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Opinion: We all have a role in keeping America running during the coronavirus crisis

Nothing like a huge crisis makes people feel more helpless. But crises also prompt Americans to step up and help where we can. That includes those of us in the automotive industry.

Colorado’s new car dealers believe we have an important role to play. We are reordering our businesses so that we can continue to serve our customers while ensuring that our employees are able to keep themselves and their families healthy. 

We all know now that “social distancing,” for at least the next few weeks, will help us “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of COVID-19. Nevertheless, we all must continue living and handling essential activities. 

Tim Jackson

At most dealerships, non-essential employees or employees who don’t generally have customer contact are being asked to work remotely from home. This eases their own family responsibilities to care for children home from school and elderly relatives, while ensuring they can continue to contribute at their jobs.

Social distancing is making it unwise for people who ordinarily use public transit to continue their normal habits. The same is true of using rideshares. Unfortunately, in both cases you don’t know who you’re riding next to or behind.

Personal transportation is a safer option for people who need to get to jobs, volunteer situations or doctor’s appointments, and especially for first responders and other emergency personnel who are offering such critical help during this crisis.

Colorado new car dealers’ service departments are open and running to ensure that their customers’ cars are in good working order. Some dealerships may curtail hours of operation, but we don’t expect them to shut down because they have an important role to play in keeping society moving. 

In particular, we want to ensure that first responders and others working to ensure people remain healthy, or keeping the economy running, have safe vehicles to get where they need to go.

READ: Coronavirus coverage from The Colorado Sun

The precedent was set during the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2013. Phil Long Ford’s Colorado Springs service department was open 24/7 to provide service for emergency vehicles. They also provided dozens of loaner vehicles to the Red Cross to be used to move people and equipment during that crisis.

Coloradans – whether they have essential jobs or not – will need their automobiles to get around during this time, too — if only to get to a park to exercise and ease the sense of isolation imposed by the current state of emergency. 

Many dealers have ramped up online availability and will deliver a new car to your doorstep. Some will pick up and deliver vehicles needing service. Dealers are taking steps to sanitize vehicles before and after service work is finished and vehicles are returned to their owners.

Auto dealers have always stepped up to provide help both during crises as well as helping to fulfill ongoing important community needs. 

For example, after the Aurora Theater shootings, Ed Bozarth of Ed Bozarth Chevrolet presented checks of $30,000 for victims of the shootings and $10,000 each to the Aurora Police and Fire departments. His dealership also spearheaded a drive to raise additional funds for victims’ families. 

Mike Maraone Dealerships (formerly Al Serra) and their employees in Colorado Springs have built homes for vets with Habitat for Humanity. 

Several dealers sponsor annual charity events. Schomp Automotive has an annual sale to raise money for Children’s Hospital Colorado. Christopher’s Dodge World teams up with KBPI radio on its annual food drive, and CO’s BMW and MINI provide holiday gifts for children at the Boys and Girls Club of Larimer County. 

Almost every Colorado new car dealership has stepped forward in some capacity to help in its community. We live here. We care. Coloradans can count on us to serve where there’s a need.

Tim Jackson (@timwjackson) is CEO and president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.

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