From the CEO - June - 2021

Resist Normal

For over a year now, we’ve all clamored for normality. We’ve either secluded ourselves in our homes (including working from home), had to wait in orchestrated stanchions and line configurations to avoid any level of closeness to another person, and waited outside of stores to not exceed the store capacity (reduced to about 25% of normal). Every restaurant shut down, except for delivery and curbside pick-up. This is a California perspective, so it may be different where you live. In any event, it was a mess, and you don’t need me to tell you how bad it was.

Every business has adapted to the changes placed upon them to stay in business while complying with the ever-changing demands. I remember it was a Thursday evening in March of 2020 when our Governor declared that businesses shut down and go to a work-from-home model. I recall the sinking feeling I had, wondering how we were going to make it.

The next morning, we had a powwow\ rah-rah meeting, and everyone grabbed their computer and essential “stuff,” loaded it in their car, and off they went. In about four hours, everyone was up and running. We use a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone system, so when people plugged their phone in, it was like they were right in the office. I was amazed at how quickly everyone adapted and got back to work. Have I mentioned before how blessed I am to work with such an amazing team?

For about a month, I was the only person working at the ATRA offices. Those were spooky times in the wee hours of the morning, and I’m glad it didn’t go on for too long. No business was untouched, and everybody had to figure out a way to make it work. Shops worked at cleaning, disinfecting, and finding ways to make their customers feel comfortable coming to their business. Many shops had a car-cleaning procedure and modified their waiting area for social distancing. Some even set up an outdoor receiving/ waiting area. The point is that we did it, and all the while eagerly waiting to return to normal.

But wait a minute. Do we really want to go back to normal? In the downtown area where I live, the city shut down Main Street, allowing the restaurants to set up outdoor dining spaces. My wife and I love it. “Please don’t go back to normal.”

We found that some people work better in a space that has fewer distractions. Going back to normal here might be a step backward. How about all that cleaning you’ve done in your shops? Perhaps staying un-normal might be a better choice and something your customers prefer. Many aspects of the “new normal” are preferable to those of the “old normal.” Shops are busy, with many having record sales.

ATRA shut down all seminars after the first part of March 2020, so we went to a virtual seminar (VTS). You’ll find it on the home page of the ATRA website. While many people love the regional seminars, they also love having 24/7 access to training on demand. That’s going to stay too. We had a virtual trade show last year as well. This opened the door to guests from around the world who had never been to our Powertrain Expo. People continued accessing the video training – reviewing it over and over. Perhaps we should work that in, too.

There’s no question that it’s been a tough year for everyone. But our resilience has shown that we can figure out how to stay in business while improving it at the same time. Going back to normal may be overrated.

As we get into summer, we’ll work on the Fall seminars and Powertrain Expo in October. We’ll follow a little un-normality (if that’s even a word) and make it fun in the process. Celebrate, and Resist Normal. See you then.