As COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted to Alert Level 4 and in line with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) regulations gazetted on 12 May 2020, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has confirmed that its nationwide dealers are beginning to open for business with an absolute priority to ensure a safe and sanitary environment for all Ford customers and dealership employees.
New and enhanced tools, processes and policies have been implemented across the Ford dealer network that are designed to mitigate potential risks and provide peace of mind to anyone visiting a Ford dealer. Additionally, FMCSA has provided guidelines on personal protective equipment (PPE) to all Ford dealers to ensure they can meet all health and hygiene requirements of the new policies.
“We’re keen to have things start returning to normal across our dealer network following a phased-in approach announced by the South African government on 12 May,” says Neale Hill, Managing Director of FMCSA. “The health and safety of our Ford customers and entire dealership team is our highest priority, and we will gradually be restoring our sales and service capabilities in line with the DTIC directives.
“While opening our Ford dealerships to provide in-person vehicle sales and service in the weeks ahead is a welcome move forward, our aim is to work very closely with each of our dealers to ensure we are providing the safest and most sanitary environment possible,” Hill adds.
The phased-in approach for vehicle sales and service commences from 13 to 23 May, and allows for dealers to operate with up to 30-percent of its employees. Strict social distancing guidelines and mandatory wearing of face masks is required throughout Alert Level 4, including daily screening for COVID-19 symptoms for all staff. Vehicle sales must be done remotely via online platforms or telephonically where possible, test drives will be conducted by appointment only, and home delivery of vehicles is required.
During Alert Level 4, all visitors and customers are also required to wear a face mask and must sign a register, and no children are permitted access to dealerships.
All vehicles will be meticulously sanitised after any service visit, and following all test drives. Vehicles on the sales floor will be regularly disinfected, and the dealers will use recommended cleaning products and procedures to ensure that vehicles are clean and safe when returned to customers.
In Phase Two, from 25 May to 6 June, dealerships will operate with up to 60-percent of their employees. Limited customers will be allowed to enter dealerships under very strict hygiene and social distancing guidelines, and remote vehicle sales will continue for customers with access to online services. On-site pick-ups and deliveries of fully sanitised cars will be allowed under strict hygiene conditions, with an option of home delivery if possible.
Phase Three, which runs from 8 June until Alert Level 4 is lifted, allows dealerships to operate with its full staff complement. On-site customer contact will be allowed but should be kept to a minimum.
“In line with the government guidelines, we are working on short, medium and longer-term measures to further assist our customers for vehicle sales and service offerings, and will communicate these in due course,” Hill states. “In the meantime, our dealership sales staff continue to be available online or telephonically for new or used vehicle sales.
“Service customers are advised to contact their local Ford dealer to make bookings, and they will be accommodated at the first available opportunity. We acknowledge that there will be an extensive backlog due to the seven-week lockdown, we are working closely with the dealers to minimise this and expedite the servicing of vehicles. Our parts distribution centre is already up and running and supporting our dealers,” Hill says.
New and enhanced safety measures that Ford dealers across South Africa are implementing include:
- Anyone entering a Ford dealership, including all dealer employees, contractors, and customers, will have their temperature checked with no-touch infrared thermometers, and is required to wear a face mask at all times
- The dealership layout/floor plan, including customer waiting areas, will be re-organized to ensure appropriate social distancing. Shaking hands will not be allowed
- Hand sanitizer dispensers will be available across the dealerships, particularly in high visibility and high traffic areas
- If an employee is experiencing any flu-like symptoms, he or she will be asked to promptly seek medical advice and return only when/if free of symptoms