With many businesses closing their doors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), tire dealers and repair shops, identified as “essential” businesses by the U.S. government, have taken extra precautions at their shops to ensure their customers’ safety.
Below are a few ways tire dealerships are communicating and interacting with customers to give them peace of mind as the world works to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Communicate Your Commitment
Tire dealerships have sent e-newsletters or posted on social media to let customers know how they’re responding to COVID-19 and keeping their customers’ safety top of mind. For example, Flynn’s Tire & Auto Service posted on its social media a letter from Joe Flynn III, the company’s president, about “best practices” its locations are taking for personal hygiene and sanitation.
Letters from tire dealerships and repair shops also include policies on social distancing and any changes to a customer’s service they may encounter.
Give Customers Options
With health officials urging people to stay home, tire and auto service shops have implemented ways customers can receive the service they need with minimal contact.
Pat Fleischmann, co-owner of Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair in Phoenix, Arizona, said the shop’s six locations are giving customers options in terms of vehicle service to cater to how customers are responding to COVID-19. For example, the shop sent out communications reminding customers of its shuttle service that picks up and delivers their vehicle to their home. Its six locations also have a key dropbox for evening drop-offs to minimize contact.
Conrad’s Tire Express & Total Car Care, with 38 locations in northeast Ohio, is also encouraging customers to drop off and leave their vehicle for service to limit the number of customers in the waiting area.
In a similar fashion, Sullivan Tire & Auto‘s 73 locations in New England are offering curbside check-in service, allowing customers to call them from the parking lot of the location to have a Sullivan Tire employee greet them outside to take their keys. The dealership is also offering Lyft services at no charge to the customer to drop them off at their home and pick them up when their vehicle is ready. Recently, the dealership limited vehicle pickup and drop-off service to customers within an eight-mile radius of their Sullivan Tire location. The dealership is also prioritizing vehicle maintenance of customers who are first responders.
Flynn’s Tire & Auto Service, a Pennsylvania-based dealership with 30 locations, is allowing customers to stay in their vehicle for certain service, tire installation and repairs, according to a post on its Facebook page.
Community Tire Pros is also advising its older customers to defer non-priority repairs to another date to not make unnecessary trips.
Frequently Clean High-Touch Points
This is a best practice shops should be doing on at least a daily basis, but increase frequency to show customers your shop is being proactive about their safety.
Scott Welsh, owner of Courtesy Auto Service & Tire of Tacoma in Tacoma, Washington, said, “We’re wiping down the counters, and people are seeing us do it, too. We want people to know that we care about their health.” It also has hand sanitizer throughout the shop.
High-touch points include:
- Credit card machines
- Door handles
- Phone handles
- Coffee areas
- Kitchen areas
- Chair arms and tables in waiting areas
Keep Your Distance
Courtesy Auto’s Welsh also said he and his staff are observing social distancing practices with customers and each other. He said he posted a link on the shop’s website, sent out an e-newsletter and posted on the shop’s social media channels to let customers know that if they enter the store, there’s now a “hard 6-foot rule” on social distancing and a limit of three customers in the store.
Protect Customers’ Vehicles
When servicing a customer’s vehicle, either cover its high-touch points, such as door handles, the steering wheel, keys and shifters, or wipe down any areas in the interior where your employees have touched. Chris Monroe, owner of Monroe Tire & Service in Shelby, North Carolina, said he has implemented this practice at his shop in addition to all staff wearing gloves when interacting with customers.
Take Employee Illness Seriously.
This is a no-brainer, but encourage employees who don’t feel well to stay home. Courtesy Auto’s Welch is encouraging his employees not to shake hands. Sullivan Tire & Auto Service posted on its website that it is practicing “personal distancing” and encouraging employees to stay home if they feel under the weather.
For more coverage on how COVID-19 is impacting the tire industry, click here.