The head of the nation's largest U.S. dealership group says "retail has changed forever" because of the coronavirus and that robust safety processes for AutoNation Inc.'s employees and customers will be necessary.
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson told shareholders last week that the company has implemented numerous safety measures in its stores from spacing markers for social distancing to hand-washing reminders and bulletins for employees and customers. The auto retailer in recent weeks also implemented a nationwide "store-to-door" vehicle delivery service.
"We've taken significant steps already to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees," Jackson said during AutoNation's virtual annual meeting. "That includes providing masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, single-use pens, sprays, wipes [and] much-heightened level of cleaning throughout the stores, including all the high-touch areas such as keyboards, telephones [and] guest common areas."
AutoNation in late March saw its new- and used-vehicle sales fall about 50 percent, leading the company to furlough 7,000 employees — more than a quarter of its staff — as one of several cost-cutting moves.
Stay-at-home orders by governors and municipal leaders have "significantly disrupted business," Jackson said. All dealerships remain open for service, with some showrooms closed due to local or state orders, he said.