We’re doing a lot more reading nowadays – trying to keep up with the ever-changing landscape in our industry.
And an article we found really interesting came from CAT the business magazine for the UK automotive market. Not only was it a fascinating read, but it also led us to think about how people are using the time we’ve all been given, forced or not, whichever circumstance you’ve found yourself in!
Take a look at the article in full (link above) but here’s a summary, with our opinions thrown in for good measure ;):
A poll conducted by the team at marketing and PR agency Impression suggests that during this pretty awful pandemic more than 60 UK garages have closed. We believe some will have done so by choice – for some, it will have been circumstances beyond their control. And for those, it highlights the quite desperate situation our industry finds itself in.
The main reasons for closure for these businesses revealed in the survey don’t hold any surprises – a fall in customers, lack of childcare and lack of parts.
The knock-on effect and consequences of each decision made by the Government is somewhat worrying. That’s not a slur on our Government by any means. How could any group of people make the right decisions; for so many situations; in such a tight timeframe? An impossible task for even the brightest of minds! Sadly, these decisions, even though most are, in our opinion, the right ones as far as we can tell; are creating the same issues across most industries.
Many businesses are finding themselves in a ‘Catch 22’ situation
It’s incredible how situations can spiral. For example, a ‘friend of a friend’ is a prime example of the knock-on effect of decisions that haven’t had the luxury of time to think through. He owns a national business that needs to contract construction workers to achieve what they offer their customers. They’re currently unable to fulfil contracts in many areas of the UK because, even though work is allowed to continue under the – albeit, grey! – Government guidelines; his workers have nowhere to stay – hotels are closed. A tiny issue in the scheme of things maybe; but it has a significant impact.
He’s not only facing penalties from clients for being unable to complete the work by the agreed deadlines, but he’s also struggling to meet payroll too. Also, to add to the stress; because it’s an industry, that falls outside of government financial support; similar to many in the automotive trade; because they’re ‘allowed’ to work; he finds himself wedged firmly between that proverbial rock and a hard place!
Is the decision to extend MOTs by six months the right one?
The reason for the drop in business in our industry is as we’ve mentioned; a fall in customers, lack of childcare and lack of access to parts. But, in our opinion, probably the most significant impact on the fall in business is down to the decision to extend the MOT by six months from 30 March.
That’s had a HUGELY negative impact and has influenced most of the general public to cancel appointments for overdue MOTs. It’s not too late to sign the petition we created to raise awareness and help support MOT station and garage owners btw. You can sign here.
Most of the businesses asked in the survey (88 per cent) said they were aware of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; although it’s not clear how many had taken this option. And 73 per cent of garages were interested in training – which, if you’ve been furloughed, would be an ideal use of time.
And it’s something we’ve noticed too, an uplift in enquiries for online courses to help increase knowledge and skillset for when things get back to normal.
It’s certainly something we’re looking into and if we can adapt some of our courses to be online and help those who want to learn more we will; so watch this space!
Closure of suppliers and manufacturers in the automotive industry
The survey (of 500 companies) also found that 67 per cent of businesses supplying garages and MOT stations etc. were fully open. Only eight per cent closed, and 25 per cent remain partially open. This statistic surprised us as ‘lack of parts’ was mentioned as a key factor for some garages when closing their doors.
But it appears that although many are managing to remain open; the demand for products has reduced by up to 85 per cent in some areas, so the impact has been significant.
It’s not all bad news!
Businesses who can (understand!) and progress applications for financial support are starting to reopen, which is excellent news for all.
And we think it will make the service we all offer to customers that little bit better in future. Because we are all rethinking every area of our business. It can be too easy to jump on every bandwagon and follow someone else’s lead because we’re too scared of being left behind or miss out on an opportunity. So, maybe now is the time we should all be playing to our strengths and addressing our weaknesses?
As a business, we’ll be the first to admit this whole situation has made us consider what we offer and how we offer it: and it’s got us thinking on our feet and out of the box. And every other synonym you can think of if we’re honest!
But we conclude that we’re happy with what we do and how we do it. That could easily not be the case for some. And that’s not admitting inability, weakness or defeat. It’s stepping back and remembering why you started running your business – and looking at how far you might have strayed, unwittingly, from your original dreams and goals.
We do recommend you read the full article that inspired this one as it provides links to other fascinating stuff too. You can find it here.
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