To say the novel coronavirus has had a profound impact on businesses would be an understatement. In light of the growing threat presented by COVID-19, a number of industries have taken extraordinary precautions to keep their customers and workforce safe from infection, and any auto dealership that wishes to remain operational throughout this pandemic would be wise to follow suit. In the interest of offering a safe car-buying experience and keeping staff and customers out of harm’s way, lot owners should put the following tips to good use.
Move the Buying Experience Online
In recent years, many dealerships have experimented with allowing customers to peruse inventory and purchase vehicles online. So, if your business has yet to embrace new technology, there’s no time like the present to get on board. For starters, you’ll need to provide prospective car buyers with a meticulously up-to-date digital accounting of your entire inventory. If you have a sizable number of vehicles on your lot, a reliable connected car device can make it easy to keep track of which vehicles are available for sale.
Of course, this isn’t to say that your salespeople won’t have a role to play. Upon entering your website, each prospective customer should be given the opportunity to engage with a salesperson via text or video chat. Not only will this make the buying experience more convenient for customers, but it will also enable your salespeople to work remotely and avoid unnecessary in-person interactions.
Require Onsite Staff to Wear PPE
You can help curb the spread of COVID-19 among your workforce by requiring all onsite staff to wear personal protective equipment, or “PPE.” While some people find this restrictive or uncomfortable, donning masks and gloves at work and in public settings is one of the most effective ways to prevent new infections. With this in mind, don’t let employees get away with not wearing masks or wearing them improperly when they’re at work. Even if certain employees aren’t particularly concerned about contracting the virus, it’s important for your entire workforce to understand that everyone needs to take these measures for them to be truly effective. If any of your team members make a habit of flouting PPE rules, you may want to consider disciplinary action.
In addition to requiring onsite employees to wear PPE, make sure team members clean their hands thoroughly and frequently. You can encourage good hand-washing habits by posting instructional signage in restrooms and providing staff with ample sanitizer supplies.
Practice Proper Distancing Measures
PPE works hand-in-hand with proper distancing measures. With this in mind, require staff to remain six to ten feet apart whenever possible. This may mean repositioning some desks and workstations, but this minor inconvenience can prove instrumental in flattening the curve. Additionally, make a point of practicing distancing measures when dealing with individuals from outside your workforce. For example, instead of interacting directly with delivery-people, utilize online invoicing and other no-contact forms of payment.
Require Symptomatic Staff Members to Stay Home
Virtually everyone has been in a position where they’ve felt compelled to work when they’re sick, but this doesn’t mean people should. While reporting to work when you’re under the weather is never a good idea, it can be particularly dangerous when dealing with a virus as highly-infectious as COVID-19. That being the case, any team member who exhibits symptoms of the novel coronavirus should be required to telecommute or rest up until being cleared to return to work by a medical professional.
Keep Vehicles and Workspaces Clean
Keeping workspaces clean can help get rid of any virus particles that are lingering on surfaces. As such, request that onsite employees wipe down their workstations at various points throughout the day. Any vehicles being test-driven should be meticulously cleaned before and after the test-drive takes place, and any sold vehicles should receive a thorough cleaning before being turned over to their new owners. Furthermore, the people who administer these cleanings should be wearing full PPE.
The novel coronavirus has changed the way many businesses go about their daily operations. The more in-person contact, the more precautions an enterprise needs to take. Since car-buying is traditionally a person-to-person experience, the threat of COVID-19 has presented dealerships across the country with a variety of challenges. While adjusting to these challenges is going to take some work, keeping customers and staff out of harm’s way should be well within the abilities of any safety-conscious dealership owner.
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