Editor’s Note: Livingston Machinery had been considering the idea of closing its Chickasha, Okla., store to customer traffic while still remaining open for business and offering curbside pickup. But after a customer, who had been out of the country and should have been self-quarantined for 14 days because of COVID-19 concerns, came into the store and displayed a disregard for the new social distancing  norms, making staff uncomfortable, leadership made the decision to close the building. April 1, 2020, was the first day with the new procedures in place.

4:30 a.m. Alarm goes off and Shawn Skaggs’ morning routine starts with The Daily Stoic and a 30 minute run followed by getting ready for work.

7:15 a.m. Skaggs arrives at the office and continues his morning routine with prayer, reviewing his personal vision and mission, reviewing his goals, writing down what he’s grateful for, daily affirmations and then his schedule. “I made a list of my 3 ‘Absolute Musts’ for the day, my ‘Important’ list and my ‘Nice to Do’ list,” he says.

On Skaggs’ absolute list was uploading Livingston Machinery’s Small Business Administration loan application as well as going through and setting his second quarter goals. The third item on his “Absolute Must’ list was to spend time with the new set up at the Chickasha location to see how the new processes worked.

His “Important list” included coming up with his presentation for Livingston’s Quarterly Game Plan Meeting, completing the Payroll Protection Plan application and canceling — and making — a few appointments. 

7:40 a.m. Skaggs leaves his office for the main dealership building to check on preparations for the first day of not letting customers inside the building due to COVID-19. “I also made a round through the building (practicing proper social distance) to say good morning,” he says.

“The main thing was making sure everyone in the part department understood how the process worked, where customers would pick up and who was responsible for delivering them to the customers,” he says. “The sales department was watching the parking lot like hawks waiting for anyone to drive up and then someone would go out to communicate to customers what was going on.”

Skaggs says salespeople will meet customers outside and go over equipment on the lot with them.

For the service department, not much has changed at all. Skaggs says they’ve put yellow chain in front of the doors to the bays to make sure customers don’t to walk into the bays. They’ve also hung signs on the doors to the service department alerting customers to the new procedures.

“We always do a lot out in the field and have some techs who only do stuff in the shop when it’s too cold. We’ve had nice spring weather so they are out in the field. In the shop, the bays are far enough apart that the techs are able to work like normal. It’s business as usual in the service department so far,” he says.

On his way over to the main building, a customer stopped Skaggs in the parking the parking lot. “We talked about the wheat crop and he was positive about most things. He saw what we were doing here and thought it was a good thing. He said the main thing he wants is for us to be open,” he says. “Customers have been very positive about what we’re doing. That’s the big fear when you go through something like this, that customers understand why you are doing what you’re doing.”

Livingston Machinery COVID-19 sign

8:00 a.m. Skaggs returns to the admin building to help print and laminate signs for the doors (the person who was supposed to have it done this morning didn't show up due to working primarily from home).

8:45 a.m. The Fairview location called and said they had been ordered to lock their doors and not let customers in by the City of Fairview, Skaggs says. This means more signs and social media messages need to be created.

8:50 a.m. Skaggs starts going through emails sent this morning. “Right now about 40% of those are invitations to webinars on COVID-19 and about 20% are companies wanting to sell their services related to COVID-19,” he says.

9:40 a.m. Skaggs finds out one employee at another location had a spouse who was exposed to someone with the virus and he was sent home to self-quarantine for 14 days. Those who need to know are informed about the situation. 

10:00 a.m. Skaggs starts writing out new personal goals for Q2 in his Goal Planner and transferring over annual goals from the last quarter. He also starts reading through the newest information on the Payroll Protection Program and the Disaster SBA loan program in case they are needed.

Skaggs says he doesn’t know yet if they’ll need to take advantage of the SBA loan program, but wants to be prepared if they do. “Lately it seems that we spend half the day answering questions that no one has ever asked before,” he says. And, unfortunately, he adds, he doesn’t know the answers to those questions.

11:00 a.m. After reviewing the some of the relief package details, Skaggs has an update/coaching session with a direct report who is quarantined and working from home right now. Skaggs says so far for those who have work from home right now it has been going really well. The only people who have needed to stay home have been people in more administrative roles who can bring a laptop home. “We have more Zoom meetings instead of walking into someone’s office to ask a question, but it’s working pretty well,” he says.

One employee who is working from home had been out of the country for a mission trip. “They were stuck for 3 weeks out of the country for a trip that should have been 5 days,” he says. That individual is self-quarantining for 14 days.

“What will be interesting is whenever we have someone who is high risk and needs to quarantine who needs to take a month or month and a half off who only technically applies for that 80 extra hours of sick leave,” says Skaggs. “I don’t know what we’ll do then. We don’t know the answers to those questions yet,” he says.

11:25 a.m. Skaggs switches gears and approves a new press release updating procedures for customers at the Oklahoma stores. Those new procedures include:

  • For all sales and service inquiries, we will be happy to assist you in the parking lot upon arrival.
  • For new and pre-ordered parts requests, we ask that you park by the PARTS WAREHOUSE DOOR (North side of the building in Chickasha and South side in Fairview) for assistance and pickup.
  • We are not currently allowing anyone who is not an LMC employee into our buildings for their own safety and that of our employees and their families.
  • For all services, we recommend that you call in advance or upon arrival.

Skaggs says the Texas locations are still open to customers, but for those who don’t want to come into the store, they can call in advance and the parts will be ready for curbside pickup. At those stores sales and service will continue to operate as usual. However, he adds that they while the stores are open right now it is only a matter of time before they will also close. The Texas stores are farther from large populations, so they have not been as impacted yet, he says.

11:30 a.m. Livingston Machinery is an ESOP, so Skaggs sits in on a webinar with the National Center for Employee Ownership discussing valuations with regard to COVID-19.

1:20 p.m. After lunch, Skaggs updates Livingston Machinery’s Board of Directors on the status of Q1 sales and recent changes due to COVID-19. “We are still really unsure how this will affect us financially. We actually finished the first quarter with sales up 23% over the same period in 2019. A lot of those equipment sales were carry over from the end of the year but parts and service were up as well,” he says. 

“We have a great head start, and our customers seem to be pretty positive when it comes to their crop potential. At the same time, the bulk of our local economy is driven by oil and natural gas. $23 per barrel oil doesn’t pay very many bills so we could see that affecting us as well. I think it's just too early to tell how much COVID-19 will affect equipment sales. People are scared but we all still have to eat.”

1:40 p.m. Skaggs takes a walk through the dealership building to assess morale. He says that overall, morale has been up and down. “For the most part, people have held together really well, but if you walk through at some points in the day you can tell people have been watching the news or looking at Facebook and some new piece of information and everyone has a look on their face that they’re scared,” he says.

He says the most important thing right now is to stay busy because it’s when people run out of things to do that they get scared because they are thinking about it. He says last week there was definitely less foot traffic at the dealership, but it has been picking up this week and will continue to in the next few weeks. “People are going to be out cutting wheat hay and pretty soon guys will be out planting corn once it dries up. It will get a lot busier. The service department hasn’t slowed down at all.”

2:10 p.m. After his walk around, Skaggs returns to his office to catch up on emails. He has 4 new COVID-19 related webinar invitations.

3:20 p.m. Skaggs starts working on his presentation for the dealership’s Q2 Quarterly Game Plan Meeting. Under normal circumstances, this is an all hands on deck meeting held at each location once per quarter. “I call it my traveling road show and it typically takes me about 3 days and at least 16 hours of windshield time,” Skaggs says. “However, this time I won't be travelling.”

They are using RingCentral Meetings to hold the meeting webinar style for all employees at once and Skaggs will run the presentation from his office. He says employees will be encouraged to watch from their individual devices. “In these meetings we talk about our mission statement, our goals for the year, our progress on those goals, our financial performance in the last quarter, changes in market conditions, new opportunities and our Flywheel strategy,” explains Skaggs.

4:15  p.m. Skaggs takes some time toward the end of the day to catch up on emails again and reviews, proofreads and approves Livingston’s internal company newsletter.  “It’s complete with our favorite COVID/Tiger King memes and lots of information on hygiene and health related topics,” he says.

4:45 p.m. Skaggs makes a final pass through the dealership. “I wanted to make sure the world didn't end because we kept customers outside. It didn't. In fact, all of our customers were very understanding and thought it was a good idea. The new processes all worked smoothly and our people seemed pleased with them,” he says.

Skaggs says when the facilities return to being open to customers will depend on what officials say and how the employees feel about it. “Above all else we want to keep our people safe and operate for our customers,” he says.

5:00 p.m. – After spraying down his office with Lysol, Skaggs calls it a day and heads for home to eat dinner with his family.