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BRAVE NEW WORLD

Rebooting is no longer an option

BY DARRYL SIMMONS

The most dangerous words in business are, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’” Keep this in mind as we no longer have the ability to reset or reboot to what was normal in the past. We are in the reinvention stage of business. It’s a brave new world out there and we are just beginning to get a grasp of what we’re going to face.

For more than one year since we’ve been virtually in suspended animation as businesses, we’ve stood basically standing there marking time. Doing whatever we could to survive to keep the doors open to keep our staff employed. But here’s the thing. Technology, hasn’t stood still, it’s moved faster than ever.

The pandemic has forced us to adapt and rethink operations. For example, virtual work and Zoom meetings are changing the complexion of the collision repair industry. This is important in any given year, but especially this year with the continuing work from home/virtual nature of the business.

A year after the novel coronavirus began spreading in North America, we’re finally beginning to understand how radically the world of business has been transformed. We’ve had for years the ability as a society to disrupt the mentality that work-is-work and home-is-home to the vast majority of office drones. Those lucky enough to be in the trades and especially the collision repair industry, will hopefully never have to face the dilemma of that boring and outdated cubicle culture. But the pandemic kick-started a transition that was years in the making.

Due to lockdowns and quarantines people simply stopped going to the office. The repercussions for our industry are huge. Here’s what we know for sure: People are going to work at home, meaning less commuters, meaning fewer miles driven, and far fewer accidents. But severity will increase, that’s just common sense. In addition to this, cities and towns will become more balanced in terms of size and housing costs. This bodes well for repair facilities in “smaller” towns and cities who will see increases in volume right off the hop. Amid the pandemic, we’re already seeing signs of this reverse-urbanization in places with a high cost of living in Toronto and Vancouver. At the same time, smaller cities and towns such as Abbotsford, Truro, Peterborough and Red Deer are seeing population growth and increased housing prices.

As more people move out of major urban centres there will be more need for driving and driving in bad weather conditions. We might see a shift towards more repairs in mid size cities and towns.

According to Mitchell International’s 2021 Auto Casualty Predictions, automation and straight-through processing will become more important than ever. This will be the case not just for shops, insurers and suppliers, but customers will be right on board with this as well.

With all this in mind, you can never go wrong by focusing on the business basics that have made you successful so far. Integrity, doing the right thing even when no one is watching, will be key. Training is essential. Proper equipment and supplies. Trusted partnerships who are accessible, flexible, service-oriented, solution-oriented. With these in your business arsenal you’ll be prepared for anything. And once this virus gets squashed and flushed away, you’ll be well on your way to meet the next set of challenges. And remember, don’t get too comfortable, there will be more challenges on the way!

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