Using data tools for post-COVID business planning

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Yesterday, the Auto Care Association hosted a webinar on “COVID-19: Industry Data Resources and Implications” for its members, in which Michael Chung, Auto Care’s new Director of Market Intelligence, and Scott Howat, Business Development Manager, discussed data resources. Auto Care makes it available to members in these uncertain times. Additionally, Howat and Chung spoke about the key data points that Auto Care is closely monitoring right now and what those data points could mean for the industry.

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Howat, who before joining Auto Care had a long career in the aftermarket with companies such as Gates Corp., Affinia and Echlin, spoke about the value he found in using data for business planning. company in 2008-2009 after the economic downturn.

“I can tell you that when the economy turned around in 2008, the first place I turned to was the Factbook,” Howat said. “The biggest issue I faced was the need for immediate data right now. Our CEO, our board of directors wanted information and they wanted it now. Not only did I have to find where to get it, but also to find the resources.

In addition to the Auto Care Factbook, the association has advanced the release of its new online industry research platform, TrendLens. TrendLens provides a data-driven perspective in which factors influencing the market affect the industry, so users can make efficient and informed decisions for their businesses when it matters.

Following an overview of the data tools Auto Care has and how best to use them for post-COVID planning and projections, the duo answered questions from webinar attendees. Listeners asked about expectations for kilometers driven in the second half of 2020, given the potential reluctance to get back on the plane immediately.

“I think the kilometers driven will be directly affected by how quickly we return to what we consider to be a normal working life,” said Howat. “I think if you are intuitive by nature I think there will be a reduction in air travel and an increase in long distance travel, but I think the big impact will be influenced by how quickly we recover and mobilize our workforce. “

Chung added, “Also, for me, part of the question is, if people drive long distances for trips out of town, will that compensate for the reduction in current trips? I will be very interested to see how this plays out.

When asked if the available tools can be updated with new metrics based on user feedback, the answer was yes. Howat noted, “We are living in an unprecedented time, as we begin to recover, new information will become available. In 2008, there was a direct relationship between fuel prices, miles driven and how quickly people returned. And we’re at record highs – gasoline costs $ 1.35 [a gallon] here in Florida, and I haven’t filled my tank for six weeks. There will be other factors available.

Chung said he welcomes user feedback and wants to ensure that the association shares high-quality and reliable statistics and that the possibility of introducing new metrics into the platform is possible and will occur over time. time.

When asked if the recovery from this pandemic was comparable to the recovery from the recession, Howat replied, “I think there are different factors that will impact this. We are all feeling the effects of the immediate shock in the market and the need to react to the situation. I think the timing is going to be different. I don’t think there was an end in sight in 2008 when it started to drop. I think due to the fact that this is a pandemic and we are starting to have indications of a recovery, it will not last that long.

“Does this create what I see as lasting changes in the way we do business? Does homework hold up? Is our commuter workforce changing a bit? These are dynamics, as we recover from this, that I think will be very important to look at. I think that with the global thirst for door-to-door delivery, we will see a growth in mid-size delivery vehicles serving the general public. Very interesting things will come out of it. It will be different but I think it will be shorter.

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