Jumpstart Automotive Media shared data with AuSM on Wednesday about how much vehicle-shopping activity dropped off within the path of Hurricane Florence.
With potential buyers likely watching for warnings about torrential rains and flooding, Jumpstart examined shopping activity over the past seven days, compared with metrics recorded during the previous four weeks. According to Jumpstart, the market near where Florence made landfall — Wilmington, N.C. — saw local vehicle shopping activity decline by 76 percent.
“Wilmington, N.C., saw some of the most damage from the storm, and obviously families were primarily concerned for the safety of their families during and after the storm,” Jumpstart said.
Other regional areas where vehicle shopping declined significantly during the last seven days compared to the previous four weeks included:
— Florence-Myrtle Beach S.C.: Down 60 percent
— Greenville-New Bern-Washington N.C.: Down 58 percent
— Charleston, S.C.: Down 37 percent
— Raleigh-Durham, N.C.: Down 16 percent
— Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va.: Down 15 percent
As flooding recedes, shopping activity likely will rebound in these areas stemming from the need for replacement vehicles. Cox Automotive kept its estimate at potentially 20,000 to 40,000 units.
Meanwhile, service providers such as Insurance Auto Auctions already have taken steps to handle the processing of flood-damaged vehicles.
Also ready to offer support is Vemark, a provider of digital workflow integration and vehicle remarketing solutions. On Wednesday, Venmark announced its availability as a recovery expert to help speed Florence flood vehicle disposition efforts.
“Flood-related catastrophic events like Florence present a tremendous challenge because of the scale of logistics and the massive quantity of vehicles that are likely to be affected,” Vemark chief executive officer Doug Mellette said.
“Our team at Vemark has the management experience, process understanding, technology tools and industry relationships to help those impacted come through the event as successfully as possible,” Mellette continued.
During more than 30 years of advising clients following major hurricanes, Vemark has found that flood vehicles sold during the first 10 ot 20 days after the disaster bring significantly higher returns.
Vemark acknowledged that events such as Florence represent a traumatic and emotional time for vehicle owners. Picking up vehicles and expediting inspection ensures timely claims processing, significantly reducing call volumes from anxious policyholders and improving customer satisfaction.
To facilitate this, Vemark works with clients to set up a ground zero control center and secure local storage to get vehicles processed quickly.
And the company is ready for these chores in the Carolinas.
“The recovery from Florence will be one of the most difficult we’ve seen yet,” Mellette said. “Our message is very simple: Even if you already have a process and vendors identified, we’re here to help you in any way we can. Vendors often become overwhelmed by the scale of challenges and the volume of business. If that happens to you, simply call us, and we will respond immediately.”
To learn more about Vemark’s Florence recovery services, call (561) 701-9803, ext. 201.
Furthermore, for customers who did not lose their vehicle during the storm but endured other hardships, finance companies are taking steps to help.
Toyota Financial Services (TFS) announced it is offering payment relief options to its customers affected by Florence. This broad outreach includes any Toyota Financial Services (TFS) or Lexus Financial Services (LFS) customer in the designated disaster areas.
Impacted lease and finance customers residing in the devastated areas may be eligible to take advantage of several payment relief options, some of which include:
— Extensions and lease deferred payments
— Redirecting billing statements
— Arranging phone or online payments
Toyota Financial Services said it will proactively attempt to customers via email and telephone in the affected areas to assess their needs and inform customers of the options available to them.
We at Toyota Financial Services care about the safety and well-being of our customers and want to help those impacted by the hurricane. We extend our heartfelt thoughts to those affected by the devastating storm,” company officials said.