Equipment that service departments initially were using to keep employees and customers safe included gloves, steering wheel covers and plenty of disinfectant and sanitizing wipes. But it typically did not include face masks.
On April 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending that people wear masks in public settings where it might be difficult to maintain social distancing measures. The CDC said simple cloth face coverings help slow the spread of the virus by preventing people who may have it from transmitting it to others. Surgical masks or N-95 respirators should be reserved for medical personnel, the CDC said.
Bob Atwood, an instructor at the National Automobile Dealers Association Academy, told a recent webinar audience of fixed operations managers and directors that they should provide masks for their employees and mandate their use. He told the group that he realizes some may balk at this because a masked service adviser might look like he's "going to stick up" the customer.
"No, on the contrary," Atwood said. "It will make the customer more at ease. The customer will realize you are protecting them and you are protecting your employees from contamination."
Scott Gregg, service manager at Tucson Subaru, said his dealership started requiring all employees who interact with customers to wear masks. This includes service advisers, lot attendants, shuttle drivers, loan car personnel, managers, salespeople and finance people.
"Technicians wear masks if they should have to test drive with a customer and they wear gloves at all times," Gregg says. "We have face coverings and masks available, and some people have opted to bring their own. My wife made me one that is very comfortable and has a pocket with a removable filter."