Posted by Alex Morrison | News | June 05, 2020

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STOPPING the spread, flattening the curve, lockdown, social distancing, self-isolating – these certainly are crazy times. Especially for automotive workshops looking to maintain viability, avoid a downturn in business, sustain a full workforce and keep the doors open. 

 

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Premium operator, Anthony Costello and the team from Anthony Costello Automotive (ACA), have devised a strategy to sustain operations – and potentially even thrive – in the wake of COVID-19 disruptions. The effects of which are not going away anytime soon. 

 

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Contactless Vehicle Collection

ACA’s main focus is zero person-to-person contact. Customers can book their car in over the phone or via an online portal like CarMechanica. Using a manageable fleet of loan cars, an ACA Service Advisor or Service Technician drives to the customer’s house/workplace, collects their vehicle and delivers it back to the workshop – free of charge.

 

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Upon completion of the work, the technician returns the customer’s vehicle and collects the loan vehicle. Payment is via EFT or phone payment prior to the vehicle being returned. To date, this contactless process has proven to be very successful to both existing and new customers – especially the over 60’s demographic. In fact, it has been so successful, ACA is going to continue this service option, post COVID-19. 

 

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Telling the world

EVEN the best ideas can wither and die if nobody knows about it – enter ACA’s effective marketing strategy. In addition to directly reaching out to their existing customer base via phone calls, SMS and emails, ACA has also undertaken a comprehensive website update, aggressive Facebook marketing program and radio advertising campaign – all with goal of telling the world, ‘we’re open for business!’ All correspondence reinforces ACA’s contactless booking/servicing option, along with their safety protocols and hygiene precautions. The FB campaign was boosted across four days (@ $50 per day) – which resulted in 12, direct new bookings.

 

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Their other big success story has been radio advertising. Broadcast across the three, most-relevant stations, the script focuses on current business operations, with the option to vary the script to suit the changing restrictions surrounding COVID-19. Anthony commented the uptake from new customers to their contactless offer, was most noticeable when the radio ads started.

 

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 STOPPING THE SPREAD

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Keeping Safe

TO COMBAT person-to-person, along with surface-to-person COVID-19 infection, ACA enforces a number of strict protocols. This includes the use of gloves by all technicians whilst operating and working on customer’s vehicles.

 

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Additionally, upon arrival, each vehicle’s steering wheel is wrapped in glad wrap, seats fitted with PPE plastic covers and the keys sprayed in disinfectant before being stored in a fresh Ziplock bag. After all work is completed, each vehicle is washed and sanitised again – along with the keys, which are again stored in a fresh Ziplock bag.

 

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This stringent sanitising process is extended to the loan cars as well, with each vigorously cleaned and disinfected between customers. This provides the option of customers using the loan car to get around in, if need be.

 

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Workplace Protocols

If a staff member contracts COVID-19 – that business must shut down, with all staff self-isolating for a minimum of 14-days. Therefore, it is just as important to protect the health of the staff as it is to protect the health of customers. In addition to social distancing between staff, each staff member is provided their own personal box of gloves, coffee capsules and disposable drinking cups. Use of communal phones has been discontinued, replaced by individual mobile phones, laptops and tablets.

 

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Other safety protocols include, regular hand washing, additional cleaning of the premises, sanitiser dispensers at every entry point, touch-free soap dispensers in the toilets, single use paper towels for all drying, regular team strategy meetings and of course sending home any staff member exhibiting even the mildest of flu-like symptoms.

 

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To stop everyone attempting to crowd into the lunchroom all at once, all breaks are now staggered. This way, staff members can maintain a minimum of four-square-meters of space within the lunchroom – which is the current guideline for businesses.

 

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Customer Safety

DURING COVID-19, the number one rule for any company is strict adherence to all current government and MTA operation guidelines. A major part of these guidelines is ensuring customers maintain social distancing and minimum contact.

 

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Here, ACA has installed automatic doors at reception, reception staff are regularly rotated and are all required to wear gloves. There is also a limit of four customers in reception at any one time, along with 1.5-meter floor markings and prominent signage instructing customers to observe social distancing.

 

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Supporting Customers Businesses

WHEREVER possible, ACA are supporting their customer’s businesses. While a standard, year-round practice, this has been ramped up during COVID-19, with staff lunches being ordered from a selection of the hospitality outlets – whose vehicles ACA service. This practise also boosts staff moral who are called upon to adopt ever more challenging workplace practises.

 

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ADDITIONAL STRATEGIES

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No more no

THE word ‘no’ has been black-banned at ACA. All staff have taken on a can-do attitude, with everyone striving to handle any and all customer requirements, while simultaneously complying with local and federal government COVID-19 guidelines. Their new, ‘Yes we can’ attitude includes, accepting next day bookings, makes/models they wouldn’t normally take on and of course their complimentary collection and return option.

 

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After Hours Staff Incentives

PART of the success surrounding ACA’s FB campaign is the after-hours customer service. All staff are being paid $12 per booking – made outside regular hours when the main reception line is closed. With a significant shift to people working from home and people interacting via social media outside of normal work hours, this initiative has proven to be very fruitful for ACA.

 

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The Finishing Touch

AS GESTURE of appreciation for their customer’s ongoing support and patronage, ACA leaves a small gift in each car. In the past this gift has included Lindt chocolates, along with luxury automotive air fresheners from HSY. Small, unexpected gifts like these often leave a greater, positive impression than other initiatives (such as discounted parts and labour) costing hundreds of dollars.

 

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Personal Experiences

WHAT strategies and practises has your business adopted to maintain viability, avoid a downturn in business, sustain a full workforce and keep the doors open. Shoot us an email and share your experiences with us and your fellow workshops. After all, we’re all in this together.

CarMechanica wishes to thank everyone at Anthony Costello Automotive for the extensive help in putting together this helpful and informative feature.

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