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Despite a slow in sales, local dealerships offer service, deals

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a myriad of local businesses has been affected – everyone from restaurants to retail spaces have seen a dip in business due to the global health crisis – among them, local car dealerships.

“This is probably the slowest I’ve seen it in my time,” said Bill Porter, President and Owner of Reliable Cadillac GMC in Selma. “Sales and service are down, but they’re still coming in.”

Reliable has been in business since 1946, Porter has been with the dealership since 1979.

Porter estimates things haven’t been this slow for local auto sales since the gas crisis of the early 80s.

On the other side of Selma, at Turner Chevrolet, General Manager Larry Taylor says the dealership has seen a similar dip in sales, but nothing like what high-volume dealerships are suffering.

“The big high-volume dealers are the ones that are really feeling the pain because it has slowed their traffic up tremendously,” said Taylor. “Ours has stayed pretty steady, we’re averaging one or two every couple of days. It’s slacked off a little bit it isn’t as bad as it could be. We’re still very blessed and we’re doing everything we can to keep our employees safe and healthy, and the public too.”

Taylor has been in automotive sales for 23 years, and he says he hasn’t seen the business take such a hit since the recession of 2008.

“I’ve seen it bad before but I’ve never seen it this bad.” He said. “I was in the business during the recession of 2008 and it wasn’t this bad.”

Taylor says the employees at Turner Chevrolet are practicing social distancing, frequently disinfecting surfaces and entryways and minimizing contact between customers and each other – even offering customers the chance to fill out the majority of the required paperwork it takes to purchase a vehicle online.

“You can fill out the majority of the paperwork at your kitchen table, you don’t even have to come into the dealership,” said Taylor. “Business can still be done in a healthy and non-threatening manner every day if we take the right precautions.”

The staff at Reliable is taking similar precautions, to keep employees and customers healthy.

Reliable has moved the waiting area for service customers outside, and surfacing are constantly being disinfected.

For the time being, Reliable is no longer open on Saturdays, the day is now being designated as a cleaning day for the dealership’s showroom.

Though the ongoing pandemic has slowed business, both Porter and Taylor said now is an excellent time to purchase a vehicle.“The factory has all sorts of discounts and incentives right now.” Said Porter. “We’ve got all kinds of incentives on this new stuff. It’s a good time to buy, it really is.”

“Right now would be an excellent time to buy a vehicle for several reasons,” said Taylor.

Taylor said car shoppers can avoid the usual crowds and take advantage of financing options like zero percent for 84 months and no payments for four months on new vehicles.

“We’ve stayed pretty steady and we’ve worked hard to do that.” Said Taylor. “Turner has been in business for [over 70 years] now and you don’t get to stay in business that long without going the extra mile for you customers.”