Mass shutdowns and canceled events have sidelined many businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
Stay-at-home directives — in effect in most states — are wreaking havoc on many companies’ bottom lines. But the downtime can also provide an opportunity to tackle some important tasks that are usually pushed aside during busy times, said Matt Dance, of Champion Coach in Greenville, South Carolina.
The company’s leadership team identified four vital tasks their remaining skeleton crew could accomplish during this time. Dance explained the strategy during the United Motorcoach Association’s weekly online Town Hall session on April 9.
“We are doing a lot of stuff that, quite frankly, doesn’t cost any money but doesn’t get done very often,” said Dance, a UMA board member.
Here are some of the projects the company is tackling:
Digitize key documents. The administrative staff is going through the time-consuming process of scanning and uploading driver qualification files to a cloud-backed storage system. For those who don’t have cloud storage, Dance suggests using a hard drive. “We always want to have easy access to those, but mainly have a backup in case of a fire or other disaster,” he said.
Deeper level of maintenance. This is a key time to thoroughly check vehicles. Begin by visiting OEMs’ websites and looking at maintenance manuals to find things the maintenance crews don’t get the time to do every time a bus comes in. “One of those is battery load testing because you have to take the batteries out. A lot of times, you need to clean them to get that parasitic load off of them,” Dance said.
He recommends checking in with OEMs’ field service teams, who now have plenty of time to answer questions and give advice about how to keep coaches rolling. “The last thing you want to do when we come out of this is spend a bunch of money getting coaches ready that should have been maintained through this process,” Dance said.
Take stock. This is a good time to take inventory of parts, update records and make sure everything is accounted for, he said.
Develop a new cleaning strategy. In response to the highly contagious coronavirus that can live on surfaces from hours to days, the company is developing new cleaning procedures. As part of its research, staff is looking at the procedures airlines and hotels are using, but also talking to OEMs and suppliers about the impact products can have on materials and finishes.
“There are also issues about the longevity of our cabins if we’re spraying a bunch of chemicals and we don’t know what the effect is going to be on vinyl and hydrographics and fabrics. We may have clean buses, but the bus may look like it’s 20 years old in a year or two, when all these chemicals have just degraded materials and finishes,” Dance said.
Above all, he said he remains optimistic the industry will emerge from this economic crisis.
“When we will come out of this is a huge unknown, but things are going to get better. It may get worse before it gets better, but we all need to keep our heads up and know that, at some point, things are going to get better,” Dance said.
Join UMA for the next online Town Hall meeting this Thursday at 2 p.m. ET on the Zoom platform to discuss the most current issues that matter to operators.