When things are running smoothly and the world is spinning as it should, it’s all too easy to take independent tire dealers and the services they provide for granted.

But in times of distress, the critical role that you, our readers, play in keeping our economy — and indeed, our way of life — rolling is brought into stark relief, and even more so when lives are at stake, as they are now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While federal, state and provincial governments throughout the United States and Canada have taken extraordinary measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19, many professionals — from doctors, nurses and pharmacists to long haul truck drivers and power restoration teams — are still out there, performing essential services that help keep the rest of us safe and sound.

And you and your employees are on the front lines with them.

As the COVID-19 pandemic — and all the uncertainty around it – has intensified, the speed at which you have implemented measures to protect the safety of employees, customers and everyone you come in contact with — whether in your store or on the road – has been nothing short of impressive.

The next vehicle you service could belong to a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or another medical professional.

The next vehicle you service could belong to a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or another medical professional.

And you’re doing it in a smart, thoughtful way that minimizes the physical spread of COVID-19 and helps put both employees and customers at ease. In the anxiety-ridden world we now occupy, that reassurance is incredibly important.Many of you have implemented “contact-less” vehicle drop-off/pick-up policies that limit your physical proximity to customers, and vice versa.

Some of you are driving to customers’ homes, picking up their cars, taking them to your shop for service and then dropping them back off — again minimizing potentially dangerous contact, and giving people more time to take care of their families and check on relatives, neighbors and friends.

You are stepping up sanitation procedures — making sure that not only customer-facing things (counter tops, door handles, key drops, etc.) are regularly disinfected, but also that tools and shop equipment are decontaminated.

And you’re communicating to customers in a timely, clear and empathetic way as you continue to monitor the situation and adjust what you’re doing, as needed — keeping their well-being top of mind.

When federal and local governments began to react to the COVID-19 pandemic by issuing “shelter-in-place” and “stay-at-home” orders, many of you wondered if your dealerships would be classified as essential businesses.

While my understanding, at press time, is that the state or province where you live and work ultimately has jurisdiction over this designation, it’s clear that you consider what you do to be absolutely essential. And I have no doubt that your customers agree.

Last week, a dealer who has dozens of retail tire stores throughout southern California told me that “there’s no public transportation around here. Doctors, nurses, first responders — all the people who have to work at gas stations and supermarkets — need to be able to get their cars fixed if there’s a problem.”

On the other side of the country, another dealer — whose company specializes in commercial tires and emergency roadside service — told me, “We’re doing whatever is necessary to keep trucks moving so people can get what they need.”

Whether it’s helping an 18-wheeler that’s hauling food to a cleaned-out grocery store get back on the highway after a flat or fixing the brakes on a medical professional’s car so he or she can get to a hospital and help others, you and your employees are providing a profoundly essential, valuable service — at a time when that service is needed the most.

You have every right to be proud of this.

On behalf of MTD, thank you for everything you are doing to help all of us during this challenging time.   ■

How are you managing through the COVID-19 crisis at your dealership? Please let MTD know what you’re doing by emailing me at mike.manges@bobit.com.

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