New York and other states have issued initial guidance for businesses able to reopen during Phase 1. There is a total of four different phases where different companies can open based on their industry. The guidance from the state is crucial for companies that have remained open as essential businesses. They must satisfy New York’s latest restrictions to continue to operate. Automobile sales were non-essential and will open during phase 1, but with certain restrictions. ICS serves some of the largest multi-location auto dealerships in Central New York. We reached out to Rob McLaughlin from Matthews Auto and Dalton Williams from Williams Auto Group about their new policies and procedures.
“Initially, vehicle sales were by appointment only, no test drives allowed, and we tried to do as much of the paperwork as we could electronically, as directed by NYS”, stated McLaughlin. With phase 1 beginning, it allows for Matthews Auto to better serve their customers. Test drives are by appointment only. Each car is cleaned before and after the test drive. Once the car has been test driven, the vehicle is sanitized and disinfected with sprays that are safe for all materials in the car, fortunately this process only takes about an hour to complete and the vehicle can be returned to inventory for purchase. “All vehicles have been removed from the show room allowing us to space out the desks a little bit more. Face masks are mandated by all, including all employees and customers coming into the building. We have installed hand sanitizer stations and have implemented more disposable items throughout, such as pens. Every time a customer sits down to sign paperwork, a new pen is taken out of the box. All desks and work stations are wiped down and sanitized before and after a customer sits down to discuss their transation.” said McLaughlin. We asked if some of the policies and procedures would stick around permanently. McLaughlin stated that a lot of the sanitary precautions would remain in effect for the foreseeable future.
Williams Auto Group has dealerships in Pennsylvania and New York, they must make sure each dealership is operating under their state guidelines. When talking to Williams, he stated that all dealerships are now able to operate in both service and parts and the showroom. “We have brought back most of our staff and are operating on a semi-normal schedule. We are reporting all travel and have a log of all persons reporting any sort of cough or fever. Masks are required during the day anytime they are not in their own space. Privacy screens have been installed to help maintain the social distancing between our employees and customers. Everything is cleaned and sanitized every two hours.”
Williams has similar policies as Matthews with trying to keep all test drives to appointment only and cleaning and sanitizing every vehicle after it is driven, including by employees. Williams said they have a transaction goal of twenty minutes. Anyone who has ever bought a car, knows that it is usually half a day to a full day process.
“We are extremely thankful for the team on the frontline. A lot of people have stepped up and helped make all of this possible. We are very fortunate we have the employees that we do.” stated Williams.
It is hard to say which policies and procedures will stay and which ones are only here for a short time. Companies will have to be flexible and able to adapt as each phase is implemented.