Protection Products and Practices to Keep Customers Safe and Reassured
- What protection products can you use in the dealership?
- Keep customers reassured by showing and telling.
In this episode of Reynolds’ video podcast Connected, Jerry Kirwan, senior vice president and general manager of Reynolds Document Services, discusses what products dealerships have been using to keep their customers and employees safe and provide peace-of-mind, and shares how Reynolds Document Services has adapted to continue serving dealerships.
Greg Uland Hello, I’m Greg Uland, marketing director at Reynolds and Reynolds, and this is Connected, the podcast with best practices and ideas to help navigate the automotive retail industry and the world today. As the COVID-19 virus continues to change our world and how we live and work daily, this podcast discusses ways to continue operating in this unprecedented social environment. On today’s episode, we have with us Jerry Kirwan, vice president and general manager of Reynolds Document Services. Jerry, thanks so much for joining.
Jerry Kirwan Greg, glad to be here.
GU Jerry, today, I’m hoping to get into some best practices that you’re seeing dealers implement around precautions to help protect both their customers and their employees’ safety and well-being. To start, can you talk a little bit about what you’re seeing in service departments around the country?
JK Right now, we’re seeing a huge emphasis, as you might guess, on personal hygiene. So, we’re seeing the service departments take extra steps to make sure that their customers are reassured; that they’re doing the things that they can to help improve the whole personal hygiene side of the service area. So, you’re seeing precautions, some of which they were doing before. Others they’ve added; steering wheel covers, to seat covers, and mats. But I think what they’re doing now that’s a little bit different is they’re making sure customers see those products before they deliver the car. So, the customer will get that reassurance that these personal hygiene products are being used in the service of their vehicles.
GU Very good. So, to dive a little bit deeper on the products, you mentioned a couple of obvious ones, right? The seat covers, steering wheel covers, those high touch areas… have there been any surprise items where demand has gone up that maybe you wouldn’t have thought of before, but dealers are diving into now?
JK You know the obvious ones, right? I don’t think, at least on the automotive side we never sold face masks. We’re selling face masks today. Acrylic shields for contact with customers. We’re putting up these shields between an associate working in the dealership and a customer that they may be communicating to. So, these are things that we didn’t sell before. We’re looking at now putting together a, you’re going to laugh at this, but basically it sanitizes the stylus pen for the docuPAD station. So, customers get reassurance that there’s not bad things on the stylus when I’m asked to sign the document on the docuPAD station for the car purchase. So yeah, just these things bring out some unusual needs and then we’re trying to adapt to those needs and take care of our customers.
GU So another thing you mentioned a minute ago, Jerry, was making sure that the customer is going to see that the products are being used. Obviously, there are a lot of benefits to making sure that precautions are taken. One of them, though, is peace of mind for customers. Any other ways or maybe specific processes to follow to make sure the customers know the precautions that the dealership is taking?
JK Well, one of the things that’s been really popular for us recently, in these last couple of weeks, is brought out the need for dealerships to communicate to their customers what they’re doing to provide those assurances. What we’re doing to help our dealer customers is send out direct mail communications and email communications to their customers with a whole COVID-19: here’s what we’re doing, here is the new hours of the dealership, ‘we’re still open’ reminders, just a really informative piece on what the dealerships are doing on behalf of their customers. So that’s been something we had to gear up as a result of the situation we find ourselves in.
GU That makes complete sense. Jerry, what about in the sales department? For dealers that are continuing operations there in one way or another, what kind of precautions are you seeing again across the country and any specific things that stand out to you?
JK Well again, dealerships are finding unique ways to take care of their customers. We’re finding in the sales department that they’re basically being much more disciplined about appointments for a test drive, or bringing cars out to people’s homes. Again, they’re reassuring them how they’re essentially sanitizing the vehicles before a test drive. We’re seeing a lot of delivery of new vehicles to the home instead of having a customer come to the dealership to pick up a new car. They’re going out to do trade evaluations. A lot more negotiating through email, believe it or not, and on the phone. So, there’s much fewer person-to-person kind of interaction. And now it’s distance; it’s phone, it’s email, and it’s delivering a car to a person’s home instead of having people come out to the dealership. We’re doing all those kinds of things to test drive documentation stuff, and we’re doing all those things to help support these new innovations. I guess, I don’t know that they’re really new, but we’re seeing a lot more activity of these kinds of processes than we did prior to the COVID-19 virus.
GU And then what about, looking internally at the Reynolds Document Services business, Jerry, how has the current environment changed operations for you?
JK You have a couple of sides of the coin, right? On the manufacturing side in Celina, we’ve got 400 plus employees up there that the vast majority, probably 80% of the employees, have to be in the plant. We need to make stuff, right. We do have our customer service, some of our artists are able to work from home. So, we are doing some remote work there.
But what we’ve done is we’ve taken precautions inside the manufacturing side. We’re taking someone’s temperature before they come into the plant. We’re asking them to take their temperature at home. We have social distancing in the plant by itself because of the nature of the work. There’s very few pieces of equipment where it takes two people to operate them. The social distancing thing is kind of natural within the manufacturing environment. So that part’s taken care of. But the manufacturing part has been a challenge because we work three shifts. There is significant concern about the spread. And I think what we’ve been able to do is reassure our associates that we’re taking the extra sanitizing, the extra steps to make sure that we have a safe work environment.
On the support side, from a marketing and operations standpoint, that’s a little bit different. We basically had to go from working in a cubed office environment where collaboration is really, you just turn around and talk to the person you need to work with to get things done. Everybody’s working remotely essentially. The one group that we can’t really have work remote and they have had to improvise is our MED-PASS team. And the MED-PASS team is basically working every other day on alternating shifts so that we’re reducing how much time people would be near another. We have the social distancing thing down, but we’re just trying to minimize the amount of interaction that somebody might have to increase the risk of any exposure.
GU Very good. Well Jerry, I definitely appreciate you taking some time out of your day to chat for a few minutes. Before we hop off and while we have the audience, is there anything else that you would want to touch on at all?
JK I just want to thank all of our employees who are diligently doing what they can to help support the business for our customers and, of course, take care of each other. This is really unique. One day we’ll look back at this and say, do you remember in 2020? And we’ll get through all this. I’m sure we will. And we’ll be better for it. So no, the only other message I would have is just hang in there. We’re all going to get through this and we’re going to come out better as a result.
GU Absolutely. Well, Jerry, thanks again for your time, I really do appreciate it.
JK Sure, Greg. Appreciate it. Have a good one.
GU You, too. This has been Connected. Stay safe and we’ll see you on the next episode.
Continue to tune in often to see new episodes on best practices and tips for navigating the automotive industry during this unprecedented time.
The three-legged stool has always been a great symbol for organizational structure. The legs represent the principles that prop up your business, and each leg…
Auto Dealer Today recently published an article introducing the idea of a “destination dealership.” They defined this as: “…the type of facility that helps the
In early March 2020, we introduced The Connected Podcast as a new platform to share best practices, strategies, and business tips on how to safely continue operations…