EC car dealerships join forces with Allstate
By William F. West
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Two Elizabeth City car dealerships have joined forces with Allstate insurance company to provide one-stop shopping for both car- and insurance-buying customers.
Toyota of Elizabeth City and Nissan of Elizabeth City recently set up space in their dealerships for full-service Allstate offices. The thinking is that, since car buyers need insurance, why not have access to it available on site?
“It provides an opportunity for the customer for really a one-stop shop,” Chris Duncan, the new general sales manager at Toyota of Elizabeth City, said of his dealership’s new partnership with Allstate. “It can provide all their automotive and servicing needs, as well as protecting them with insurance products.”
Duncan, who recently came to Toyota from a management position with a Mercedes and BMW dealership in Georgia, believes having the Allstate office in-house will have a “calming effect” on potential car buyers.
“It provides a calming effect for a lot of people because, quite frankly, one of the parts of a major decision, as far as buying an automobile, is, 'Hey, what is my insurance going to cost? What are my options as far as insurance?'” he said. “And having them right here at our disposal, right hand in hand, it really just ties the entire process together for us.”
Duncan was discussing the new service Tuesday evening following a grand-opening to announce it at an event at Toyota sponsored by the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce. The Allstate office is located in office space at the back of Toyota’s vehicle showroom.
Also in attendance at Tuesday’s grand-opening was Michael Esposito, Allstate manager at both Toyota of Elizabeth City and Nissan of Elizabeth City. Both Allstate offices at the car dealerships offer a full line of insurance services and opened last month, Esposito said.
“It started off slow because nobody knew we were here,” he said. “Now, things are starting to happen — and more people from (automotive) service, with our involvement, come back over to this side of the building.”
A New Jersey native, Esposito said he’s been with Allstate since early this year. He’s an old hand at the car business, however, having worked 20 years as a finance manager and sales manager at dealerships before taking a job working with union beneficiaries in Ohio.
Esposito said he currently has two Allstate representatives based at the Toyota dealership and one at the Nissan dealership. One is Adria Harris, an Elizabeth City native whose resume includes working approximately five years as a quality assurance inspector at aerostat manufacturer TCOM in Weeksville.
Harris said she had been working about a year as an independent life insurance agent prior to joining Allstate. She said she’s learned during her short time in the insurance business the importance of asking the right questions. She’s also learned, she’s said, how critical it is to engage customers in conversation as a way to build relationships.
"Once you build a relationship, the people begin to trust you," she said. "Once you are trusted, people begin to seek information from you that they know will help you in the long run."
Both Toyota of Elizabeth City and Nissan of Elizabeth City are owned by the Florida-based Buchanan company.
Allstate, which dates back to 1931, today is one of the top five insurance companies in America.
Toyota of Elizabeth City is in the 1000 block of Halstead Boulevard. Nissan of Elizabeth City is in the 1700 block of North Road Street.
The Allstate offices at both dealerships are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
The Allstate office at Toyota can be reached at 335-1510. The Allstate office at Nissan can be reached at 337-9726.