Today on CBT News, Host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Tom Maoli, President and CEO of Celebrity Motor Cars. Maoli is based out of New Jersey where the governor has just implemented a new wave of restrictions due to a rising number of new COVID-19 cases. Maoli joined us to talk about the new restrictions, how it’s impacting his business, and how shutdowns will impact the industry moving forward.
Maoli begins the conversation by addressing the new restrictions. He believes that the country can’t be shut down again due to the negative impact it would have on business. Maoli says that everyone understands the importance of wearing a mask and has the necessary awareness to operate safely without being confined to stay-home restrictions. During COVID, Maoli said they had to lay off 80% of his staff due to the lack of work. However, with the aid of the PPP loan, he was able to slowly restore his staff by bringing them back on with the company.
Maoli says that he believes that 2021 is setting up to be one of the best years in automotive history. With inventory and staff smaller than before the pandemic, he has seen his margins skyrocket. He fully believes those margins will help retail automotive build on the momentum it has developed this year.
A recent NADA dealer survey found that Lexus is the most liked auto brand among dealers. As a Lexus dealer, Maoli has been impressed with the partnership he has had with Lexus. He says that it’s so crucial for dealers to have a great relationship with their OEMs. Likewise, It’s extremely important for OEMs to recognize the importance of their dealers and to form a strong partnership that helps both sides succeed.
While digital retailing has grown tremendously in 2020, Maoli is confident that online retailing isn’t the future of the industry. According to Maoli, buying a car is a “family purchase” and can’t be treated as buying other products online. He says that people want to come in, sit in the car, see how it drives, and see if the entire family is on board with the purchase. Similar to buying a house, Maoli says that people want to be able to see and negotiate for vehicles in person. There is a human element in purchasing a vehicle that can’t be replaced by convenience.
Maoli concludes the conversation by talking about the lessons learned through the pandemic. He says the industry is in a recovery environment where interest rates are remaining low and consumer sentiment is remaining high. In the current climate of the industry, dealers can achieve more with less, opening many doors into new opportunities.
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