Staying the Course

Dec. 8, 2021

Approaching uncertainty … with a little bit of certainty.

What day is it today? I know, I know: It’s unlikely you’re reading this on the same day of the week that I’m writing this … but your answer is probably closer to being correct than mine would be—or just as incorrect, maybe?

I don’t want to assume things about how your year, or the most recent months, have gone for you and your operation, but I have heard similar responses from the folks I’ve asked: Busy. Hectic. Overloaded. Controlled (or, in some cases, uncontrolled) chaos. Yes, “busy” is good for business; you want your bays full and you need your techs active every day. But 2021 has proven to be something altogether different for everyone. 

Right away in the intro of our lead feature this month, “Technology Shift,” two of our spotlight sources hint at the mindset of many shops. Greg Buckley of Newport, Del., refers to most shop owners being “too bogged down” right now and likely struggling with year-end planning. Texas shop owner Chris Cloutier offers a colorful diagnosis: “Auto repair’s mostly cyclical, but right now there is no cycle, just sprinting. It’s a marathon with no end in sight.”

Supply-chain disruption, employee shortages and, of course, a global pandemic have all made the uptick in work in 2021 all the more chaotic for many out there. (I can attest that it’s been no different in publishing.) Maybe you’re in that category, or maybe you’re more where both Chris and Greg are at right now—still keeping their eyes on the future. This month’s feature focuses on technology and greater trends in the industry, but if nothing else I hope the takeaway is a little more macro for you: Yes, 2021 has been a difficult and chaotic year, for many reasons, and, yes, there are drastic shifts ahead on the horizon, but those of you who can rise above the fray and stay focused on larger goals will be the ones who come through unscathed. 

As we shift into 2022, some of these trends will speed up—some drastically. While there might be “no end in sight,” as Chris put it, let’s keep our goals in sight. Let’s stop worrying about everything “getting back to normal.” There isn’t a normal; we only have today, and whatever day this might actually be (Tuesday?), we need to keep pushing forward.

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