Auto Retail Customer Safety Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic


The novel coronavirus may not be everywhere in the US, but the concern over its spread certainly is. Customers are abundantly cautious, and they’re looking to the service providers to demonstrate clear processes to assure their safety. 

In the dealership, lower traffic volumes can be expected. Those that do visit the store will expect that steps are being taken to provide an environment where they can be comfortable and confident as much as possible. 

All departments in the automotive retail industry should observe their local governing health body’s regulations and adopt policies to ensure safe preventative practices in their environment. These guidelines may already be in place but can serve as a checklist to maintain a healthy, safe place for your staff and your customers. 

Related: How Dealers Can Address the Effects of COVID-19

 coronavirusRegularly Clean Waiting Rooms and Frequently Touched Surfaces

Disinfecting wipes can be used to clean non-porous materials around the dealership including seating in the customer lounge. Make sure to wipe TV remotes, desks, and side tables, and door handles around the store. 

This outbreak will stretch cleaning crews thin, so encourage the rest of your team to chip in by cleaning their own desks and communal items like pens and tablets. Items that are absent-mindedly passed around are often forgotten about. 

Salespeople should also be encouraged to wipe down steering wheels, door handles, and infotainment screens and buttons after a test drive.

Supply Hand Sanitizer Stations

Although the hand sanitizer supplies at the grocery stores are temporarily depleted, your commercial cleaning supply providers should still be stocked. Equip your dealership with plenty of hand sanitizer locations that are well-marked. It’s a good plan to keep a station near every entrance and exit. 

Provide Tissues

The CDC recommends that you cover your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough to prevent droplets from being spread. That requires tissues available within reach as a sneeze or cough doesn’t always have much notice. 

Put a box of tissues on every desk, from reception to salespeople, HR to management, to make it more likely that a sneeze or cough is caught. 

Post Proper Hygiene Techniques

Proper handwashing is one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of coronavirus, but it needs to be done well. CDC guidelines are, “Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.”

Routinely check that washrooms and other sinks around the dealership have sufficient soap on hand as well as either air dryers or disposable towels to thoroughly dry hands. 

For all wash stations, have the CDC’s handwashing guidelines clearly posted. 

Related: February Kerrigan Report: How the CoronaVirus is Creating Uncertainty for the Buy-Sell Market

coronavirusEncourage Alternate Greetings

After teaching salespeople, service advisors, and managers to greet customers with a firm handshake, it’s now time to break the habit. At least, for a while. Staff should be comfortable greeting a customer and each other with a wave or an elbow bump, accompanied by eye contact and a friendly smile. 

No Need to Make Masks Available

Customers may be extra wary about visiting if they aren’t sure about their own exposure (symptom-free, of course) or they’re concerned about being around people whose history they don’t know. Unfortunately, facemasks are in short supply and are best left for medical professionals and caregivers. Inform customers that if they aren’t comfortable, you’ll try to help them by making alternate arrangements than visiting the dealership. 

These techniques can help restore customer confidence in their safety while attending the dealership. If you haven’t already, your store should communicate what you’re doing about COVID-19 to ensure you can serve them best.