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Tuesday, May 26, 2020
One-third of people recently described themselves as highly distressed during this COVID-19 Pandemic. To get a steady flow of vehicles into your auto repair shop, you’ll need to get past that fear and distress by reassuring potential customers and making them feel comfortable with doing business with you. Click here for three ways your shop can address their fears.
Friday, May 22, 2020
In most states, governors are looking at the new infection data presented to them each day, trying to answer the unanswerable: which restrictions should be lifted, and when? If they move too fast, there’s a strong possibility that everything will get shut down again. If they move too slow, millions of more people will needlessly lose their jobs.
As a business owner, the decisions these government bodies make will have a big impact on your business. But as an auto repair shop owner, the decisions that individuals make about their comfort level with getting back out in public will matter even more.
People will make their own decisions about what safety looks like. Some are quickly trying to return to their lives already, unconcerned about what the government says. A much larger number, however, are likely to be morecautious than their state’s guidelines. And whatever your state’s “final” stage of lockdown is, you won’t likely be able to enjoy a major-league sports game in the stadiums the week you reach that stage. It’s going to be a long time until things get back to normal.
It boils down to this – if a person is mostly staying home, they probably aren’t going to be visiting your shop.
As soon as the “official” lockdowns end, businesses will be turning their eyes towards their customers. When will they decide to get back out and live their lives? That depends on where the infection numbers go.
Nobody knows where those numbers will go – but here are three factors to consider as you try to forecast your revenue over the coming months.
More than 90,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the US. There is no doubt that it is extremely dangerous. That doesn’t mean that it puts everyone in the hospital. In fact, 25% to 50% of people who got COVID-19 didn’t realize they were sick. They certainly didn’t get a test.
In the early days, people who felt like they had a bad cold, got a high fever, or lost their sense of taste also didn’t get a test. There just weren’t enough tests for that. Mild and moderate cases of COVID-19 were not being confirmed.
As testing has been ramping up, moderate cases are being confirmed, and in some places mild cases are even being confirmed. This is going to lead to a growing number of confirmed cases – but it doesn’t mean that the rate of new cases is growing faster than before, just the rate of confirmed cases.
Any good analysis of what’s happening in your state won’t just throw out some large number of new cases. It will also consider what percentage of people being tested are positive for Coronavirus, which will hopefully be going down every week.
The reason we’re opening in phases is that no one really knows what activity is going to lead to a breakout. Otherwise, government would just ban those specific activities and open everything else up.
A recent article claimed that significant indoor spread is fairly unlikely in most casual circumstances, while another said talking for one second can emit enough particles to infect someone, and that those droplets can stay in the air for fourteen minutes.
We just don’t know what, if anything, is going to send the new case number skyrocketing.
Bouncing back and forth between a mostly open economy and a mostly closed economy would be miserable, especially for businesses. But there’s a chance that it could happen, causing yet another unplanned disruption to your car count. There are significant steps left to take between our current status and something “close to normal”, and any of them could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
If most businesses are closed in your state, it probably feels like someone flipped off the light switch. When the shutdowns first occurred, you likely went from fixing cars to spending a lot of idle time in the shop (or shutting it down entirely). Chances are good that you haven’t made nearly as much money as you would have hoped over the last two months.
As long as the people in your area aren’t resuming their normal lives, all businesses will be impacted. Whoever the biggest employers are in your town, it’s going to affect you if they aren’t open. Whether that company’s employees are your customers, or your customers’ customers, it’s going to impact how much money people around town have to spend.
If most of your potential customers are working from home, they aren’t driving their vehicles nearly as much. And a vehicle that isn’t driven isn’t likely to need repairs.
The good news is that, no matter what the impact is, you can make decisions now that will influence how your repair shop fares in 2020. Expenses may need to be quickly adjusted as your local economy changes from week to week or month to month.
The most important thing is to take the steps you need to take to make sure your employees avoid becoming a statistic while they’re at work. Businesses that are thorough in planning (and executing) ways to minimize co-workers’ physical interactions are less likely to have a COVID-19 breakout imported into their shop by an employee that “felt fine until later that day.”
Spread to other employees or customers would be terrible news for the shop, even if they had few or no symptoms. While a work-from-home order has been devastating to many small businesses across the country, a local reputation as “the COVID shop” would be far worse.
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your business earn more business through your web presence, call us at 855-394-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Your shop may have been open during the coronavirus pandemic, but most people were stuck at home for the last month or two.
Many states are beginning to lift stay-at-home orders in May.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
While this economic shutdown is terrible for most businesses, it’s only going to last for so long. Within a couple of months, the economy will slowly start to open back up, and businesses will have an opportunity to finally learn what kind of economy they’re going to face immediately after the crisis. Some experts say it’s going to be pretty bad; others say we’ll recover a good portion of what we lost. But most everyone agrees that we are going to have at least a short-term recession coming out of this.
The good news is that recessions aren’t all bad news for independent auto repair shops. While auto manufacturers were crushed in the last recession, that wasn’t the case for all independent auto repair shops. They might have lost some business, but many also found new opportunities that they’ve held on to for years.
AutomotiveResearch.com took a look at data from the 2008-2009 crisis, and found two data points in particular that might affect independent auto repair shops.
This points out the complexity of recessions for independent shops. For every customer that puts off a needed repair because they can’t afford it, another customer might visit an independent shop after running away from excessive maintenance or repair prices at dealerships. Another customer might decide to have a repair done to an older vehicle (or bring it in for recommended maintenance more often) rather than purchasing a new car when their car payment is completed. So while price sensitivity may put pressure on shop margins, it’s not likely to be universally bad for independent shops.
As we enter a less robust economic environment than we’ve experienced over the last decade, consider not only how to keep your existing customers coming back, but how to attract customers who may have previously not visited an independent shop.
How do you reach them? How do you convince them that your work is just as good as a dealership’s work, if not better? What advantages can you offer them beyond better pricing? Existing customers can only put off repairs for so long – but these new customers might stay with you forever.
To learn more about how Repair Shop Websites can help your auto repair business earn more customers, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.
Thursday, March 26, 2020
With the possible exception of the financial stimulus bill, there hasn’t been much good news for auto repair shop owners (or really any business owners) in the past couple of weeks. One of the only good things going for them: after years of record low unemployment, not many technicians or service writers woke up today and thought it would be a good time to change jobs.
There’s talk of a 30% unemployment rate by serious people right now, so your shop employees are probably staying put. For now. But if your employees aren’t convinced that your shop can withstand the coming economic downturn, they’re going to at least consider a move in the coming months to a shop they think is on better financial footing.
If you are on a good financial footing, it’s important to give your employees enough information for them to have confidence that this is the case. If you’ve been investing in your shop and in your employees over the past few years of economic expansion, they’ll believe you when you point out that you couldn’t have done that without a profitable business model.
If you aren’t in great financial shape, you need a plan for how to keep your best employees. Otherwise, they will jump ship, leaving you only with your lower performing employees – the ones that couldn’t find work elsewhere. As bad as the next few months might seem, it’s going to be much worse without your best staff members helping you pull through.
Finally, there are likely to be a lot of great deals out there in the coming months, and some great financing options to go with it. But if you decide to make some long-term investments during the downturn, make sure to retain enough financial cushion to keep your best employees – even if the economy performs worse than expected. Those debt companies keep sending the same bills even when your revenue starts drying up.
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can bring revenue to your shop, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.