Thankfully we have reopened in most areas and re-awakened our ability to socialize.
Now we can enjoy a meal at a patio restaurant, even travel for the most part outside our province for both personal and work-related activities.
Many people have now received both doses of the vaccine to combat COVID; we are witnessing fewer cases and more importantly, fewer deaths.
This is positive news! People want to get out, want to interact with others, and begin to return to what they would consider normal times again.
This is also beginning to move corporate decision-makers to return their employees back to an office environment, back to full bore production levels, and in many cases, the return of sales teams to visit with clients who, in many cases, have not seen a representative for a year and a half.
Here again, those that are in a customer contact role, are very eager to hit the road, meet their customers and regenerate the confidence and trust that is the mainstay of building, growing and maintaining their business.
For the aftermarket, although many of us had to adjust, reduce expense, alter our staffing numbers, do more with less, the bottom line is that we, as an essential service survived and, in many cases, actually grew the business.
Says a lot for the resilience and perseverance that our industry continues to display year in, year out.
Is it all over? Unfortunately, we will still have many challenges in front of us. For the aftermarket, the one burning issue is the efficiency of the supply chain.
The impact of the pandemic is now being felt through the supply of products as many plants on a global basis had to address production with reduced staff levels, or complete shut down of manufacturing together for lengthy periods of time.
And these conditions were inconsistent from province to province in Canada, from state to state in the U.S. and ultimately from country to country around the globe.
No one person, no one entity and no country has been left unscathed by what we have experienced since March 2020.
Since we’re all in the same boat, and we know that inventory is KING, we have to think that buying habits will change, loyalties will be fragile, and flexibility in the choices being made will be the order of the day.
There are companies with ample inventory but are faced with ongoing staffing issues as many companies begin to bring people back online.
Many companies have no staffing issues, have the capability for additional capacity, but their supply chain is lacking raw materials or other components to produce finished products. And the cost of transportation, particularly containers, has skyrocketed.
There are not enough containers or ships today to package and ship goods from Europe and Asia to supply our market at a level we expect before March of 2020.
Not all is lost, however. The semiconductor shortage is impacting new car sales for some OEs, but the used car market is booming! That is a good combination for the aftermarket.
Consumers are hanging on to their vehicles and combined with a predicted uptick for kilometres driven, should also be very positive for our industry.
Although not without its challenges… there is light at the end of the tunnel.