An updated survey from IMR Inc. shows how COVID-19 has upended the expectations and priorities of independent automotive repair shops and their technicians. The survey also shows the vast majority of providers — 84% — reported a decrease in revenue.
Between May 4-29, 2020, IMR surveyed 500 independent automotive repair facilities. In addition to the drop in revenue, 54.6% reported they had reduced staff and 86.8% lowered pay.
Here’s a closer look at some of those figures:
Rural shops were more likely to reduce staff (57.9%) compared to 53.7% of suburban and 49.5% of urban shops.
Eighty percent of stores with eight or more bays reduced staff. Smaller stores fared better – 52.8% of stores with four to seven bays had staff cuts, while 46.2% of one to three bay stores had staff reductions.
As for reducing hours and pay, it was much more common across all geographies in the industry:
- 92.6% of suburban stores reduced hours/pay
- 86% of urban stores reduced hours/pay
- 84.2% of rural stores reduced hours/pay
The survey also provides a fresh look at what independent repair facilities consider their top challenges for the remainder of 2020.
- Keeping staff and customers safe and social distancing 55%
- Getting customers, keeping the shop running and returning to normal hours 44%
- Getting parts on time 34%
- Getting parts and finding suppliers with parts in stock 29.2%
- Making payroll and keeping techs working 29%
- Recovering financially from COVID-19 21%
- Rising costs of parts and keeping prices affordable for customers 15.2%
- Find a way to compete with larger chains and dealerships 9.8%
IMR also provides a breakdown of these responses by the size of business, and urban, suburban or rural locations.
As a point of comparison, in February IMR released a survey showing what independent automotive repair providers expected to be their biggest challenges for 2020. At the top of that list: finding time for hands on training.
For technicians at independent repair facilities, 45.8% said their greatest challenge will be to keep working enough to support their families. This was followed by 37.2% of technicians who said they’re concerned with keeping themselves safe at work due to COVID-19.
In the January survey, 42.6% of technicians said their primary concern was finding time for training. In the age of COVID-19, training has dropped to a priority for 16.6% of technicians.