Why A Business Response Plan is Crucial
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.
Millions of Americans are staying home and many “non-essential” 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’t mean it’s 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.
During times like this, you can easily feel overwhelmed. We’re here to help you respond instead of despair. Read below to learn how to create a business response plan during COVID-19.
It’s 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’t coming from the White House. These recommendations and mandates are changing by the day. Follow your local news to stay up-to-date.
There are a few different levels of precautions that states around the country are taking. This ranges from doing nothing to statewide orders for “shelter in place”, requiring everyone to stay at home unless they are carrying out essential services.
This 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.
See Which States and Cities Have Told Residents to Stay at Home
Before Creating Your Business Response Plan: Is Your Business an Essential Service?
The 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:
Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce
Services and businesses that are determined to be “essential” vary by state and city. This article can help you understand what is considered essential and non-essential and where your business falls:
What counts as an essential business in 10 U.S. cities
“Auto supply”, “auto repair”, and “automotive parts” 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’s best to double check with your local authority and get clarity before you make a decision. Contact your city or state’s agency of commerce to be sure of where you fall.
With 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.
Creating a COVID-19 Company Policy and Business Response Plan
When 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.
Create 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’s. 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.
Consider implementing a contactless service so that customers don’t 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.
Deciding to Close Your Doors
If your local government states that you are not an essential business and/or you decide that you can’t operate without risk of spreading coronavirus, it may be necessary for you to close your doors. If this is the case, it’s important to communicate your decision to your employees and your customers. Your employees especially will want to know how they will be affected.
For 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.
Communicate with Your Customers
At a time like this, communication is key. Your customers will undoubtedly have concerns about how you’re managing the situation. Reassure them by showing that you’re taking the threat seriously and have a clear plan of action.
Write a customer policy that clearly outlines the steps you’ve 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.
To 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.
You may also consider an email or text to your regular customers with vital information on your business response plan.
If this outbreak has taught us anything, it’s the importance of planning ahead. Know your business and where you stand. Then come up with strategies given the worst-case scenario.
How will you protect yourself in a downturn? What can be done should closure be enforced?
Even 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.
The Bottom Line
Be vigilant. Be prepared. Make smart decisions. Wash your hands. Stay safe.
For the latest information on COVID-19, as well as resources on how to prevent its spread in the workplace, visit the CDC website.
Mobile Tech RX is here to help. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to support you and your business during these challenging times. We’re all in this together!