While most of us have spent more time in our homes the last two months than we ever thought we would, there’s one place many of us have spent less time than ever – our cars. As Westchester begins to open, that’s probably going to change. And so is the way we think about taking care of the cars that will once again get us to and from work, the grocery store and all our family activities.
With that in mind, we spoke with Bill Cummings, Shop Manager of 2019 Best of Westchester “Best Auto Repair Services”, Fred’s Auto Repair of Briarcliff, about how they’ve adjusted during the pandemic and what to expect going forward. Bottom line is that it’s all about safety – for the customers and the staff. That starts with reducing one-on-one contact with customers, to picking-up and delivering the vehicles for customers to completely sanitizing the vehicle before and after service.
According to Bill, most people have been putting off routine maintenance on their vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic. If they aren’t due for inspection or there isn’t a check engine light on, they’ve been waiting it out. But as we enter different stages of Westchester County opening, more and more people realize that they need to make sure their vehicle is ready for the return to the new normal. “Over the past two months, we’ve mostly seen customers who see an indicator light on the dash,” noted Cummings. “With people not driving as much, we see fewer breakdowns. We also know that some people still don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from so they aren’t coming in looking for things that are wrong with their car to spend money on.”
What makes auto repair unlike most businesses, is the very personal nature of a vehicle to most people. As Bill noted, the drop-off of the vehicle is when precautions begin to take place. “Every car that comes in or that we pick-up from a customer’s home we sanitize,” said Cummings. “From when the customer gives us the key we sanitize it. Then we sanitize the outside door handles, the inside door handles, the steering wheel, shift knob, the door panel where you might rest your arm and even the seats. All of that takes place before the service, before our mechanic gets in to work on the car. Then we do it all over again after the service and before we return the vehicle to the customer. It’s all about safety for the customer and our employees.”
The team at Fred’s not only uses Clorox wipes to sanitize but also employs an anti-bacterial spray that they mist in the entire vehicle to kill any airborne bacteria. “We’re taking all the precautions we can,” said Cummings. “We had a customer who told us straight-out she, her husband and her daughter all tested positive for the Coronavirus and had since been isolated for two weeks and no longer had symptoms. And their car needed a safety inspection. She let us know she had been wiping down her car every day. When she dropped off her car she just left it in our parking lot and we sanitized it thoroughly. It’s scary but we all wear masks, we all wear gloves.”
As many people return to work or other activities, their car will once again be an even more essential part of their lives. “When all this breaks, and everybody gets back to work we just want to make sure everyone has a safe car,” noted Cummings. “When everyone starts going back to work they are going to be so worried about work they might put off issues with their car for a little bit. But we’ll be here for them when they need service.”
Fred’s Auto Repair
581 N State Rd. Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510 (across from Club Fit)