distracted drivers.
- Dennis Elmer has been appointed to the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board.
- Our High Octane podcast talks with Joe Jankowski of VADA partner Armatus about the retail warranty process.
- And, of course, get the latest pandemic information and operational guidance at our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center.