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The COVID-19 Outbreak: One Shop's Oral History 

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Accomplished Bluffton, Ind., shop owner Greg Lobsiger, of Loren’s Body Shop, sprang to action once the COVID-19 outbreak took root in the U.S. in March. Below, he recounts the steps he took that allowed him to avoid layoffs or furloughs and stay on a path toward hitting his yearly goal of $3 million in annual revenue. 

As told to Kelly Beaton

In early March I was like most shop owners, thinking the coronavirus outbreak would pass fairly quickly. I did feel pretty confident that work was going to drop, but I didn’t think it would last as long as it has.   

But, I never laid one person off. We did reduce hours to 36 hours one week, but that was it.

We’ve had some systemic stuff that we’ve been able to work on that we never, ever would have had time for before. And, we’re trying to get this year’s training classes done so that, when we do get busy again, we won’t be tied up working on I-CAR classes. We got set up with the Body Shop Booster estimating app, and we’ve had three onboarding calls that we had time to have all our admin people sit in on. 

I also did some different marketing stuff like geofencing, so we can ramp back up soon. 

And, as a leader of my shop, I don’t always ask my employees “Hey, what do you think?” But I took the time to listen, and it’s crazy the ideas your people can come up with, where you’re left thinking “I never would’ve thought of that; that’s genius.” Like, we put a switch and light back in our shop so that, if the admin people have too many customers come in at one time, they can flip a switch that flips a red light on, letting employees know we need help up front. We would’ve never done that before, because we never would have had time to do it. 

Another big thing is that, on the morning of April 30, I got the approval for the PPP loan. So that’s going to be a definite help. 

In recent days here, we’ve realized that people are getting tired of getting cooped up. More people are on the road, driving. In the last few days (in early May) we’ve had pretty decent sales to get us out of the gate. I still plan on making our goals this year, that’s for sure.

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