Turning away customers for any reason is something that goes against the genetic code of most every auto dealer. But like many things right now in this topsy-turvy, COVID-19-dominated world, what needs to be done for the greater good can require business owners to consider callings higher than this month's bottom line.
If they haven't already done so, dealerships nationwide must require properly worn masks or other effective face coverings for all dealership employees, visitors and customers to help stem the spread of the coronavirus as long as it is being actively spread.
Masking Up, as it's come to be known, is a relatively easy, low-cost and effective strategy to limit the virus, which has claimed the lives of well over 150,000 Americans in just five months.
We understand that it may not be easy to handle someone who refuses to wear a mask as a political statement or a question of personal freedom or who claims a medical exemption. But we believe that auto dealers are clever retailers who can find a way to redirect such a shopper to the online portal or at least a safer in-person process, such as outdoors.
Dealers have an obligation as important employers in their communities to provide a safe working environment for what many call their most important assets.
But also, at a time when three-fourths of Americans support state laws to require that masks be worn in public at all times, there's no telling how many customers will leave a showroom, never come back and tell dozens of friends that they didn't feel safe in a store that allowed masks to be optional.
We would like to see the National Automobile Dealers Association recommend that retailers require masks, but there's no reason for individual owners to wait for such a directive.
There is no question of legality here: Business owners have the right to decline service to those not wearing a mask, just as they could refuse to serve a customer who walked into their showroom naked.
So if you haven't already done so, put a sign on the door today: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Mask = No Service.
And be prepared to enforce that policy. Your employees and your community — and most of your customers — will be grateful you did.