5 reasons Members aren’t confident about their business’s future

Two men over engine

Capricorn’s State of the Nation Report 2021 measured business confidence among Australian/NZ auto industry workshop owners. Here’s what they told us they’re worried about.

There are plenty of reasons automotive workshop owners across Australia and New Zealand feel confident about the future of their businesses—from a belief their business will continue to grow, to the support of a loyal customer base, to the team they have working alongside them.

Half of all Members said they felt either very or extremely confident in their business’s future.

But not everyone is feeling so buoyant. State of the Nation Report 2021 measured business confidence among Members across Australia and New Zealand and, as you might expect for an industry-wide survey, there were a range of responses.

The list of negatives is as revealing as the list of positives, so here’s what Members told us they’re worried about:

The general drawbacks of working in the industry

Two in five Members felt only moderately confident about their business’s future, 7% felt only slightly confident and 1% felt not confident at all.

Members were also asked why they felt the way they did. This was asked as an open-ended question, rather than as a list of predetermined options, giving Members the chance to say whatever they felt. One in four left comments we’ve grouped together as “general negatives” of working in the industry.

Specifically, we’re talking about things like:

  • The demanding workload (Members work long days, struggle to take time off, often have a poor work-life balance)
  • The impact of competition (e.g., from other workshops in their area, or from dealerships and longer warranties on new vehicles)
  • The demands of customers (expecting more for less, price sensitivity, price shopping).

What can you do?

Here are a few CapHub articles with great, actionable advice to help you tackle these kinds of issues:

The financial factors impacting running an automotive business

The second biggest grouping of answers related to financial factors, with 18% of Members saying money matters were a reason for their lack of confidence in their business’s future.

Members’ comments included:

  • “I’m trying to stretch the dollar to cover all outgoings…”
  • “Customers don’t pay their bills on time…”
  • “Not owning the building creates uncertainty with rent evaluations and being able to afford the premises…”

What can you do?

Changing technology and the evolving industry

The third largest group of answers, felt by 17% of Members, related to technology and the ever-changing nature of the automotive industry. Changing technology was also named as one of the biggest challenges facing the industry overall by 44% of Members.

Keeping up with technology is expensive—in terms of the equipment itself, the software it uses, and the training needed to operate it. Yet keeping up to date is essential to operating an efficient and profitable business. 

What can you do?

The ongoing impacts of Covid-19

Fourteen per cent of Members told State of the Nation 2021 they were worried about the impacts of the pandemic, leaving comments like: “Covid has done lots of damage and the industry will be more affected by late shipments of parts.”

When we asked about ongoing issues Members were having adjusting to Covid-19, almost 70% reported they had none. Of those who did:

  • 12% reported parts/product shortages or delivery delays
  • 6% said they were seeing fewer customers or customers were spending less
  • 5% said finding staff had been a problem
  • 3% reported financial/cash flow issues
  • 2% said lockdowns and restrictions had caused problems.

Finding and retaining qualified staff

One in 10 Members said they lacked confidence in the future of their business because of the team they had around them.

In fact, the challenge of finding and retaining qualified staff was one of the big themes of this year’s State of the Nation, with 51% of Members identifying the skills shortage as one of the biggest issues facing the industry as a whole.

What can you do?

Want to know more?

Download the full State of the Nation Report 2021.

This article was published 13/09/2021 and the content is current as at the date of publication.