With doors shut for this lockdown period you will find yourself with a lot more time on your hands than usual. What are you able to get up to as a member of the body shop business to help you stay ahead in these unchartered waters? The answer is up-skill and educate yourself as much as possible. 

It stands to reason that if you can’t get out of the house, then you have to feed your mind. It will also take some attention off of all the doom and gloom posts on social media and news chatter and let you feel a little bit more in control when you probably feel like you’re free-falling. 

On the whole, most of us are healthy so let’s spend our time constructively. The first step as a business owner – take a hard, honest look at your business. Is every square inch of your shop floor making you money? Could you improve workflow? Are there systems that you can earmark in the meantime that will enhance your business that you have been wondering whether or not to introduce? Make a short list of these systems and start investigating them. Take a look at any customer feedback on these systems if that’s available. 

There are loads of free online courses to do that will help make you a better all-rounder in the end. There are short business management and skills development programmes, basic book-keeping – yes, I know, blow-your-hair-back exciting but essential none the less – and anything else you think you may need or be interested in.

Brush up on the various models and their technology. CRA members are able to get OEM approval collision repair methods for up to 50 model methods a month. These repair methods are at no charge and are included in their membership package. Enquire about getting these methods from steve.kessel@crasa.org.za. There are also a lot of manufacturers that will let you access this information without costing you a penny, but it will entail quite a bit of trawling on the internet.

Estimators, assessors, technicians and non-CRA members can take a look at www.ezimethods.com to keep up-to-date with models that are ever-changing. These industry leaders have over 500 world cars in production and growing, with a ton of knowledge behind them to boot.

For those who have employees online, encourage them to study these new methods and technologies so that you have one person who can do a few things at the end of the day and not loads of one trick ponies. You may have to downscale on numbers but you don’t want to lose quality which will cost you at the end of the day.

Training is often overlooked and now would be a great time to put thought in your strategies and get to grips with extra paperwork and administration that may be needed to be completed to register or update your company’s progress. How can you manage your staff better? Earmark candidates you want to grow and educate to become more of an asset in the company. 

When the rubber does eventually hit the road, there will be a lot of long hours at work to catch up on the backlog, so also remember to enjoy time with your family and loved ones. Be kind and gentle to yourself and those around you – it’s an upside-down world for us all at present, but this too shall pass.

By Claire Macfie, editor Automotive Refinisher magazine