The recent outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is posing unprecedented challenges to people all over the world. In the face of a global pandemic, a lot of small business owners are being asked to prepare and respond quickly. Here are some things you should consider as you create your own business response plan.\n\n\n\nMillions of Americans are staying home and many \u201cnon-essential\u201d businesses are being asked to close or operate from home. Some auto service and repair businesses fall into the essential service category, which means they will remain open. But that doesn\u2019t mean it\u2019s business as usual. Everyone has a role to play in helping slow the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shared guidelines on how businesses and employers can plan, prepare, and respond to COVID-19.\n\n\n\nDuring times like this, you can easily feel overwhelmed. We\u2019re here to help you respond instead of despair. Read below to learn how to create a business response plan during COVID-19.\n\n\n\nBe Aware \n\n\n\nIt\u2019s important to know your area and what precautions your state and local governments are recommending or requiring you to take. At this point, most mandates regarding COVID-19 are being instituted by state and local governments; they aren\u2019t coming from the White House. These recommendations and mandates are changing by the day. Follow your local news to stay up-to-date. \n\n\n\nThere are a few different levels of precautions that states around the country are taking. This ranges from doing nothing to statewide orders for \u201cshelter in place\u201d, requiring everyone to stay at home unless they are carrying out essential services.\n\n\n\nThis interactive map is a great guide to see around the country which states have a statewide order or orders by city or county to stay at home. \n\n\n\nSee Which States and Cities Have Told Residents to Stay at Home\n\n\n\nIs Your Business an Essential Service?\n\n\n\nThe federal government has given guidance on what is considered essential during COVID-19. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published this memo to help define what is essential and critical to the American workforce during this time:\n\n\n\nGuidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce\n\n\n\nServices and businesses that are determined to be \u201cessential\u201d vary by state and city. This article can help you understand what is considered essential and non-essential and where your business falls:\n\n\n\nWhat counts as an essential business in 10 U.S. cities\n\n\n\n\u201cAuto supply\u201d, \u201cauto repair\u201d, and \u201cautomotive parts\u201d are considered essential services in some cities under shelter-in-place orders. If you think you fall under one of these categories, you may be allowed to stay open. However, it\u2019s best to double check with your local authority and get clarity before you make a decision. Contact your city or state\u2019s agency of commerce to be sure of where you fall.\n\n\n\nWith the situation changing daily, you need to be flexible based on state and county mandates. Check out our Auto Recon Business Resources for COVID-19 to help you stay informed and be prepared. The Auto Care Association also published a Coronavirus industry resource page with links to the latest information by state, as well as new developments for auto care businesses.\n\n\n\nCreating a COVID-19 Company Policy\n\n\n\nWhen you make your decision of whether or not you will stay open, you should be asking yourself if you can ensure the safety of your employees and customers. If your local government clearly dictates that you can remain open, you should create policies to comply with all public health recommendations given in your area. Be ready to adapt to help prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19.\n\n\n\nCreate an employee work policy that sets high expectations for sanitary and hygienic operations. Enforce a set of guidelines so that everyone in the business has a clear understanding of how they can ensure their own safety, as well as everyone else\u2019s. In addition to frequent hand washing, consider asking employees to wear gloves. Many essential services are also choosing to close waiting rooms to avoid group gatherings. \n\n\n\nConsider implementing a contactless service so that customers don\u2019t have to enter the shop at all. This could include vehicle pick-up and drop-off, phone or email-only communication, and digital inspections. All of these procedures can minimize person-to-person contact, without stopping service.\n\n\n\nDeciding to Close Your Doors\n\n\n\nIf your local government states that you are not an essential business and\/or you decide that you can\u2019t operate without risk of spreading coronavirus, it may be necessary for you to close your doors. If this is the case, it\u2019s important to communicate your decision to your employees and your customers. Your employees especially will want to know how they will be affected.\n\n\n\nFor thoughts from leaders in the detailing industry, I recommend you follow Renny Doyle and his Detailing Success Auto Detail Training & Knowledge Center page on Facebook. Renny hosts regular webinars and podcasts with other leading detailers to talk about how the industry should respond.\n\n\n\nCommunicate with Your Customers\n\n\n\nAt a time like this, communication is key. Your customers will undoubtedly have concerns about how you\u2019re managing the situation. Reassure them by showing that you\u2019re taking the threat seriously and have a clear plan of action.\n\n\n\nWrite a customer policy that clearly outlines the steps you\u2019ve taken as a business to prevent exposure to COVID-19. This could be implementing contactless procedures or closing your doors for a while. Share your plan with your customers at all points of contact, including on the website and on any physical signage outside the shop. \n\n\n\nTo give an example, Scruggs Automotive Repair posted their business response plan to their website highlighting that the safety of their customers and employees was their primary concern.\n\n\n\nYou may also consider an email or text to your regular customers with vital information on your business response plan.\n\n\n\nPlan Ahead\n\n\n\nIf this outbreak has taught us anything, it\u2019s the importance of planning ahead. Know your business and where you stand. Then come up with strategies given the worst-case scenario. \n\n\n\nHow will you protect yourself in a downturn? What can be done should closure be enforced? \n\n\n\nEven if you are unable to continue service, there are still measures you can take to protect your business going forward. Now is a great time to really dig in and focus on the foundations of your business. Stay tuned for more from us on reviewing your financials, making smart decisions, and coming up with new marketing strategies.\n\n\n\nThe Bottom Line\n\n\n\nBe vigilant. Be prepared. Make smart decisions. Wash your hands. Stay safe.\n\n\n\nFor the latest information on COVID-19, as well as resources on how to prevent its spread in the workplace, visit the CDC website. \n\n\n\nMobile Tech RX is here to help. Please let us know if there\u2019s anything we can do to support you and your business during these challenging times. We\u2019re all in this together!