Where Are We Now? A Mid-Year State of the Industry Update
Growing up, I often heard my parents say, “The older I get, the faster time flies.” As a child, I thought that sounded silly, often thinking, “Time can’t fly.” But, something strange happened as I aged. Time grew wings.
I’ve often wondered why that is? Is it because our lives get busier? We become involved with growing businesses, children, friends, activities and everything that makes life spin around a little faster, and before we know it, time is racing by us.
This year is no different. It seems like a few weeks ago, I was sitting down to chat with operators and discuss the issues they thought would affect the quick lube industry the most in 2014. (You can check that article out on pg. 28 of the January 2014 issue.) Across the board, the thing operators were most concerned about was the Affordable Care Act and how it would affect them. They also had desires to grow their businesses in 2014. Now, six months into the year, I wanted to get a check up on those issues.
David Rogers is the president of Auto Profit Masters, a company dedicated to helping auto shop owners run the most profitable businesses possible. Rogers also manages an 11-bay shop in Littleton, Colorado. We turned to Rogers to get his take on the year thus far.
“Back in 2011, I was asked about the effects of the Affordable Care Act on quick lube business owners for a local business magazine. What I said then was that my biggest fear was the lack of transparency. It wasn’t clear what was and what wasn’t going to be funded. It also wasn’t clear what it was going to cost us,” Rogers said. “I gave that interview almost exactly three years ago, and I’m not really any closer to having answers today. The employer mandate being delayed has gotten all the press, but like most independent shops with quick lubes, we are below the 50-employee threshold — meaning that we have not thus far been forced to cover employees.”
Roger Bouchard is the co-owner of two Grease Monkeys in the Richmond, Virginia area. With fewer than 50 employees himself, Bouchard said the new healthcare law hasn’t impacted his bottom line expenses much this year. However, he did educate and encourage his employees to sign up for healthcare by the deadline.
“There was education required on our part, and we did provide a cash incentive for employees who signed up by the deadline. Overall, the Affordable Care Act hasn’t affected us much at all in 2014,” Bouchard said. “What I am curious about is how decreasing the disposable income of the population will affect the automotive maintenance customer’s spending habits.”
On the other side of the coin is Ron Morrow. Morrow is the owner of 17 quick lubes in Colorado and has over 50 employees. He was concerned about the Affordable Care Act at the beginning of the year and how it would affect business in the future. We checked in to see what Morrow thought about it, six months later.
“Since they’ve postponed The Affordable Care Act until 2015, we did not do anything this year. I am working on some things to help the problem next year,” Morrow said.
Whether or not the government is mandating employee coverage in the future isn’t relevant for shop owners like Rogers.