The coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity for tire dealers and service shop operators to step up community service within their respective market areas.
Not only does this effort benefit needy neighbors, it ultimately may enhance a business' image.
But for the moment, let's forget about the spread of the coronavirus. Within your market area, there have been people who are down on their luck for various reasons. They have needed help from time to time.
To their enormous credit, some tire dealers and service shop operators have looked after less-fortunate neighbors in various ways.
What's more, they have emphasized to me that assisting needy folks is intrinsically worthwhile — charitable and noble. I appreciate this sentiment because I was taught that offering a hand was simply the right thing to do.
Of course, it's gratifying when people acknowledge and applaud community service. But never underestimate the value of community work even if it garners no awards.
Let's return to the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. It has dramatically increased the number of folks in need.
For instance, the soaring unemployment numbers are expected to continue rising. Whereas some people are not technically unemployed, their hours have been drastically curtailed because their employer's business volume isn't what it used to be.
There are relatively obvious repercussions of the moves made to curb the virus spread: Millions of people ordered to stay home, countless non-essential businesses closed, reduced vehicle miles driven, etc.
What may be less apparent is the impact rippling out through the economy — closing or severely curtailing other businesses that ordinarily supported enterprises ranging from airlines and restaurants to a wide range of other retail operations on your main street and shopping areas.
Automotive retail businesses have taken some fierce blows. In some regions, new-car dealers cannot conduct traditional transactions because they've had to close their showrooms. Although they're running their service departments, customers have only very limited access to a dealership's building.
Similarly, many service shops and tire dealerships have closed their customer waiting areas and further curtailed their workers' exposure to customers.
Service volume has shrunk so much in some markets that tire dealers and service shops may be getting by with only skeleton crews. Likely, readers are coping in ways they never imagined.
Small but significant opportunities
Now, with all that said, there may be small but consequential opportunities for tire dealers and service shop operators to assist a needy person or family in their locale.
You or your crew may know these people simply because you all have worked in the area for some time.
Or, perhaps your contacts inside city hall or on the police force know families or workers who are struggling. What's more, your pastor or members of your church congregation may be seeking a boost for their outreach programs for needy families.
For one thing, you may volunteer as a driver delivering meals and groceries throughout your town. You see, there are church groups, civic organizations and even ad hoc charities trying to get food to those who need it.
Sometimes, their greatest need is reliable delivery drivers. (Typically, a driver knocks or rings a door bell. When the recipient responds, he or she just places his food delivery on the front steps or porch.)
In other situations, these efforts are hampered by a lack of delivery vehicles. Perhaps your business could loan or donate a vehicle to one of these "mobile meals" organizations.
As long as you're providing a delivery vehicle, put your company's name and logo on it. You can accomplish that chore fairly easily with window stickers or magnetic signs.
Remember that some charities' efforts may be hamstrung by broken vehicles and/or ones with threadbare tires.
Ply your trade, readers. The greatest, most-immediate impact you may make in your area is providing tires and repairs to a charity that relies on its vehicles.
Readers, I respect that money is tight. Perhaps the least you could do for that charity is defer the cost of tires and repairs for a year.
You and your sales staff may be able to donate your phone skills to a local group that's looking after struggling families or "at-risk" seniors. The task may entail daily calls to see if someone is well, has their medications, has heat and water, etc.
Maintaining these phone follow-ups can be challenging for an understaffed local charity during these difficult times.
Ultimately, these calls may mean the difference between life and death — especially for seniors. Fortunately, you make these telephone calls from home or else schedule them into your daily routine.
Last but not least, you may make a meaningful contribution simply by lending a hand to a family or senior on your block.
For example, suppose you learn that a neighbor has lost his job. If so, politely offer help. Reassure him that you'll assist him in any way practically possible. Kind words alone can reduce a lot of stress.
If you know an elderly neighbor who lives alone, establish a telephone routine — a check-in call — with the person. I'll bet he or she will appreciate the gesture.
First and foremost, I urge readers to follow safe procedures and practices. But if you have the wherewithal, make a positive impact with local people less fortunate than you.