Columbus auto dealers develop safe ways for shoppers to buy vehicles during pandemic

Columbus’ Headquarter Nissan and Kia AutoSport Columbus have developed new ways to help consumers buy a vehicle during the pandemic.

Columbus auto dealers develop safe ways for shoppers to buy vehicles during pandemic

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The coronavirus has turned our world upside down, even impacting how we buy a car.

WTVM News Leader 9’s Paul Stockman talked with two local dealers about what they are doing to make the process easier and safer.

"I've really never seen anything like this before,” said Melanie Lee, General Manager of Kia AutoSport Columbus. Lee grew up in the car business, and this is one of the toughest times she's seen.

"I was in the car businesses during 2007 and 2008, so I thought that was certainly the toughest times I had ever seen until the middle of March,” Lee added.

Car dealerships took a hit initially because of COVID-19, but like any business, they adjusted.

Kia Autosport Columbus and Headquarter Nissan made the move to more online sales. Even test drives can be done with social distancing in place.

"You never have to visit the dealership to buy a car. We've seen a huge upswing in virtual transactions,” Lee said.

Jason Boland, General Manager of Headquarter Nissan said "We go to the guest, we deliver the car. It's seamless, all from the home."

They're keeping everything clean in the dealership for those that still come in and do the usual car shopping, but they're doing even more for those that don't feel safe. Plastic on steering wheels and seats, sanitizers everywhere, and touchless transactions.

"Just being ahead of everything and looking at safety first and realize what we have to adjust. We adjusted a lot of things,” said Boland.

Dealership sales dipped a bit overall, but through the online transactions, the money has started coming back.

"Once I think that we realized hey we can be open as long as we practice safe social distancing for team members and our clients, now how can we use that to get creative and get business back in the dealership,” said Lee.

It's a big change, but this could be a "new normal" in the future.

"When it’s all over we’ll have better practices in the workplace now,” said Boland.

Copyright 2020 WTVM. All rights reserved.