There’s no doubt: our backs are against the wall, and truck dealers are in survival mode. The first few weeks of this pandemic were focused on protecting our employees and customers. Now, we must also plan damage control for our businesses and quickly shore up our truck dealerships’ financial health. If there’s one thing I can tell you during these uncertain times, it’s that you are not alone.
At the forefront of ATD’s efforts was telling the White House early-on that truck dealerships are essential businesses that must remain operational for the good of the country. Americans can’t afford to have dealerships shut down. On March 24, leaders of ATD and NADA (along with the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers, the American International Automobile Dealers Association, and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation) told President Trump by letter that our businesses provide essential services that need to be maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic and asking for clarification on the Administration’s position. ATD expressed that the ability to provide replacement trucks in response to any number of scenarios is vital in keeping the economy moving; to keeping goods on supermarket shelves and hospital equipment stocked; and to keeping modern, safe and fuel-efficient trucks on the road. We told President Trump that franchised dealers recognize the need to conduct even limited sales and leasing activities in a manner that protects the general public, our customers and our employees.
The recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act contains many new laws and provisions that can help our dealerships stay afloat and continue to provide jobs. The Act allocated $350 billion to aid small businesses and keep workers employed during the economic downturn. Please read through the NADA analysis for dealers for answers to some common questions. The new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for example, provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small-business owners, and these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or if they restore their payrolls afterward.
Last month, I urged all ATD members to take advantage of your membership. Education is still one of our best weapons against this pandemic. This week, NADA launched the first three webinars in its Dealership Lifeline Series—a critical initiative to help local dealerships navigate business realities and new regulations in the coronavirus environment. Each webinar in the series features vital information about coronavirus developments that impact dealership operations, as well as guidance on how dealers can manage their operations accordingly. Today’s webinar takes place at 1pm-2pm EST and it focuses on the new SBA Protection Program and practical considerations for dealers. You can register for the webinar at Making Sense of the New SBA Paycheck Protection Program: Practical Considerations for Dealers. The first 1,500 registrants will join the webinar and virtually attend in the Adobe Connect room in real time. The next 3,500 people to register will join via phone and listen to the webinar; they will also have an opportunity to download the presentation slides and follow along.
If you miss it and can’t attend today’s webinar, a recording will be made available to all members. To register for the webinars tomorrow and Friday visit: Federal Tax Implications of COVID-19: How the New Environment Affects Dealers and Managing Cash Flow: Making it Through the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Finally, visit the NADA’s Coronavirus Hub every day. We must stay plugged into the industry’s developments now more than ever, especially as we cope with the possibility of employees infected with the coronavirus and dealerships in limbo with state stay-at-home and quarantine orders. The critical news that every dealer should know is constantly being updated on our website as the industry—and our country–change hour by hour.
We are in uncharted territory. But we’ve weathered crises before, and we can do it again. ATD is here for you. I am here for you. We will make it through this together. On behalf of ATD, stay well and stay safe!