As the situation regarding the current Covid-19 (CoronaVirus) event has evolved quickly, your Sr. leadership team has been working diligently to ensure yours and our guests safety. Your health is of the utmost concern to us. Your executive leadership team have formed a Covid-19 task force to stay abreast of all of the developments and ensure we are implementing appropriate measures at each of our AutoIQ sites based on public health advisories. We have held regular communications with each General Manager/Functional business heads to stay communicative and aligned in our strategy. Please also know that we are working hard day and night to protect you and our guests.
To be very clear, if you are ill, experiencing symptoms associated with Covid-19 or frankly are simply uncomfortable being at work, we understand and do not want you to feel obligated to come in. If you fall into one of these categories, please reach out to your Manager & General Manager as well as email@example.com to discuss options around leaves of absence, vacation days and any other government assistance that may be available to you.
To: All AutoIQ dealership and business unit team members
See the full Video Message HERE, or alternatively, you can jump to segments of the Video based on each topic below.
In advance of Easter Weekend, we wanted to send you a few updates regarding the Covid-19 situation and details on actions we are taking at AutoIQ. I have attempted to break a long message into chunks so you can jump right to what is most important to you.
Showrooms, Admin & Variable Operations – Click HERE to jump to this part of the video
As of April 4th, all dealership showrooms in the province have been mandated to be closed by the Ontario government.
As you know, we made the decision as a group weeks prior on March 23rd to close our showrooms to the public. While some dealerships around us stayed open, we believed then, and still do now that closing was the socially responsible play and the best way to protect our team members.
Since then, we have pivoted to serve our clients in a SAFE virtual environment and have been reinventing ourselves to do so completely online. My hat is off to those who have been working hard to reinvent these processes during this crisis. It’s been a lot like flying a plane and building one at the same time! I am very proud of our teams for adapting on the fly (pun intended), becoming digital experts and finding different ways to engage with our clients. Doing so has allowed us to serve clients who were not in a position to wait for showrooms to re-open such as lease renewals or vehicle write-offs. It’s been super cool to watch and is definitely a silver lining in all of this hardship.
Our teams developing skills and abilities that will make us unstoppable on the other side of this.
We have already sold a number of vehicles in completely online and completely touchless transactions and have even delivered many directly to our customer’s driveways! Check out our AutoIQ car hauler below that has been busy these past few weeks!
Service, Parts & Body Shop Operations – Click HERE to jump to this part of the video
The government of Ontario, similar to most other jurisdictions in the world, has deemed our parts and service departments an essential service to keep the province mobile. As such, in all of our locations we remain open in some capacity, however usually with significantly reduced staffing from normal.
Our parts departments have been adjusted to eliminate customer contact and operate with curbside pickup only.
We have seen many commercial, agricultural and 1st responder vehicles in our service departments across the group. It’s also important to note that less than 20% of hospital trips are by ambulance and most are made by relying on personal transportation. We are proud to be part of the backbones in our communities that keep all of these vehicles rolling safely. I know that our clients have appreciated the significant steps we have taken to ensure theirs and our safety including touchless pickup and drop-off and restrictions on entering our facilities. We will be taking additional safety measures in the coming days as it remains our #1 priority.
See images of some essential services vehicles being serviced in our facilities.
While we have remained open or reopened our service departments, we have turned off all outbound or active marketing activities including service reminders. We simply have not felt it appropriate during this time to actively solicit for customers to come to our places of business.
In recent days, we have seen a significant increase in incoming calls and appointments for service needs and expect that some service operations will begin to callback additional staff very soon.
Your Well-being – Click HERE to jump to this part of the video
I wanted to re-iterate that we are committed to ensuring each of our team members are able to meet their basic needs of food, shelter and medical during this period. If you have concerns you would like to discuss regarding your situation, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and our HR team will reach out to see how we can help. I also wanted to remind you that for the months of April and May, your health benefits remain intact and your employee portion of the benefits payments have been waived.
Government Support Programs – Click HERE to jump to this part of the video
If you have been following the news lately, you would have seen considerable coverage on the government’s financial relief plans. There have been announcements regarding EI’s transition to CERB “Canadian Emergency Response Benefit” and also the proposed wage subsidy aimed at small and medium business’ in Canada.
Our leadership team is studying these announcements as they emerge and hope to have enough detail in order to take some action by next week.
It is important to note that the headline announcement of these programs emerged well in advance of any details on how the program eligibility would be determined. Other details such as how the program will be funded, have yet to be released and in fact it is important to note that the program has not passed through legislature for final approval yet.
We are committed to keeping you apprised as we learn more and will be focused on studying the programs and their implications to our business through the weekend.
If you have questions about how any of these programs may apply for you, please reach out to email@example.com.
Your AutoIQ Leadership team’s actions – Click HERE to jump to this part of the video
While some folks have become bored with inactivity at home during this period of self-isolation, I can assure you that your Sr. Leadership team has been 100% active every day working on your behalf.
Amidst other industry, government and regulatory calls or video meetings, we have held daily Video Calls at 1pm and 4pm.
At 1pm your Sr Finance & Accounting team discusses our efforts regarding cash management and accounting. Just like each of your household’s, our businesses have significant monthly expenses and we are carefully managing our cash flow and each expense in the business to ensure stability in our operations from a financial perspective. I will point out that while we expect to suffer significant losses through this situation, our group and individual dealerships remain financially healthy and we have assembled financing to ensure we are able to weather the storm.
At 4pm every day (including most weekends), our entire Sr leadership team and store operators assemble to discuss our operations, how we are prioritizing safety above all else and how we are innovating through this situation. Many many ideas have gone from concept to real life through these calls in a matter of days instead of weeks and months. We are seeing the best of AutoIQ through this situation. I am very proud to be working with everyone on our teams.
New Money Back Guarantee – Click HERE to jump to this part of the video
After it was determined that we can no longer offer test drives to consumers. In a matter of days we went from concept to an almost ready to launch product for a 7 day money back guarantee for our customers who needed the confidence to purchase a vehicle online without the benefit of seeing or driving it beforehand. What might normally take weeks or months was assembled in mere hours! Stay tuned for more details on this in the coming days! The draft program is not ready for the public, but you can get a sneak peek here.
AutoIQ VIP Referral Program – Click HERE to jump to this part of the video
We also wanted to introduce an AutoIQ wide VIP referral program for all of our group team members. If you are an employee of an AutoIQ dealership or business unit, you will soon have the opportunity to earn yourself up to $250 in a referral payment for any vehicle deal that is generated from your personal referral. You will have the opportunity to refer across all of our brands and any of our dealerships for pre-owned. This is a temporary program with an intent to kick start some activity in the coming weeks for our sales teams and to put a little extra cash in your pockets. More details to follow.
AutoIQ Employee Frequently Asked Questions
A: AutoIQ dealerships and business units are dedicated to the health and well-being of all of our team members and we have obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to keep the workplace safe. We also feel it important as good corporate citizens to do our part to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.
As of March 14, 2020, the Public Health Agency of Canada has listed all countries outside of Canada as “Level 3” Risk and has asked that travellers returning to Canada self-isolate for 14 days upon return. On Friday, March 13, 2020, Toronto Public Health implemented the same measures.
While you may not be exhibiting symptoms consistent with the Covid-19 Virus, if you have travelled outside of Canada and/or through airport terminals/airplanes, you may have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus. Many infections exhibit mild symptoms or are asymptomatic (no symptoms). The average time from exposure to demonstration of symptoms (if any) is approximately 5 days, however in some cases has been as much as 14 days. During this time, if infected, you may transmit the disease, exposing others around you. While you may exhibit mild or no symptoms, other more vulnerable team members may experience more severe symptoms if infected. In these circumstances, to protect our co-workers, AutoIQ believes that it is completely reasonable to require employees who have returned from a country outside of Canada, even if they are demonstrating no symptoms to remain away from the workplace.
A: Public Health Ontario has published helpful guides on the measures people should take who are in self-isolation or who are advised to self-monitor. Public Health has also published a helpful guide on cleaning and disinfecting practices. Additionally, the Globe & Mail has published an article on how to properly self-isolate.
A: Employees should contact their manager to discuss sick leave options which may exist to support them including utilization of vacation time or accrued pay, options to work from home (if the role permits) or the option to make up time a later date.
Employees can also apply for EI for this period of self-isolation (if self-isolation is due to travel outside Canada or public health direction). On March 11, 2020, the federal government announced that it will be waiving the mandatory one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits for those workers who are in quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate as a result of the COVID-19.
A: We do not know how deep, or for how long the business environment may be interrupted. Our business relies on the continuity of sales volume and revenue and is very capital intensive. Unlike other businesses which may have residual revenue in an event such as this, once our revenue slows or ceases, our expenses largely remain and they are significant. While AutoIQ and its dealerships are very healthy, it is prudent that we begin preparing for a possible slow-down in our business so that we can protect our organization and insulate our team members. Our intent is to make every effort to make necessary adjustments to our expense structures so that we can manage our business’ without significant impact to our team members. If you have ideas on ways we can reduce costs in your department or anywhere in the dealership, please feel free to share with your GM or Andrew Ojamae.
A: While some recommendations have been made by public health regarding closure for certain types of businesses, these businesses are generally considered “non-essential” and have the potential to accelerate the spread of the virus. Our businesses do not fall into those categories. The province has also recommended that gatherings over 50 people be avoided.
Our dealerships represent important services within our communities. Transportation is an essential service required by our friends, family and neighbours to conduct their daily lives. Additionally, our businesses do not exhibit characteristics of high transmission sites such as restaurants, bars, theatres and gyms and host no gatherings of over 50 people. We are also able to implement recommended “social distance” within our organizations.
At this point, financial support measures have not been introduced by the government for employees or businesses who either elect to, or are mandated to close. We are very sensitive to all of our team member’s needs, and their ability to weather extended periods without employment income.
We are monitoring the situation closely and taking direction from government authorities. We are committed to keeping you apprised of updates as they occur in this regard.
A: We believe that social distancing, deep disinfecting and other preventative measures are the appropriate actions at this point. Shortening hours of operation does not change any of these approaches and may not serve our clients in the best manner, nor how they are used to interacting with us. Keeping broader hours of operation actually allows us to spread our teams through the day and allow greater social distancing for our clients.
Some businesses have dedicated certain times of day for seniors and other vulnerable community segments. We are studying whether that would be applicable for us. Some businesses such as stores in malls have reduced hours to reduce hourly labour costs to be commensurate with a slowdown in traffic.
A: You can report to work and self-monitor for symptoms. If the family member who you live with tests positive for COVID-19, then you would be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Your family member should be respecting the public health authorities advisory to self-isolate on return from travel, which would include no close contact with you. If you feel that you need to self-isolate due to close contact, you can reach out to your General Manager and HR and we may be able to support a leave of absence for you to be able to observe an isolation period.
A: All Canadians, returning from travel, outside of Canada, are now considered “Level 3” by the Government of Canada. Level 3 requires an individual who has travelled outside of Canada to self-isolate for 14 days. Employees can apply for EI for this period of self-isolation, and the government has advised that the one week waiting period is currently being waived for these claims.
A: Please discuss this request with your manager and make your General Manager & HR aware of your desire by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We will look to do all that we can to accommodate these types of requests on a basis of unpaid leave.
A: Please discuss this request with your manager and make your General Manager & HR aware of your desire by emailing email@example.com. We will look to do all that we can to accommodate these types of requests on a basis of unpaid leave or EI if a health condition supports the request.
A: No. Stay home. Get Better. We do not want to overburden our healthcare system with requests for Dr. notes.
A: We’re glad you asked! We really need to focus on taking care of each other, helping the most vulnerable amongst us stay protected and of course servicing our guests. We also need to remain human beings who enjoy levity every once in awhile! A few ideas on how you can help are below:
- Show up as a leader in your company and community
- Help us all respect the workplace cleanliness and social distance practices we have implemented
- Help calm fears
- Check on people
- Offer even small kindnesses that give us that human connection.
- Talk to those around you
- Tell a joke or ask about family/pets
- Take a walk for your work discussions instead of sitting behind a desk
- Share your ideas on ways the organization can reduce expenses
- Breathe. Be thankful. Be helpful.
These are unprecedented times.
Surely you’ve heard and read that statement many times in the past week.
It’s been just over 48 hours since the last group-wide update circulated for AutoIQ. It feels like it has been a lot longer than that. No one on our leadership team could have anticipated the speed at which this situation escalated and the impact it would have on our businesses and communities.
Most of our dealerships have reduced to a very skeletal staff to serve our communities only in areas of the business that we feel are necessary to keep our province’s essential services functioning. Some have closed completely.
We have every confidence that this situation will pass. We are hopeful it does so quickly.
The most difficult part of this whole situation for us has been our concern for the well-being of you, our team, our AutoIQ family. We have made every effort to delay or avoid layoffs in our businesses. Unfortunately it has become a requirement in some situations. This has devastated us. We have never done this before and are sorry that it has come to this.
While we are all going to likely suffer some short-term financial pain associated with this situation, what matters right now are essential needs. Most banks and lenders have offered financial relief programs to Ontarians during this crisis. We will be providing a list of resources for you to be able to reference for contact information and details to help understand what options are available to you.
It is critical to us that each of you are able to serve your family’s essential needs: shelter, medical and food provisions. We will not let anyone on our teams go without these basic provisions.
We have arranged for your health benefits to continue and your employee portion of the benefit cost will be waived from the months of April & May. We will also make available an optional loan program for any staff member to be able to buy essential needs to feed their families. If you require assistance please send a completely confidential email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help however we can.
We are more motivated than ever to work to get our AutoIQ team members back to work doing what we all love: selling & servicing vehicles and taking care of our clients. As soon as it is safe to do so and we have daylight showing in business volumes, we will begin to recall team members.
We will do everything in our power to preserve our customers through this downtime and to prepare for an incredibly busy and rewarding return to work.
Building is in our DNA. In fact it is our expertise.
On the other side of this crisis, our company’s DNA will shine.
Please stay safe and reach out should you need any assistance.
President & CEO
We have sent many previous communications regarding this subject, and so this message will have repeat information included, but please read it in its entirety. I have identified the sections in this email that we request your action in RED.
What actions is AutoIQ taking to ensure the safety of our team members & guests:
We have developed a comprehensive list of actions that each site has implemented as of earlier this week (& as we have added recommendations to the list). We need your help to ensure 100% compliance with these initiatives to protect you and our guests.
- Immediate elimination of any and all nonessential business travel (conferences etc.)
- Increased frequency and depth of cleaning and disinfecting services at each location including extra surface cleaning in high volume areas – tables, counters, chairs in the cafeterias and break rooms, cleaning of door handles and knobs, etc.
- Implement the practices of creating “Social Distance” within the business’:
- Phone your internal colleagues instead of going to see them
- Advise Vendors & business partners that we are available for discussions via the phone or Webex, but will not be hosting meetings in person at our locations for a period
- Avoid shaking hands with co-workers & clients
- Maintain a “safe” distance of approximately 2M between yourself and co-workers and clients
- Technicians should wear disposable gloves while driving client vehicles
- Installation and some additional stocking of hand sanitizer and disinfectant at each location. Increased number of devices if necessary, at each location.
- Many stores have implemented the use of gloves and/or steering wheel covers as a courtesy for our guests & staff.
- A minimum of twice daily checking of soap and paper towel supply in washrooms at each facility.
- Eliminate the use of glassware/dishes with clients and staff in favour of single use (paper cups).
- Avoid use of food delivery services at dealerships IE: Skip the dishes & Uber eats.
- Eliminate communal food sources (popcorn etc).
- Meetings will be held via WebEx or Video Conference where possible to reduce/eliminate travel and larger gatherings.
- We will be posting signs at reception, on our entrance doors and in our shuttles stating that in light of the COVID-19 situation, we are following recommended practices of avoiding handshaking and respecting social distance.
- If your function can be completed from home or remote location, your manager may request that you to do so (if you feel you can complete your role from a remote location, please mention to your manager for consideration).
- Each store to purchase additional cleaning supplies and make it known where it is located should team members wish to take additional measures to clean & disinfect their workstations and offices.
- Print and post information from the Canada Public Health resources section
- Encourage each team member to review Tips for Prevention
NEW AutoIQ actions and requests for direct communication:
Our Human Resources & AutoIQ Covid-19 Task Force is requesting the following action and communications from our team members:
- Mandatory 14 day Self Isolation for individuals returning from travel outside Canada from Friday March 13th on – please contact your GM & HR if you fall into this category and have not already had communication with them.
- Request for communication by any team member who travelled within Canada airline in the past week
- Request for communication from any staff member who feels they may have been exposed to viral infection
- Request for communication from any staff member who feels they are exhibiting symptoms consistent with Covid-19
- Request for communication from staff members who have issues or concerns related to child care caused by the extended school closures in Ontario
Our intention is to discuss these situations individually and make decisions to support our team members and the health of our staff and guests.
Please email your General Manager as well as email@example.com if you fall into any of the categories above and you have not already had direct dialogue with your General Manager about your situation.
Resources & support available to you:
Ontario Ministry of Health
You can access the Ontario Ministry of Health website for additional details, but below are the symptoms they list as most commonly associated with Covid-19.
There is also a “Self-Assessment” tool on the Ministry website that you can us if you feel you may have contracted the virus or are exhibiting symptoms.
Symptoms range from mild – like the flu and other common respiratory infections – to severe, and can include:
- difficulty breathing
The ministry currently recommends that you only attend an assessment center if you are exhibiting symptoms and they first recommend that you contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or your local public health unit if you’re experiencing symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus.
Travel Advisories (Including Returning Travellers)
The Government of Canada has issued an Official Global Travel Advisory that Canadians should avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.
Recommendations have been well publicized in the media that Canadians should make efforts to return home as quickly as possible while commercial means remain available.
On Saturday March 14th, Travel to ANY country outside of Canada was elevated to a “Level 3” travel advisory. Previously, only known “hot spot” destinations such as Italy, Iran, China and Cruise ship travel was included in this advisory. As part of this travel advisory, these specific recommendations are being made regarding return to Canada from ANY foreign country:
Upon return to Canada:
- Self-isolate for 14 days after your return from travel outside of Canada. Some provinces and territories may have specific recommendations for certain groups such as health care workers.
- Monitor your health for fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
- Wash your hands often for 20 seconds and cover your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing or sneezing.
If you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days:
- Continue to isolate yourself from others
- Immediately call a health care professional or public health authority and describe your symptoms and travel history and follow their instructions carefully
Employment & Social Development Resources (EI)
The Ontario government has issued a notice that they intend to announce measures on Monday March 16th to protect employees required to be off due to Covid-19 related absences including self-isolation and quarantine. It had previously been announced that the waiting period for EI support would be waived in light of the situation. You can find more details on this HERE and our HR team is standing by to assist any team members who may require advice in an application. In situations where employees will need to apply to Service Canada for EI Benefits, HR and Payroll will ensure your Record of Employment (ROE) will be issued electronically and quickly to facilitate EI applications in a timely manner.
EFAP – Employee & Family Assistance Program
This program is in place for all team members to source additional advice or feedback that may help reduce any anxiety you may be feeling regarding this current situation. Please visit this link to view a reference document on this service that the company has provided for all staff as well as an additional resource from Morneau Shepell with “Tips for Coping with the CoronaVirus Outbreak”. You can reach the EFAP hotline 1-800-387-4765. When contacting EFAP, employees simply need to advise that their employer is AutoIQ Network of Dealerships.
AutoIQ Human Resources Team & AutoIQ Covid-19 Task Force
Your AutoIQ team is working diligently to ensure our safe work environment and to ensure you have access to all the information and resources at your fingertips.
You can reach the HR team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
At this point we are monitoring the situation hour by hour.
We are open for business using significant precautions and are actively mobilizing to be able to conduct as much of our transactions over the phone/facetime/email/text.
From a business continuity perspective, we are continuing in a very cautious fashion currently.
If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our HR team at HR@autoiq.ca or directly to your Manager or General Manager.
Together we will prevail through these difficult times. We need to stay unified and communicative in our approach to this situation to protect one another and the most vulnerable on our teams and in our communities.