The provincial government has given the green light for registered new-car dealerships in Ontario to reopen their sales, leasing and other departments to the public by appointment only.
The reopening of dealerships is welcome news to employees and customers across the province.
At the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) introduced sweeping health and safety guidelines aimed at protecting service staff and customers.
The TADA released a comprehensive set of guidelines for the safe reopening of sales and other areas within a dealership. These guidelines were created in consultation with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association and other provincial auto associations.
Each dealership will follow strict health and safety protocols for each department.
For sales departments, the following guidelines have been issued to all registered new-car dealerships in Ontario to ensure maximum safety for dealership employees and customers (these are highlights of the guidelines only):
• All vehicle surfaces touched by the customer during a demo or test drive, including keys, door handles, steering wheel, gearshift, touchscreen, accessories and trunk handle, will be disinfected. When cleaning is complete, the vehicle will be locked and recorded as disinfected.
• A stringent appointment system to control customer flow will be implemented.
• Each dealership will install signage indicating where customers are to proceed upon arrival.
• When confirming appointments by phone, customers will be advised to not visit the dealership if they are exhibiting any symptoms associated with COVID-19. Upon arrival at the dealership, customers will also be advised of the safety measures in place to protect them, as well as staff. These may include restricted access to the showroom floor, the presence of hand-sanitizer stations, limited washroom access, etc.
• Dealership staff at reception will be safely distanced from customers and have access to appropriate personal protective equipment.
• Customers will be directed to sanitize their hands upon arrival, prior to meeting with any dealership staff.
• A staff member will unlock a vehicle and keep the key on their person at all times.
• Digital records will be kept of each vehicle presented to customers, including name, contact information, date, duration of entry and staff-member name.
• All vehicles will be locked after each presentation and the key to the staff member responsible for cleaning and disinfecting keys.
• All vehicle surfaces touched by the customer during the presentation will be disinfected, including keys, door handles, steering wheel, gearshift, touchscreen, seatbelt buckles, accessories and trunk handle.
• Any employee(s) carrying out the evaluation of vehicles for potential trade will wear protective gloves throughout the process and observe proper handwashing protocols immediately upon completion of the evaluation.
• For test drives, a series of protocols have been suggested for all salespeople which include, among other things, washing his/her hands prior to departing, advising the customer to do the same, taking a photo of the customer’s driver’s licence without touching the physical licence and choosing a disinfected vehicle OR ensuring the customer’s selected vehicle is properly disinfected prior to departing. Dealers will be following provincial social-distancing guidelines while they remain in place
• Delivery of purchased vehicles will be done at the physical dealership, preferably in an outdoor location designated for this specific purpose. Dealership staff will ensure full sanitization of the vehicle interior, including steering wheel, gearshift, touchscreen, seatbelt buckles, accessories, as well as all door and trunk handles, prior to providing the customer with the keys. Keys will also be fully disinfected before presentation.
• Dealership staff will maintain the recommended two-metre distance from the customer during the delivery process and must not enter the vehicle with the customer. A full demonstration of the vehicle’s features can be provided virtually, i.e. through online video, FaceTime, etc.
New-car dealers can access this information at tada.ca.
This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.