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UNDER PRESSURE

WHILE FEW ARE FOND OF THE STORMS CANADA HAS WITNESSED IN RECENT MONTHS, THE COLLISION REPAIR INDUSTRY MUST ADMIT IT’S BEEN GOOD FOR BUSINESS.

Don’t let your stress get the best of you

By ALLISON ROGERS

Winter may not be every collision repairer’s favourite season, but it sure is a profitable one.

The words of one collision repairer recently featured on a local U.S. news broadcast said it best. When asked how he felt about an impending storm set to bring a foot of snow to his locale, he simply answered, with a hearty chuckle: “I’m super excited—I do bodywork for a living. Tomorrow’s going to be a good day for me.”

Our nation is no stranger to seasonal catastrophes; the average post-snowstorm conversation will always be met with garish comparisons to a far worse storm of the past. Snowstorms may be a walk in the park for most of Canada, but the last few months have seen Mother Nature wreak a special kind of havoc on Canadian drivers. Think British Columbia’s severe flooding last November; Saskatchewan’s active storm season; several feet of snow in Ontario and Maritimes and the general messiness that comes along with Canadian winters.

While few are fond of the storms Canada has witnessed in recent months, the collision repair industry must admit it’s been good for business. In the wake of the last two years, it’s been particularly refreshing. If only it were all that rosy. The last two winters were riddled with restrictions and lockdowns—not to mention many were still under work-from-home orders. Now, more Canadians are out on the roads, returning to routines of a more normal life.

Despite the uptick in work, it’s been a period since the verticals of the collision ecosystem experienced such work. Not to mention the way we’ve processed claims has turned into a virtual-led experience; in many instances, driven by photographs, even computer-fuelled artificial intelligence processes.

On top of these process-based challenges are the ongoing parts shortages, causing headaches and lagging WIPs in collision centres across the country. In some cases it can take months to simply get your hands on a part—and you better hope you’ve received the right piece. Some businesses have even gone weeks without a right-side quarter panel only to find a left-side in the delivered box. Oh, and it’s got a chip on it. Have fun!

As strange as it may sound, the stress of “normal” can be a lot to bear. Surely no one enjoyed the reality of the last two years, but returning to a state of normalcy has been more jarring than some imagined. If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by a return to normal numbers and steady work, you are not alone. Few may admit in a candid conversation, but the pressure is universal. A little tip from Collision Repair? Communication goes a long way.

You’d be surprised how much stress can be alleviated by having an honest conversation with your partners. Whether it’s hosting a weekly conversation with your team of staff to gauge their capabilities given the current challenges, or a chat with your key suppliers to take the temperature of the parts shortages and navigate potential solutions or back-up plans.

To Canada’s collision repair industry: we’ve made it this far. The light is finally at the end of the tunnel, so close you can feel its warmth. This year is set to be grand, and grand it will be!

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