Covid19 aka the Corona Virus has affected businesses worldwide from small self employed cleaners to large multi million pound corporate companies, but how has it affected you so far?
Well here at Aarons Autos it has affected us massively!
When the lock down was announced at the beginning of March we made the decision to stay open, firstly to offer our services to key workers to help them stay on the road and do their jobs and secondly to try and help Aarons Autos ride out the possible rough times ahead.
We managed to do this quite successfully till around the 25th March but once the government announced the MOT extension scheme we lost between 30-40 booking over night! Causing us to question whether it was feasible to stay open.
In the last week of March it became apparent that it would not be feasible to stay open as we struggled to make the business pay, understandably customers were very hesitant to leave their homes to come to the garage if they didn’t have to.
The decision was made that I would keep the garage open on my own to offer our services to those important key workers and Furlough the rest of our team, but unfortunately after only doing three jobs in the first week of April this too was an unsustainable choice and I decided to Furlough myself too.
This was weird! Aarons Autos was established in 2004 and had never closed its doors for more than a week since then, so to close them now not knowing when or even if they would open again was a very strange and slightly disturbing feeling.
Once off work my concerns seemed to grow as I had nothing to do! Being furloughed as a Director of a Limited company is not easy, I was not allowed to do any work which could be seen to be promoting my business, I could only carry out basic Directors roles for example paying wages and paying VAT, this felt strange.
I applied for the Government grant offered to help small businesses cover their running costs whilst they were closed which I was accepted for and received promptly into my business bank account, this gave me a glimmer of hope as it would allow me to keep the garage closed for up to two months before it would start affecting me personally.
Sat at home for two months.
Once I felt the business was as safe, as it could be, we start a life unlike anything we have ever known. I have always worked, yes I have had holidays but nothing like this, Lock Down – you can’t go out, you can’t see your family, you can’t see your friends, you have to queue two metres apart to get essential food – this was strange.
Have I had the virus?
In early February I was very ill, I had a fever, a cough, struggled to breath and food had no taste. When I went to the Doctors they told me I had a mild case of Pneumonia, they gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way. Once I had finished my course of antibiotics I felt no better, in fact I felt worse! I couldn’t sleep, every time I moved I would cough until I felt sick.
I spoke to the Doctors again and they told me it could take six to eight weeks for this to clear if it was Pneumonia, so i waited and it did, after seven weeks all I had left was a slight cough.
My question is, was this the Corona Virus? At no point was I told too quarantine or get a test done? If I had those symptoms now what would happen?
Anyway back to how the Conona Virus has affected my business. After two months of painting, gardening and sun bathing (my favourite bit) it was time to plan when to re-open Aarons Autos, even though some garages re-opened mid way through May I decided to hold till the 1st June. I didn’t want to re-open, have a busy week and then it goes quiet, and then have to contemplate furloughing my team again.
After deciding when to re-open we shared it on our website and our social media platforms and the response was quite overwhelming, our customers started to rebook work instantly allowing us start filling our diary and plan our return.
We have taken all the necessary safety precautions including installing a perspex barrier between customers and staff, supplying hand sanitizer and latex gloves and will be operating a 2 metre distancing rule where possible.
I know not everyone has had an easy ride, this virus has taken loved ones from us and affected us mentally and financially but we have to look forward, look to the future control what you can control and we should all get through this, this next year is uncertain but I plan to get through it and I hope you do to.