The pandemic seems to be over… the country has pretty much opened up again.
With that in mind, we spoke with Jobbers about what they were thinking now… did they have some trepidation about day-to-day business, did they have any worries…
Neil Harrison of Whitelaw Automotive spoke up eagerly.
“Our biggest concern currently is stock-outs at the manufacturing level for products that don’t have an alternative like paint components. In the hard parts line of our business, we can usually scramble to get it if our main warehouse can’t readily supply it. Something else I have a keen eye on is the Tesla owners going 400k on the same set of brakes… that’s a problem. But I have comfort in knowing the warehouse we belong to have an army of people making sure that our industry and our business can stay relevant as electrification comes to the forefront.
“I have larger concerns with the consolidation in the body shop world, or alternatively the direct model that many manufactures have adopted in the industrial/fleet paint segment. Another reality for smaller town businesses in Southwestern Ontario is the more the GTA struggles, the more we see their volume bases pricing work its way into our lower-volume customers which can make things very tricky to balance.
“It really is a catch 22, because in a lot of cases to grow the fastest and be the best, you need to specialize (choose a path), but then you have times like COVID and realize that being diverse like we are, has allowed us to ride out this wave of uncertainty. So that will be our growth path for the unforeseeable future.
“With the mainstream acceptance of online shopping due to COVID, it will be interesting to see if the general public starts to realize the effects of not keeping their money local! I hope there is some awareness at some point, and I don’t think it will be a soft awareness, i.e. something like soccer now costs $500 for a five-year-old because no local businesses want to sponsor those teams!”
And from Kim Vance at Vance Auto in St. George, New Brunswick we heard, “We have been a jobber for 46 years and recently became a member of CARQUEST. Their support has been extremely beneficial to our business. They helped navigate us through the pandemic and addressed day-to-day issues as they arose.
“Issues like inventory supply and higher freight cost that we experienced during the pandemic I believe are starting to come back in line as we begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The anxieties on the horizon are about how the electric vehicles are going to impact the marketplace in terms of replacement parts, and what are the opportunities for installers and the do-it-yourself person going to be? This will surely have an impact on our type of business.
“In addition, an ongoing concern is the availability of a skilled workforce… something that is badly needed!”
Some thought-provoking views here to mull over.