COVID-19 Update: How Are Your Employees Doing Financially?

By Desiree Homer

One Dealer Offers Interest-Free Loans to Internal Staff Affected by the Pandemic

Your dealership is only as strong and reliable as the people behind the brand. You may not have been ready to address a pandemic this year. But it’s the people within your organization that saw to it that your business was prepared. In a recent Dealer News Today podcast, Dave Cantin talks to Cox Automotive CEO, Sandy Schwartz about how the industry is doing. Schwartz points out that while dealers are passionate about their businesses and communities, it’s equally important to be passionate about their teams. “We need to be human at our core and do a better job,” he says. And it reminds the industry to check in on the staff. How are your employees doing financially and with career confidence? One dealership kept its employees prioritized and implemented interest-free loans to internal team members, to help them through the shutdowns.

How Grappone Automotive Helped Its Employees

Claire Racine, the director of human resources for the New Hampshire based dealer group, Grappone Automotive, said they recognized early on in the store closures that employees were affected. Racine cited a variety of conditions, including their employee’s spouses being furloughed, daycares were closing, and bills were still due. She shared with Automotive News, “these were difficult times.” To help, the auto group implemented an employee-based loan program. Internal team members could access a $250, interest-free loan that could be paid back over a ten-week payroll deduction period. The auto group expanded the offering in later weeks, offering up to $500 for each employee, to be repaid over 20 weeks.

Americans Are Challenged on All Fronts

There is too much going on right now to assume your employees are doing fine. The pandemic creates an economic and public health crisis. Your employees may have furloughed spouses or immune-compromised children that are causing increased stress at home. Aside from the financial burdens for many households, there is also a social movement happening. Making sure your teams feel comfortable and confident in their ability to voice concerns or discuss injustices is paramount. Don’t presume your management staff is handling these conversations. Develop a plan and strategy that allows you to stay in tune with what your teams are going through today.

Checking in with Your Employees

Sandy Schwartz talks about how hard it’s been for managers and dealer owners to stay connected with individuals within the organizations. It’s not like dealers are able to walk around the dealership or venture into the breakroom to check in with people. Remote working has made it difficult to follow through on any open-door policies, which is why it may be important now more than ever, to reach out. Consider working with your key managers and connect, even if it’s a video call, to inquire about your teams’ financial and emotional health. Issues can then be addressed, and employees will feel connected and secure within your company.

As a dealer owner, your job is to steer your company ship through the rough waters and back to smooth sailing. But remember, you can’t row the ship by yourself. Your people may need their leaders now more than ever. And connecting with them to understand how they’re holding up, will only help you retain your best employees, bring concerns to light, and build a stronger team. Helping them get through these trying times will, in turn, help your business do the same.