While many businesses have closed their doors to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), tire dealers and automotive repair shops, identified as “essential” businesses by the U.S. government, have taken extra precautions to ensure their customers’ safety. Here are some ways facilities are communicating and interacting with customers to give them peace of mind as the world works to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
GIVE CUSTOMERS OPTIONS
With health officials urging people to stay home, tire and auto service shops have implemented ways customers can receive the service they need with minimal contact.
Pat Fleischmann, co-owner of Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair in Phoenix, Arizona, said the shop’s six locations are giving customers options in terms of vehicle service to cater to how customers are responding to COVID-19. For example, the shop sent out communications reminding customers of its shuttle service that picks up and delivers their vehicle to their home. Its six locations also have a key dropbox for evening drop-offs to minimize contact.
Sullivan Tire & Auto’s 73 locations in New England offer curbside check-in service, allowing customers to call from the parking lot to have an employee greet them outside to take their keys. The dealership is also offering Lyft services at no charge to the customer to drop them off at their home and pick them up when their vehicle is ready. Recently, the facility limited vehicle pickup and drop-off service to customers within an eight-mile radius of their Sullivan Tire location and prioritizes vehicle maintenance of customers who are first responders.
FREQUENTLY CLEAN HIGH-TOUCH POINTS
This is a best practice shops should be doing on at least a daily basis, but increase the frequency to show customers your shop is being proactive about their safety.
Scott Welsh, owner of Courtesy Auto Service & Tire of Tacoma in Tacoma, Washington, said, “We’re wiping down the counters, and people are seeing us do it, too. We want people to know that we care about their health.”
High-touch points include:
• Credit card machines
• Door handles
• Phone handles
• Coffee areas
• Kitchen areas
• Chair arms and tables in waiting areas
KEEP YOUR DISTANCE
One shop owner said that he and his staff are observing social distancing practices with customers and each other. He said he posted a link on the shop’s website, sent out an e-newsletter and posted on the shop’s social media channels to let customers know that if they enter the store, there’s now a “hard 6-foot rule” on social distancing and a limit of three customers in the store.
PROTECT CUSTOMERS’ VEHICLES
It’s crucial now, but it’s always a great recommendation that when servicing a customer’s vehicle, either cover its high-touch points, such as door handles, the steering wheel, keys and shifters, or wipe down any areas in the interior where your employees have touched. Some shops have instructed all staff to wear gloves when interacting with customers.
TAKE EMPLOYEE ILLNESS SERIOUSLY
What may be one of the most difficult things for modern businesses to adapt to is to stop shaking hands. This courteous and friendly procedure has suddenly become one of the most divisive of actions in some communities. Courtesy Auto’s Welch is encouraging his employees not to shake hands.
And of course, encourage employees who don’t feel well to stay home.
Is your business doing anything different to keep you customers, your employees and yourself safe during these turbulent times? Let us know at [email protected]
Madeleine Winer is managing editor of our sister publication Tire Review. You can reach her at [email protected]