3 Keys to Reigniting the Auto Industry through Compassion

When KAR Global began monitoring the uncertain conditions surrounding COVID-19, the entire leadership team and I knew we had a duty to support our customers during these challenging times because—simply put, it is the right thing to do.

For more than two decades, I’ve lived and breathed the automotive remarketing industry. Throughout this time, I’ve experienced a lot and learned a great deal. I’ve seen historic highs and staggering lows—including the downturns from 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

Unlike past economic events, today’s small businesses have been hit hard and fast due to shutdowns and stay-at-home orders. Without consumers visiting lots, dealers are especially susceptible to economic hardship.

Now more than ever, our dealers—the small businesses that make up the backbone of our economy—need our support and compassion. Through care, connections and courage, we’re reigniting the spark in the automotive remarketing industry.

Customer Care

AFC launched our Customer Relief Program on March 24, 2020, supporting dealers experiencing business challenges. Customers benefit by having the option to make no payments on any new or existing unsold eligible vehicles coming due between now and the end of May.

Four weeks in, AFC’s relief program has already helped nearly 10,000 customers by deferring more than 75,000 payments totaling more $50 million. Our customers were more than ready for some relief, and I’m proud AFC is there to provide support during this time of need.

Meaningful Connections

Due to stay-at-home and social distancing orders, many dealerships are prohibited from operating—and those that are still open have had to reduce staffing as car-shopping foot traffic has dried up. We know how important connection and community are to our customers, and that’s why we’re prioritizing these in our operating objectives.

Local AFC teams call customers frequently to check-in and see how they are doing—and not just with business. We care enough to ask about family, health, hobbies, and to ask how we can help and provide support. These touchpoints are often brief, but to our customers, they are meaningful.

By taking time to listen to customers during this time of uncertainty, we’re fostering a deeper connection now and a more solid foundation for the future. A Harvard Business Review study indicates that emotional connection builds customer satisfaction and future growth by more than 50%. Our customers know that they matter to us and we’re here for them today—through it all.

Courage to Move Forward

We all have concerns about the future and what this means for our wellbeing and livelihood. Fortunately, there are many government programs to help dealers better navigate the business impact of COVID-19, including loan programs as well as business and wage subsidy programs. These programs may seem daunting as guidelines evolve due to funding constraints and new stimulus measures are introduced. To provide direction to information, AFC launched a dedicated COVID-19 landing page and phone line to provide dealers with information about these resources and direction to relevant information.

During uncertain times, hope lights the path forward and bolsters courage for the future. The dealers I’ve been fortunate enough to do business with over the past 20 years are resilient, persistent and don’t back down from a challenge. And I am extremely hopeful that our industry will pull through this challenging time, together.

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