The COVID-19 pandemic has pummelled the region’s economy, yet Barossa Valley Toyota’s Gordon Alderslade said there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
“We’ve definitely seen a drop in sales since COVID-19… and in the workshop,” Gordon said.
“When they announced the Barossa was in lock-down, we had 18 people cancel their services on that Monday.”
Whilst he admits it was nerve wracking at the time, especially with the business in the middle of a major building project, things began to turn a corner when Barossa Valley Toyota initiated strict hygiene protocols to ensure their loyal customers were safe.
“Those people who have deferred their vehicle service are now coming back,” said Gordon.
“We’ve almost returned to where we were before because we are doing everything right, sanitising the keys and gear knobs, wrapping plastic around steering wheels and wearing gloves – all of that.
“We are all keeping 1.5 metre distancing and making sure there is plenty of space for social distancing in the waiting room. There is hand sanitiser everywhere!
“I think people are feeling confident.”
Vehicle sales have also picked up as a result of the Federal Government increasing the instant asset write-off from $30,000 to $150,000 for eligible small businesses up until June 30.
Gordon said the stimulus package allowed farmers and other businesses not severely affected by COVID-19 with the confidence needed to bring forward vehicle purchase plans.
Such initiatives have also helped Gordon maintain every one of his employees.
“We haven’t let any staff go, none at all,” he said.
Customers who were reluctant to step outside their homes, are now beginning to return to the Tanunda car yard too as intrastate travel restrictions ease.
“In the last week, we’ve seen more people, especially the older ones, coming out here,” Gordon said.
For Gordon and his team, there have been lessons learnt during an otherwise challenging time.
“I think the good thing to come out of all this will be what we have taken for granted will stay in. Social distancing, I think that will stay in forever and the use of hand sanitiser. We have the lines on the floor for customers to stay behind and we’ll probably always keep that… those things will become the new norm.”
Whilst securing a deal with a friendly handshake may become a thing of the past, Gordon is optimistic as the business continues its extensive expansions.
“The future is looking bright.”