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Dealing with a COVID-19 Outbreak at Your Dealership

Updated: Mar 21

We’re now months into our shared COVID reality. Customers don’t expect businesses to be perfect, but they do expect them to pragmatic, disciplined and honest in doing their part to minimize the spread of this virus. As this article from Forbes asserts, “Today more than ever, consumers put their faith in brands to stand for something. […] To do the right thing.” That is especially true when dealing with a coronavirus outbreak at your place of business.

No matter where your dealership is located, or how many precautions are in place, your business is at risk for a COVID-19 outbreak with every person who walks through your doors. Leaning on real experiences that automotive dealerships we represent have faced, here are a handful of strategies to consider when a test comes back positive for someone who’s been in your dealership.

Be Pragmatic

Businesses that are taking chances and cutting health and safety corners are at a greater risk of losing public trust and could put customers and employees in danger.  If you find out that an employee was potentially exposed to COVID you should put them into quarantine immediately until they receive a negative test.  If a cluster of employees work closely together, and one of them tests positive, then shut down that department until satisfactory tests are returned.  Two clients that we work with had possible COVID exposure at their dealerships.  They did the right thing by closing the showroom to minimize exposure once they were aware of an issue.  Don’t be afraid to do what you know is best.

Be Disciplined

Set clear, explicit standards for customers and employees when they are in your place of business.  For employees who had to leave the office, either due to a positive test or while awaiting the results of a test, err on the side of caution and hold off on bringing those employees back until they are fully cleared.  We’ve had some dealers keep “essential producers” in the dealership, only to end up contributing to larger problems.  The lack of discipline can lead to disasters like one dealer faced, who had 27 service techs out at the same time.  That’s how you make a bad situation even worse – for customers, for employees, and for your bottom line.

Be Honest

Communicate the realities of what happened to those who may have been exposed and do so through direct one-to-one communication.  This is important because a targeted communication strategy will prioritize discussion with the people who may have been exposed.  Broad alternatives, such as an email blast, Facebook posts, or a press release, will reach a larger number of people but a smaller percentage of people who may have been impacted.  Every business is dealing with COVID realities right now.  You don’t have to tell everyone and potentially cause unnecessary hysteria.  But you do need to tell the people who could have been exposed and you need to tell them promptly.

If your dealership has an outbreak on their hands, and you could use an experienced team to talk to, reach out to CBC. Whether you’re a client or not, we’ll give you an unbiased opinion and recommendation with your long-term health in mind.

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