Caution from Within: Forty talks estimations and COVID-19

Written by Forty, a Progressive Estimator

We have all noticed the immediate shortage of toilet paper across stores country-wide. We have noticed people wearing masks, gloves and even full body suits in attempt to protect themselves from coming in contact with the coronavirus. But where do you stand and what precautions should you be taking? Here is a slightly more advanced approach to things.

Delicate situation

Closing down or staying open? I don’t have the answer; and this isn’t one that should be made lightly.

What I can tell you is that there are people coming to your door each day that most likely have symptoms already, or have just returned from a trip with absolutely no intent on letting you know. In my shop alone, we have had multiple customer tell us that they just returned home from another country, and a couple of customers even shared that they were on a two week quarantine while in our offices.

Vulnerable technicians

The majority of our techs are of the age that they are considering retirement, meaning a lot of them are the age of raised concern for contracting the virus.

I can tell you, of the four technicians I am aware of right now, their health is so compromised they should not be chancing our customers bringing this to us.

Our industry is “a sinking ship,” as a previous commenter stated. What we would look like if we lost an additional chunk of our workforce due to this virus? I’m willing to bet that the majority of our 55+ workforces also have additional underlying health issues that make them more of a concern than their age alone.

Customer intake

You should be asking each and every customer when they walk through the door, called to set up an appointment, booked an appointment with you online, etc. Ask if they have recently returned from travel, are they showing symptoms themselves, have they been in contact with anyone with or suspected of having the virus?

If they answer to yes to any of these questions you should highly consider requesting them to come back in a 14 day period. Explain to them why it is important to protect your people, apologize for the inconvenience and reschedule as necessary.

Vehicle check in

Once you get the set of keys and disinfect them, how do you improve the safety of the vehicle for your techs? I suggest that you disinfect the driver’s seat, steering wheel, driver’s door pad and center console prior to entering the vehicle.

There are lots of sprays designed for this. Spray it on, wipe it off. Once the vehicle is disinfected then bring the vehicle in to the detail area and continue disinfecting the rest of the vehicle. Pay close attention to areas like the hood release–these may be overlooked.

Estimating adjustment

Of course we will still be doing estimates; possibly even for the customers who answered yes to one of the above questions depending on your own values and health limitations. How will we handle these situations when they occur?

I suggest you have disinfectant spray on you while you see the vehicle. Take your photos, disinfect the door handle before opening it, take your VIN and mileage photos (disinfect prior to adjusting dash buttons to expose mileage), pictures of the damage and have the discussion of the damage outside, while standing at least one metre from the customer. Let the customer know that you will write the estimate and call them, or ask that they stay in the vehicle while you write the estimate for them. If your customer passed the test of being allowed in your waiting area, please be sure to disinfect after they leave.

Ready to deliver

Once the car is ready to deliver, be sure to call the customer with the normal speech, but be sure to add the new respectfully defensive script to your call. If the customer answered yes to any of the questions, consider suggesting a two week period before they pick up the car. Then call the insurer to coordinate this as well.

Rental is not your concern here; it is not your delay in repairs. This isn’t a perfect solution, nor does it take care of deductibles or vehicle pickup signatures, but it gives you a place to start.

Unify as a group by protecting our families, stakeholders and your community as a whole.

If our readers would like a more in-depth work flow, feel free to e-mail me and I will expand on it further. This is not an end all, it is just an opinion.

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