BY KATIE WELNHOFER
Production and entertainment have arguably been two of the hardest hit industries from the coronavirus pandemic. To that end, the many vendors who rely on the performance of those sectors have been directly impacted, including Queens Chamber member Edge Auto Rental.
Edge is one of the largest independently owned car rental companies on the east coast for entertainment and production. The company saw dramatic declines in utilization when the city implemented its first set of quarantine regulations in mid-March, and like many other small businesses, was forced to furlough staff members, develop new COVID-friendly processes, and rethink its model in order to gain business from customers outside of its typical core.
During the early months of the pandemic, Edge supplied its vehicles to nonprofit organizations who transported necessary supplies to hospitals and meals to the elderly.
Edge co-owner William Harris, who was recently elected treasurer of the American Car Rental Association (ACRA) board, worked closely with car rental company leaders to develop a set of protocols for the transportation industry that met state and CDC guidelines, as well as other mandatory requirements.
These protocols kept the health and safety of customers at the forefront and set the standard for the transportation industry. Using those protocols as a basis, Edge developed its own unique procedures to clean its vehicles and to maintain safe, sanitary conditions in and around its two locations in Brooklyn and Queens.
The company has increased its cleaning procedures to its office and surrounding facilities. Every vehicle is now thoroughly wiped down with a high-grade disinfectant and multi-purpose cleaner upon return from rental, and once again prior to its next rental.
Lot attendants and cleaning staff have been instructed to pay extra attention to armrests, door handles, steering wheels, dashboards, rearview mirrors, seats, and consoles. Upon request, Edge will even install plastic dividers between seats to ensure the comfort and safety of its customers.
Additionally, Edge is ensuring its employees have the hygiene products, personal protective equipment, and resources necessary to stay healthy. The company encourages frequent handwashing and maintains abundant cleaning supplies and sanitary drying towels at all times.
All staff members wear face coverings, gloves, and maintain proper distance from coworkers and customers. Frontline staff use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and disinfectants, and have been instructed to frequently wipe down high-touch areas such as computers, phones, iPads, desks, and countertops.
Edge has longer-term plans to ensure the company continues to provide a safe and sanitary experience for its customers. The company recently implemented a new software program that allows for touchless check-in and check-out. This process has so far been well-received by customers, as it allows for a quicker and more seamless rental experience, while allowing for social distancing protocols to be followed with ease.
In the past several months, most significantly after the Labor Day holiday, Edge has seen an uptick in utilization, suggesting a strong recovery is in store for the car and truck rental business, and potentially also for the entertainment and production industries to which it caters.
As studios, production companies, and filmmakers of all sizes resume filming in this “new normal” environment, Edge will continue to adapt its business model to serve its customers’ needs while ensuring compliance with safety regulations as they are implemented.