Restrictions are beginning to lift across much of the country, however Canadians are still being urged by government officials at every level to practice safe social distancing and limit non-essential travel. This can of course present challenges to the powersports industry which often relies on human interaction and firsthand familiarization with products.
Some provinces were stricter in their regulations than others, and the loosening of rules have been rolled out differently depending on the number of active cases in that region. Abiding by the correct protocols has been a moving target for many businesses, but particularly challenging to those who work in retail or service industries. Thankfully consumer interest seems to be high for street and off-road motorcycles as cures for cabin fever and sales have drastically rebounded after several slow months.
Repair facilities were listed as essential services in some areas, while in other provinces all business were forced to close their doors entirely. Regions without any active cases allowed automotive and powersports retailers to stay open, but encouraged them to follow strict rules. Regardless of whether doors were closed or have remained open, businesses big and small have had to make changes to how they do operate.
Not Business as Usual
Health Canada suggests COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets and contact, so experts recommend keeping at least 183 cm (six feet) apart. For some businesses, a closed showroom meant a switch to online retail and curbside pick-ups. Much of the process related to researching a vehicle, ordering parts or booking service appointments has increasingly been managed digitally over the years via computers, tablets or phones, so the transition has been easier for some than others.
Energy Powersports closed its showroom doors but has remained open to serve customers. Owner/Partner Jean-Luc Lemire admits that the most difficult challenge has been keeping updated with the latest information and adapting to each of the new rules. They instituted a number of safety measures, including cleaning procedures, the temporary reduction of staff and stocking up on gloves, masks and disinfectant solutions.
Plan Ahead and Be Patient
Whether looking to purchase a vehicle or merely have spring service completed, delays or longer-than-normal wait times should be anticipated. Be mindful of the safety of personnel, as staff and business operating hours may be limited during this time. Production has also been affected in many areas of the world, so ordering a new motorcycle or awaiting the delivery of parts will likely take longer than expected. Tilbury Auto Sales & RV also carries Yamaha motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and dirt bikes. President Lindsay Belanger suggests that customers exercise patience as her staff are working hard to ensure their safety. Everything from vehicles to packages for parts and accessories are being fully disinfected prior to delivery or curbside pick-up by staff who wear masks and gloves, all of which takes extra time. This is an unprecedented situation, so manage expectations accordingly. Exercise common sense and show empathy for those who are working during this time of uncertainty.
Stefano Serpa, Vice-President of Serpa Motorsports admits that while it could be challenging for customers to emotionally connect and engage with products while showroom doors were locked, they managed to adapt. “My team has done a great job of bringing products to customers by answering all of their questions and concerns via phone or email, and sending them comprehensive walkaround videos, says Serpa, “Our team is full of very passionate people who care deeply about ensuring that customers are satisfied and it shows.” While challenging, this pandemic has also provided an opportunity for businesses to go above and beyond. Due to both their sales and service departments remaining active, more customers have been taking advantage of Serpa Motorsports’ concierge services, including pick-up and drop-off via enclosed carrier for repairs and complimentary delivery of new vehicles.
Keep Your Distance
Customers can also show their support by socially distancing from employees and wearing a mask to ensure their comfort and safety as well. Health Canada says it is possible for COVID-19 to be transmitted through objects or surfaces that have been in contact someone with the virus and then by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before your hands have been cleaned. Wearing gloves, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes are also recommended if you’ll be interacting with any products in the showroom. It is crucial that you frequently and thoroughly wash hands and avoid touching your face to limit your exposure. We encourage everyone to support their local businesses however they are able, but also do what they can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.