THE SHOP

November '20

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38 THE SHOP NOVEMBER 2020 agility we'd shown during the initial phase of this crisis. Looking back on the early days of the pandemic, adaptability was key. My busi- ness partner, sales manager and team held our company together as the government mandated skeleton crews of 10 employees or fewer during those first weeks. We made sure all high-risk employees fol- lowed protocol while we formulated a plan for installations. A major lesson learned from the early stages of COVID—and what we view as a blessing—was that having multitalented employees helped us weather the storm when we had no choice but to work with a smaller team. For example, one of our long-term employees not only could install sun- roofs, but was adept at leather interiors, truck builds and 12V installations as well. Another focused on vinyl wraps, leather interiors and quality control, and so on. Prior to the hiring process for the new location, one thing was therefore nailed in our brains—not only were we looking for mechanically inclined individuals with backgrounds in two or more of our listed skill areas, but it was essential that the potential hire would be willing to spend time training in other areas as well. New hires will shadow our head techni- cians for the positions they applied for, and then also be scheduled for block time to learn additional skills. The idea is to slowly make our new staff as well-rounded as possible from the beginning. Born and raised in this industry, I under- stand how complicated it is to find and train quality installers. No one has the com- prehensive formula for when economic disaster hits out of the blue, but the more we collaborate now, the more we can help each other adapt in our individual markets. As a 46-year-old business, we're trying some different things to survive and thrive during these tough economic times. I look forward to reporting back to you what we learn. COURTNEY LEIGH PAHLKE and her brother are second- generation partners of their father's 46-year-old company, Top Coverage. Their locations service nearly 350 dealerships in Chicago and throughout Illi- nois, where they work hard to grow their father's empire. Learn more at TopCover- ageNorth.com. Help your auto dealership clients add the accessories their customers are looking for while inventories are low. Our shop is blessed with multitalented employees that were able to perform various tasks during the early stages of the crisis when crew sizes were limited. As we look to hire for a new location, versatility is now a key attribute we're looking for. No one has the comprehensive formula for when economic disaster hits out of the blue, but the more we collaborate now, the more we can help each other adapt in our individual markets. Adapting During Tough Times

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