Announcing its response in support of dealers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cars.com said it is offering “a robust program” of immediate dealer incentives and digital services to help drive dealer profitability, service capabilities and sales.
Cars.com says it is targeting those capabilities to a growing segment of consumers who want more digital car-shopping options such as home delivery, virtual appointments, chat tools and video.
The company is announcing “customer actions” and “company actions,” and one of the customer actions is “immediate financial relief to dealers”: The company’s dealer customers will receive 50% off April and 30% off May and June bills automatically applied across Cars.com and DealerRater.
CARS president and chief executive officer Alex Vetter said the company’s dealer customers are facing “unprecedented and uncertain near-term business impacts.
“Due to the unique circumstances with every customer, we are offering a range of flexible solutions including immediate financial relief as well as expanded digital retail solutions to address today’s shopper needs,” Vetter said in a news release.
Vetter said, “Our immediate focus is on helping car shoppers better connect with dealerships and navigate their car-buying process online during this time of social distancing and staying at home. Our customers understand, now more than ever, that a strong digital presence is needed to help weather this storm.”
Additional customer actions CARS is taking to help weather the storm include “virtual retail solutions.” The company’s existing range of digital services help dealers serve car buyers from home, but it has launched new, no-cost merchandising and digital services. Those include home delivery and virtual appointment badging, chat and video.
CARS says those products drive traffic and improve dealership digital operations.
CARS Cares is another customer action. The company is monitoring the COVID-19 situation in real time and has launched the CARS Cares website to keep customers up to date on the retail services and real-time actions and decisions Cars.com is taking to provide service and support to customers.
An additional customer action is federal aid and support. The company is working with policymakers and industry groups to help dealerships gain local and federal support to get through the crisis. That support includes federal stimulus and essential business status.
CARS also announced “company actions” that it is taking during the crisis, and one of them is a “substantial reduction of expenses.”
The second company action is a draw-down on its revolving credit facility to provide additional liquidity of $165 million.
CARS said it maintains strong relationships with its banks and continues to engage in conversations with them on its financial performance and metrics.
“As we continue to navigate through this challenging business environment, we remain committed to prudent management of our financial resources and a heightened focus on our stated capital allocation objectives of de-leveraging and continuing to invest in initiatives that connect our dealer and OEM customers to our in-market car shoppers,” Vetter said.
“We believe our actions are aligned with building long-term shareholder value, as well as fortifying our position as the fastest growing online automotive marketplace and true dealer advocates," he said.