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Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist based in San Francisco. Ed enjoys sports of all kinds and is a part time stand-up comedian.

 

He can be reached at era39@aol.com.

Friday, 10 April 2020 20:46

Western Shops Deal with Uncertain Times

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Owner Tiffany Silva, center, at Accurate Body in Richmond, CA, had a record sales month in March, so even though they’ve temporarily laid off four people, they’re getting the work out to placate their customers and DRPs. Owner Tiffany Silva, center, at Accurate Body in Richmond, CA, had a record sales month in March, so even though they’ve temporarily laid off four people, they’re getting the work out to placate their customers and DRPs.

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Some shops are doing everything they can to return to normalcy, but with so many questions and so few answers, the situation seems to change every day.

Body shops are considered essential businesses throughout the western U.S., and most have stayed open, but they are operating with smaller crews and limiting hours, in most cases.

 

If you are a body shop owner, you obviously have a ton of concerns right now about layoffs, furlongs, DRPs, customers and, most of all, how long this is going to last.

 

No one knows, but by playing it smart and using safe processes and procedures, western shops are hanging in there and holding their own.

 

David Mello owns Anderson Behel in Santa Clara, CA, and has been in the industry for more than 40 years. He has a shop full of cars, but few customers, he said.

 

“We closed the shop the day the shelter-in-place order for Santa Clara County was issued, even though I learned a few hours later that auto shops were deemed essential,” he said. “I decided to stay closed until the next morning of the day the original order ended. We have a shop and a parking lot full of work in process, so we reopened to get all the work out and vehicles back to customers. It will take us two to three weeks to clear up the existing work.”

 

Mello has two of his managers working each morning to handle any business, phone calls, parts deliveries, etc., so techs will be ready when they come in to do repairs.

 

“We are not getting many requests for estimates, or tow-ins,” he said. “With people sheltered in place there is little traffic, and little desire to get vehicles repaired. We will see what work comes in while we are open these next few weeks, and then decide to stay open with a skeleton crew, or simply close. I’ve heard that business is down 50% elsewhere. I fear it could be worse here.”

 

As the orders to stay in place hold, Mello will be setting up new procedural systems to keep his customers and employees safe, he said.

 

“We haven’t made a decision yet about picking up or dropping off cars, but by being closed, we haven’t had to make those kinds of decisions. We adopted ‘touchless’ interactions with customers and vendors the morning of the shutdown on March 16, and of course, we will keep that in place.”

 

Mello has almost one-third his crew on unemployment and has told them to stay on it until further notice. Those who do come in are adhering to a stringent set of safety rules.


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