Businesses around the world are paralyzed by fears about an outbreak of coronavirus grinding their productivity into the ground. In the collision repair sector, which simply cannot operate without on-site employees, the problem is particularly pressing.
If you are concerned about how your collision facility should be preparing for a potential epidemic, here are some key things to consider about weathering a viral storm.
1) Understand the dangers you face
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, most transmissions occur at a person-to-person level, but it is also spread through between people who are within about two metres from one another, and from respiratory droplets sneezed or coughed-up by an infectee. These fluids must be inhaled to transmit the virus.
In a collision repair setting, this means that vehicle exteriors and interiors are potential sources of danger, albeit a slight one. A far more likely nexus of transmission is, however, between customers and customer service figures–and between employees themselves.
The best way to limit transmission may be through the use of protective gear found in every collision repair facility. While customer service agents may look strange wearing nitrile gloves, it is unlikely to significantly impact their ability to perform their duties. While they will still be at higher risk of becoming infected, ensuring they are using anti-viral surface cleaners over their working areas and lobby areas will help further mitigate the risks.
Within the shop, however, full-body protective gear–like those worn by painters–should be an effective source of protection from casual contact. If possible, limiting their face-to-face contact with front-end workers and customers will help protect key auto repairers from sickness. Shared spaces, like dining areas and break rooms, should be given over to either one group or the other.
2) Be indulgent about sick days
If you are concerned that employees are taking advantage of your sick day policies and the paranoia around coronavirus, you have your priorities in disarray. The risks posed by one slacking employee do not outweigh the possible ramifications of a sickly staff.
Remember, the fewer employees within any given workspace, the less likely they will be to be exposed to a sick person. From February 12 to March 9, the number of people infected by the virus doubled. This rate of expansion is likely to continue.
It is important to remember that the infection-to-death ratio for the virus is currently about six percent.
Not all coronavirus victims will know they are sick. If one of your employees calls in sick, permission should be sought from the sick person to disclose their condition to the team. They are the best judge of whether or not they are likely to have been exposed to the virus. If there is any concern that an employee might have been infected, it is better to let them remain isolated.
3) Defend your reputation
If your business is unable to function properly because of staff illness, the owner should not hesitate to close down during the recovery period.
Where clients, auto insurers and parts providers are concerned, most will be understanding. Even banks are responsive to businesses requesting emergency-period debt extensions.
Of course, the best way to inform partner businesses and clients of a temporary setback is to provide clear and unambiguous email updates about the position the shop is in.
While some people may never be flexible, the business’s long-term health is more likely to suffer because of institutional chaos than the odd irritated client.