As 2022 now opens up, we can measure the fallout from COVID and Omnicom with some shops reporting a booming 12 months while others, such as those in the panel industry, have shut their doors.
In some rural communities, the lack of transient consumers means a lack of break down services, which to some is their bread and butter.
But as the general rule of thumb goes, we have been well looked after in the automotive industry, there is always however, more work that now needs to be done. We may report that some shops have had buoyant time but, in the past, that would equal growth and expenditure in the shop. The shop may buy the new balancer that they have always wanted, invest in new apprentices, or invest in a new hoist. But we are not seeing that as much as we would like. Now is the time to invest that added income in that piece of equipment, staff or training you’ve always wanted. It is also not the time to be complacent and think that this wave of work will be there forever. Consumer confidence is not quite as strong as what Governments would like to see and there is already talk of breaking promises and lifting interest rates within these next 12 months.
We need to go back to basics and ensure every job is as good as we can make it and impress our customer, thus retain them. By way of example, the IAME does a lot of audits on independent shops Iand some franchise groups. Silly little things such as wiper rubbers not cleaning screens effectively, tyre pressures left unchecked after a service and windscreen washers ill-aimed and no detergent. In the modern day car, these are the basics that a consumer judges a service quality on… yet, these are items that we find not attended to on some audits.
A consumer also likes to feel that they know you, the repairer. It’s therefore a good little trick when reporting what was done to the consumer’s car to actually use the mechanics name who worked on the motor vehicle within your storyline (debrief of service). People like to know that Bill or Jenny worked on their car, and this is their report to you. The consumer gets more buy-on and in fact, we have seen it where a consumer will return and enquire whether the service technician which was named before was still an employee and asks if he or she could work on their car as they did such a good job last time. A very cheap retention tool in just using the technicians name.
Another way of retaining consumer confidence in your business is to offer alternatives when jobs are required, for example, on a brake realignment, price up a standard realign and then enquire as to whether they are towing or driving at speed and offer a higher quality brake pad to suit their particular driving style. This again instills confidence that you have thought about the best alternative when it comes to offering advice on their service.
Tyre stores have perfected this for many years offering consumers many choices each with a different attribute of performance. We refer to the retention of the consumer here but in times, when we are on short supply of technicians, panel beaters or spray painters, it is good to offer them confidence in the way you run your business. Consumers as well as staff are all concerned about COVID and its variance. As a business owner, you need to be instilling in your staff, best practices not only for them but also for your customer.
I visited two shops this week where masks were not worn, hand sanitizer not used and no display to the consumer could be seen describing how these shops promote best practice for COVID reduction. Consumers want to know that you understand what is required and a blaze nature does not translate to tough and strong but more to ignorant and uncaring. When a consumer enters your shops, just like a staff member, they all want a safe working environment.
In the last edition I was concerned that Australia was going to have a problem with the supply of ad-blue due to a world shortage of urea. Thankfully, our Australian manufacturer ramped up production and a horrible shortage did not eventuate as predicted by so many. What we are seeing however, is phenomenally high fuel and diesel prices. This high cycle plays into the hands of the OEM that is bringing the next generation of cars into the country as hybrids or pure EVs. As I warned in previous editions, do not be negative towards this as the evolution is going to come and come quite quickly especially as fuel prices hit $2.10 a liter.
To be worried about charging stations for your EV, each state government is putting hundreds of millions of dollars on the table by way of government grants to build and operate a fast-charging station which is supplied by totally renewable electricity. For example, New South Wales is trying to achieve a charging stations every 100km on rural roads and every 5km within major cities.
To the technician that has advised their clients not to buy EVs because of charging ports, it should now be the least of a consumers’ concern. To this, many governments are offering further advantages of making their next vehicle EV by way of the abolishment of stamp duty, thousands of dollars’ worth of rebates and bonuses and in the state of New South Wales, the use of single occupancy transit lanes.
With EVs and hybrids growing, so is our industry super fund which is now known as Spirit Super. I encourage all those in the motor trade to connect with Spirit Super to ensure your future is catered for with the latest investment skills and advice.