REALITY CHECK

There is nothing normal about the ‘new normal’

BY STEFANO LIESSI

Here we are—we survived to see 2021 despite the hackneyed persona of its predecessor 2020.

As many of you likely are, I am rather bitter about 2020, it was a less than pleasant experience for many of us, resemblant to that of having the rug pulled out right from under you. As business owners I cannot begin to imagine what it was, and still is, like to have this experience come at you without warning.

I too, was greatly affected by the charade of attempts to mitigate the fallout from 2020. Now, you may have noticed that I have refrained from using the cliché terms of 2020 as they have become trite in my view and not worthy of any further recognition. If one wants to so desperately relive the disaster that was, they may feel free to consult the powers that know all… Google.

As the year formerly known as 2020 unfolded, many cliché terms were created, one which aggravated me to no end right from the get-go. I refuse to accept the term ‘new normal’–not even remotely will I take what was delt to us as the new normal.

Let’s erase the idea of the what the new normal has been made out to be. What we are doing now is far from normal, and I am quite sure most of you who are business owners are not quite ready to be told will be the way things are going forward.

Instead, may I suggest we take this opportunity to redefine our normal into something better by implementing new ideas and strategies in effort to get to the next level or goal that you may have. After all, there is no better time than the present!

During my travels I am constantly faced with the same retort to suggestions when it comes to implementing a new strategy. For example, I may suggest to a facility to take some time out to implement a new estimating strategy, perhaps blueprinting—to which I hear excuses like, ‘we are too busy’ or ‘we don’t have the time’. Based on many of the shops I have been through over the last few months, I would have to beg to differ on that.

Let’s erase the idea of the what the new normal has been made out to be. What we are doing now is far from normal, and I am quite sure most of you who are business owners are not quite ready to be told will be the way things are going forward.

The volume of work has tanked out there, there were 10,000 less car accidents in Edmonton than the year before. That is significant—and it shows as I walk through the shops. The repair volume is way down, staffing is minimal— though some have managed to keep staff on, all at a cost that will need to be repaid or recovered; ergo the “new normal”. Yeah…no thank you.

Now would be the time to implement new strategies in your facility, the time and patience required to get a new idea off the ground can be overwhelming when you have a full shop to tend to, adjusting or updating SOPs for the staff, updating your estimating profiles, getting on top of OE procedures, some well-deserved training, then implementation of said training. If you focus this time on these ideas for when it picks up, you will be ready to embrace the work load the way you really want too, the way you have wanted to for years.

Why let something out of your control dictate your new normal when you should be creating your own for the future. Change can be good when it is warranted and implemented on your terms or agreeable terms. Not all change is good, and the change we have seen is a prime example of not good. Force fed change with no time to implement strategies correctly are a recipe for disaster (PBE) And if you like that new normal, well, I have a bridge for sale in London.

There is change coming, and the landscape in the future will be much different than it was in 2019. Just look at the use of OE standards becoming more and more mainstream, the line items associated with these new SOPs. Look at the global picture and the push towards the greener vehicles that will be coming down the line. Are you aware that currently there are 52 makes and models of PEV and HEV available to the North American consumer, with a showing increased availability in the used vehicle market as well, which means affordable vehicles for all, not just Daddy Warbucks.

Let’s also factor in some real government legislation regarding where our industry is headed, look at Norway, Norway boasts the highest penetration of electric vehicles in the world. This year about 50% of new cars sold in this (Norway) oil-and-gas rich country will be battery-electric only. Norway’s Parliament aims to ban all cars that are not zero emissions by 2025.

Some of our political figures can see this as the future norm, some not so much. The Quebec government, right here in Canada, are moving forward with their long-awaited plan to tackle climate, a ban on the sale of new gas-powered vehicles, starting in 2035. With 1.5 million on the road by 2030.

You can see there is a new norm coming and it is one we should be adjusting our sails for now—pun intended.

These vehicles will need new training, new expertise and possibly some dedicated skill set for them to be repaired correctly, not to mention the added ADAS features that need to be tended to, along with all that administrative front end work. When are you going to get ready for that change? When you are busy—or during the down time right now? Utilize the opportunity right now for more than an advertising vehicle to splash your name and logo on sanitizer and masks, something that will be history, 2020 is done, stick a fork in it and get ready to embrace what is going to really matter, your business and maneuvering your staff to accommodate your real new normal.

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