Gary Kalk, executive chairman of service technology provider Dealer-FX, has created a checklist for operating a dealership parts and service department amid COVID-19. Here are his tips, in seven sections:
1. Open for business - ramping up and reopening
Provide all personnel with appropriate documentation to support them carrying on as an essential business provider. (Understand your local and state emergency measures.)
- Consider hours reserved for essential services workers or for "at risk" populations.
- Space out service appointment times. Social distancing will affect the number of appointments you can handle at a given time.
- Consider a second shift to assist spreading out your team. (Employees may be interested in working nights or weekends to ensure their safety.)
- Determine if vehicle pickup and delivery, remote servicing options will be offered to customers.
- Identify an individual specifically responsible for this process and the execution. Consider having greeters/advisers wear masks.
- Think about walk-ins and whether you should have an appointment-only policy.
2. Develop a comprehensive plan to sanitize customer vehicles
- Sanitize customer vehicles at drop off and pick up. Some dealers are using a defogger with an antimicrobial disinfectant used by hospitals to fumigate vehicles at drop offs and pick ups. (Consider doing this in front of the customer.)
- Alternatively, spray and wipe down the steering wheel, control panel, seatbelt, door handles with an appropriate solution. (It might make sense to do this step in addition to the defogger.)
- Leave a sanitized card in each vehicle after it has been cleaned, with details of what was done to ensure the vehicle is "COVID-19 CLEAN". This will show customers and employees you are serious about protecting everyone.
- Place seat, floor mat and steering wheel protectors in all vehicles.
- Have designated people move vehicles off the drive, into the shop and back to the customer. Ensure they wipe down or defog where applicable. Cross-train for these new processes.
- Have your sanitation crew wipe down all building door handles throughout the day and all desks, phones and furniture each evening. (Some dealers are even doing this hourly.)
- Relocate customers from smaller waiting areas to larger waiting areas. (Scatter chairs throughout the showroom.)
- Have all personnel touching customers' vehicles use rubber gloves and change them frequently. Change or wash gloves before working on a different vehicle. Note: Wearing gloves can be deceptive. Once you touch something contaminated, the gloves are contaminated; make sure everyone is washing their hands as often as possible.
- Place hand sanitizer in all customer and employee areas, including every desk, customer waiting area, parts counter, technician stalls, etc.
- Place signs and put tape on the floor (or use pre-made floor markers; some providers already have solutions) to remind everyone of social distancing.
- Consider installing protective shields for customer/adviser interaction. (Some feel this will not be optional in the post COVID-19 world to give assurance to advisers and customers.)
- Your sanitation processes and procedures should be reviewed on a weekly basis (if not more often) to ensure safety, distancing and stringent processes are being followed. This is not going away in the near term, and people are not going to forget about protecting themselves.