Planning Ahead Through COVID-19
As the coronavirus pandemic brings businesses to a halt, shop owners are looking for ways to still support their operations and their employees. With the uncertain times ahead, Dwayne Myers, owner of Dynamic Automotive, says planning ahead is of utmost importance. Here's what the Ratchet+Wrench Management Conference speaker and 2019 All-Star Award winner advises for shop owners to focus on to come out strong.
Communicate with Your Team
With these uncertain times ahead, it's important to be constantly communicating with your employees, giving them all of the information and tools they need to succeed.
Myers says as an owner, you should do you research and give them any information that could help them during this time, instead of them having to look for it on their own. For example, Myers says it's a good time to have health insurance, and when their health insurance provider opened back up, he made sure to pass out the information on who to contact and how to apply. Employees don't have to sign up, but at least they are providing the information if they need it. By communicating with them and providing them with helpful information, they'll know you are looking out for them. And if you have a plan in place, it reassures them and calms them down a bit.
"You're the leader, you have to communicate with your team," Myers says. "Some information is better than no information," Myers says.
This includes communicating social distance practices. A lot of his crew would walk over to the convenience store to grab snacks before, so Myers sat them down and asked them to limit the amount of times visiting the store. He explained that each and every time they go to the convenience store, it's a point of contact, and their job is to limit that point of contact.
As much as you would hope people understand that, you still need to communicate that with them," Myers says. "They hear it all over the radio, but when it comes from their leader, it will resonate with them more."
Do Your Research
Even though auto repair shops are allowed to stay open as they are considered essential, business is still being affected with people not leaving their homes. Myers says even if you are doing fine, auto repair shops need to do their research on financial assistance programs that are out there. In Maryland, for example, there are a couple of programs available, like a $10,000 grant for payroll and a $50,000 zero-interest loan. Myers says businesses don't have to take it down the road if they end up being financially stable, but they should at least apply just in case.
"They're just not going to come and hand it to you," Myers says. "At least that way, you can maybe pay your people, your vendors, and get through this on top."
Talk to Your Vendors
"That is important because that is a relationship, just like your customer relationships," Myers says. "We need them just like they need us."
Myers says to call your vendors, keep them in the loop, and be honest with them so you both can try to come up with a plan. Myers made sure to call up his vendors and let them know where he's at, even warning them that he may not be able to make a payment down the road, depending how long the orders last. Myers says his vendors didn't necessarily like to hear that, but they definitely appreciated him being upfront and keeping them in the loop.