Adrian Pierce, Business Development Director at AutoDrain, looks at how opportunity and change within the ATF sector are expected as we enter the “new normal” providing businesses continue to focus on the needs of their customers
In recent months the entire world has been forced to adapt to circumstances never before seen and take actions that would have been unthinkable less than a year ago. For some businesses there has simply not been a way forward, and for many, the end of the furlough scheme may yet call time on their activities. The changes we have seen in our business and personal lives have been breathtaking. For some, they have come at the end of a fairly long period of relatively stable trading. For others, like AutoDrain, the crisis has arrived during a time of rapid growth and self-driven change.
At AutoDrain, we are in the latter stages of a four-year Business Change Programme that began late in 2016 and has seen changes in personnel, operating methods and products. We have grown both our product offer and our marketplace, and yet the COVID crisis has challenged our flexibility and innovation to the limit as it has the entire Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) sector. Our own dismantling business, whilst quite small, has maintained a good level of online business and helped us through these difficult times with much needed additional revenue.
It now feels as if we are beginning to move towards what everyone seems to be calling the “new normal”. Quite how normal that will be remains to be seen, but it is probably safe to say that some things can be relied upon to be the same. Efficient, flexible businesses will do better; customers’ needs will change, so customer focussed businesses will compete best, and a range of products and services that meet customer needs will find buyers.
If it is true that we are about to enter a full-blown recession and that green-thinking will drive the economy, then dismantlers can expect to see a good level of opportunity.
Recycling of one kind or another is now the norm for all households. Environmental concerns in their buying choices increasingly drive consumers. Re-using viable parts from vehicles at the end of their life fits this thinking. An economic downturn is now what any of us want, but people backing off from large purchases can lead to the continuing use and repair of older vehicles, and that’s a potential positive for our sector.
Environmental pressure may also drive regulation and enforcement, pushing more of our market towards legitimate ATF professionals.
The biggest weapon in a business’ armoury in hard times, of course, is efficiency. Taking less time and cost to carry out your processes can improve profitability when you are chasing a smaller market. It can demand courage from business leaders to invest at times like these, but often pushing on “against the market” can give a big competitive advantage.
Here at AutoDrain, we have been investing and working hard during lockdown to widen our product offer and make our products even more flexible to suit all sizes of depollution operation and every budget. Improving our internal processes will help us continue to improve our quality of service and response, and we will be rolling out a number of new products and service offers throughout the next 18 months.
With more variations on long-standing successes like our Wheelpopper and completely new solutions for high volume operations, we are expanding our standard range whilst still offering our bespoke design service when needed.
With a new catalogue and website planned for early 2021 and so many new products currently in development, we are optimistic about short and long term future. As business people, we know that no matter how the world may change, quality, value and a commitment to the customer will always be the way forward.