For over 35 years we have been travelling far and wide to produce this publication. Not once did we think that an invisible virus would throw a rock into the pool of business which has produced so many ripples in the body shop arena. With a degree of hindsight in view, it’s quite clear that the view of the dark tunnel of Covid-19 doesn’t show a great amount of light at the end of all this manmade health hazard at present. With local unemployment running at an all-time high and a greedy government with tax revenues falling over 20% short on projected tax income, the Reserve Bank now estimates a full return to pre-Covid levels of business will only be seen in 2023. So, the prevalence of bad news is set to continue for some time.
Thankfully, however, everybody seems to be getting used to work levels currently seen at around 40% of pre-Christmas normal levels of collision repair. Our insurers, who are in essence commercial risk bankers, are adjusting to a pandemic that moved the needle of risk. Let’s hope this will lead to a more balanced approach to the collision repair side of their operations.
It’s fair to say that body shops who have now endured many challenges like vehicle technology, materials change and skills shortages to name but a few, are now faced with a rampant roll out of new health issues to contend with. So too does the trade supply chain in its entirety that we depend on.
Of course, we will see the inevitable slowdown being driven by more unrealistic trade union demands as they have watched the currency fall by yet another 16% this year against a basket of foreign currencies. The only upside on the horizon is that everyone’s contributed an extra 2.2% VAT tax this year. So, as the government wrestles with rampant corruption problems, the free enterprise system is wriggling with a whole new chapter of business challenges.
It looks like we are going blind in the game of poker in the cycle of business and we can’t see our cards. So inevitably we will have to do all we can to adapt and survive as the business of making a difference or a profit lies before one and all of us, in a nation where business interest levels will at least remain low until the end of 2021, and where now inflation appears to be under control. That’s good news.
Perhaps business has become a bit like planting trees and knowing full well that you will never be able to sit in their shade. This may start us on a road to understanding the true meaning of life.
Wishing you all a great break and enjoy life to its fullest. Have a good one, Ian.
The year that is….
In a year that has defied all logic and continues to do so, how have you faired on a personal and business level? What steps have you put into place that can help you or have you stayed with your head in the sand and in complete denial, running yourself ragged with exhaustion trying to stay afloat?
The business of business is people and no matter where you are in the pecking order, from the person who cleans the shop through to the director, all serve an important role that is delivered with attitude. There is a saying that “Attitude determines your altitude.” So why not go out on a crazy limb and fill yourself with hope and implement the vision that is in your heart and mind?
Get guidance from a mentor, life coach or even a great friend who you can bounce ideas off of and set goals for plans ahead. With such unsure and unchartered waters, have a six-month plan, a year and a five-year focus – but always remain flexible. Take a good look at your strengths and weaknesses in yourself, your attitude and your business, then decide where to improve.
Hope and vision are indeed powerful tools and never more needed than right now. Try this on for size. Earlier this year the Nationwide Accident Repair Centre network of 75 insurer owned body shops went into liquidation in the UK.
The first point is that due to this not being the first time this has happened to NARC, you would think insurers would stick to insurance and leave body shops to manage themselves, but no.
Secondly, Michael Wilmhurst, a former finance guru from Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR), got backing from Carlisle LLC – a U.S. hedge fund – offered a pre-pack deal on the former Nationwide group to try and save jobs. Carlisle wasn’t of this opinion and wanted to strip the company and recover some return. In a unique decision, the courts agreed with Mr Wilmhurst. Reddie Northgate, a vehicle lease/hire company is now the proud owner of 75 body shops for £11 million. Just think about the real estate value alone! What great vision in such tough times.
Of course, it remains to be seen if Reddie Northgate have the appetite or cash to make this body shop network fly. Perhaps a top echelon of 30 or so shops should be worked on first. I wait with great interest to see how this develops. The point is that you need to train your eye and “gut” to see opportunity. Your education, self-empowerment, attitude and mindset are things that no one can take away from you. Continue to keep an open mind for opportunity, collaboration and networking. You never know where the road might take you.
Wherever you find yourself this festive season, take the time to catch your breath, reflect and even celebrate that fact that you’re still in it to win it! A victory indeed.
By Ian Groat and Claire Macfie