Webinars (18 March) Overview

ARC360 preserves ‘social distance’ with online event

These may be unprecedented and uncertain times, but the second ARC360 ‘event’ proved that innovation, adaptability and cooperation can go a long way to reducing disruption and ensuring business continues – albeit in a revised format.

Following its successful launch at the King Power Stadium in Leicester last November, ARC360, in association with I Love Claims, was due to host its second event at the British Motor Museum, Warwickshire, on Wednesday 18 March.

That became impossible when the government enforced stricter measures to counter the spread of Covid-19, but rather than cancel the event completely, an online solution was quickly found to ensure key conversations continued, with the day’s agenda modified to reflect the current crisis.

Huge impact

ARC360 co-founder Mark Hadaway explained, ‘Now more than ever it’s crucial to keep communication channels open. Covid-19 has had a huge impact in an incredibly short period of time. The situation is changing daily and people are understandably concerned – both personally and professionally. We wanted to do everything possible to bring them together to discuss challenges, share experiences and, not least of all, remember that no one is alone in this.

‘A series of individual webinars enabled us to do that. It wasn’t Plan A, but necessity is the mother of invention and perhaps we all need to work a little differently now. The response we had was fantastic.’  

Think differently

The first webinar of the day was delivered by Eddie Longworth, director, JEL Consulting. TitledThe Real World of Supply Chain Relationships in Motor Claims’, he challenged bodyshops to think differently about their role in the supply chain and consider who their real customer is.

Talking predominantly to non-retail repairers, he said, ‘Repairers seem confused as to who their customer is. If you’re in a business-to-business market you need to recognise that you are a supplier, your customer is the insurer not the motorist, and it’s your job to satisfy their needs.’

Challenge and opportunity

He said Covid-19 does pose challenges but could also provide opportunities for repairers to strengthen their relationship with insurers by supporting them in this crisis and making themselves indispensable going forward. In the long-term, the returns on developing what he calls a ‘coalition’ could be immeasurable.

He said, ‘These are tough times for insurers because claims are going to fall in the double-digit percentages. If repairers want to be an influencer rather than a passive receiver, they need to get on the phone today and speak to their claims manager about how they can work together and help them through this crisis.

‘Repairers are suppliers. Their job is to keep their customer happy. There is an opportunity for them to do that right now, so I hope progressive members of the repairer community make it happen.’

Breaking down the challenges

The second webinar saw Marc Holding, managing director, The Vella Group, answer questions from Mark Hadaway and online attendees about how his company is reacting to today’s situation.

He explained that The Vella Group had broken the challenge down into three areas: people; business continuity; and economic consequences.

Twelve of the Group’s 200-plus workforce are in isolation, but Marc said the advantage of having eight sites meant they had been able to move people across the business to maintain core functions. He said the longer-term concern industry-wide was a sudden decrease in volumes.

He said, ‘The last recession was a gradual decline. This will be as close to a cliff as you can imagine. The economic hit will be sudden, so we’re trying to make sure we’re in a good position to get through that. But the news from day to day is so different, so the plan yesterday might not be the plans today and might be different again tomorrow.’

The industry impact

The final webinar of the day was a panel session focused exclusively on the impact of Covid-19. Taking part were Chris Ashworth, AVP, Enterprise Holdings; Gary Barker, claims director, AA Insurance; Mike Partridge, paint and body business manager, Volkswagen Group; and Chris Weeks, executive director, NBRA.

Chris Weeks spelled out the potential implications for bodyshops when he said that, although work volumes had not fallen dramatically yet, the 50-70% drop-off experienced in Italy would be ‘catastrophic’ for UK repairers.

He said, ‘An average bodyshop could easily have £90,000 of overheads each month, so they need a lot of money to keep turning over. Be under no illusions, we’re facing a tough, tough time. But the Chancellor said he will stick by industry, and the NBRA will stick by repairers.’

Cashflow threats

Chris Ashworth agreed that cashflow was an immediate threat and urged the industry to take measures to ease this pressure on the repair sector.

He said, ‘Bodyshops are critical business partners for us. We need to do what we can to help them because our industry doesn’t work without them. Paying early and paying for parts so repairs can progress is just one thing we can do. But we all need to keep talking, and more importantly keep listening, to find creative ways through this.’

Gary Barker suggested, ‘This is not a test of technology, it’s a test of leadership. Our people need to feel they’re being looked after. Look after people first, then our customers. We’ll worry about the money afterwards.’

Mike Partridge concluded, ‘This is completely unprecedented. There is no rule book. The only thing we have to go by is peoples’ experiences, so if we can learn from anyone we absolutely will. We’re not arrogant enough to think we have all the answers. For now, I’d say do whatever you can to get through the next three months. Think the unthinkable and beware of unintended consequences. But most importantly stay safe. Keep yourself safe, keep your staff safe, and keep your family safe.’

ARC360 is grateful to corporate partner ACIS, BMS, EMACS, Entegral, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Nationwide Vehicle Recovery Assistance, S&G Response and CAPS; and partners Indasa, Innovation Group, and The Green Parts Specialists for their continued support.

The next ARC360 event is scheduled for June, although it is keeping a close eye on the situation and will provide updates nearer the time.


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