Masked or Unmasked?

By Adam Rapp

If you feel confused about whether people should wear masks and why and what kind, you’re not alone. The short answer is to wear them. As the spread of COVID-19 seems not to be slowing as quickly as we’ve hoped, these unprecedented times appear ready to stay for some time longer. With this in mind, prioritizing the health and safety of employees and customers seems a promising way for our businesses to remain thriving and intact. It is also clearly what most see as the right thing to do. While it is feasible to ensure that our employees wear masks and take the proper precautions to prevent spreading the virus, some customers may be more reluctant to follow these new protocols. As  governors across the country begin to ease restrictions, individuals may see wearing masks as unnecessary. Do you turn away a customer who walks into the dealership without a mask?

As Dealer News Today podcast host Andrew Cherkasky said, “people’s views on quarantine may be changing, but the science is not”. Cherkasky went on to say that, as business professionals, regardless of what the governors are saying, it is our collective responsibility to protect everyone; employees and consumers alike. Instead of turning away customers who arrive without a mask, it is likely far easier and more constructive for the dealership to provide them with one. Your customers must realize that any safety measures you’re implementing are simply in place to protect everyone involved. 

In a recent interview, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser emphasized that everyone must take proper precautions in order to slow the spread. “No one has the right to expose a community to a communicable disease,” said Weiser. Weiser further argues his point with one very critical point: “protect the overall public health.” Even more concerning, a recent study showed that individuals spray thousands of invisible droplets into the air when they speak, even with a simple “hello”. However, these droplets can be contained, that is if individuals wear their masks. According to the CDC, if everyone wears a mask, carriers can prevent spreading the virus, which has now caused 1.3 million cases and over 80,000 deaths in the United States.

The chain reaction occurring inside any dealership doesn’t require much imagination. If an asymptomatic carrier enters the dealership without a mask, they pose a greater risk of infecting the employee they’re working with. When a salesperson becomes infected, there is a significant chance that every employee and customer they come in contact with will be infected, triggering a new “hotspot” that could potentially lead to a devastating loss of lives and business. Furthermore, giving out free masks with your logo remains a solid marketing concept, while greatly reducing the threat of once again having to close up shop and losing business for another long period of time.

While the “mask at the door” tactic seems like a simple solution, there are also other ways to ensure that consumers understand that “we are all in this together.” On New York’s Long Island, which remains a primary epicenter of the virus, one dealership owner is taking unity to the next level. Michael Brown, owner of Empire Auto Group has been a charismatic leader since entering the auto industry. His hands-on approach and commitment to building a brand has helped him cement his legacy as one of the most successful dealership owners in the country. When the pandemic hit Long Island hard, Michael was able to quickly adapt and keep Empire Auto Group moving. For a time, his dealership doors were just as shut as seemingly everything else.As the pandemic slowly began to ease, he was allowed a “limited opening” of his space. However, business was still slow. Michael simply decided to help those who had been compromised during the pandemic, which both served the community and kept his brand strong and relevant. This continues to include services such as pharmacy and grocery pickup and delivery for individuals who are unable to leave their homes at all during the pandemic. As the pandemic’s stronghold on Long Island eases, Michael’s dealership has seen sales begin to rise again. While taking the proper precautions, masks and all, Michael says that group sales at Empire Auto Group are at seventy four percent of where they normally are.

It is important that even when a sale isn’t involved that you are still taking care of your customers, especially during these difficult times. They will remember your gratitude for years to come, with the actions you undertake becoming a lasting image of your brand. It’s hard to know where this all ends up, but those making the right moves could end up in a better position than where it was before the pandemic started. Most importantly, these generous actions create unity, and make customers more likely to oblige when asked to wear masks when at your dealership.