What follows are responses from Leo Karl III, president of Karl Chevrolet, for our Q&A on how the local business is navigating the COVID-19 emergency in New Canaan.
New Canaanite: What has the past week been like for you and Karl Chevrolet?
Leo Karl III: Like all of us, each day has brought new information and adjustments. We have been preparing and making plans for a couple of weeks, so we feel our team has been very pro-active in dealing with the COVID-19 Coronavirus health threat. We want to do our part to be good stewards of our community’s health and well-being, while delivering needed services to our clients as seamlessly as possible. That includes adapting several new business initiatives.
What changes are you seeing in customer/client behavior?
As this health crisis has become a reality for everyone, individual behaviors have definitely changed and continue to evolve. Above all, transparency and trust become huge factors at times like these—consumers want to know and trust who they are dealing with. I believe that is why local businesses have a big advantage—customers know who they are dealing with. We all live here and we’re all in this together.
How are you accommodating them differently, if at all?
Karl Chevrolet has taken many steps to ensure the health and safety of our staff, our clients, and the greater local community. A few specifics:
- We have expanded our pickup and delivery for Service Customers ….. where we will pickup your vehicle, sanitize it, perform needed maintenance or repairs, and return it back to your home or office. If you need a replacement vehicle, let us know and we will leave one of our clean rentals for your use.
- We are offering at home test drives and/or vehicle delivery for those clients who prefer not to go out.
- We are sanitizing specific high-risk surfaces on every vehicle – including the steering wheel, shift knob, door handles and trunk release – by wiping them down with disinfecting wipes.
- We are covering the steering wheel and driver’s seat on vehicles in for service.
- Our technicians are wearing a fresh set of latex gloves for each vehicle they are working on.
- We have reinforced excellent personal hygiene practices that everyone should be following – includes regular hand washing for at least 20 seconds, use of hand sanitizer in between hand washes, etc.
- Our staff has been asked to stay home if they or a member of their immediate family has a fever, flu like symptoms, or are coughing or sneezing.
- As always, our website is open 24/7 with live chat, our current inventory and specials, and loads of other useful information….. www.karlchevy.com
What are your thoughts for the near future, what is your concern level regarding your business’s ability to navigate this time?
We plan to remain open to serve our clients needs. There are many people in healthcare and first responders who are depending on their vehicles every day—we want to ensure their needs are met. If business conditions dictate, we may adjust our business operating hours—we have already temporarily closed our Service and Parts Departments on Saturdays. Of course, if the greater public good dictates that we must close, we will.
What’s your long-term view of this situation as a business owner—for example, will you need to make further changes that involve staffing levels, hours of operation and new ways to serve your customer base if the restrictions and guidelines now in place continue for a certain amount of time or are even broadened?
The health, safety, and well-being of our staff, clients and the greater community is out top priority. Where possible, our team is empowered to work from home. To the best of our ability, we plan to keep our team employed and compensated during these difficult times – but that will not be easy the longer this healthcare crisis goes on. This is a situation that is affected each and every person locally, throughout Connecticut, our nation and the world. We cannot let our guard down or allow complacency to creep in. If we all do our part, maintain excellent personal hygiene and safe social distancing, we will keep this virus contained to the greatest degree possible. This crisis will pass and we will all emerge wiser and better prepared for the next time.
What is your message to customers?
Stay safe and healthy. Wash your hands. Be smart. Stay informed. Here are some simple steps you can take today:
- Carry a container of disinfecting wipes in your car.
- Remember to wipe down your car keys, remote, and any other keys you use regularly (they’ve been places!)
- Wipe down your car’s door handles (inside and out), steering wheel, shift knob and truck release with disinfecting wipes (those are high-traffic areas where bacteria can gather) (or stop by and we’ll do it for you!)
- Carry your own pen with you to sign checks and credit card receipts
- If we all do some simple things, we’ll keep each other safe, healthy, and protected
- Here’s the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 homepage. Here’s the virus-related page on the Connecticut Department of Public Health website.
- Here’s a link to a page on the town’s website that includes information on COVID-19 and a link to sign up for New Canaan’s emergency outcall system.
- Here’s a snapshot of what was open and closed in New Canaan on March 17. For updated info, see our daily newsletter (sign up here).
- Here’s a link to the New Canaan Office of Emergency Management Facebook page.
- Here’s a landing page with information from New Canaan Public Schools on COVID-19, here’s the district’s main page for E-Learning.
[Editor’s Note: During the town emergency due to COVID-19, NewCanaanite.com is publishing a daily Q&A with a local business navigating major changes in the community.]