Industry must grasp chance to change
18th June 2020Tweet
Opportunity and change were the upbeat themes of the 14th ARC360 webinar, held in association with I Love Claims.
With volumes continuing to rise across the country, albeit at different rates, businesses able to adapt to new ways of working are in prime position to emerge stronger than ever from what is arguably the most difficult trading period in living memory.
Panellists Richard Thorogood, owner partner and group director, Rainbow Bodyshop Group; Neil Atherton, sales and marketing director, Autoglass/Belron UK; and David Vella, business development director, GT Motive, all agreed that businesses showing flexibility now could reap the rewards for years to come.
Richard said, ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the changes that might have previously been in the ‘too difficult’ box. If we go back to being the same business we were then we’ll have missed an opportunity that will never come again.’
David agreed. He said that GT Motive has seen customer habits and demands change already, with far more interest in remote and digital solutions, such as virtual estimates and virtual receptions. He said the GT Motive is adapting its own processes to meet customer demands to ‘engage without engaging’, and urged the wider industry to embrace innovation too.
But while ‘innovation’ might seem a vague term, Neil said it was less about developing something completely new and more about adopting existing technology on a much wider scale.
He said, ‘This crisis has thrown up a number of different challenges. They’re not massively different, it’s just that they’ve been condensed into a much shorter timeframe in terms of response. But the most agile businesses will certainly be rewarded. You’re better off making a decision quickly and then changing it if you’ve got it wrong.’
While this might take some bodyshop owners out of their traditional comfort zones, Richard said the crisis had already changed mindsets with everyone now more open to new ideas.
He said, ‘One thing this industry is full of is entrepreneurism. We have had to morph and change numerous times when challenges presented themselves, and we’re still here. This is probably the biggest challenge so that spirit is more key than ever. Not everyone will survive, but that’s the same with every industry. The building blocks of bodyshop people are to find solutions and if you have the hunger you’ll find a way through it. If you want to survive then you’ll find a way.’
The encouraging signs are that the recovery in volumes is continuing, giving businesses the platform upon which to reshape themselves and their processes. CAPS saw unique claims initiated increase from 65% to 69% in the last week – they are now almost double what they were a month ago (38%) – while Entegral, which measures Enterprise Rent-A-Car customer claims activity, reported an 11% uptick on the previous week and a 33% rise in a fortnight, with new growth areas in Ayrshire, Fife, Birmingham, Wakefield, Darlington and Bury/Bolton.
According to the CAPS data, regional growth was most pronounced in the Republic of Ireland (35.1%), Greater London (26.6%), the east of England (10.5%) and the north west (8.1%).
Richard said, ‘None of us has a roadmap. We’re having to make decisions on the hoof. We were bubbling along nicely until end of March and then closed all our operations in April and moved our pre-booked volume into May. We’re gaining momentum now and so far it’s working well, but it’s baby steps and we mustn’t get carried away. We’re still being extremely cautious.’
However, Neil provided a valuable insight into what might be coming down the road when he revealed graphs showing how volumes had risen in France and New Zealand each time a measure of lockdown had been lifted – schools and workplaces reopening for example. That data suggests that businesses in the UK can expect similar swells as lockdown relaxes in stages.
He also said that glass repairs are about a month ahead of ‘metal repairs’ in terms of volumes.
‘There is no question glass has come back quicker than metal. Glass was back up to about 85% about four or five weeks ago and metal is now at about the 60% mark. There was definitely an element of catch-up, but now it’s all fresh work.’
Meanwhile, last week’s webinar underlined the debate around the so-called Covid-19 cleansing charge – the fee repairers are charging for sanitising vehicles and the related process. With Trend Tracker survey findings highlighting a range from £0 to £400, averaging out at about £75, there is no consistency for this service within the industry.
Belron has introduced a global standardised sanitation process that includes pre and post repair cleaning of 46 touchpoints. Neil suggested it was something the business would be happy to share with any interested parties.
ARC360, in association with I Love Claims, is supported by corporate partners ACIS, BMS, EMACS, Entegral, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Nationwide Vehicle Recovery Assistance, S&G Response and CAPS; partners The Green Parts Specialist, Indasa, and Innovation Group; and strategic partners AutoRaise, NBRA, RepairTalks and TrendTracker.
See below for session slide deck:ARC360-2020-Slides-webinar-14