News outlets across the globe have been reporting on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread, which has now been officially categorized as a pandemic due to the rate of the virus’ spread across multiple continents. While businesses in China, where the virus is said to have originated, are beginning the process of resuming operations, other areas around the globe are preparing for slowdowns and working to minimize its impact until the situation is contained.
The editorial staff of aftermarketNews spoke with industry association leaders Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association, and Paul McCarthy, president and chief operating officer of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, to get their take. AASA announced this week it would move its annual Vision Conference online. The live conference had been scheduled to take place March 26 in Rosemont, Illinois, and now will be offered as a virtual event March 25-27. The three-day format will enable attendees to experience the originally scheduled speakers and subject matter in a focused, content-rich and interactive exchange of ideas. Click here for more details on the virtual Vision Conference.
According to McCarthy, AASA also will hold a webinar on March 18 to address the impact of COVID-19 on the supply chain, with a look at member experiences in China and Europe. McCarthy noted that as an association, one of its primary roles is networking and there has been active discussion among various member forums, with information flowing back and forth on best practices and how various organizations within the aftermarket are handling the situation.
“Suppliers have been trading all kinds of different information and benchmarking,” said McCarthy. “It’s been fascinating to see what some of our companies have been doing – some extraordinarily aggressive, some less so – and sharing those policies back and forth. And I think that’s been very helpful for folks.”
McCarthy noted that the feedback about moving the AASA Vision Conference online has been positive. “It was a hard decision, but we think it was the right one and it was necessary in these times. [There also] is a little bit of excitement about the new technology and these new ways to deliver content and value and interaction. You don’t want something like this to happen to cause that but there’s always a silver lining, right? The silver lining is the opportunity to learn new ways of working and new ways of learning and new ways of working with each other.”
Hanvey agreed that strong communication internally as well as to the industry is key and also sees a learning opportunity for the industry.
“There’s a great quote that I heard and I’m really trying to ‘hear’ it too, as well as share it with my staff, and that is ‘communication is the best antidote’” said Hanvey, in addressing the current concerns over impacts of the spread of COVID-19. “What we’re trying to do is make sure that the employees of the Auto Care Association are in tune with what’s going on and the industry is also in tune so that they can make the best decisions in terms of the actions that they want to take place.”
“In many cases, this is a personal decision,” Hanvey added. “It’s down to choice. We pride ourselves on bringing together the industry and our events are the flagship of our respective associations. But we also have to make sure that we’re cautious that the attendees of the conferences, or the people who have signed up, are aware of what’s going on. We have to conduct due diligence in terms of risks versus the benefits of networking right now. You have to weigh that very carefully.”
Hanvey noted that as of now, upcoming Auto Care Association events such as Leadership Days and the YANG Conference, the ACPN conference, and the PBES Conference are still scheduled to take place but the association is closely monitoring the situation and working with the facilities where the events are to be held.
Like McCarthy, Hanvey also sees the “silver lining” that has resulted in this rapidly changing situation.
“It’s very interesting in terms of the way we are communicating as an industry,” said Hanvey. “It’s really an opportunity for us to become more technological, and to really be smart about the way that we communicate. In every situation there’s an opportunity for you to improve and that’s the way that we look at it. We’re keeping a cool head. This also is an opportunity for the industry to think differently, to communicate differently, to network differently so, let’s not panic and let’s use it as an opportunity.”
How Aftermarket Repair Shops, Tire Dealers and Others Are Handling COVID-19
As the Coronavirus spreads around the globe, businesses are beginning to tighten up their health and safety protocols. Babcox Media editorial staff has been out in the field looking into how tire dealers, repair shops and other aftermarket businesses are preparing. Click on the links below to take a look.
We want to hear from you! If your business is seeing a change in operations from any aspect of the supply chain or is doing anything to prevent the Coronavirus, please email us at [email protected].