As the year continues so does COVID-19 in its various formats and the watchful eye of a consumer is still observing how we best safeguard their interest. My advice remains the same and that is to well communicate what you’re doing to best look after the consumers’ vehicle.
The truth of the matter is that the area of concern now is not so much Mr and Mrs Smith waking up at 7am, having a shower, eating breakfast and dropping their car into your workshop with a good old dose of COVID-19 to happily spread around, but it is actually one of our peers, the sales rep that we need to be concerned with. I have spoken with various companies who have been losing supply reps to the pandemic week after week as they’re getting up in the morning in the same way as Mr and Mrs Smith, but the difference is they are visiting 15 other workshops before they get to you.
Our advice is that you turn your COVID- 19 attention to those that regularly visit and have been elsewhere before seeing you. Not shaking hands, hand sanitizer, distancing and mask are all valid tools with our friends as they were with customers in the hay-day of the pandemic.
USE OF PPE IN WORKSHOPS
Further observations have been with the use of basic PPE within the collision repair industry but now coming into standard workshops. The use of protective overalls has been replaced with cargo pants and a thin t-shirt. Steel cap shoes have been replaced with runners and general eye protection has almost been forgotten about. Sometime ago there was always a pair of clear goggles sitting on the hoist so that, before you go under that wet dripping car, you could offer protection to your eyes. Just in the last three weeks I visited four shops that not only did not offer eye protection, but did not display signage to indicate it should be worn. It won’t take too many crushed or broken feet or permanent eye injuries before our various state Workcover authorities come down hard on our industry tardiness.
NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY
To move away from compliance, the new area for business opportunity is in quality DPF (diesel particulate filter) cleaning. For quite a period of time there were a plethora of products and ovens that were all offered to our industry with very little training attached and the majority of these offered an ineffective clean. However, with time, cleaning quality systems are now available and I have seen some excellent products emerge. I know our friends at GCG Turbos have just introduced another great cleansing system. For the workshop wanting to offer a total service to their customer, DPF cleaning is one service to add to your arsenal.
CARAVAN SALES AND REPAIRS
We speak about COVID-19 and it being unprecedented, so too are the rains that have drenched the east coast of Australia. As you know water and electrics don’t mix. To this, the IAME has learnt there was an enormous number of caravans sold at auction in Queensland as repairable writeoffs. In any other state this would have been a statutory write-off and never should our customers come in contact with such a unit. Unfortunately, there has been a number of these that have been sold and they will undoubtedly have issues and warranty complaints for years to come. Please, watch getting involved as you as the repairer will end up wearing fault after fault. You, as a qualified technician working on the vehicle, will need to cover very accurately with the consumer exactly what you are repairing and why you believe it has prematurely failed. If you suspect it is one of these immensely water damage units, please raise the problem now before you get caught owning all future repairs.
WORKSHOP EQUIPMENT QUALITY VS PRICE
As prices rise on equipment for workshops, so the quality often drops to keep that piece of equipment at a price point whichis acceptable to the market. Only this week I was shown the comparison with some highly competitively priced Chinese hoists with a hoist that you and I would have in our workshop each and every day of the week. Unfortunately, its price was somewhat dearer… but wow, what a difference. There were literally millimetres of difference in the thickness of the steel of supporting beams and every gusset of weld looked undersize and indeed I would call this unit a widow maker. Please, be advised that quality costs and if it is too cheap to be true then it is probably too cheap.
APPRENTICE – GROW YOUR OWN
Getting back to bolstering your business, there has never been a better time t consider an apprentice, especially with all the available government subsidies. People ask me where I go for a good technician and my answer is always the same: “to get someone that does it your way, to your standard, you need to grow your own”.
Your commitment to an apprentice will result in a better qualified technician. Your involvement with the choice of competencies that lay as electives in the Certificate III qualification should always be negotiated Fiona Lawrie at work. with your training provider. You will only get out of an apprentice, what you put in.
Our number one choice is Apprenticeships Are Us. You can also contact IAME and we will put you in touch with your local representative. The IAME has always supported apprenticeship growth in our automotive industry. Please, don’t hesitate to make contact with our team.