As the world watches the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), people and companies are doing everything possible to stay healthy, stay in business and reduce the impact of this illness on the healthcare system and the economy.
The HD Repair Forum recently spoke with a number of shops and companies to find out what they’re doing to keep employees safe and healthy while trying to reduce the spread of the virus. The purpose of these calls was to gather information and share that with the HD Repair Forum audience.
The following are examples of the steps shops and companies across the US have put in place.
Steps for Staff
- Every shop the HD Repair Forum staff spoke with has all employees wearing gloves at all times. There is a constant exchange of tools, and wearing gloves discourages touching around the face.
- Vendors and other non-employees are not allowed in shops in order to reduce contact and exposure.
- Lunches and breaks are not at the same time for every employee, thus avoiding everyone congregating in one place at one time (physical distancing).
- Some shops are purchasing lunch for staff, reducing the risk of bringing an illness from homes and supporting local food service businesses that may be surviving by pickup or delivery only.
- Some shops have altered work hours and created new shift times, so some employees start earlier in the day and leave earlier, while other employees come and leave later in the day. This establishes little or no overlap while having fewer people in the shop at the same time.
- Some businesses have opened on weekends to further spread out their staff’s time in the shop and allow some people who have children at home to work more flexible hours.
- To reduce bringing illness to the business, some are offering a safe, clean place to change and asking workers to consider leaving work clothes and boots at the shop.
- More hand sanitizer stations are being placed throughout the business and a good supply of soap at every sink and wash station.
- Anyone with so much as a sniffle needs to stay home until absolutely healthy.
- If any staff can work from home, even for some hours, try to support that.
- If a company has more than one location, no staff is traveling to other offices.
- Staff meetings in some shops are limited to no more than six people. Keep group meetings small, in open spaces if possible, and have people physically apart from one another.
According to the HD Repair Forum, it is critical to have staff buy-in for the measures you’re taking. Some people are taking this situation more seriously than others, and it is very important that everyone is in alignment with the steps and measures taken for the safety of all. One way to do this is to ask your team members for their ideas on how to keep everyone safe. When they feel they have a voice in the process, they are more likely to support new mandates.
Steps for Customers
- No customers are allowed in shops. Customers are met outside and at a safe distance.
- Some shops are requiring scheduled appointments to spread out the number of people coming in for repair work.
- Do not reuse pens; when a customer signs an estimate or invoice, give them the pen to keep.
- Photo estimating is being utilized as much as possible.
- All vehicles are disinfected before any employee gets in a vehicle. Key touch points are wiped down including but not limited to: door handles (inside and outside); armrests; steering wheel; seat belts; any push-button areas on the dash and doors (radio, electric windows, thermostat, etc.); cruise control and windshield wiper controls; glove box and center console; shift levers and knobs; hazard light buttons
- When all work is complete, the vehicle should be disinfected (following the same steps as above) before delivering it back to the customer.
- It is very important to communicate these measures with customers so they know your procedures and feel safe when working with your company.
Steps for Leadership
- Lead by example. If you ask your team to take certain safety measures, you should be abiding by those same measures or they won’t take you seriously.
- Listen to your team. Many people are losing jobs right now. Kids are at home because schools are closed. Some products are not available on store shelves. All of this is creating stress. Anything you can do to give your employees some level of comfort in their roles will help with productivity and their overall well-being.
- Look at opportunities to acquire products that your staff cannot get at a store. One shop had a large order of paper towels and toilet paper that they were able to share with their staff.
- Stay informed of local, regional and state mandates; they are changing, sometimes daily, and you need to be ready to make adjustments. Some states are requiring shelter in place or mandatory quarantines.
- If possible, keep in touch with local officials. Your business may be able to help in some way.
- Contact other shops and share ideas, challenges and solutions. The HD Repair Forum was designed to promote networking within the industry, and now is the time to take advantage of communicating with your industry peers.
- Most importantly, keep yourselves, your team and your customers safe. This is your highest responsibility.
In speaking with some of the vendor companies, HD Repair Forum staff found that many are cutting travel for their staff, so communication and orders should be made by phone and email. Be patient with them as some of those companies are able to shift their efforts to the medical community. Gloves, dust masks and head socks are difficult to come by right now because they are being sent to medical establishments. Within your own shops, do not reuse these items. But do not be wasteful either; they are in high demand right now.
If repairers are taking additional actions at their places of business and would like to share them, contact the HD Repair Forum here.