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Adapting to the New Normal

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As most states are reopening their economies, business owners are having to adapt to the new normal. In fact, Jim Murphy, pro service coach at Elite Worldwide, has been training shop owners on how to respond. And while the auto repair sector has been deemed essential, shops need to prepare for the upcoming surge of customers with all the new changes, and a potential second wave in the near future. Here’s what trends Murphy has seen and his advice on how to overcome.

New Practices

“We have a new normal,” Murphy says. “Customer expectations are different now.”

Because of this, Murphy says auto repair shop operators need to be much more aware of their practices that come along with this new normal. Murphy says at this point, shops need to have options, like new sanitation procedures, curbside pickup and delivery, readily available for customers. And this means operators now need to factor in the added time these new options will take up during a service.

Overarching Costs

With all of the added procedures in place, many businesses, including auto repair, have had to factor in the extra expense of supplies to accommodate customers. While some businesses have upped their overall prices or factored it into their labor rate, most are implementing an Environmental Fee to the end of a customer’s bill. Murphy says some shop owners aren’t aware just how much the new expenses are hitting their accounts, and they need to be.

Most customers, Murphy says, are not overly concerned with the added fee, but it’s important to be prepared if they do have an issue. To help shops prepare, Murphy has armed service advisors with information on explaining the new fee to the customer, mainly explaining that these new procedures are mandated to protect the environment, which requires extra costs, and asking customers to share in these costs.

When it comes to figuring out just how much of a fee to charge, Murphy says a lot of shop management systems help on the percentage of parts and labor. With this, he says the Environmental Fee should be 3 percent of the shop’s total cost of parts and labor.

“If a shop owner is monitoring what they have as an expense, that’s what [shop owners] should be targeting as a fee,” Murphy says.

But how do you ensure shops aren’t charging too much? While these fees aren’t being regulated on a federal level, Murphy says some states are regulating these extra costs, like California and New York, for example. In states like this, the fees are regulated to make sure a shop is charging no more than what the expense of the new mandated procedures really is.

Scarcity in Parts

Murphy says he’s noticed there have been issues with parts availability, as factories have shut down production due to workers testing positive for COVID-19. Now, Murphy says it’s up to owners to look for alternate sources for their parts, especially in order to prepare for a deemed second wave in the fall. This way, shop owners will be better prepared this time around.

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