Coronavirus Impact on Business: How We’re Dealing With It As Startup Founders

The ones who survive this are the ones who act decisively

The coronavirus impact on business the world over has already been monumental. As it has for almost everyone else across the country, the ongoing pandemic has had a huge impact on Shift, our employees, and our customers. The entire auto industry — indeed many industries — is facing lower demand across the board right now.

The Shelter-In-Place orders as well as the economic crisis that has developed as a result of the outbreak has forced us to take extremely difficult steps to ensure our company’s long-term durability.

We have had no choice but to furlough or reduce hours of close to 50% of our operations teams across the business. We have been able to ensure that furloughed employees will receive Shift’s excellent health benefits, and no employee has been furloughed because of sickness.

Additionally, we’ve had furloughs on the corporate level, while all of our salaried employees will be taking a 25% reduction in salary for at least eight weeks, though the timeline of this will be assessed as this crisis continues.

Taking these measures breaks our hearts. However, we are decisively taking these serious actions now to position Shift to weather this storm and come through it stronger. We extend our deepest sympathies and gratitude to the furloughed employees, some of whom volunteered, and we hope that all will return to Shift once we’re through these difficult times. As this crisis environment continues and we assess demand, it is possible we have to go further than this, but we hope to see higher demand than we had anticipated. If this happens, we would be able to bring our team members back to work. We are hopeful Congress passes the Keep Workers Paid Act quickly, and that measures in this legislation would allow us to reassess some of the steps we have been forced to take.

The Steps Shift is taking on COVID-19

Six years ago, Shift invented the concept of allowing a customer to shop for a car online, have a test drive delivered to them at their house, and complete the purchase fully digitally. We also offer the functionality to sell their car fully online. We are confident in Shift’s resilience and fortitude to continue serving customers over the long term because of these unique features. In the current environment, we believe that the need for privately-owned transportation options will increase dramatically, while demand for used cars will jump substantially (coupled with fall in demand for new cars). As a company, we will do everything we can to service customer needs through our test drive and purchase delivery capabilities.

We are currently living through a situation that is totally unprecedented. These times have also brought out the best of who we are as a team. We are encouraged by the stories of Shift employees looking out for each other, be it through covering shifts for a coworker who has to stay home to take care of their children, or the innovative practices we are adopting to ensure the health and safety of our colleagues and customers.

We want to thank our customers for bearing with us during uncertain times. We will do whatever we can to continue giving everyone safe access to reliable transportation throughout this period.

And we want to thank our employees for their continued hard work, adaptability, and dedication to their teammates, to our customers, and to the business.

Together, we’ll get through this.

Toby Russell & George Arison

Co-CEOs, Shift