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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

Whocanfixmycar.com issue advice to network members on COVID-19


Date: 16-Mar-2020

IAAF service member company, Whocanfixmycar.com, have issued the following advice to their network members and suggested that there might be information of interest to IAAF members regarding how to deal with COVID-19 in the workplace.

As we’re sure you are well aware, given the endless news stream around coronavirus, we are in uncertain times around how the spread of this virus may impact our lives, families and our businesses over the coming weeks and months.

We therefore thought it might be useful to summarise our thoughts on the subject, communicate how we here at WhoCanFixmyCar.com are preparing for an escalation in confirmed cases and the associated actions the government may take to protect the nation and offer some advice and support as the situation develops.

The health and safety of employees and customers must be our top priority.  Many businesses are getting on the front foot with an overt message to customers around the steps they have taken to protect the environment in which they interact with customers, have put in place restrictions on non-essential business travel and have communicated to employees best practices around hygiene, in particular regular hand washing and in the event that someone is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 that they should not attend work and seek advice from a health professional, starting with a call to the NHS on 111.

As a network member and like us, most likely a small business, you are probably concerned about business continuity.  Depending on how heavily you rely on online customer acquisition through either WhoCanFixMyCar.com or similar channels, you are also probably interested in our own plans to navigate an economic turndown or even a scenario similar to that of Italy, where a nationwide quarantine is in place.

What are we watching closely within our business?
It is worth noting at this point, that 2020 thus far has seen two record months for bookings via the site.  There are three things we monitor closely:

  • Search – the number of queries we are seeing through Google and similar search engines.  Last week we set new records for the number of people finding the site each day and have reached almost 600,000 each month.  We watch this number closely; it is obviously a very good indicator of consumer behaviour.  The never-ending stream of news on coronavirus, in particular the headlines from Italy and the volatility in stock markets globally are all causing nervousness and a distraction in everyday life, but search volumes remain steady.
  • Jobs posted – this figure still remains at record levels, suggesting that when people are searching, they are still in need of a repair.
  • Bookings – the number of course we are all interested in, has remained steady over the last two weeks, however we watch closely as people begin to reduce travel and movement in the short term.

How do we think things might play out?
Research suggests that cases of COVID-19 have developed in a remarkably similar manner in every country thus far.  This would suggest the UK is approximately 2 weeks behind Italy, albeit we will benefit from an earlier and greater public awareness.  As such the UK government may be forced to take more drastic action to curtail the spread in the next 10-14 days with the peak expected in 3-6 weeks’ time, though these estimations still remain uncertain.  It is unclear how much this will disrupt our sector, but we should collectively be thinking about how to prepare for all scenarios.

WhoCanFixMyCar.com has done a lot of work to ensure business continuity through any isolation or quarantine event in the UK.  We have equipped key teams with the necessary tools to work from home so we can still support the network through such a scenario.  Of course, a nationwide restriction on travel could result in a sharp but short reduction in consumers travelling for non-essential work but the likelihood is that work will be deferred and not cancelled.

What does this mean?
It would be prudent to examine and plan for short term business disruption which could result in cash flow issues.  The government has just released a support package for small businesses as part of the 2020 budget including:

  • Statutory sick pay for "all those who are advised to self-isolate" even if they have not displayed symptoms.
  • Business rates for firms in England with a rateable value below £51,000 suspended for a year
  • A "temporary coronavirus business interruption loan scheme" for banks to offer loans of up to £1.2m to support small and medium-sized businesses.
  • The government will meet costs for businesses with fewer than 250 employees of providing statutory sick pay to those off work "due to coronavirus"
  • Those on in-work benefits who get ill will be able to "claim from day one instead of day eight".

It is unclear at the moment whether there will be a major impact on the supply chain however we will monitor the situation and communicate wherever we can.

Resources

There are a number of online resources you might find useful:


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