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SLO auto repair shop employs stringent safety precautions as business slumps amid coronavirus

Posted at 9:04 AM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 12:04:59-04

Many auto repair shops still remain open across the Central Coast but the threat of the coronavirus means changes in the way mechanics do business.

Reeves Auto Repair on Tank Farm Road in San Luis Obispo has almost entirely eliminated face-to-face interactions with customers.

The reception area is closed and all appointments are booked over the phone with shop owner John Reeves' wife, who is working from home.

"We normally have a full staff here, now we're just alternating staff with one technician," Brandon Benos, a line mechanic at Reeves Auto, said.

On a typical day, Reeves Auto Repair has about eight mechanics working on six to 12 vehicles. But California's stay-at-home order means fewer vehicles are brought in for maintenance.

"I think this week I've maybe worked on 10 and it's tough, I had to let go of most of my crew," John Reeves, the owner of Reeves Auto Repair, said.

Reeves normally receives 70 to 80 vehicles per week. The few jobs he does have lined up now come through his shop in a much different way.

Customers drop the keys off in a secure box outside the shop. But before Reeves inserts the keys in the ignition, he pulls on gloves and sanitizes the keys.

But that's not all.

"The best thing we can do is to let (the car) sit for three hours," Reeves said. "If we can't do that, we open both doors and use a leaf blower to blow the air out of the car. It seems silly but we're doing the best we can. Then we focus on contact surfaces after that."

On Tuesday, Benos was the only mechanic in the shop alongside Reeves.

"You're more cautious about what you touch, wash hands more, change gloves with every car," Benos said.

Parts delivered to the shop are also treated with a wash of Lysol.

The usual chorus of wrenches clanging and drills turning are now softer than the shop cat's meow, but Reeves said customers can expect the same great service.

"We've been able to take our time with these cars and do the same work quality we've always done," Reeves said.

After three weeks of business losses, Reeves hopes the choke hold of the virus relents so the wheels of his business can turn again.