East Coast dealer to captives: Step up after Sandy

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, an East Coast dealer wants captive finance companies to get creative to help affected dealers sell cars.

Dealer Bruce Bendell would like manufacturers to create finance incentive programs for folks impacted by Sandy. He likens it to when General Motors launched its "Keep America Rolling" incentive plan after 9/11.

"We figure there'll be a lot of flooded cars and damaged cars, but people will wait for their insurance companies. We're trying to get creative in terms of financing deals now to get sales going," says Bendell, co-owner of Major Chevrolet Inc. in New York City. He also sells Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota and Scion brand vehicles.

Bendell's seven dealerships in New York and one in Pennsylvania were undamaged in the storm. But because the storm hit so close to month's end, he worries most East Coast dealers' October sales will be at least 20 percent below September sales.

"There was a lot of uncertainty out there with the presidential election," Bendell said. "You don't know if that was the reason why the month was as slow as it was, but having this hit just like it did now … hopefully, the manufacturers will support the dealers and help in any way."

Bendell's doing his part to push the idea. One brand's captive finance company representative called to see how Bendell's stores had weathered the storm. Bendell told him his buildings were fine, his staff was unharmed and inventory was good, but an incentive program from the captive finance unit would help his sales recover.

He added: "You need to give people a reason to get out there, and you'd be doing a public service."

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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