I believe this is potentially coming if this pandemic becomes a long-term situation within the United States or becomes a recurring annual issue. This certification would entail dealerships meeting a strict set of protocols to maintain the health and safety of not only their employees but the general public visiting the dealership. The lawyers are going to have a field day with this one.
This means the daily wipe-down of all high touch surfaces within the dealership. It also could mean a change to sick leave and an early detection system to determine an employee’s health. It could also mean eliminating an employee’s ability to work ill or showing "sick like" symptoms. It would change the test drive procedures and the vehicle intake process for trade-ins and service vehicles. It would also change the service loaner program. Every interaction point will need to be thought through and analyzed. I know Digital Retailing will help, but it isn’t the golden ticket; it is just one piece of a very complicated puzzle that will need to be solved for dealerships to embrace this new normal.
Another thing would be installing protective plexiglass at interaction points like the service drive or parts counter. I have already seen dealerships take this measure, and I believe we will see it accelerate. Also, it would change how we interact with individuals and handle personal space and proximity during times when we need to show a customer something relevant or important as in "see your brake pads are shot."
Safety measures like these will change the dynamic of operations and the experiences of both the employees and customer interactions. It will also burden dealerships with additional costs to install these safety protocols and maintain them. Dealerships already operated on thin margins. How will they handle these potentially new costs to continue to operate the dealership?
I have spent my whole life in this business, and one thing is certain. Dealers are super resilient, and if there is a way to sell and service vehicles, the industry will collectively figure it out and implement solutions that keep steel rolling off lots across the United States. The automotive industry will continue to find a way to thrive in these uncertain times.
What do think? Could there be a future COVID-19 Certification for dealers and small business?
Other than the usual social distancing, hand wash signs and sanitizing of high traffic surfaces – have you seen or heard of any out-of-the box operational ideas?