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For the Town Line Body Shop team, getting through any obstacle is always a group effort – especially in 2020.
Adjusting the Plan
Town Line Body Shop in Monroe, Conn., was purchased by Ronald Poidomani Sr. in 1975 with the goal of providing quality and timely collision and auto body repair. Ron Sr. brought on Ron Jr. as a vice president about two years ago. They have been working side by side at Town Line, with the eventual goal of Ron Jr. taking over the business. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, that plan needed to be adjusted to accommodate Ron Sr. working from home.
The Town Line team knew what to do. They were always a close-knit unit, but now they needed to be an even tighter and more productive group while keeping Ron Sr.’s original goal of providing quality auto body repair services to the community at the forefront of everything they did.
With Ron Sr. overseeing the business remotely, Ron Jr., Shop Manager Richie Reyes and the Town Line crew planned correctly and in advance of what was coming. New policies and procedures were in place a full three weeks ahead of when Connecticut instituted the state mandates for essential businesses. Social distancing protocols were tested and formalized for both customers and the Town Line team, including solutions to the crew wanting the shop to be open on beautiful spring days in Connecticut.
Bright yellow chains were roped across the shop to allow the team to work in comfort and let customers who came to the shop know that they couldn’t walk into the business. They also established strict guidelines people needed to follow to access the shop’s front office. Customers were required to buzz in and ask for entry, plus only one customer could enter at a time. Vendors were required to stay in their cars, with a single Town Line employee dedicated to engaging that vendor. This specific procedure, the shop decided, would continue even after the pandemic subsided.
How Is Everybody Doing?
Before the pandemic broke in March, Ron Sr. had always had regular weekly meetings with the group. But since transparency and communication are key components for a well-run shop, they increased the shop meetings. And they usually start with Ron Jr. and Richie asking not how is business but, “How is everybody doing?” And it’s not just lip service, they really mean it.
Everyone in the group wants to know how each fellow team member is handling the crisis. Are their kids being home schooled, and how is that affecting their families? How are they doing from both a mental and physical standpoint, and how can they help one another? Town Line has a talented group of professionals with years of experience in the collision industry – with many of those years spent at Town Line. They are a family and truly care about one another – especially during the height of the crisis. And all of this has been accomplished with Ron Sr. continuing to give input and direction from home.
Ron Jr. and Reyes were very aware of employee morale and how this unique time in the country could lead to a sense of uncertainty with the team. They told each employee that they, as a team, could get through the situation, that their job would be needed. As an essential business, Town Line would get through it. By reassuring and communicating this with everyone, and continuing with meetings and ongoing communication, a sense of confidence was conveyed to everyone at Town Line.
An aspect of the business that now has greater emphasis is marketing. Town Line has a top-notch website that is continually updated. The Town Line social platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, have new and interesting posts each week. Other effective marketing strategies, such as postcards, target Town Line’s area of service in and around Monroe, Conn.
During the slowest period, the Town Line team got together and painted the interior of the shop. Town Line has always been a clean and organized shop, but they wanted to emphasize that aspect of the business even more during the pandemic. This was an example of the team spirit that represents the best of Town Line. Ron Sr. also made sure to show his gratitude in other ways like buying breakfast for the team. He plans on building an outdoor barbeque so they can start grilling in the afternoon.
Ron Sr. and Ron Jr. know that the business would not have made it through the past few months without their talented and dedicated team. They are truly a family. The entire crew worked side by side to push through any issues that arose. The Town Line team has gotten through the crisis together, thanks also to Shop Manager Reyes. Ron Jr. and Reyes were partners during the worst of COVID-19, and they continue to be today.
“We both worked very hard to make all this work,” Ron Jr. said. “The entire situation was a team effort.”
Reyes has been with Town Line for over 23 years and continues to be an integral part of the success of the business.
While the worst may be over, the crisis has not ended. It has affected the collision industry in ways that will be felt for some time to come. There are and will continue to be obstacles in front of the collision industry as a whole, including Town Line. But the dedicated Town Line team feels confident that, with each other and with proper planning and preparation, they can get through 2020 stronger than before.
Carolyn Gray of DRIVE has an extensive background in marketing, media strategy, branding and creative – including vice president of digital at FOX Broadcasting and co-president of Filmaka Studios. She brings that wealth of knowledge to Monrovia, Calif.-based DRIVE.