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Running A Business During a Pandemic

Onsite Training for Service Advisors, Managers, and Sales

Times are tough for businesses around the globe and we understand the challenges you are facing because we face them too. In this blog, we discuss the ways we have overcome some of our biggest obstacles with providing onsite training for service advisors, managers, and sales teams in dealerships and express service centers all over the U.S. The safety of our staff and your staff is our top priority and here we talk about how small businesses can take advantage of the current climate while following the necessary safety protocols.

Learn How to Do Business in a Pandemic World Safely and Successfully

In the time of the pandemic, the smaller vendors have the upper hand.  One of the greatest obstacles to overcome when you are competing as a small vendor in the automotive industry is beating the big guys, and the auto manufacturers themselves.  Typically, any product or service offered to dealerships can be obtained from either an independent small vendor, a nationally recognized company, or the manufacturer. Many times, the smaller vendors are at a disadvantage, simply because of the resources they do not have access to which bigger companies do.

Presently and since the start of the virus, the smart, smaller vendors have taken advantage of the opportunity created from the void left by the bigger companies because of the restrictions the virus has inflicted. Smaller companies have the ability to be nimble and can customize their business in ways that are too cumbersome for larger companies.  Also, larger establishments are subject to restrictions that have cost them and continue to cost them dearly.

Overcoming the Obstacles

The greatest obstacle that the large companies face during the pandemic is that they are prohibited from doing business in person.  Most are unable to go into their own offices and are required to work from home.  Clearly, today’s circumstances are unfortunate for all of us, but for the small suppliers, this environment creates opportunity.  Here is where your business can have the upper hand.  Small businesses can custom design ways to meet the needs of their customers, far more efficiently than larger companies.  Now is the time to flex that muscle and reap the rewards.  Let me show you what I mean.

By mid-April 2020, my company, which is an independent national and international supplier, saw that dealerships and service centers were starting to come to a better understanding of the virus situation.  We began receiving calls, asking if we were comfortable traveling and providing our services in person. We held a staff meeting to discuss the issues and the options.  Once it was identified who was willing to travel, we established our safety protocols and went to work – and we have been working ever since.

My trainers and I respect the seriousness of the virus. We wear masks, social distance, and execute all the recommended practices to make sure that we are safe both at home and when we are traveling.  We continue to go to great measures to be safe and responsible at the places we visit.  We monitor our health, get tested when appropriate, and self-quarantine, if necessary.

Interestingly, we have discovered and believe that it is much safer to travel today than in the past.  The airports and airplanes are cleaner than we have ever seen them. Rental cars and hotel rooms are as about as safe and germ-free as humanly possible.

The dealerships, service centers, and onsite training rooms are clean and in compliance with the safety guidelines.  The result in taking the chance to travel has been overwhelmingly positive.

I believe that business owners and their employees respect what we are doing. They see us as taking the same risks they take each day.  We are all in this together.  If a service advisor is willing to talk to 15 different people each day, to meet the needs of their customers, why should I be willing to do less?  If a business welcomes 20, 30, 50, 100, or more customers in a day to provide critical service to ensure reliable vehicles to customers, why should my team be willing to do less?

Be Prepared. Be Safe.

Business owners and their employees are opening up to us about their disappointment with the big vendors. The big guys are taking the money, but they refuse to step outside their home offices and assume the risk to get back to work.  As one employee put it, “If we are open and are allowing customers into our shops, we are facing the threat of the virus.  If it is okay for us to take that risk, why is it not okay for our vendors to take that same risk and visit us? Is their safety more important than ours?”   These are the questions they are asking.  With employee lockdowns being extended by some of the biggest vendors and manufacturers in the automotive industry, this kind of talk is bubbling to the surface more and more.

If you are a small vendor, now is the time to strike. When our clients and prospects started calling us, asking us to visit last April, it totally worked in our favor. We won several accounts because we were willing to do what the bigger businesses were not.  We showed up and that made all the difference.  To be clear.  I’m not suggesting that you be reckless and irresponsible.  On the contrary.  To conduct in-person business today, you must be vigilant about following protocols for safety.  You can’t skip any steps and you can’t make exceptions, or it could be disastrous.  Measure the risk, take the appropriate precautions, and move forward.  Make adjustments when and where necessary and be disciplined in following safety guidelines. It was not a decision our company made lightly.  We took our time, and we continue to monitor our situation daily.

Conducting Onsite Automotive Training During a Pandemic

How we, at Jeff Cowan’s Pro Talk, have decided to do business during the pandemic, may not be an option that everyone is comfortable with, and that’s fine. But I think it’s important that I share with you what we have learned throughout this process.  It’s not just us.  Many other smaller vendors have learned that if you are smart to put the safety of your clients, your employees, and yourself at the forefront, you can be out in the field, conducting business and meeting the needs of your customers.  There is risk involved.  No question.  And it’s important to note that I would have no problem reversing our current practices if I thought for one second that the circumstances dictated that move.  The safety and health of my employees are my top priorities because, without them, I have no company.  However, we all need to make a living and that’s a sober fact of life.  I also solemnly believe that the mental health and morale of my employees are best fortified when we are doing a job we love.  Knock on wood, because of the high level of safety measures we exercise and our good common sense, no one at Pro Talk has contracted the virus, and we have traveled in full force across the nation, since about mid-April.  Our customers and prospects asked us to do so. We took the steps necessary to make it happen and we stand by it.

Now is the Time for Leaders to Shine

As I have preached throughout the years, a great leader will never ask their team to do something they would not do themselves. A great leader will consistently jump in the trenches with their team. That is what I do and that is what my team does, every time we travel and conduct our business.  We are no better or worse than anybody else.   What we have is an enormous respect for the thousands of service employees who get out of bed every day, leave their families, and put themselves on the front line at risk to provide a critical service to American’s every day.  The people who service vehicles so that this country keeps moving and so that people can get where they need to be safely and securely are my kind of people.  That is exactly where I want to be and who I want to be with.  American’s have always found a way to conquer adversity.  Smaller vendors can provide a mighty service in this time of need. If a dealership or service center is out on the front line at risk, and they contact us to visit them, at even more risk, to help them become better at what they do so they can better serve their customers, that is exactly where I want to be. Those are my type of people and my health and safety are no more important than theirs.

Safe Onsite Training for Service Advisors, Dealerships, Sales, and Managers

In closing, yes, we may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel but it’s a long tunnel. Let’s make sure that light is the exit and not the headlight of a train. Follow safety protocols to protect you, your employees, and your clients, and people will notice your efforts and feel more comfortable doing business with you. Let us take care of your onsite service advisor training, onsite automotive manager training, and onsite dealership training.