Lee Jones, of YMF Car Parts, looks at how Coronavirus has changed the industry of car part supplies, and what the future may hold.
As part of the nationwide business shutdown, many industries have been forced to shutter their doors and refuse trade until the COVID-19 outbreak is considered contained. But this does not affect every sector. Certain essential businesses have been allowed to remain open to sustain UK infrastructure; car garages and repair shops are among these crucial businesses.
As a key supplier to these businesses, car part manufacturers and suppliers are also allowed to remain open to ensure vehicles keep running and the movement of goods and supplies is unhindered by COVID-19. The basic idea is the entire sector helps keep road transport modes operating, supporting better outbreak response.
That isn’t to say the industry has not seen changes. The biggest change within car parts retail has been the focus on social distancing and how this can be implemented in the workplace and at home.
At YMF Car Parts, we started with basic spread-reduction measures like making sure staff washed their hands for the recommended 20 seconds, and did so more frequently. We also issued guidelines on catching coughs and sneezes in tissues, and are enforcing the two-metres distancing policy rolled out across supermarkets and other stores that remain open, as well as mimicking the advice for encounters outside the home while exercising. We’ve also introduced contactless service to all customers.
While these are all necessary measures, they have definitely been a struggle to implement. In our industry, we’re highly connected and have built a large community. Anyone in the motoring sector will be aware of just how much interaction you have during the normal working day. Our policies do feel as if they are going against human nature, and we’ve found them to be quite alien for a lot of people. But as the reality of our current circumstance sets in, everyone is starting to get to grips with the idea.
The Biggest Problems Facing the Industry
In the short term, our major concern for the industry is the stresses and strains Covid-19 has put individuals and families under — not just within car parts retail, but across the country (and the world) in general. Mental health concerns can have a serious impact on everything, from job satisfaction to productivity. In a time of such strife, workplaces like ours need to take care of staff to protect their wellbeing. Government support packages are helping to alleviate concerns, but we can’t solely rely on external help to keep workforces motivated and healthy. Everyone needs to be aware of the implications of such a massively disruptive and nerve-wracking time and to keep an eye out for signs of difficulties among teams and networks.
Another big problem for the industry is that just because we can stay open legally, it doesn’t mean we can ethically. The health of our customers and workforce remains a priority and if that is at risk, operations can cease. This has happened to a number of businesses already. Being an essential player in maintaining the UK infrastructure does not provide immunity to a pandemic, and reduced output then puts pressure on others.
So it’s important car part retailers pay close attention to advice about preventative measures to reduce the chance of infection — and that others stay indoors and avoid contact when unnecessary to further reduce the spread. Vehicles are involved in all manner of essential virus responses, from food distribution to medical aid.
The sale of car parts may not seem important on the surface, but in reality, this vital system must be protected.
Life after COVID-19
We have immense confidence in the industry and are not concerned about future prospects following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. There will always be a need for transportation, and those that become pillars of support during these tough times are likely to reap the rewards.
If nothing else, the government has shown a commitment to supporting business and staff during the outbreak. Following its conclusion, we believe they’ll ensure any damage is repaired and that businesses across the sector recover.
Sometime in the future, we’ll be able to look back on this as a time, when we all joined together and helped each other through a difficult period, and be proud of what we accomplished — but, only if we take it seriously now, and meet the challenges properly.