The Coronavirus is disrupting businesses across the globe and its full impact is yet to be seen. Dealers have been contacting us to see if we have any advice as far as what can be done in their service departments to limit any risk both to employees and customers.
The following are a few simple suggestions that can help minimize workplace exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) for your employees and customers. It's important to note that, due to a lack of widespread testing and the absence of physical symptoms in many individuals infected with the virus, you need to proceed with the understanding that every interaction can present a risk. When you operate with an abundance of caution, you not only greatly reduce the likelihood of exposure, you also send a reassuring message to consumers and your dealership staff.
- Send Your Sick Staff Home: Again, you may not even be aware that someone (consumer or employee) is infected with the Coronavirus. However, when symptoms are present do not allow sick employees on the premises. Most CRM programs can be accessed from mobile phones and home computers. So, if they are not too sick to work, employees can still call, email and text your customers and set up appointments without being at the dealership itself.
- Clean! Clean! Clean! Place a major priority on cleanliness: Before consumers will feel confident about visiting your store, it is vital to ensure all areas where consumers interact with you and other customers are free of potential exposure to the virus. Normally janitorial staff shuffles around after hours. However, it’s a good idea to have them sanitizing during business hours as well. Let your customers see you are making sanitation a priority. Also, have a liberal supply of hand sanitizer available in all public areas for employee and customer use. This is not a paid sponsorship post, but you may also want to take a look at biopledge.com.
- No More Waiting: While the CDC has announced that public gatherings present a threat to exposure, no consumer wants to sit in your waiting room. During the appointment scheduling process, while on the phone, offer customers the option to drop their vehicle off rather than having them wait around at the dealership.
- Expedite Vehicle Drop Off/Pick Up and Limit Customer Exposure – Find ways to have your service department promptly check-in cars in the service drive and get customers on their way with just a single-point interaction. The same goes for vehicle pick up when the service is complete. All staff should wear gloves and use disinfectant wipes to clean service lane tablet screens, POS machines and any other equipment that your customers or staff use.
- Wipe Down Your Loaners/Shuttles Often: Ensure that your customers are confident that your vehicles are clean and sanitary and have confidence in the cleanliness practices of your shuttle drivers. Customers can be afraid to let anyone touch their car or climb inside an Uber or dealer shuttle. It's panic mode out there, so understand that even pick up/delivery isn't going to be a slam dunk. A lot of dealers are looking at BioPledge, an odorless, residue-less car interior fogger that kills bacteria and offers a 3-month barrier to protect. Dealers can use this at pick up to show the consumer they are protected for the next few months. Much faster than wiping down the car too. The cost is $15 per application.
- Mobile Service/Vehicle Pick-Up Services: Many consumers are worried to step out of their homes. So, if you have the resources, you would be wise to consider going to them with a pickup and delivery service and then the customer does not even have to leave their home.
- Service Confirmation/Missed Appointment Call Scripts: Does your staff know what to say to instill confidence in the safety and cleanliness of your dealership? Or what to say to a customer who has missed their scheduled appointment? You would be wise to put some talk tracks together.
- Vehicle Wipe Down: To protect employees, the vehicle should be immediately wiped down before servicing, reducing the chance of exposure. Once serviced, the vehicle needs to be cleaned inside and out once again. Are you using disinfectant wipes to clean up? It is important to reassure consumers at every opportunity that you have practices in place to ensure their vehicle will not be infected. Also, consider BioPledge, as mentioned above.
- Home Delivery & Test Drive: This is more on the sales side. But, if you want to sell cars, you might have to perform the test drive at the consumer's front door. Why not get a jump on the competition by taking the whole process to them.
Follow CDC Guidelines for Business Operations: Visit the CDC site (click here) for guidance on how to prevent workplace exposure to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings.
Stay Up to Speed on Coronavirus Updates: Rather than receive misleading information, consult the CDC's official site and official coronavirus updates (click here).
To your success in these difficult times!