BMW April 2022

There is no mistake – planning ahead can be tough, and at times seems to be abstract. Here’s an example of abject failure.

Multiple governments from all political persuasions have pursued elimination of fossil fuel sourced power. In the UK, each energy customer – private and business – has paid circa 10% extra on all bills to subsidise ‘green’ projects, which were, and are not, commercially viable without free cash. In addition, the hard questions about how to renew the system has been mostly ignored, to the extent more capacity has been eliminated than created. 

The solution? Import energy, from neighbouring countries with exactly the same ‘strategy’. Hold on. What happens if they run short too? Well, as demonstrated on 29th August 2021, they will not supply the UK.

In September one of the electricity import lines located in Ashford caught fire. The damage means this facility is not going to work again for six months. On that day the UK met 89.9% of its power needs, so two coal-fired power stations were put back into service – no power cuts. However, those very power stations are due for destruction.

All MPs, all Lords and a big slice on the Civil Service have placed the UK into energy vulnerability, resulting in rampant price speculation and increasing costs. This is the result of 60 years without any industrial or power generation strategy. The ‘hit’ will come soon and expect energy price rises to reach double digits over the next year. 

Trouble ahead 

Energy costs will have to be passed onto customers – there is little choice. This is not the only pressure on business.

Long term?

First step is to look over the past three years of repaired vehicles, noting the make/model. We can look forwards with those stats, knowing brand new versions of those models or their replacements will have some sort of electrification (MHEV, HEV, PHEV, BEV). That will produce a body shop traffic forecast. The next step is to consider which models, or even brands translated to the greatest profit per repair.

Then take a look around your region, and using your judgement, think about your offering in light of their offering. Is there too much competition? Do we need to cover these makes? What are the investments for equipment and training likely to be? Does this all change the profit outlook?

From these steps a strategy is born. This is the approach the leaders of our sector use, so if these are not in use by our business now, why not start?  

Reflection and calm

The very best time to do this is when our minds don’t have to deal with the day-to-day task of keeping a business going. That means our ‘free’ time. It could mean five minutes sitting alone, five minutes during gardening, or five minutes whilst walking a dog. 

Such a plan evolves, so it is important to keep re-visiting the plan. One recommendation is not to make it rigid, and not to form a committee. Planning requires imagination, and estimation – which is 20% effort for 80% effect. There will be un-answered questions, which requires a bit of digging but starts to unearth issues ahead of them becoming showstoppers.

You are entrepreneurs. That means you guide the business like a ship, remaining agile in the face of obstruction or opportunity. The planning enhances this, which it is wise not to make this too challenging or too rigid.  

By Andrew Marsh