What do we do about COVID-19 ?

The current Covid19 / CoronaVirus situation has changed a lot of how we do business. With the recommendations against in-person meetings or personal contact, it’s time to re-think the business model, at least temporarily.

First and foremost, do not allow your employees to spread rumors or scare stories. Manage the messaging. Only present what is coming from the official scientific channels. Regardless of how you feel about certain political figures, please realize that they have proven themselves to be dangerously uninformed, and some have been found to be outright lying. Trust the medical professionals and scientists.

Understand that people are scared of the possibility of getting either very sick or even dying from the disease. This is going to affect how they interact with others. Anxieties are heightened, and you should respect that. This includes employees and customers. People are going to be hesitant about coming in to the dealership to pay their payments, so you have to come up with incentives. If you do not take credit card payments, then now is the time. At least during the current state of emergency, do not attempt to collect “convenience fees.” Accept the 3% or so fees for the cards as your part of helping people out.

People who are out of work and are not earning pay will be late or struggle to make any payments. Be willing to waive late fees for a while, and forego repossessions at this time. Work with people.

If your collections or accounting people have a good internet service, consider allowing them to work from home. Remember that with so many of the school systems closed, there are a lot of people with kids at home who are also being expected to provide at-home instruction that the school has sent home.

If you have an employee who exhibits symptoms, be on the safe side, and send them home! You owe it to the other employees to provide a safe working environment. It is generally allowed to request an employee get tested, if the testing is available, but if they decline, just ask them to remain away from the dealership.

If an employee does test positive, and shares this information with you, analyze who was in close contact with them, and proactively send those employees away from the location.

Do not name or shame any employee! Be discreet. It is your place as owner or manager to also curtail any attempted bullying or abuse of employees by their co-workers over suspected illness.

Next, CLEAN the dealership, especially if there are suspected symptoms. Provide sanitizing wipes or materials to the employees who are on site and request that they clean their workspace daily. Consider paying a local cleaning company to deep clean the office.

Last, place a large sign on your door requesting that any customer who is sick or who has been around sick people to please remain away from the dealership. Put a phone number and email address on the sign to allow customers to contact you. Put a note to this effect on your website, Facebook page, or other social media interaction sites.

There are new laws concerning paid leave in these times, and you should contact an attorney who will advise you on them. If you do not have an attorney, you should contact The Gregory Law Group. This firm has experience with used car dealers and the industry, and has done some tremendous research on these new rules. (Disclaimer: I am not compensated for this referral, nor used this attorney personally.)

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