Coronavirus or COVID-19. This will probably be the “word of the year” and many will want to define 2020 by the virus that has disrupted the lives of people around the world. Often our response to an event like the one we are experiencing is anxiety, fear, and even panic. However, to navigate any storm or trial, one must have a level-head and remain logical, not letting the emotion take over. This week, at BCI, we have been talking with hundreds of dealers about what our personal response should be, and we summarize it with the following: Be Calm. Be Informed. Be Proactive.
We have worked to help our dealers do exactly that, and while there is new information available every day, and the rules of the game changing just as often, we must do our best to remain logical and lead our people through this storm. We will get through it! On our free webinars this past week, we have been sharing answers to some the most asked questions we have received. The following is a summary of some of those answers as well as resources where you can find updated information that may be helpful.
One of the top questions we have been asked is “Are we considered an essential, life-sustaining business”? While this varies somewhat across the country (state by state, county by county) in many cases, the dealers we work with may very well be considered essential. With this said, even though some dealers have a valid claim to being “essential”, you do have the option to simply close during this time. For those who don’t choose to do that, we are finding that they are finding creative ways to service the public and private sectors. I will touch on this more below.
Here is a link that may help to define what this means. https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce
We have been asked, “How do I meet the needs of my people and customers?” Now, more than ever, your role as a leader is required. Your employees and your customers are looking to you to be calm, informed and proactive. This is done only through constant and clear communication. Meet regularly with your employees. Keep them updated on all changes and listen to their concerns and answer their questions to the best of your ability. For your customers, you need to make sure you are keeping them up to date on all social media channels, your website and signage.
It is also important to follow all guidelines and orders regarding keeping a safe, clean environment. This is where you must be proactive. The following links overview some of these procedures, as well as what to do if one of your employees is not feeling well. Steps to take when sick:
“What about all the new legislation?” New legislation and changes in regulations are being passed, almost daily, that impacts all of us. The changes to the FMLA laws, the availability of SBA loans, changes to how and when taxes and payments are made, as well as possible reimbursement to individuals or small businesses in the coming days. There are several links we are watching that you can access to stay informed.
Finally, we are visiting with dealers regularly on how to financially survive this time and maximize cashflow. If you aren’t already, NOW is the time to monitor your numbers and take advantage of opportunities. Many of the dealers we are working with are showing strong sales during these past days. People who are needing to buy are doing just that. Utilize technology to assist the customer and support the selling process for all your departments.
In closing, we know that this storm will pass, and the recovery process will begin. We are all blessed to be in one of the best industries in the world. You represent the heart and soul of small towns and communities. With certainty, we know from talking to hundreds of dealers, manufacturers and vendors over the last couple of weeks, that everyone is working tirelessly to manage the impact of this global pandemic and together, we will recover and come back stronger than ever.
As you lead in the coming days, we encourage you to remain calm, stay informed, and be proactive. We must plan to define 2020 not by COVID-19, but by another term – strength, resolve, ingenuity, or perhaps triumph. How will you define 2020?