Interview with small town Auto aftermarket shop owners under Crisis (part 1)

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Under the impact from the novel coronavirus, the catering industry seemed to enter a dark moment, the catering giants has made to news on after another and received a lot attention. On the other hand, the auto aftermarket service industry seems be in aphasia, especially the millions of mom papa repair shops in China, they just a drop in the ocean of millions of individual household in China, just their story is not interesting enough. Although in the vortex of the epidemic, they obviously felt that although they were anxious, but they didn’t lose their will.

01 Hangzhou City

“will not start layoff, just really worried mental state of employee”

Under the influence of SARS, I leave the restaurant I worked for 10 years, then start my own car repair business.

The impact of the current novel coronavirus is certainly greater than that of SARS 2003. After working in the auto repair industry for 16 years, I have never experienced such a sudden situation. Speaking of impact, there are three things I want to say:

First, The time of return to work is not clear. On Feb. 10th, we submit the application, but didn’t get a clear answer. It’s been said that after the Feb. 20th, some of the business can be reopen, but Hangzhou has traffic control, employees has return to hometown can not enter, even after entering the city still need to be isolated for 14 days. five stores that I have, can only have some of the local staff on duty. When epidemic is not over, the endless waiting is the most terrified thing. This is different from the closing of the stores during the G20 summit, this time the situation cannot be estimate.

Second concern is whether the employee’s status can be recovered in time after we back to business. We start to do online training, but I obviously feel that my employees are not in good condition. The person has sloth. The longer you stay in your hometown, the more you will become dependent on the days of laziness and boredom, and you will gradually adapt to them.After the formal resumption of work, I think this situation will be a major challenge after back to business. Therefore, I think that while maintain a good customer relationship, we must also remember to taking care of the employees. If the spirit is disquiet, it will be even more terrifying than the epidemic situation.

The third issue is the recruitment of basic personnel. Affected by the epidemic, the turnover rate of the car service industry should not fluctuate too much, which is very different from the catering industry. Even I thing that some catering practitioners may switch to auto repair, so the recruitment problem should not be too bad in the future. I am more anxious about the present. Optimistic estimates, the end of March stores can fully back to business. The premise of this is that all personnel can back in place. However, there is a common problem in the car service industry, you will lose batch of employees after CNY, sometimes even before that. Take 5 stores of mine as an example, fully stuffed takes 80 people. I loss 20 of them. In fact, this has been a normal phenomenon in previous years. It can usually be recruited soon after CNY, but it is more difficult now. Will take us longer to get back to business. I think the massive layoff after the crisis will not happen in auto service industry.

02 Suzhou, Yancheng

“We live in a small village, we can still keep up.

Yancheng is a country with 800 urban million people currently diagnosed 18 new cases (as of Feb. 11th), and the town where I currently live, No case has yet appeared.

It may be because it is safer in the township, repair shop can still handle the situation.  Except for catering, entertainment, large factories and other companies that tend to gather people, other business don’t need waiting for authorities’s approval.

Currently my store is half-open state, there is repair worker not in place, some local employees are let go, and now the store is not busy, only a few regular customers vehicle to do simple projects .

The epidemic has given me the feeling that people's health awareness has been raised. In the short term, it is certain that there will be explosive growth in projects such as in-vehicle disinfection and detail washing. In fact, compared to domestic indoor air conditioners, the amount of bacteria hidden in the air conditioner in the car must be much greater than it, which also means long-term driving, but owners who have not done a good job of disinfecting and cleaning the air conditioner in the car will suffer a lot.

Of course, health-related items such as interior disinfection and air-conditioning cleaning have always been available, but the epidemic will amplify the demand for this piece. Recently, as far as I know, the price of disinfection products on the market has been increasing.

In addition, another phenomenon brought about by the epidemic that is different from previous years is that the business volume of auto body paint has increased recently. My guess is that the economic environment was bad last year. Many customers only recovered their account receivable by the end of the year. It so happens that there is time now, and some of the stalled needs can now be met.

The downside caused by the epidemic situation is that the mileage of the car owner is reduced, and the corresponding maintenance frequency is bound to be reduced, which will affect our business. I personally expect that the business in February will drop by 30% , and the whole 2020 should also be affected.

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