Workplace safety has gotten a makeover. Within the past three months, it seems as though every company, whether a local restaurant or a large retailer, is letting you know safety is its number one priority.
While safety has always been the number one priority for equipment dealerships, it has taken on a lot of new characteristics throughout these past few months. Safety is now a much more encompassing idea and successfully implementing safety measures has never been more urgent.
Traditional to Today’s Safety
Customers can take comfort in the fact that most dealerships support a culture of following basic best practices; things like team members proactively pointing out trip-and-fall hazards in the shop, documenting accidents for future prevention, even offering technology like wearable devices for field service technicians.
That’s not to say those foundational practices aren’t still crucial – they are. RDO Equipment Co. practices several of these policies as part of the foundation of its safety culture. It’s just that now, the scope of safety has expanded, both in terms of additional practices and a mindset around it.
Related article: Actionable equipment safety best practices
Here are five ways RDO has revitalized its commitment to safety through the pandemic and into this new normal of life we’re all leading. The team consulted with manufacturers and other retailers, as well as followed public health guidelines to make sure stores have stayed up to date.
1. Cleaning and Covering
Hygiene, both for the store itself and individuals at work, is perhaps the largest mindset shift the COVID-19 pandemic has brought. Of course, it was always important for dealership team members to wash their hands and to wipe down showroom shelving, parts counters, and individual work areas every day. However, those practices, once thought of as basic hygiene are now among the most crucial safety measures of any retail business.
Stopping the spread of germs is now perhaps the single-biggest safety priority of dealerships, to protect team members and customers. In addition to frequent handwashing, availability of hand sanitizer, and multiple daily cleanings of frequently-touched surfaces and equipment, RDO’s enhanced cleaning policies state how to clean effectively and what types of products to use – as well as what not to use.
Another new practice – and one that certainly has been among the most hotly-debated CDC recommendations – is encouraging masks for all team members and customers. While not required in all RDO stores, masks are being provided so that each location can best follow its county or state’s guidelines as related to mask usage in efforts to slow the spread of germs.
2. Applying Social Distancing
A term that was likely used rarely, if ever, before COVID-19 has now become synonymous with our daily lives: social distancing.
Most states are advising or requiring individuals to practice safe social distancing of six feet, whether that means taking food to-go rather than dining in at a restaurant or moving off the sidewalk to give others room when taking a walk or going for a run. RDO and other dealerships are applying social distancing in stores in a few different ways.
RDO general managers across the footprint have installed simple six-foot boundaries between parts counters and customers. These reminders to social distance have taken the shape of barrier cones, tables, and tape.
At RDO stores, public access is limited, entering and exiting through designated doors only. Similarly, team members are only to use the dedicated single points each of entry and exit.
Offices, parts storage areas, break rooms – areas once thought of as gathering spaces – now have limits on the number of people allowed in them at a time. Breaks, for example, are staggered to prevent more than five people in the break room at any one time.
3. Browsing, Buying, and Talking Business
Perhaps nothing in the industry day-to-day has been impacted more by COVID-19 than the equipment buying and selling process. Social distancing means most showrooms are roped off to some degree, while some have been closed altogether. Even as those that closed begin to reopen, the once-normal practice of customers stopping by to browse, buy, or just talk about the business looks different now.
Dealers are using this as an opportunity to get creative, finding ways to keep those face-to-face relationships with customers, and make their shopping experience positive, without actually being there in person.
At RDO, easy-to-use virtual meeting tools like Microsoft Teams have worked well to schedule video check-in and catch-up calls with customers, ensure our teams are still in tune with our customers’ challenges, opportunities, and needs. The stores are also offering equipment walkaround videos to give potential buyers a sense of being up-close with the machine of interest, and making it an even more personal experience by connecting via Facetime or Google Duo for one-on-one machine walkarounds.
On a recent episode of RDO’s used construction equipment video series, The Track, host Dennis Howard spoke to a customer about the experience using Teams meetings. The customer, United Equipment Company, was one of RDO’s first to try this approach and have been pleased with it. Watch the episode below.
Equipment service remains crucial, as essential work goes on, no matter what’s going on in the economy. In conversations throughout the last few months, it’s clear other dealers are implementing changes to their service programs. Here’s how RDO is making service as safe and contact-free as possible.
When thinking about equipment service, it’s tough to imagine how it can be done while practicing safe social distancing. How does a machine get service without a service manager or technician interacting with the customer, in person, in some way? A machine throwing a code may just need a simple software update – but how does that happen without someone stopping by a customers’ shop or field with the flash drive that has the update?
While service requests, whether they’re done in the shop or the field, still must come with some level of interaction, the ability to schedule service over the phone or online versus in-person is an option to remove one point of contact.
For service requests on machines down in the field, RDO implemented a few steps to protect field service technicians and customers. First, all customers answer a brief questionnaire over the phone to help gauge the risk of exposure to the technician. Another practice that many other dealerships are doing now, too is equipping field service technicians with cleaning protocols to ensure they properly disinfect the machine and cab upon entry and exit.
On the truly virtual side, most dealers are equipped to offer phone and email support for technology, as well as machine troubleshooting and basic repairs. Again, tools like Microsoft Teams and video calls are further enhancing the service experience for customers by offering a safe face-to-face opportunity.
As with most options discussed so far, this level of remote support, machine monitoring, and virtual repairs have been offered by many dealers for quite some time, however, they’ve now become more important than ever and will continue to be options customers need and want.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major change when looking at the full scope of safety and what safety really means. While safety has had its makeover, in our business we still know the value of having a friendly face – or voice – to help solve customer problems. Making a few adjustments helps our businesses keep moving forward together, even now.
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To find out more about equipment for sale, parts, and service, contact your local RDO Equipment Co. store.