The Services Customer Team at Acuity talked with Sue Black, Office Manager at Dean’s Auto Body, Inc. in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to learn how their business has been adjusting during the pandemic and how they plan to handle business going forward. Read on to find out.
Acuity: Can you provide a brief background on Dean’s Auto Body?
Dean’s: Dean's has been in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, for over 50 years. It was established in1968 and has continued to grow through the decades. It is a 2nd generation business and the largest independent collision facility in the Sheboygan area.
Acuity: We wanted to discuss how you are handling changes related to the Covid-19 pandemic. What is the biggest change that has impacted your business?
Dean’s: Right off the bat, we knew collision repair was an essential business because we keep critical personnel mobile. Once that was established, we really started thinking about the impact the stay-at-home order would have on the business. We knew with more people staying home, there would be fewer opportunities for collisions to happen since people weren’t out and about in their daily lives. We made some adjustments knowing there would be a change in our business. We started making calls to people we knew had damage but weren’t previously able to get the repairs done because they needed to get to work. We offered an opportunity to drop off vehicles without face-to-face contact, especially if they were working from home or staying home and no longer needed the vehicle.
Acuity: How have you kept employees engaged during this time?
Dean’s: That’s another great question. We knew the livelihood of our employees was on our shoulders. The first decision we made was to reduce our hours, so we would be able to keep them with the vehicles we had. We did lose about 50% of our work through all of this. Again, we were grateful that we still had that amount of work coming through our doors. We let our employees know that their health and safety are extremely important to us. We were going to do everything we could every day to make sure nothing would change drastically in their lives. So, really, good communication with them is what we tried to do.
Acuity: What measures have you taken to make your employees feel safe?
Dean’s: When my husband and I learned of the virus, there was some fear that set in because of all the unknowns and unanswered questions. We really tried to determine what our employees would feel comfortable with. We wanted to make sure we were keeping their environment as clean and safe as possible. The shop was cleaned at the end of each day, so when employees came in the next morning, everything was ready to go for them. In the lobby area, for our office personnel and customers, I sanitize every workspace and surface in the morning and throughout the day.
Acuity: Did you have a lot of customers take you up on the touchless options you were providing?
Dean’s: We had several customers do that, but we also had many customers coming in. Because of the size of our company—we have 10 employees in total—and because everyone has their own workspace, none of our employees worked in close proximity to each other, even prior to the pandemic. When people still chose to come in, we ensured proper social distancing, and we would have them leave their keys on the counter. When they left, we would sanitize their keys and their vehicle before the technicians worked on it.
Acuity: It sounds like you took several measures to make your employees and customers feel safe. Does returning to work look any different for your business?
Dean’s: As we move forward and business picks up again, we are going to keep most of the procedures we have in place. We have always had a clean facility, but we had never thought about sanitizing the vehicles before or after the repairs. It has been a great practice for us, and we are going to continue it. The only thing that can come from that is healthier employees and customers.
Acuity: In what other ways have you had to pivot or innovate?
Dean's: We wanted to take some of our procedures that were working for us and tweak them to make a no-contact process. For example, when vehicles are towed in, we rarely see a customer until after repairs are complete. So, we hit a lot of our social media platforms with a message that we were here to pick up their vehicle or they could put their keys in the key drop. It worked out very well, and we will continue to do it in the future. I think we will keep most of the changes we have implemented.
Acuity: Thank you for sharing your insight and experiences with us. Is there anything else you would like to share?
Dean’s: We want to thank the community. We are so grateful that they have given us loyalty over the last 50 years. I think everyone has done an amazing job adjusting during this time.
Acuity: How can people contact you?
Dean's: Website: www.deansautobody.com