How COVID-19 Will Change Our Industry
I am sure you’ll agree that over the past few months, our industry has experienced challenges unlike ever before. With the onset of COVID-19, the phones stopped ringing, customers stopped coming in, and shop owners throughout the nation were wondering if they were going to survive. Recently, many of us have started to see some light at the end of the tunnel, as sales are beginning to inch up and little hints of normalcy are returning to our shops. When the dust finally does settle, I have every bit of confidence that we will make it through this stronger than before. However, there will certainly be some changes that will have an incredible impact on our industry for years to come.
First of all, we are likely to see a huge surge in personal transportation due to COVID-19. While there has been explosive growth in ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft over the past few years, the virus will cause a large percentage of the American population to be far more hesitant when it comes to using any form of public or shared transportation. Perhaps if the virus had been with us for just a week or two, there would be little change in consumer behavior. However, after having to live with the virus and its persistent threat for months, many consumers now have serious health and safety concerns that are likely to last.
The second noteworthy change I think we’ll see is in what people consider to be important when choosing an auto repair shop. Customers are now going to be far more drawn to shops that embrace a new and heightened form of cleanliness and sanitation. Even when a vaccine for COVID-19 is discovered, it is unlikely that the public will immediately become less sensitive to the risks of communicable diseases. There is no question in my mind that once this pandemic is behind us, customers will still be extremely cautious and concerned that their car is as safe and sanitary as possible when they pick it up from their auto shop. I believe your ability to ensure prevention and elimination of contagions will be key to your success.
Lastly, your access to skilled labor is going to increase dramatically. With so many shops scaling back or closing their doors entirely, and with unemployment continuing to rise, there will never be a better time for you to connect with and hire the superstars. The impact that the virus has already had and will continue to have on employment in our industry is staggering to say the least, but it will provide you with a rare opportunity to recruit highly skilled candidates for your team.
I’d like to close with a story that can help you bring this all together. Many years ago, I read an interview with the hockey great Wayne Gretzky that was published in Newsweek magazine. The sportswriter asked Gretzky about his secret to success in out-scoring all of his competitors, as he didn’t seem to hit the puck any harder than the other talented players, nor did he seem to be a better skater. Gretzky paused, and then told the writer he never skated directly to the puck as all the other players did. Instead, he skated to where the puck would inevitably be going. When I read that article I immediately thought of my shops, and it made me realize that instead of dwelling on the current status of the industry, I needed to ask myself what the future of the industry would look like so I could be in the right place at the right time. Doing so enabled me to build some really great shops and grow Elite into the highly successful, customer-centric company that it is today.
I certainly don’t have a crystal ball, and I know nothing is definite. Yet I am confident that at this moment in time, there are amazing opportunities awaiting each of you. If as you build your business you acknowledge that there will be a rise in the demand for personal transportation, that as we move forward customers will be looking for shops that understand their desire for cleanliness, and that this is a rare opportunity to connect with the superstar techs and advisors in your community, you will be headed in an exciting direction with your shop. This is a promise I can make to you.