CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — Tire and automotive service shops around the country have adjusted to a new way of business that means more safety precautions in the shop and less foot traffic as efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 continues.
While business is down significantly, reopening the U.S. economy needs to be done with caution, "in phases," to avoid a spike in the pandemic, according to a number of independent tire dealers contacted recently by Tire Business.
"Opening up the country is not something that we can or should do across the board," Greg Mynaugh, president of United Tire & Service L.L.C., said. "(It might) make total sense in Wyoming but certainly does not in Philadelphia or the Northeast, right now."
United Tire operates 13 locations throughout Pennsylvania. Mr. Mynaugh said car count at his shops is down about half of what it was in March and April 2019.
"As we are working through this, I would say the shock of it all is less (than anticipated), and that consumers are starting to think about things they need to do," he said.
Since March, when the pandemic first hit the U.S. hard, many retail tire dealers reduced operating hours and cut employee' hours per week in an attempt to keep the business whole; while others laid off or furloughed workers.
Many businesses report they have applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan through the Small Business Administration to help cover payroll and keep jobs.
Tire shops have been following guidelines for a safe workplace from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They have been sanitizing surfaces, wearing gloves and masks, and generally rethinking how they interact with each other and the customer, and how much direct contact can be eliminated.