At Park Place Dealerships in Texas, employees are required to check their temperatures at home every morning, said COO Tony Carimi, who is in charge of COVID-19 policies for the group. Designated safety captains record temperatures for a second time when employees arrive at work. Breaks and lunches are staggered. Shared food and drink are suspended.
The 12-store group locked showroom doors from late March through mid-April, open for sales appointments only, until the federal government added auto sales to its list of essential services during the pandemic, Carimi said.
"What we chose to do was go with the strictest requirements and implement that at all of our locations," he said.
That hasn't included testing employees for COVID-19, though Carimi said it's on the radar "if and when" the supply of tests increases.
Taseer Badar, CEO of Houston-based wealth management firm ZT Corporate, is offering voluntary COVID-19 testing to his 1,500 employees — including nearly 350 at dealership group ZT Motors, which operates five franchises in Florida and Georgia. The testing cost could be in the six figures, he said, depending on how many employees are tested.
Badar said he anticipates between a third and half of employees will choose to be tested. He said he has received no positive results to date; he won't be notified of individual results or of which employees were tested because of medical privacy laws. Badar is looking to expand the effort to eventually test employees for COVID-19 antibodies, which would indicate whether someone has had the virus.
"Testing is the key to getting back [to opening] the economy," Badar said.
Yet not every dealership will be ready to reopen soon, even if given the green light by the state in which it operates.
Julie Walker, president of Fairlane Ford in Dearborn, Mich., said she closed her sales and service departments in late March. Service reopened Monday, April 27, to appointments only. Remote sales are expected to resume Monday, May 4, also by appointment.
No customers will be allowed inside the dealership's buildings for the foreseeable future. When that changes will depend on when the dealership has enough personal protective equipment for employees and customers, she said.
"It will be up to me when I decide when I want to invite people back," Walker said.
Hannah Lutz contributed to this report.