Preparing for Economic Downturn

A shop owner’s perspective on automotive industry resilience

Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Winter 2023


AS WE APPROACH 2024, the phrases "economic downturn" and "industry challenges" are becoming increasingly prominent. It's crucial not to overlook these factors. While we've enjoyed a series of prosperous years in the automotive industry, the road ahead will not be as smooth, and we must prepare for more demanding times. Some of you might be thinking, "I haven't faced any challenges; everything is going well." That's fantastic, and I commend your success. However, it's important to recognize that not everyone shares the same situation.

The key takeaway here is that if you can navigate the next few years without experiencing a significant downturn, you'll have positioned yourself for success. Recently, I addressed our team about our future outlook. My intention wasn't to scare them but, rather, to assure them that, as their CEO, I'm proactively looking ahead to ensure we are prepared. I conveyed our commitment to taking every precautionary measure to maintain our financial responsibility and stability as a company. I also challenged our team members to apply the same principles in their personal lives. If your personal economy is stronger than the economic conditions around you, you won't "feel" the impact of an economic downturn as bad. Conversely, if your financial situation is weaker, you'll undoubtedly experience the ripple effects in your life.

Now is the time to tighten your financial belt, make wise choices, trim unnecessary expenses, and lead a financially responsible life. During prosperous times, it's easy to overlook our shortcomings. However, in challenging economic times, you must strive for 100%, revisiting the fundamentals and giving your best effort in every aspect of your business or role. It's tempting to brush things off when times are busy and money is flowing, but your true character shines through when faced with adversity and slowdowns. How you present yourself and how your team members behave becomes evident. It's essential to keep everyone in sync and rowing in the same direction to navigate any downturn successfully. Align your teams, ensure the financial stability of your business, and support your team members' personal financial well-being. Think of your- selves as a family working together, and when you look back on this article five years from now, you'll say, "That downturn was manageable; we hardly felt any adverse effects.”

Travis Troy is an automotive industry professional with over 12 years of experience as a co-owner of two Honest Wrenches Automotive Repair LLC shops in Des Moines, Iowa.