In this time of “social distancing” thanks to COVID-19, you might think it would be a good time to push online sales and home delivery for new and used cars.
But once this crisis passes, Rick Hendrick – yes, the man who owns many of the first VINs of Corvettes produced, including #001 of the mid-engine generation and also owner of more than 100 auto franchises – tells Autoweek he’s not so sure sales via the Internet are the right answer for everyone.
“A lot of people will look at a car online,” says Hendrick. “When it gets down to giving them your Social Security number and all of the other information, they’re a little bit more cautious. Not many people want to buy a car [with] 60,000, 50,000 or 100,000 miles without seeing it.”
It’s hard not to listen to the opinion of a man like Hendrick, who just happens to have generated $9 billion in revenue in 2017 from selling 200,000-plus vehicles and serving another 2.6 million cars and trucks.
Hendrick believes “service is still the key,” arguing that “if you take good care of the customer, you have owner base, you really have a good reputation, you make sure that nobody leaves there unhappy; then you’re still going to get the bulk of the business.”
He should know. Hendrick owns more than 140 automotive franchises and 96 dealerships in the United States.
Of course, being from the old school, it’s not surprising to hear Hendrick push in-person sales. But, at the same time, he’s not a dinosaur unwilling to make changes.
“We’re going to stay in step with [the customers],” he says. “If they want it online completely, we can do it. If we can take it to their house, whatever the other folks do, we can do. None of those folks have the shop, the parts and the service. Most people want somebody to take care of it after the sale.”
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