What Matters Now Is How You React and Grow

May 1, 2020

Most of the time we hear the comment that a bad Turkey Day week can make or break your year-end numbers. Well, this year we have months of down and down. Columnist Adam Tatum explains how to react.

By the time that this story is printed, the industry and the world will have been changed for 2020. The super-virus known as COVID-19 will have created an effect on your business and operations for this year. 

Most of the time we hear the comment that a bad Turkey Day week can make or break your year-end numbers. Well, this year we have months of down and down. Customers are not driving as much and many are holding onto their cash to safeguard the next few months. Your year is already dead. I have talked to franchises that are down 40 percent to 60 percent each day. So what can you do in this time to make sure that you can survive and keep customer loyalty.

First and foremost, we must address safety. What did you do to keep your employees healthy and your customers assured that you were taking this as serious as they were? Looking at ordering websites and the local shelves of big box stores, many of you did clean the stores and disinfect your customer areas.

That or you were banking on the zombie outbreak and toilet paper forts will mask your scent. How about your employees? Did you purchase latex gloves or extra steering wheel covers for them to use?

Yes, there is a significant cost in this, especially if you are a multi-unit franchise or manager. However, what did your customers see? They saw technicians working on their vehicle protecting them.

Customer Perception

Customer perception during this time is and will be the make or break. One competitor actually promoted that the customer gets to stay in their car.

Next, what did you do, or are you doing, to minimize your loss on the labor side. This is the sticky subject here. Your employees rely on their pay for their livelihood. But if you stayed status quo, are you financially stable to handle that kind of a hit to the bottom line? In most cases, from those I talked to, running modified schedules have become a thing of the now. You used to get 40 hours a week, now you are getting 32.

You used to staff one over for growth, now it’s one under for adjusted customer counts and sales. You used to schedule two multicare mechanics, now only one. Some of the part timers or those with special schedules were dropped to minimal hours when and where they were needed. You lowered your labor dollars bleeding out, that’s great! However, did you do it to such a degree that it affected the service you offer and led to loss of customers?

In the end, you had to do what you had to do to survive. If an employee here or there must leave, then they can be replaced.

Lastly, your expenditures have changed. With less customers you were ordering less. That includes less oil and less filters from your supplier. You are more mindful to lights being left on, water running in bathrooms and that pesky air leak that makes your compressor run all day. You are buying less pizza for the crews. You are scouring through that P and L to find where you can save a little more here and there.

You will not save your way to a profit but taking care of these little things that you are finding will help you save a little.

Looking Up

To sum this all up, this article appears to ask the question “What did you do to minimize your loss”, but is it? When you first started to get hit by the effects of the COVID-19 virus, you did some combination of these three things above, right? So now that the virus is coming down or getting back under control, are you just going to go back to the way it used to be? No, because you have spent the last two to three months seeing all the little ways that you have been wasting your profits. You have taught habits now in your employees. They are turning off lights. They are organizing a little better. 

Most importantly, they have learned to work a little harder and a little faster to compensate for those missing employees. How can you reap the benefits of this going forward? Take advantage of your opportunity and start to streamline your operations. You will find less waste; less inventory loss and managers/employees are becoming better and stronger fits for your business. As many worry about how this will affect them in the short term, I want you to look at how this can change you for the long term.

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