The Top Challenges Independent Shops Now Face in 2020

At the beginning of 2020, prior to the pandemic, IMR Inc. surveyed independent automotive repair shops to get insight into what they thought their biggest challenges would be for 2020, for both their shop and their technicians.  That research can be found here: Challenges for Independent Repair Shops and Technicians in 2020.

With the unexpected change in business due to the pandemic, IMR spoke to independent auto repair shops again to see if and how their perspective changed.

About this research: Between May 4th and May 29th, 2020, IMR interviewed 500 independent repair shops, nationally representative by location in the U.S., to gain insights into the challenges repair shops and technicians face in 2020.

In order to add context to their challenges, it’s important to understand how the pandemic has effected independent repair shops and their staff. The vast majority of shops (84%) had a decrease in revenue (84%) as well as staff reductions (54.6%) and pay reductions (86.8%).

What do you believe are the top challenges your shop will face for the remainder of 2020?

*Data available by other shop metrics including 1st call supplier, geography and other shop attributes and behaviors; For more detailed attributes contact IMR Inc.

Not surprisingly, independent automotive repair shops are concerned about social distancing, staying in business, getting back to normal hours and, generally, recovering from COVID-19.

However, when asked about what shops believe their top challenges are for the remainder of the year, they believe getting parts on time, finding suppliers with parts in stock, dealing with rising parts costs and, in turn, adjusting to keep their prices affordable will be challenges they’ll need to mitigate for the remainder of 2020.

In January, when these questions were asked, shops were primarily concerned about keeping up advances in diagnostics (31.6%), finding quality techs (29.2%), having funds for advertising (26%), increasing parts prices (16.6%) and affording diagnostic tools (15.6%).

What do you believe are the top challenges technicians will face for the remainder of 2020?

*Data available by other shop metrics including 1st call supplier, geography and other shop attributes and behaviors; For more detailed attributes contact IMR Inc.

When it comes to the technicians working in the shop, working ‘full time’ to support their family, keeping themselves safe at work and keeping their family safe from COVID-19 are the primary concerns.

Many of the subsequent concerns that were named haven’t changed much, other than the order/frequency of being mentioned, from when this question was asked earlier in 2020.

In January, finding time for training was the number one response at 42.6%, now in May 16.6%, followed by staying on top of vehicle technology advances (31.1%), now 8.0%, and keeping up with advances in diagnostic technology (30.9%), now 12.4%.

Segment:  Shop’s 1st Call Supplier is a Retailer vs. a Warehouse Distributor

When segmenting by whether the shop’s first call is either an auto parts retailer or warehouse distributor, differences appear when comparing the relative magnitude of certain named challenges between those shops.

What do you believe are the top challenges your shop will face for the remainder of 2020?


*Data available by other shop metrics including 1st call supplier, geography and other shop attributes and behaviors; For more detailed attributes contact IMR Inc.

Credit/Photos: IMR Inc. / Automotive Research.com

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