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How independent auto dealers have been coping with the COVID-19 pandemic – Louis Tedeschi, NIADA

With the departure of Steve Jordan in September of last year, Louis Tedeschi was named the new president of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA). Now, roughly five months into his tenure, we sat down with Tedeschi to discuss how independent dealers grappled with COVID-19, as well as important agenda items for the association moving forward.

All things considered, Tedeschi says that the NIADA’s dealer members fared ok in 2020. The association encouraged dealers to take advantage of the PPP loan money, and to do whatever they could to keep their businesses open.

While COVID restrictions varied from state to state, Tedeschi was pleased that, through lobbying efforts at the federal level, dealers were deemed, essential workers. Many independent dealers, however, had a tough transition when auctions began to take place virtually. Tedeschi says this is a sign of the times, and dealers have to adapt in order to stay competitive.

While there will always be competition from franchised dealers and retailers like Carvana, Tedeschi says what independent dealers have going for them is their customer service. Customers who buy from independent dealers often work directly with the owners rather than with several managers who are servicing a corporation. Unfortunately, NIADA has seen a drop off in membership because dealers have had to close their doors, especially older owners reaching retirement age.

Tedeschi then goes on to explain that independent dealers are experiencing an inventory shortage as well. They are having to branch out and purchase vehicles they normally wouldn’t. There is a steep shortage, in particular, of the under $10,000 vehicles. Tedeschi and anchor Jim Fitzpatrick also tackle the NIADA’s vision for this new year and other observable trends in the industry.

Louis Tedeschi has been with the NIADA for nearly 10 years in various roles. He is also the president of A.S.P.I. Motor Cars in Dedham, Mass. Prior to his time at NIADA, Tedeschi served as the president of the New England Independent Automobile Dealers Association, and the Massachusetts Independent Automobile Dealers Association as well.

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