A YEAR OF INTERESTING TIMES

DROUGHT | BUSHFIRE | HOLDEN CLOSURE | HONDA ANNOUNCEMENT | COVID-19

“May you live in interesting times.”

Many believe this statement to be a Chinese curse, although it appears to actually have become a saying via Chinese Whispers rather than anything Confucius or Sun Tzu might have uttered. Nevertheless, here we are, in “interesting times”, and it’s not difficult to see them as cursed. The COVID-19 pandemic is a worldwide health scourge the likes of which has not been seen since the Spanish Flu a century ago. It is affecting everybody, threatening to not just kill millions, but destroy lives, livelihoods and entire economies as well.

Jobs have gone, businesses have folded, we can’t gather in groups or go to the gym, the beach, or even visit Mum and Dad. In January, Prime Minister Scott Morrison couldn’t get a handshake – now, no one can, let alone a hug or a kiss. No bookie in the world would take your bet for “social distancing” to be named Word(s) of the Year.

We talk a lot about disruption as a business model. But this is a different kind of disruption altogether. This has not just disrupted business, it has disrupted The World: the daily lives of just about every human being on the planet. It hopefully won’t last anywhere near as long, but in its scope and sheer number of people affected, we haven’t seen anything like it since World War II – maybe ever.

That is not to be overly dramatic or designed to encourage panic. We are all affected, yes, but if we work together, smartly, and follow best protocols and medical advice, we will emerge on the other side.

For Dealers, the COVID crisis comes, of course, in the wake of two years of declining sales for the automotive industry, the demise of General Motors Holden in Australia, and the disastrous bushfires that affected massive areas of Australia over summer, and it’s been accompanied by the news that Honda will significantly reduce its Dealer numbers and adopt an agency approach. Here’s another phrase: “Annus Horribilis”, and we’re only three months in.

With governments ordering citizens to stay home unless absolutely necessary, and only “essential” businesses permitted to remain open, Dealers are at least fortunate that our industry is seen as essential, albeit with skeleton staff and whoever can, working from home. Together with the Federal Government’s $130 billion JobKeeper package, we as a nation and an industry will hopefully keep the wolves from the door.

It’s hard to imagine many people deciding to go browsing for a new car, or even being allowed to unless – that phrase again – absolutely necessary. But cars will still need servicing. Potential buyers will be researching what they will buy – and from whom – when we’re through the worst of this.

So, now is a time to cross your t’s and dot your i’s, to ensure your communications and customer retention management are the best they can be. Because this crisis will end, and as always, the spoils will go to the prepared.

Stay well, stay safe, and do not hesitate to contact AADA should you have any questions.

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