If you’ve been around for a while, like our 30+ years here at Priority One, you can relate to this feeling of uncertainty in your business, the industry and the world around us. It feels all too familiar to the financial crash of 2008, and even the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
But what you’re not reading here is another article about why COVID-19 is the worst. While we recognize the gravity of the pandemic – that we’ve entered uncharted territory for worldwide health and economics - what we assert in this article is why this crisis is different than 2008, and why we at Priority One believe our industry still has hope.
While some of the day-to-day feelings of today’s climate reflect those of 2008 – a sales decline, new inventory limits, stock market irregularities – there are a few key differences.
First, this is temporary. Ultimately, there will be an end to social distancing. People want to boat and camp now more than ever, and when social distancing restrictions lift, we anticipate a swarm of new activity and sales.
The second difference here is that the size and stability of the banking industry is far greater than it was at the start of 2008. At that time, many banks were leaving the industry or closing altogether. Yes, the lenders are making some adjustments, like verifying employment or requesting additional documents, but they are still offering competitive rates, down payment options and even delaying the first payment. Banks are showing a commitment to available and affordable loans.
The third, and, perhaps, most notable difference is technology. In 2008, FaceTime and Zoom didn’t exist. Whispers of “the cloud” were in the air, but far from today’s world of remote desktops and mobile computing. Accessibility of information has never been easier. Phone calls can be accompanied by videos, texts, documents and slideshows. In some cases, your customer can sign loan paperwork from their home!
Virtual financing is a viable option. Priority One conducts all customer interactions via phone and uses secure portals for communication. Some closings are eligible for EZ-Sign™, where 99% of the closing process can be done in a contact-free, socially distant environment. If sales woes are present in your business right now, financing is one thing that remains reliable.
Around Priority One, we use a simple term for the way we think (and hope and pray) that COVID-19 will impact our business – it is a “blip.” When conversations turn south, we remind each other that we are fully equipped to stand alongside our dealers through this time, and that this will simply be a “blip” for all of us.
To all our dealers, we’re sustaining this “blip” with you and are here to support you in every way we can. Here’s to coming back stronger together on the other side.