By: Steve Knox
When he came down the chimney, was Santa wearing a mask?
Oh, what a different world we’ve found ourselves in. Looking back to 12 months ago, Canada now seems like it was an untamed wild west.
In the not-so-far-off olden days, we would sit close and talk to customers visiting our businesses. Upon greeting and saying goodbye, we would shake hands. Christmas dinner last
year was in your grandmother’s house, with your cousins sitting next to you at the table, packed in like sardines. You ran to the electronics store and stood in line with a hundred others to get a
great deal on a TV. When the doors opened, everyone ran in bumping into each other. Do you remember how it used to feel to sit next to a coughing passenger in an airplane? I do, and I
remember thinking I really didn’t want the inconvenience of the common cold.
Those days have passed; now, it’s all about COVID-19. We all take the necessary precautions in every aspect of our life. We wait in lines for grocery stores. We sanitize on our way into the
store and on our way out. We wear masks in public and in private. And now if someone coughs, everyone turns around to see who it was, if they had a mask on and what direction they were pointed at when they coughed.
Of course, with COVID-19, came changes to our businesses as well. As a shop manager, one of my jobs has been to watch our net profits and make sure we grow that bottom line. Everyone
who has this job knows how small the percentage of overall sales is retained after everything is paid. COVID-19 put us in an even tougher position. Now, we have a lower volume and higher
costs, leaving everyone who is in my position to do what we can to uncover new areas of opportunity.
The good news? You would be hard-pressed to find a business school or university that can offer the real-world education we have received in the last year. One of the most important
lessons I have learned is to cut out the noise. I am spending my time focusing on our repair quality, customer experience and community. Worrying about the unknown, casting doubt on
others and getting sucked into negativity is all too easy nowadays. Instead, I’m focusing on the positives, celebrating wins on my team, doing what I can to help keep my community safe and working to uncover any areas of opportunity I can find, to invest back into our business.
When I retire in 15 to 20 years, I’ll be able to look back on the year 2020 and tell the young people in the front shop offices how we felt when the traffic stopped. We are now survivors of one of the worst economic and health emergencies the world has ever seen. Nobody alive has ever steered a business through a global pandemic of this size before. We will live to fight another day.
So, happy 2021 to all. As soon as this is all over, hug your people. Shake some hands. Sanitize and stay clean. In the meantime, do whatever you can to avoid the spread.
We are stronger now than we have ever been. It may not feel like we’re out of the woods, but we are on our way. And if you’re still feeling down, remember what Freddy Mercury once said:
We are the Champions!
Steve Knox, general manager of CARSTAR Fredericton and CARSTAR Fredericton North, is an I-CAR Instructor and former member of the CCIF Steering Committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.