In this 6-minute read:
- SBA guidelines for small businesses
- Emergency financial assistance
- How to help your employees
- Emphasize sanitization policies
- Alternative business models and adjustments
- Plan for the future
We are definitely living through some interesting times right now as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread into more communities throughout the United States. Most businesses are seeing some kind of impact from the virus, including auto services businesses.
Womply has partnered with various trusted lenders to offer you the best possible rates on small business funding. Whether you need a term loan, a line of credit, or another type of small business capital, we can help! Click here to learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!
Businesses in the auto industry need to be prepared for and aware of the impacts that this pandemic can have on their business during this time. Will business drop? Will it increase? What adjustments need to be made? What can you do to minimize the impacts on your business?
Small business guidance from the SBA
The U.S. Small Business Administration has put out a guide for businesses and employers to help them understand the effects of the coronavirus and how to navigate through the disruptions it is causing during this time. Be sure to have a look.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan program
Along with guidance, the SBA also has disaster assistance in place to help businesses that are seeing revenue losses and heavy impacts due to the disease outbreak. Business owners in eligible locations can apply for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
Find more potential business loans, grants, and funding offers for COVID-19 here.
Tips for directing your employees
Right now, it is more important than ever to be totally transparent with your employees. They should be aware of all of the guidance from the CDC and WHO for social distancing and maintaining a healthy environment in your auto shop.
Familiarize yourself with the CDC’s guide for businesses and employers.
It’s also important for you, as their employer, to be flexible in scheduling as your employees get sick or need to stay home to care for children who are out of school or other loved ones that are struggling.
Keep your employees aware of what is going on with your business. Help them to understand how they may be impacted and advise them on best practices for maintaining a safe and healthy environment in your shop.
Prepare for increased absences
COVID-19 has spread globally and will likely impact your community at some point. Be prepared for employees that need to stay home to take care of themselves or loved ones during this time. Maintain flexibility with their schedules where possible and be understanding of their situation.
This may put a strain on your healthy employees or on you as you work to cover their shifts or tasks.
Emphasize cleanliness in your shop and any customer contact areas
Even with social distancing becoming more common, it is more important than ever to maintain a sanitary workspace.
Here are some ways that you can keep your facility clean as well as encourage your customers and employees to help:
- Place signs up to encourage washing hands for at least 20 seconds during breaks, before making complimentary coffee, after using the bathroom, etc.
- Regularly clean surfaces that receive frequent contact: checkout counters, tools, pens, vending machine, doors, chairs
- Keep hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies readily available for customers and employees to use when needed
Make adjustments to your business model where needed, and plan for the future
Lastly, you must prepare for the future. No one really knows how this is going to impact businesses in the long-term. We can only see what’s happening right now, so make a plan that prepares you for anything.
Consider adopting a contactless business model for the time being
In places where businesses have been allowed to remain open completely or on a limited basis, smarter auto services businesses are rapidly moving to allow optional or mandatory “contact-free” services, car dropoff and pickup, and checkout.
Key drops are already common at most places, so you can easily let your customers know that until further notice, all customer interactions need to be made by phone, online, or via the external key drop. This can prevent the spread of germs in waiting areas and restrooms, and can put some more worried customers at their ease.
Set up online scheduling if you haven’t already
If you aren’t already on the online scheduling bandwagon, this potentially slower time may be ideal for you to implement any changes necessary to allow this useful offering for your customers.
Is your business expected to drop?
As many people are having to stay home and lose hours from their jobs (or get laid off), vehicle purchases and maintenance are likely not their top priority.
If you are seeing a decrease in business that is resulting in large losses in revenue, you might consider some emergency funding options:
- Funding programs from the SBA
- COVID-19 disaster loans from the SBA. Learn how to apply for an emergency SBA loan.
- Government bailouts are likely coming to help struggling businesses
- Banks may be offering special rates on loans for businesses
Is your business expected to increase?
It is possible that mechanics and similar businesses could see an increase in traffic as consumers are preparing for whatever the future may bring. If you’re seeing that happening in your shop, make sure you are prepared by:
- Acquiring more capital to cover increased supplies if needed
- Keeping enough supplies in stock to cover increased demand
- Purchasing supplies from multiple vendors/distributors since it may be difficult to get enough from the same source
Communicate with your customers
Communication is vital right now as we are receiving constant updates from health authorities and community leaders. Keep your customers up to date on any policy or hour changes that your business is facing during this time.
You can keep people updated by:
- Managing your Google My Business listing and other online profiles
- Making necessary changes to your website
- Sharing changes on your social media channels
Keep your messages positive and show your customers that you are still ready and able to help them in their time of need and that you are taking every precaution to maintain a safe environment.
Get creative with your marketing
Watch the trends that are happening with your business right now and think up some creative ways to keep business going.
You might look into some new deals or promotions to offer people who are just getting home from traveling a deal on a maintenance check. Or you might advertise preparedness to encourage people to keep their vehicles in tip top shape by providing oil change coupons or gas cards with each purchase.
Need capital? Womply can help you get the small business funding that’s right for you
Womply has partnered with various trusted lenders to offer you the best possible rates on small business funding. Whether you need a term loan, a line of credit, or another type of small business capital, we can help!