For many shop owners, the coronavirus pandemic has been an all-consuming challenge.
Like many people, I have been ‘in mode’ through much of this, and it was good when I finally took the time to think about what we’re all going through and put it into some kind of perspective.
At our shop, the approach we took from the very start was to be there for our community. Not only could we help ensure that vehicles are safe on the road, but we could offer support in other ways as well. We started offering our shuttles to pick up critical and personal items for members of our community – whether they were clients or not.
I think the ‘a-ha’ moment for us was when we posted a note on LinkedIn letting people know we are open, and we are taking the appropriate precautions. It was a tactical message, but we ended it by thanking our team, our clients, and our suppliers for trusting us.
It occurred to me that through all of these unusual circumstances, that’s really what we’re asking for: trust. Not in the traditional way. Not simply trusting that we’ll take care of vehicles and not overcharge. This was a new kind of trust. It was a trust that we would be allies with them against an invisible enemy. Trust that we would keep up to date on the latest guidance from health officials, leaders, and industry professionals. Trust that we would do everything we could to keep people safe.
Our team trusted us enough to come to work, knowing that we would keep them safe. Or if they felt safer staying home, they trusted us to respect that decision.
Our suppliers trusted us enough to continue delivering to us, knowing we had all the proper protocols in place.
Our customers trusted us enough to allow us pick up their vehicles from their homes. They trusted us enough to let us into their vehicles, knowing we would sanitize it when we were done. They knew we would minimize contact if we could – taking information and payment over the phone. And if they had to come into the store, trusting that we had cleaned everything before they go there, and would clean it again after they left.
With those free shuttles, our community trusted us to pick up prescriptions, groceries, and packages for them when they could not go outside.
And, ultimately, we learned to trust everyone else as well, knowing that anyone that came into our store was not sick or knowingly carrying the virus.
The stakes are high, and they remain high, even as society begins to open up.
There was no playbook for this in our industry. Many shops closed, reduced hours, or downsized, depending on their vulnerability, exposure, and comfort level.
We’ve always known that the work we do is important. But throughout this pandemic, we hear numerous times, ‘Thank goodness you’re open!’
It hasn’t been easy, but we stayed open for our community, and our community rewarded us with their trust.
Tracy Carnahan is owner, with her husband Gord, of OK Tire Park Street in Regina, Saskatchewan.