Services on Wheels

Under the circumstances brought about by this pandemic, it is important that companies and service providers respond to their customers’ needs and to address their (stakeholders) life necessities in a manner that provides a safe environment for all — both sellers and buyers alike. Therefore, company management and personnel must work together to create a platform or instrument by which the company’s product and services are brought to the customers’ doorsteps.

The relevant questions that need to be asked include: ‘How are you handling this? What are you doing? What should we do?’ Safety and responsibility remain as the number one priority for businesses and SME’s (small and medium size enterprises) to grow and prosper in these uncertain times as the quick and the agile enterprises surmount the difficulties ahead with both innovativeness and perseverance. 

According to Jeffrey Staple in a Harvard Business Review article, “As companies start to address pandemic preparedness, they are discovering that a pandemic is fundamentally different from other, more traditional business continuity threats and is outside the scope of issues typically considered by continuity planners. Plans are usually designed to help companies respond to localized threats — like fires, bombs, riots, earthquakes, and hurricanes — that affect infrastructure. However, a pandemic isn’t an isolated incident. It is, by definition, an unfolding global event. So there needs to be a shift in the nature of continuity planning, away from strategies that protect infrastructure and toward those that protect employees and their ability to conduct business during a sustained crisis.”

Western popular culture often describes “crisis” as composed of two Chinese characters signifying “danger” and “opportunity.” The analogy is apt for the current situation which our country faces with the rising numbers of COVID-19 infections approaching 200,000 cases and with one of the longest quarantine restriction periods in the world that has paralyzed our economy and has pushed us into recession. So in the face of this gloom and doom, it is noteworthy that efforts are being made not only on our shores but worldwide to bring a measure of hope and caring to people everywhere by reinventing the way that businesses, institutions of government, NGOs and private companies operate. The bottom line in all this is the courage and dedication to bring to the suffering masses the vital services and commodities that they need to preserve both health and sanity in this time of COVID-19.

Take the example of the Makati City government and its “Dyipni Maki” mobile learning hub project. The aim is to mobilize displaced teachers as well as jeepney drivers who have been unable to ply their routes due to the coronavirus pandemic to go around the city’s neighborhoods with jeeploads of books and other learning materials as well as teachers and librarians, and laptops with internet connection to supplement the learning environment for residents and their children when classes begin in October. The local government has been coordinating with the Makati Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association for the rental of at least 27 jeepneys that will be deployed to different barangays and will pay P2,000 a day for each jeepney. According to Mayor Abigail Binay, “We are glad that we have come up with this project that addresses multiple issues simultaneously. Not only will it help students and their parents cope with the new ‘blended learning’ approach in education, [it] will also provide much-needed employment to Makatizens.”

Elsewhere in the country, GMA Regional TV (RTV) has launched a public service on wheels program for needy families on North Central Luzon; Central and Eastern Visayas; Western Visayas; and North, Central and Southern Mindanao with the first wave benefiting more than 2,000 families and the second phase set to begin this August. Launched last May, “Kapuso Barangayan on Wheels” is a mobile version of GMA RTV’s “Kapuso Barangayan,” originally a community activity held in key barangays across the regions. As various provinces and cities have been placed under community quarantine, GMA RTV modified it to Kapuso Barangayan on Wheels to reach more communities and directly provide its residents essential items they urgently need. 

Nissan Philippines Inc. (NPI) for its part has come up with a model unit — a converted Navara pickup — equipped with the necessary equipment needed to service any Nissan vehicle right where the customer lives. “Service on Wheels is a way for Nissan to extend our expertise in vehicle care outside our service centers. This gives a new and exciting dimension to our reliable services by delivering satisfaction to our customers, wherever they are,” said President and Managing Director Atsushi Najima. The roving customized Navara pickup comes fully equipped with the tools and equipment capable of performing services such as periodic light maintenance, vehicle diagnosis, replacement of consumable items, such as tires, brakes and batteries; light repairs; and emergency roadside assistance and with two Nissan-certified technicians to attend to any vehicle emergency needs. 

Finally, on a lighter note, social media star Josh Ostrovsky, is on a mission to save New Yorkers from nasty nails with a manicure service on wheels. “Nobody in New York City has been able to get a manicure for months and cuticles are looking like trash,” he posted on social media. “So Drink Babe and I decided to create a socially-distanced, ‘rona-free mani truck.” Launched this month, the rose-colored mani truck, which looks like test booths we see in the news, provides free nail services. Customers only need to put their hands through a hole on the plexiglass window installed in the truck. A nail technician wearing protective equipment then attends to the customer’s nails – clean and then paint them with pink, blue, or red polish, inspired by the colors of Drink Babe’s line of canned wine.

So there we are; homebound because of the pandemic but life need not stagnate because we’re indoors. As one saying goes, have wheels, will travel – and us, to be served also.

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