COVID-19 How shops are keeping the doors open during the pandemic
Written by David Bry, with contributions by Emily (Tzilianos) Clifford
As ALLDATA President Satwinder Mangat calls out in his COVID-19 update, our teams are working diligently to maintain the integrity of our customers’ access to ALLDATA products and to continue to provide outstanding service and support during these unprecedented times.
To that end, ALLDATA account representatives have been in constant communication with our customers, and have heard from shops both small and large who have found ways to navigate this crisis and serve their customers’ needs. Here’s how shops are going the extra mile to keep the doors open:
“ … (some) shops go so far as to offer concierge service, picking up groceries for the customer on the way to dropping off the finished car.. ”
More than one shop has shared their goal of “making lemonade” from the lemons they have been handed. One shop offered COVID-19 service specials with a free wash and interior wipe-down and a cabin filter replacement at low or no cost.
When customers balked at leaving home to bring a scheduled repair in, some clever shop owners came to the client’s homes to pick-up and return vehicles. Other shops go so far as to offer concierge service, picking up groceries for the customer on the way to dropping off the finished car.
Despite decreasing car counts, more than a few shops are finding that their billable hours per Repair Order are increasing. With the quarantine keeping folks at home, more customers are willing to have their vehicles tied up for a few days to take care of all those little issues they’ve been putting off.
Keep your customers in their comfort zone
From the moment they make contact with customers (preferably from six feet away) some shops are doing what they can to make their customers feel safe and comfortable through some simple tangible actions.
They don’t make customers use that pen that’s been on the counter for two months. They keep a box of new pens, maybe with the shop name on them, that customers can use and keep. (For more safety, some office supply companies can provide pens that are individually wrapped for increased safety)
Some shops use photos and texting to keep customers apprised of the progress on their vehicles. This might even be a good time to try video chatting – which adds a more personal touch than a regular phone call. Try WhatsApp Messenger (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, web) or Google Duo or Hangouts (iOS, Android, web)
When they’re done with a job, they put some clean gloves on and sanitize the interior parts they’ve touched along with any interior or exterior door handles they may have made contact with.
When it’s time to collect money, some shops are using financial services like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Zelle to avoid direct contact with cash and credit cards.
“ From the moment they make contact with customers (preferably from six feet away) some shops are doing what they can to make their customers feel safe and comfortable through some simple tangible actions. ”
Coping with a slowdown
No doubt this is a stressful time for those employees who helped build your business. We’ve heard of shops that have had to lay off people who’ve been with them for years. One shop owner was unable to avoid cutting staff during the next few weeks, but he and his spouse made sure that all staff had food in their kitchens and that the utilities stay on. These shop owners see their employees as extended family and although economic reality forced them to make tough decisions, these owners are doing whatever they can to soften the impact.
For those shops that are remaining in operation, some are staggering shifts and meal times so that fewer folks are in the facility at any time, limiting contact.
Some technicians have been historically reluctant to wear gloves. This would be an excellent time for everyone to get over that reluctance and glove up. More and more shop owners are providing Nitrile gloves for staff. Note: you may want to avoid Latex due to potential severe allergic reactions.
Talk to one another
Shops that keep the communication lines open between staff, owners, and customers will get through this in better shape. Healthy shops are using this time to improve their operations in every area; open communication is critical not just make to it through the struggle but to emerge from it better and stronger.
While no one can predict when this will end, all the shops we have spoken with are hopeful that this crisis will be over soon. ALLDATA will be here for you during the COVID-19 crisis and we will be here to help you in the years to come.
Want to see how ALLDATA can improve tech efficiency? Check out our suite of products, each designed to contribute to both shop efficiency and productivity.
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