Western Work: Craftsman Collision provides COVID-19 update

North Vancouver, British Columbia ⁠— Craftsman Collision says its multi-pronged approach to the COVID-19 pandemic has helped it weather the storm.

The company said sales at the 43-shop chain slumped somewhat during the month of March, but only by 12 percent⁠⁠—less than required by the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidies (CEWS) available to businesses suffering declines of 15 percent or more.

Losses in April met the government’s 30 percent eligibility threshold, but “could have been a lot worse.” 

The company says the business strategies devised under the direction of CEO and owner Bill Hatswell, with support from the company’s president Rick Hatswell, Mike O’Callaghan and the rest of the senior management team have made the difference. 

Initiatives like sanitizing vehicles, installing protective steering wheel and seat covers and floor mats have helped to dispel both germs and public paranoia. 

Among front office staff, physical barriers, staggered job shifts and, in some cases, reduced hours, have minimized transmission risks.

“The coronavirus outbreak and the necessary public health measures to contain its spread and creating stress for employees and their families,” said the company’s HR manager, Jennifer Burton. “We’ve been reminding all our employees that our LifeWorks employee and family assistance program is available to them to help with any issues around mental health, finances, parenting or eldercare.” 

None of Craftsman’s facilities have closed or suspended their operations amid the virus. The 550-employee-strong company is also happy to report that none of its staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Rick was very committed to keeping all our shops open to maintain our presence in the market, and to help our employees retain their jobs during the crisis and post-COVID,” said Burton. “Shops with less volume are cleaning and painting⁠—they’ll look brand new when this is all over, and help boost what we call the ‘Craftsman sparkle’.” 

The company has also doubled down on marketing efforts, launching a series of radio, TV and social media ads to encourage customers to not put off their repairs. 

“So far, the impact of the pandemic hasn’t been as bad for business as we expected,” says Rick Hatswell. “Kudos to our governments for getting the message out and the timing right, and especially to all the health care workers who are putting their own safety on the line for the good of us all. Our many operational and logistical adjustments seem to be getting us through the worst of  this, and I believe will pay even bigger dividends when the pandemic is over.”

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