How to Pivot Your Small Business in a Pandemic

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CARSTAR Brantford team Photo: CARSTAR

Since COVID-19 first hit North America at the end of March, the rate of mobility amongst Canadians for both recreation and work has decreased 23-34%, affecting more industries than anticipated.

Collision repairers, being one of those businesses, have had to stay positive throughout this downturn and keep an eye out for opportunity where possible.

“My dream has always been to own my own collision repair centres,” says Javier Torres, President, CARSTAR TORCAM Group. “There is no level of experience, research or certifications that I could have gotten to prepare me for this unique time we are currently facing.”

Torres, along with his wife Liliana Camacho and their son, Sebastian Torres, own two local body shops in Brantford, CARSTAR Brantford and CARSTAR Brantford West.

“We have gotten creative in our current service offering by taking online estimates through our website and adding sanitization steps in the repair process to help keep customers safe,” continues Torres. “One thing we did not expect to do was launch mechanical services at our CARSTAR Brantford West location. We have invested in the equipment to do mechanical work, alignments, oil changes and much more.”

Already finding great success in its new services, Torres and his team remain optimistic about the future.

“We know customers trust us for their repairs, but adding in this extra layer of service creates a one-stop-shop and also helps keep our operations going,” adds Sebastian Torres, General Manager, CARSTAR TORCAM Group. “As a local business owner, you always have to be prepared and willing to invest in yourself and we could not be more grateful for the support of our Brantford community throughout this challenging time.  We know we will get through it together.”

Some tips Sebastian Torres shares with other local business owners include:

  • Take advantage of the internet: our business is brick and mortar, but incorporating online appointment bookings makes it easier for busy customers on the go to schedule something and stop by at their convenience. Offering online ordering or appointment bookings can go a long way from a customer’s perspective.
  • Create priorities and set goals: it is easy to get overwhelmed if you do see an influx of business, but that is not the time to stop. Prioritizing tasks is key to ensure you don’t drop anything in the shuffle. Setting goals and tracking to see if you achieve those goals is also crucial. For us, we track repair time, quality of work, and customer experience, which we work on improving each day.
  • Lean on others: whether you are looking for referrals to your business, looking for advice, or looking for support in your day-to-day operations, leaning on others is key. You may get a fresh perspective on a longstanding problem, or get the boost of positivity you need to keep pushing forward.
  • Give back: although things may seem tough, there is always someone worse off. It is important to give back, even during challenging times. We were able to work with our industry partners and community members to donate $4,300 to the Brantford Food Bank earlier this year because food banks across North America experienced a strain on their supplies.

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