There are currently 51,608 reported Covid-19 cases in the UK. 5,373 have sadly died. This compares with 2626 confirmed, 65 recovered, and 103 deaths on the 24th March. As testing activity has been lower in the UK compared with countries such as Germany and South Korea, it shouldn't be used to compare mortality rates.
Are repairers classed as essential businesses?
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Report – March 2020, lists all non-essential businesses, including restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, car showrooms, hotels, cinemas, etc. It does not list garages or repairers. Michael Gove also confirmed on BBC Breakfast that petrol stations and garages are among the businesses permitted to stay open. Also confirmed by the Independent Garage Association. Further clarification was added to the exceptions on 25 March 2020, by specifically including "car garages and workshops".
Prioritising NHS and essential workers
In a normal year Vizion manage claims for 30,000 customers employed by the NHS. As we have seen, there are also those that provide community care, commissioned by local authorities, who are reliant on their own vehicles to get around. Our clients have been keen to ensure these customers are treated as VIP's and allowed to jump the queue. We're sure the rest of the general public will agree this is the right thing to do in the circumstances.
We will help whatever it takes
Many repairers have been operating in shifts to create social distancing while continuing to repair vehicles. For most it has been business as usual as much as physically possible, while reviewing the position day by day. We have had assurances from independent groups and individual bodyshops that they will step in and help with problems due to site closures for as long as they are able. Some repairers are at 100% and others are on a skeleton staff. There is a determination to try and stay open and many have said they will do anything to help in all areas – calling customers, recovering unroadworthy vehicles and remote estimating.
Raising the threshold
Our clients have been positive towards the idea of repairing up to the market value of the vehicle where the vehicle is appropriate to be repaired. This idea, from [name] of [company]
has real merit in that it will allow continued work on larger repairs while lowering logistical activity. These vehicles would otherwise be clogging up salvage yards that cannot hold auctions. It is worth discussing each case with the client engineer, who will act favorably on a contract repair basis as long as the parts are available.
Dealerships and Parts
We have seen recent examples of dealerships requesting payment of parts up front and closure of dealerships overnight, including their parts departments. Most vehicle manufacturers see the provision of vehicle parts as a critical social function and it can be performed and delivered with social distancing in mind. Some dealerships are back tracking and re-opening their parts operations, and we have also been looking at alternative sources, which could gain ground if the normal supply chain can't deliver. This is just after a time when we were seeing a reduction in back ordered items.
Suspension of collection / satisfaction notes
Due to the ongoing situation and importance of social distancing, it has been agreed that we will no longer require the customer's signature on their collection note. Collection notes can instead be signed by the repairer site manager or designated senior team member before being included in the AudaInvoice pack as normal. Similar with courtesy car collection sheets, confirm customer has verbally agreed by date and time. Appreciate this in not failsafe, but making a point at the time should help.
Monitoring Vizion home working calls
We can confidently say that all incoming calls from clients, customers and repairers are now being transferred to our home workers. To accommodate call transfers we have implemented a bespoke telephone number for all calls. This enables us to seamlessly transfer the caller while being able to monitor and report on call volumes, wait times and abandonment rates. It does however mean that until normal service is resumed and our home workers are recalled to the office, we are unable to report on client call volumes, service levels or the nature of the call via our wrap up reports.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employee's salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during the crisis. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement as existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers. See www.gov.uk for more information.
The government will support businesses by deferring VAT payments for 3 months. All UK businesses are eligible, and this is an automatic offer with no applications required.
Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period and will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. See www.gov.uk for more information.