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Auto dealerships re-open; Phase 1 brings customers back to the showroom

Posted at 2:14 PM, May 11, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — May 11 couldn’t come fast enough for General Manager Mark Collier at Paul Miller Ford.

“Yes sir, it does feel good,” Collier said of opening the doors for business for the first time since late March.

Collier, like sales managers at dealerships all over the state, had been reduced to moving their inventory on-line only, as dealerships weren’t deemed to be essential business by Gov. Andy Beshear. But at Don Franklin Hyundai, that really wasn’t such a bad thing.

“It’s hard to say exactly how much we lost (by being closed), but we did about 60-70 percent of our normal business,” said Hyundai’s Managing Partner Nick Cundiff of the dealership’s on-lines sales during the pandemic.

Still, he’s very happy to have the foot traffic once again with many precautions in place, of course.

“Everyone is wearing gloves and masks, we have hand sanitizer for employees and customers. Customers can even grab a mask from us if they don’t have one, and we’re doing temperature checks for all employees,” said Cundiff. They’ve also removed all vehicles from the showroom floor to allow for people to spread out a bit more.

While the dealers are certainly happy to be operating at full capacity, the real winners here might be the customers; those in the market for a new, or used vehicle, might see some tremendous value.

“If you look around the lot you can see cars everywhere,” Cundiff said. “We need to sell those. Rates are low, rebates are high so there’s deals out there right now, whether you’re looking for a used, or new vehicle,” he added.

And the on-line method of purchase, which became the lifeblood of the operation for nearly two months, will remain in place.

“What we did was implement stuff we already had, but added to it,” Collier said. But he knows people usually prefer to look, feel and test drive vehicles before making that decision. So they are doing anything they can possibly do to make the buying process safe.

“Before you take a test drive the vehicle, and the keys have been sanitized. And then we’ll do it twice more once you return from the test drive,” Collier said.

They’re more than happy to be doing that extra work, because they just experienced what the alternative is like.