Auto Repair Shops: How to Help Your Team During COVID-19
Automotive repair is an industry focused on helping other people, and during times like these, it’s important to apply that spirit of togetherness and goodwill to the people you work with every day.
Virtually every industry is trying to adapt to the new normal of social distancing. This is not only challenging on a business level but also challenging on a personal and emotional level. Finding the right balance between taking care of both business needs and emotional needs is crucial. Here’s how you can continue to inspire your employees and lead your team while COVID-19 temporarily forces us to change how we operate.
See What Supplies Everyone Has or Needs
Talk to your team. Determine who needs support and who might have a little extra to give. Toilet paper and other essential items are in short supply in some places because consumers ran out and stocked up when news first started breaking. Hand sanitizer is even more difficult to get. It’s also recommended that everybody has a thermometer. Tracking temperature over time is a fairly universal standard to get an official COVID-19 test. To ensure that the most pressing cases are being tested, most testing locations require that patients show at least two symptoms, fever being one of them.
Consider donating or exchanging supplies. Of course, take all precautions to do so safely; sanitize all supplies with isopropyl alcohol, wash your hands before and after handling, and leave packages for pickup to maintain a distance of six or more feet.
Morale is a Resource, too
In the auto repair industry, we take on challenges head on. We roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty, and get things fixed. But we’re all still human too. You may notice that some of your employees are taking this harder than others. Take inventory of their emotions and help them out as best you can. Let them know you are here to help. Be patient to the needs of your team. Everyone is worried about or caring for someone else right now, too. One team member might have an aging parent at home and need to deliver sanitized medical supplies. Another may have three kids and is trying to figure out how to help their spouse teach their children and keep them entertained and active since they can’t go to school. Some may be dealing with the stress of a canceled wedding and not knowing how or if they’re going to get their money back. In a worst case scenario, a team member or someone they love may actually have COVID-19 or other critical health issues.
If you’re a leader in the shop, then now is the time to step up and lead. Your team is looking up to you for guidance. Be flexible. Offer staff the ability to telecommute if their role at the shop doesn’t require them to be at the office. If a team member does need to take time to deliver supplies to a family member during the middle of the day, try to be understanding.
Start a Relief Fund if Needed
If there are members of your team that are especially struggling during this time, you may consider helping them start a GoFundMe or pulling together resources from the community to help them. As their employer and friend, you can even vouch for them, letting people interested in donating know all the ways that this person helps others. Here’s a guide on how to set up a successful GoFundMe campaign. You can also start a fundraiser on Facebook. Check your state and local entities; many are starting funds specific to the area.
Check-in With Local Support Groups
Lots of communities are developing lists of resources that are specific to local needs.
You may want to check in with:
Networking and employment groups
This can also be a good way for you and your team to support others. Healthcare workers and others on the frontline are also in need of resources, some that you may be able to provide such as masks, face shields, and gloves. In some communities, people are volunteering by making or sewing medical materials. Although they aren’t as effective as N-95 masks, some shops have found that shop towels can be repurposed into masks that filter out particles two-to-three times better than cotton masks. See what you can do and help out where you can.
Take Care of Yourself, Too
Your team’s counting on you. It’s difficult to help others if you don’t help yourself, so make sure you’re okay. It’s worth admitting that everyone is under a lot of pressure right now, and because you may be in a leadership position, you might be feeling a little bit of extra stress. Although you probably feel the need to work and hustle as much as possible, it’s important to balance work with breaks, healthy meals, and a good sleep schedule. If you’re stressed for prolonged periods of time, your cortisol levels are high, which can strain your immune system. Your immune system is at risk and that’s not what you need right now. Remember to take a moment to take a few deep breaths and check-in with yourself. You have to take care of yourself so that you can continue to take care of others.
It’s worth remembering that these conditions are not permanent. One day, the world and the auto repair industry will get past this. In the meantime, being proactive, strong, and sticking together as a team will help you adapt.
For more information on navigating COVID-19, here are seven tips and best practices that should help your business abide by ordinances, minimize spread, and keep your team and guests as safe as possible.