COVID-19 Update: There’s a New App Helping Dealers Navigate Federal Assistance Options

By Desiree Homer

DealerSocket has recently launched a new app that may offer some guidance to dealers looking to take advantage of government-sponsored assistance. The COVID-19 Dealership Loan Navigator is designed to help dealership owners navigate the various loans and financial relief being offered now under the CARES Act. For those who aren’t sure about eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Disaster Relief Loans, this new app could be a helpful, and better yet, is free to use, with or without a current DealerSocket partnership.

The Partnership Behind the DealerSocket App

DealerSocket, a dealership tech company, partnered with an app development firm called Quick Base to bring this free service to life. Together with the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, this new app will directly support dealers looking to determine the qualifications for various financial assistance programs. With the different types of loans, some forgivable and others requiring repayment, making decisions about which make the most sense for your dealership can be confusing. This new tool may be helpful to better understand the relief being offered to businesses and which applies best to your dealership operation model. CEO for DealerSocket, Sejal Pietrzak, said this easy-to-use navigator is an “incredible opportunity” that will help key owners and management walk through an otherwise complex application process.

Weathering the Pandemic May Come Down to Available Relief

Keeping those dealerships open that can be open and preparing for the return to market influx of car buyers, staying afloat now is paramount. Tapping into some of the available financial relief resources may be the lifeline dealers need to bridge the operational gap over the next few weeks or months. There are nuances and details regarding eligibility for certain businesses that are proving to be confusing. Some businesses have avoided the confusion by employing other options, including negotiations with current vendors and lenders for appropriate extensions or considerations on payments. However, depending on the regions of the country, and government suggestions for re-opening the economy, taking advantage of some of the relief loans may be the only way for some to weather this pandemic.

These Funds May Get Reinfused

Because many of the loans being offered under the umbrella of the CARES Act have pre-determined budgets, it means the funds will continue to be disbursed as needed until depleted. Those who jump on the application processes early are more likely to receive the eligible benefits. This first-come, first-served order of operations might mean some dealers miss out on leveraging the relief. However, Washington is discussing plans for a second bill and round of additional funds to continue the program for those who may need it. This may be the second chance dealers need. With $10 million in forgivable loans in the original budget, there is a real opportunity for dealer operations to stay afloat through the shelter-in-place orders. For others, keeping employees on the payroll through any furloughs means a swift return to full capacity when the buying restrictions are lifted. It also means taking care of valuable staff and team members, who through no fault of their own, are unable to report to work.

To learn more about this latest DealerSocket app and free tool for navigating the relief programs, check them out on the web. Dealers can also tune into Dealer News Today podcasts, including a recent podcast discussion with Andy Cherkasky and Dave Cantin about application and self-certification for the loan process for these relief programs.