Washington car dealerships open with new guidelines

SPOKANE, Wash. — The car selling industry now has the green light to reopen, but if a customer is thinking about buying a car soon, it’ll look a little different.

Governor Jay Inslee laid out new guidelines for the car selling industry; most sales should be done by phone if possible. It’s a different practice for a car dealership, and tough for customers who want to see the car in person and test drive it. However, this is done to limit in person interaction.

“It’s challenging because the customers anticipate coming into the dealership, so we’ve had a lot of customers showing up on the lot and we had to tell them we’re working by appointment only,” explained Andy Keys, the general sales manager with Wendle Motors.

If needed, at Wendle Motors, customers can test drive a car. However, a sales person will not be riding along. Keys said customers will have to sign a form accepting responsibility for the vehicle on the test drive. The dealership will also verify the customer has insurance.

“The toughest part is being able to explain to them how the features work because if they’re not used to the technology in the car, it could be fairly complicated,” Keys said.

So, the dealership has some videos to send to the buyers, showing how to use certain features in cars.

After every test drive, the vehicle is wiped down again.

“The sanitizing wipes are getting hard to come by, so now we’re having to use a solution in a spray bottle,” Keys said. “It works fine, but we worry with bleach and stuff, we don’t want to damage any upholstery or anybody’s clothes.”

It is recommended customers still try and buy a car through the phone and online for the safety of staff and the customer.

When a sale is made, the dealership will handle all the paperwork then sanitize the car before it leaves the lot. Customers will have to bring in their own pen to seal the deal, as well. Keys says they also offer gloves to customers if they’d like them.

Very few cars left the Wendle Motors lot in the last six weeks, but Keys is looking forward to what’s ahead. It was hard for them to turn away customers for the last few weeks.

“It’s amazing how many people have been out looking for cars. We were shocked when this all happened, we thought it would be really slow,” Keys said. “But, what we found, people got angry with us when we couldn’t sell them a car and then they went across the border to Idaho and buying cars in Idaho.”

Just because sales were minimal, the delivery of new cars didn’t stop. Now, Wendle Motors has more inventory than they want.

“We’re really relieved that we’re being able to open again,” he said. “Even though it’s in a limited fashion.”

To see the detailed guidelines for car dealerships, click here.

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