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877-627-5844 US | 866-658-9274 Canada

Mark VII Equipment Inc.

USA

5981 Tennyson St

Arvada, Colorado 80003 USA

+1 800.525.8248 toll free

+1 303.423.4910 direct

+1 303.430.0139 fax

 

Canada

623 S Service Rd Unit 1

Grimsby, ON L3M 4E8 Canada

866.658.9274 toll free

289.235.8325 direct

289.235.7950 fax

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Assessing the Impact of COVID-19

How will COVID-19 impact the carwash business?

To say that the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed the way we do business — and live life, for that matter — is to state the obvious. What’s yet to be determined is how we’ll get back to normal once the crisis is over, and what short- and long-term changes we may see in the aftermath.

Looking more specifically at the carwash business and carwash owners, we’re already seeing some interesting patterns. In many areas of the country, and especially in the major cities, the majority of businesses are closed and people are working from home.

Convenience stores, which are by far the largest segment of our customer base, have taken on a new significance. Deemed essential businesses, they remain open and are playing an important role. People who might normally stop in for a snack might now be looking for other items — like toilet paper. Many of these stores are taking steps to have a positive impact on their community — providing free beverages to first responders, for example.

Traditionally, carwashes were seen as a way to drive traffic into the stores. Now, in-store business is up sharply but carwash volume is down as fewer cars are on the road. That may be a factor to consider as we rebuild carwash traffic on the back side of the pandemic.

Retaining our workforce

The fact that convenience stores, and consequently their carwashes, remain open allows us to keep our technicians at work in the field and our chemicals teams engaged in delivering chemicals.

Internally, we’re putting people and their safety first. Our service techs are being deployed one person in a van. They are calling ahead before entering a business and doing as much service work as they can remotely. We’ve shifted our factory schedule from one shift to two so we can spread our people out for social distancing.

Financially, we’re doing the things that every company in America is doing, preserving our cash so we can pay our employees. When we all get back to full speed, we are going to need our skilled people.

Every day brings a new set of circumstances and there’s no roadmap to guide us. Imagine if this would have happened 25 years without the technology we have now to keep us connected and working remotely. The economy would have come to a grinding halt.

The future post COVID

What will business look like once restrictions are lifted? This pandemic has forced some out-of-the-box thinking. One thing I believe we will find is that we don’t need to travel as much. While face-to-face interaction is always great, especially in sales, we will see that there is a lot more work we can do remotely. The creative steps companies are taking to retain their workforce and keep them safe will yield different — and often more efficient —ways to work.

In terms of the carwash economy, it will vary by segment. With the convenience store chains, their typical struggle is to get people into the store. Now, store sales are going through the roof while their other two profit centers — fuel and carwashes — are lagging. Because they have stayed open while other businesses have closed, customer habits may change along with the perception of convenience stores. If the pivot from the crisis is executed correctly, convenience stores could gain a new and expanded customer base. That will benefit carwashes in the long run.

Yes, this crisis will cause significant damage, especially to the service economy. It will be the must-haves, not the want-to-haves, that will be necessities at first. But I believe the steps we’re taking now at Mark VII, and the way businesses support their customers through this challenging period, will pay dividends as life slowly returns to normal.

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