Survey: Business Picking Up After COVID Slowdown

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June 18, 2020—Most operators who responded to a recent National Oil and Lube News survey said that business is picking up again, indicating that the worst of the pandemic shutdowns might be behind us.

The survey, conducted in mid-June, found that three-quarters of operators have seen either an overall modest or significant increase in business since March. About 19 percent said business had decreased.

This is compared to an early April survey, in which a full 97 percent of operators said that their business had been negatively hit by the closures amid COVID-19.

Most operators in this most recent survey said that they hadn't picked up any new products or services during the pandemic. But 14 percent said they had, and nearly all were vehicle interior sanitization services. One operator responded that the shop started making hand sanitizer, which was detailed in NOLN's latest podcast.

The survey also asked respondents to share some of the operational changes they've made in recent months. Most shops that didn't already have a drive-thru model adopted one to minimize customer movement or contact. Nearly all shops looked to improve touchless processes and hygiene. Here are a few service changes that operators shared:

  • Customer remains in vehicle and performs their own reset and engine start to test.
  • No longer offering vacuum service
  • Staff members wear masks upon customer interactions and sanitize keys and all vehicle touch surfaces before and after the service.
  • Email receipts
  • Not changing cabin air filters
  • Installed plexi separators in bays

More than three-quarters (78 percent) of respondents said that they had received outside financial assistance in recent months. Nearly all reported that the money came from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was part of the federal government's stimulus plan. A couple reported taking Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

A bright spot in April's survey was that 78 percent of operators felt confident about the future of their business. That optimism grew over the ensuing months, and this most recent survey found that 91 percent of operators feel positive about the outlook for the rest of 2020.

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