Following the government guidance of surrounding covid-19 is a tricky feat for the small business owner. First, we hear what is announced from Westminster and the appropriate government departments, such as the DVSA for our sector, then we turn to our devolved administrations for subjects relating to things like business rates and health. The successful navigation of the business is critical and there have been moments of confusion whilst the world is rearranged, and we discover what fits where. For Avia an area of challenge is whether the business is to be considered “retail” and therefore able to access the suite of benefits that this label will bring. An ongoing conversation now at ministerial level, clarification is hotly anticipated. Conversations at local government level became increasingly short and resulted in a question if every motorist in the county of Bridgend were not entitled to the rights of a consumer?
To assist clarification, a collection of self-reporting data was compiled through social media. The data was anonymised, collated, coded, and presented to the Minister for Transport in Wales in a matrix format displaying what counties had awarded what. Data collected in this fashion cannot always be singularly relied upon, but it can give a “feel” of circumstance that can be later supported with more reliable sources. Owing to the final caveat of business rates being under the control of local government, we may still find ourselves in a postcode lottery as a simplistic mechanism to roll out financial support will always be a blunt instrument.
In the beginning of the lock down, being Welsh, a “half ‘n’ half” strategy was deployed. Safely sequestering half of our team whilst the other half worked was initially successful, we felt we provided a much-needed service for essential travel and could do so safely. The decision to suspend MOT testing dealt a devastating blow as the country prepared itself for tighter lock down and to continue was not fiscally viable. The hard decision to shutter the business was made.
Preparing the business for an unknown period of closure was so very hard, creating a surprising amount of unwelcome administration. As a team we have utilised the time in different ways, I have made repairs to some kit I never got round to doing and can successfully consume a pack of jelly tots without my children’s knowledge. We keep in touch socially through video link, chatting about what we are up to and what the future might bring.
Today, the Welsh Government offered further guidance with regards to the lock down protocol and we have, as a team, reflected on what this means to us and how we can move forward safely. We have decided to reopen using a soft approach inspired from hospitality with no official launch to our motorists. Prioritising those we are aware that require essential repairs we intend to beta test our refined safe working techniques utilising digital resources sent to us from the Parts Alliance and equipment we have bought from WAI Global to sanitise vehicles.
Avia will take time to carefully test these procedures and will then take the opportunity to analyse the findings before deciding as a team on how to more forward. It is important to consider the safe return to work, especially for those who have been off for a longer period. It is intended to continue with the “half n’ half” strategy that worked so well for us in the beginning, cycling the team in order to adequately rest and provide input from everyone for decision making. We are all very aware that we need to open the doors at some point and for us, this soft approach works best.