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‘It’s time to take a deep breath’

Editor’s Note: Maylan Newton is CEO of Educational Seminars Institute (ESI) and the 2017 ASCCA Member of the Year. The following is an excerpt from a recent ESI webinar, “Leadership and Management During Crisis.”

We have to remember that we’re all in this together and faced with the same problems. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in and your social-economic standards — we’re all dealing with the coronavirus that’s leveling the playing field.

Maylan Newton

We have to stay positive. The country has dealt with other past challenging situations, and we’ve always come out the other side. If we look at the world in general, the United States has the greatest chance of surviving this in a much better place than many.

We can win at this, but we must listen to what is being asked of us: social distancing, cleanliness and hygiene. Don’t be worried about what other people might think of you wearing a mask, repeatedly washing your hands and avoiding shaking hands — it’s OK.

Start doing what’s right for you, your employees, customers and your family. We’ll get through this and, when we do, those customers who aren’t presently taking care of their vehicles are going to need us even more later on — whether it’s next week, next month or even six months from now.

We must be prepared for times like these. And that means charging the right amount of money for our services and having money in the bank. Shops must be prepared for scenarios that many don’t think will happen, but they can and they do.

An owner’s medical illness or a catastrophic business event such as a shop fire or earthquake — or today’s pandemic — is where we must become leaders and prepare our businesses. Now that we have time, owners should be developing shop best practices for cleanliness, scheduling and a plan for workforce reduction that’s fair to everyone involved.

How do we make sure our employees survive along with us? We need them. And, yes, you might have to consider the reality that someone might have to be replaced. But don’t panic and don’t be afraid. You can worry, but worry “properly.” Get yourself prepared in every way possible, get a good night’s sleep and wake up in the morning ready to excel.

Don’t close your shop because you think no one will come in today — don’t give up. We’ve overcome much worse than this and we can’t forget that. It’s not the first pandemic our country has dealt with, nor will it be the last. We figured out how to service and repair technologically advanced vehicles, and we’ll figure this out, too.

We need to become better business owners and leaders, and avoid making emotionally decisions. There’s so much information and disinformation out there that we’re making decisions before we know how it’s all going to play out. Make everything a planned action that’s been thought-out and discussed, and not a reaction to something that may or may not be true.

It’s time to take a deep breath.

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