THE REBOUND: Auto repair shops seeing more customers

Posted at 4:14 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 19:23:37-04

LEXINGTON AND FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Auto repair shops are one of the few essential businesses that have continued operating through the pandemic.

But with more workers staying home, some saw a huge downturn in business and left wondering if they could survive.

The last time we visited JD's Auto Repair in Frankfort was March 31, just a couple of weeks after the restrictions began.

As COVID-19 cases surged across the state, the number of cars on the road dropped. Business tumbled at JD's from about 16 customers a day to only four.

Co-owner Melissa Dean says they made more cost-cutting adjustments after our last visit.

"We went for two weeks and we had one guy that was working. We had two guys that weren't working for two weeks at all," said Melissa Dean.

But now that phase one of the state's "Healthy at Work" initiative is underway, cars are back on the road, and repair shops are seeing a rebound in customers.

"We're up probably 50%, I would say, since the last time you guys were here. A little busier every day, more cars everyday, getting a little better," said Dean.

Over on Leestown Road in Lexington, traffic has picked up in front of Sam's Transmission & Auto Care. This is a welcome change to owner Sam Hatton, who has modified his office in the meantime to fit social distancing guidelines.

"It's definitely a change of pace, you know. You really don't know how to react, you just have to roll with the punches and take things as they come," said Hatton, owner of the shop.

He says business has remained steady through the pandemic, but they've made adjustments inside the office and body shop to promote safety and distance.

"If you're not comfortable coming out, by all means call. We'll come to your home, pick your car up, we'll deliver it. We'll do whatever we can to help you," said Hatton.

At both shops, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and minimizing customer contact are signs of the new normal. But just as they were before, they're committed to getting cars back on the road, and thankful for customers helping to keep the lights on.

"Support one another, and we'll get through this together," said Hatton.