Monday, 24 August 2020 22:55

Automakers Urge Dealers to Enforce Strict Coronavirus Precautions

Written by Jordyn Grzelewski, The Detroit News
Paul Zimmermann of George Matick Chevrolet in Redford, MI, points to the COVID-19 signage displayed on the front entrance. Paul Zimmermann of George Matick Chevrolet in Redford, MI, points to the COVID-19 signage displayed on the front entrance. Clarence Tabb Jr., The Detroit News


Strict health measures such as mandatory mask-wearing and daily temperature checks have been the norm in auto plants since mid-May, when the U.S. auto industry resumed production of cars, trucks and SUVs after a pandemic-induced shutdown.

But in showrooms and on the lots where customers actually purchase vehicles, the rules are less uniform as auto dealers navigate a patchwork of local and state orders, and varying degrees of COVID-19 outbreaks.


Many automakers are offering dealerships guidance, and some are urging dealers to exceed local orders and follow the stringent protocols used in manufacturing facilities. For automakers and dealers alike, the goal is the same: to keep employees and customers safe, so plants and showrooms can remain open amid a fragile recovery of the U.S. vehicle market. 


"No dealer wants to get called out as having an outbreak in their store," said Mark LaNeve, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service for Ford Motor Co. "Nobody wants to have that happen, both for moral and business reasons. It’s not a tough sell with the dealers."


Changing business practices


Dave Haack of Livonia, MI, stopped by George Matick Chevrolet in Redford, MI, recently to pick up his family’s new 2020 Chevy Trax. He opted to purchase the vehicle in the traditional way---stop by the dealership to check out his options, take the Trax for a test drive and then drive it off the lot.


As required by an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, he wore a mask into the showroom. He reported a seamless experience, and he felt safe at every turn: "It seemed like everybody had masks, and they had [disinfecting] sprays. And [the dealership employees] stay away from you."


Face coverings, constant sanitization and social distancing are now ingrained into the way Matick does business, said vice president and partner Paul Zimmermann.


"Between the adherence to intuitive processes and practices by our employees, and the cleaning that we do, everyone is conscious and aware of it but not scared," he said.

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