The Automotive Response to the Pandemic

If you are a small business trying to navigate the New Normal of COVID-19, you are not alone!

If you are in the Automotive Industry, you have been trying to figure how to service your customers while keeping everyone safe. You are doing your best to get through the seasonal tire changeover and wondering how to keep this all going.

Well there are a few things that you MUST have in place in order to be open for business.

  1. Cleaning Supplies & PPE – These are the number one items you need. Without them, you cannot open safely.
  2. Social Distancing Protocols – How many customers may enter the showroom at a time? Are your customers able to wait inside safely? Is your staff working safely apart? And if they can’t, what safety measures are being used?
  3. Safe Work Procedures – This includes what PPE is to be worn and when, what needs to be cleaned and how often and the safest ways to interact with customers, co-workers and suppliers. How do you safely work within the vehicle?
  4. A way to monitor and track staff movements and interactions, in case of a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace, while protecting Privacy rules.

If you don’t have a policy for a Pandemic Plan or Emergency Measures, it’s time to start thinking about it. There are three main areas that must be addressed in order for your business to stay open.

  1. Identify your essential business activities and the core people and skills needed to keep these activities going and measures for a backup plan. Modify operations and procedures if necessary.
  2. Identify how you will deal with possible shortages of supplies. This includes the cleaning supplies and PPE, but it is also the supply of parts and products needed to service your customers.
  3. Minimize illness among the employees, customers and suppliers. This means following all prescribed protocols and it can mean asking questions to assess risk and/or taking temperatures before allowing staff to work or for customers to enter.

Communication is also extremely important! You must educate your staff and customers. It is important to share information. Be sure to follow all Provincial and Federal Guidelines. Know where to find reliable information and keep up to date as things can change quickly.

And last but not least, ask your staff how they are doing. More than ever, people need reassurance. They need hope and they need facts. Stay in touch with staff members, those at work and those at home. It doesn’t cost us to check in on others, but it may cost us dearly if we don’t.

These are just the starting points of our new normal. As businesses start to open up again, they will find many challenges, so your plan to respond may change as the level of pandemic changes. Take a reasonable approach and you should be fine; just be sure to document what you have done and you will be better prepared for the next time we face an unusual challenge.

Shirley Mitchell, Sector Council Board Treasurer
Manager of HR & Quality Systems, Maritimes Region
Coast Tire & Auto Service Ltd.