There’s no disputing the fact that COVID-19 is a black swan event that has disrupted not only our current reality, but the way business is conducted for the next foreseeable future. We will return to normal, but how we define normal will change over time.
As global business continues to experience significant challenges, the Fix Network World remains focused on driving transformation of the automotive aftermarket industry. Consolidation is and will continue to be one of the megatrends in our industry globally. This is due to several factors, such as vehicle complexity, equipment requirements, training investments, insurance expectations and global supply chain partnerships.
Within this highly competitive environment, Fix Network World, which includes Fix Auto, NOVUS Glass, ProColor Collision, Speedy Auto Service, Speedy Glass USA and SRP, has carved out a rather unique position as a global network, demonstrating both organic and inorganic growth. Our model has been focused on combining the best attributes of tools, technology and talent, aligning operations around leaner and more customer-driven processes to deliver greater efficiencies for operators and consistently surpass customer expectations.
As a result, from the onset of the outbreak, we were prepared to help our team and our franchisees understand and navigate the evolving public health guidance for COVID-19. Their wellness remained top of mind in our approach. Our goal was to provide evidence-based information that was aligned to government regulations and public health directives to alleviate confusion and fear.
As the situation worsened, government-mandated restrictions were put in place across the majority of the countries where we operate. For some in our network, this meant either temporarily closing down operations; for others, it meant reducing their workforce as the volume of work dried up.
The last few months have been tough for our franchisees, the majority of whom are small business owners. They are often the breadwinners with families to support; they play an active role in their local communities through job creation. One of the most important messages we shared with them as business slowed down: we’re all in this together.
In addition, we provided them support by developing safety protocols, negotiating flexible financial measures and sharing best practices from around the world. It is not enough to survive the current situation. We want our franchisees to implement health and safety measures that will provide confidence to the public and help them become resilient and thrive in the new normal.
The global pandemic has had a huge impact on customer-facing businesses like collision services, mechanical repair and windshield repair or replacement. The post COVID-19 reality is that there will be more scrutiny on health and safety procedures to protect employees and customers. This requires a new operating model that can be difficult to implement on your own.
If you’re an independent auto body shop, mechanical service garage or glass shop you’re thinking about how you’ll continue to support your family and keep your employees on when these extra measures cut into your bottom line. Plus, how do you find the time to sift through all the rules and regulations to understand what’s required, train your technicians, and service your customers?
The value of being part of an aftermarket network like Fix Network is that you don’t have to do everything on your own.
Value of a network
We’re helping our franchisees reimagine their high-touch service in a contactless environment. This includes implementing photo-based mobile estimates, installing plexiglass barriers and adjusting the way they operate so that prevention and physical distancing guidelines are top of mind.
The three main reasons why anyone should join a consolidator like Fix Network haven’t changed:
- Strength in numbers and economies of scale in negotiating relationships with insurance partners and suppliers.
- Consistency in high standards of quality, ethics and performance across every location.
- Best practices and knowledge sharing with a community of owner operators that are in the same situation as you.
But, in a crisis like COVID-19, all of the above become even more important as businesses struggle to stay afloat while trying to adjust to rapid changes being forced upon them. As our industry adapts to the new normal, for owner operators the decision to join an automotive aftermarket network will come down to choosing to just survive or wanting to thrive in a post COVID-19 world.
Steve Leal is the President & CEO of Fix Network World, the global automotive aftermarket network with more than 2,000 points of service around the world.