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IMR Inc. Updates Top Challenges for Independents

IMR Inc. has released an update specific to COVID-19 of its original findings from a February report, focused on the top challenges for independent repair shops and technicians in 2020. The original report can be found here.

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Prior to the official categorization of COVID-19 as a global pandemic on March 11, IMR Inc. surveyed independent automotive repair shops and technicians to ask what they saw as their top challenges for 2020. Between May 4-29, 500 independent automotive repair shops were surveyed to provide new perspective on the challenges that shops and technicians anticipate facing for the duration of the year.

Overall, IMR says 84% of shops reported a decrease in revenue, with 54.6% reporting staff reductions and 86.8% reporting pay reductions.

Out of urban, suburban and rural areas, rural shops had the largest staff reduction at 57.9% and 80% of shops with eight or more bays also reduced staff, in contrast with shops that have one to three bays (42.6%) and shops with four to seven bays (52.8%), IMR says.

Suburban shops reported that 92.6% had a reduction in staff pay or shop hours, while urban shops reported 86% and rural shops 84.2%. Shops with four to seven bays reported that 92.7% cut hours or pay, followed next by shops with eight or more bays, of which 89.2% reported cuts in hours or pay for staff.

When segmenting shops by whether first call is an auto parts retailer or warehouse distributor, 60.6% of shops whose first call is an auto parts retailer reported a reduction in staff and 93.9% of those who use auto parts retailers also reported a reduction in staff hours or pay, IMR reports. Shops that use a warehouse distributor reported 51.3% were reducing staff and 83% reducing hours or pay.

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IMR Inc. asked shops what they believe are their top challenges for the remainder of 2020 given this unexpected change to business due to the pandemic, and while maintaining social distance, staying in business and returning to normal operating hours are important, shops are also concerned with getting parts on time and finding suppliers with parts in stock. These challenges, in turn, are also leading shops to anticipate adjustments in how they do business in order to keep prices affordable for customers, IMR says.

Shops whose first call is an auto parts retailer and shops whose first call is a warehouse distributor both reported that their biggest concern was social distancing and keeping staff and customers safe (65.6% and 49.4%).

For technicians at independent repair shops, 45.8% responded that their greatest challenge for the remainder of 2020 will be to keep working full time or enough hours to support their families. This response was followed by 37.2% of technicians who said they are concerned with keeping themselves safe at work due to COVID-19.

When technicians were surveyed by IMR Inc. in January, their primary concern at 42.6% was finding time for training, which, now in May, has decreased to 16.6%, IMR says.

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