April 1, 2020—The Automotive Oil Change Association held a webinar on March 31 to review some of the actions shops have taken amid coronavirus-related business impacts and discuss recent legislation.
A panel of experts who work with AOCA gave information and tips for operators.
One of the main pieces of federal legislation passed in response to the pandemia are the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. While the bill is still new and some regulations are different from state to state, the panel offered some general information for owners.
The CARES Act provides the primary loan and tax credit opportunities for businesses. Claudia St. John, president of Affinity HR Group, said that there are lots of different areas for business owners to explore. But the bottom line is that the best resource will be banks, which administer the programs.
“The CARES Act, by and large, is going to be administered by your local banks,” St. John said. “So you don't have to go to the Small Business Administration to try and figure it out.”
The act also provides federal funding to add to unemployment benefits, including an additional $600 per week of benefits for those who qualify.
If your shop isn’t able to stay open or you’ve had to go through layoffs, this is where those employees might seek aid.
“The remedy for those employees is a very very robust expansion of unemployment benefits,” said Joanna Johnson, AOCA’s policy director.
Perhaps no shop is untouched by the business impacts of coronavirus. AOCA board president and shop owner Bill Floyd said that the initial drop in business was drastic.
“We saw an immediate downturn of business,” he said. “We saw anywhere from 50 percent to as much as 80 percent (drop).”
Business has recovered a bit, he said, but it’s been a tough few weeks as his team has changed their process to maintain proper distancing and cleanliness during service. Those changes have impacts. Floyd said, for example, that ticket averages have dipped because techs aren’t going into the vehicle to check cabin air filters.
Board member and shop owner Mark Bochnowski said that, from a marketing perspective, it’s important to let customers know why you’re open and what you’re doing. Show customers the response you’re taking.
“Our marketing director has worked hard to get on all the platforms what we’re doing to sanitize the stores, using steering wheel covers and what we’re doing to keep customers and employees safe,” he said.