Thursday, 09 April 2020 09:56

Shops Using Downtime Advantageously During COVID-19 Crisis

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As the U.S. strives to prevent the spread of COVID-19, most states have instituted some version of a shelter-in-place order.

Many businesses are experiencing a decrease in workload, including collision repair shops and related businesses. While furloughs are happening, experts advise against it, especially in light of aid offered by the U.S. government, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides small businesses with forgivable loans to keep employees paid.

Most shop owners are doing everything they can to maintain their employees, including pursuing less traditional schedules and duties.


Industry leaders agree that looking for the opportunities within the current situation will help collision repair professionals maintain a more positive outlook and come out in a good position on the other side.


“No one wants to face declining car counts and repair volume, but if there is a silver lining to all of this, it does provide an opportunity to focus on how you can improve your business during the downtime,” VeriFacts CEO Farzam Afshar said.


Improving the business can take a variety of forms, including maintenance, financial and training opportunities.


During this period, many shops are using the extra time to clean and sanitize their entire facility. Deep clean the paint booth, change filters, service or upgrade equipment, power wash the building and reorganize to enhance efficiencies to prepare for the day the work starts coming back in the door.


Kevin Anderson of Elite Auto Body in Gambrills, MD, has his team gutting the shop, purging junk and painting the floor and walls.


At Downingtown Collision in Downingtown, PA, Tim Hedrick is “working because I’m trying to make sure my guys can collect a real paycheck and not unemployment. I’m paying them to do maintenance and sweep and other stuff around the shop.”


At Parks Royal Body Works in Boise, ID, the technicians are still processing their current workload, but after that, Matt Thornton has plans to deep clean the building, convert the booths to LED lighting and replace office carpet.


“That should keep them busy for a couple of weeks. We are taking it day by day and keep adjusting our ideas and finances as needed," Thornton said. "We applied for the PPP, which will really help.”


The team at Cocoa Auto Salvage in Cocoa, FL, is employed on special projects like resetting the yard, maintenance and auditing as well. Owner Shan McMillon is also using the downtime to evaluate her inventory and update settings in her electronic platforms.


“I have more time to work on my business, instead of in my business, and I’m trying to take full advantage of that,” McMillon said.

DCR Systems LLC is processing paperwork and accounts receivables during the lighter supply of vehicles, according to Marketing Specialist Pam Giarrizzo.


“The team is working on ways to communicate with the insurance companies and the customer to try to lessen or eliminate short pays. It just takes more communication with both parties,” she said.


“Develop your fully reopen checklist and get to work. ‘Fill the potholes,’ meaning go take care of the little things in your systems and processes that you just always seemed too busy to take the time needed and fix," said John Hill of The Autotrends in Greensboro, NC. "If your building needs a little paint, it’s the perfect time to freshen things up.”

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