Corona virus was detected in 2019 and it spread very fast in and from China in the western world USA, Europe entering Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc by late 2019. It was soon declared a pandemic of a dreaded virus not witnessed in the last 100 years.
Due to these crises, unconventional actions like lockdowns of complete cities, countries were announced to restrict people’s movements to avoid contagious spread and save lives. Some even felt it was nature’s way to balance the life and resources of mother earth.
This adversely affected human life, disrupted commercial activities involving product, services, curtailing the movements. Automotive Industry stopped without transportations with no clue to fight back. Auto components aftermarket emerged as a spark in the darkness of the automotive business segment which could partially sustain this industry.
This difficult period of 2019-21 also gave great lessons to the current human race to debate if this pandemic was curse or blessing in disguise.
Pandemic – Business Perspective
Curse-Business in general may be product or services, manufacturing or trading, research cursor developments, consumers or durables, automotive or tractors, reality or infra developments got adversely affected as top-lines just nose dived and fell flat. Countries like the USA, Europe, Russia or China or developing countries like India or undeveloped nations in the African peninsula didn’t have a clue to fight as this deadly disease never appeared in the last 100 years. It was as if the human race was caught napping.
Being closely associated with the automotive, tractor and auto component industry for more than 40 years in marketing my views may be based on my experience with this industry but it may relate to industry in general. I feel this pandemic came as a shock and alarm for the auto component industry to transform. Perform or perish specially for MSME sector which had limited resources to hold on. The curse came in the form of following:
– OEMs operations stopped and with this orders also stopped which keeping manufacturing units running.
– Pending payments stopped and rescheduled affecting cash flows.
– Suppliers of raw materials stopped deliveries to run even for a day.
– Salaries of skilled and unskilled workers stopped, contractual labour sacked affecting the families to run day to day home necessities resulting in migration back home.
– Locked down market created scarcity of even basic needs with corona spread health issues increased manifold.
– Existing health services, support functions failed to meet this challenged creating havoc of excessive life loss.
– One-to-one personal visit to customers stopped which are essential to maintain good relations.
– Many other endless list of sufferings which could not be handled by administrative machinery of the government except stay at home and maintain the distance announcement were being made.
Boon-nature also gives the message that ‘show must go on’ like day and night cycle, cycle of Sun and Moon and cyclic changes of various seasons. Keeping in line the aftermarket segment appeared as a bright spark which could partially support the component industry by supporting the vehicle movements and enhancing the performance of existing vehicle populations. Auto component industry were forced to review the existing operations, and looked at the proactive thoughts of the past for implementations which were so far on the drawing boards or in plan proposals. this awakening was a blessings in disguise as following:
– The OES segment strongly emerged as a stronger revenue centre in addition to being support functions.
– OEM dependant mfg companies reviewed to remodel the business activities incorporating independent replacement segment.
– Auto component industry reviewed respective business models to give due weightage to each segment like OE, OES, replacement and export.
– Production planning cycles transformed to smaller production cycles, frequency changes of line models to meet the small but diversified demand.
– Innovative ways to cut production cost initiated including effective ease management.
– Initiative on digitised marketing operations including video calls and zoom meetings.
– Concept of lean management to overcome labour issues and change of payment terms were initiated to optimise the cash flows within give resources.
– Formalising the health checks and vaccinations for employee and the families ensured good health with thought of ‘survival of the fittest‘.
– Availing the Govt given opportunities of PLI to improve the bottom lines.
– Many more small customised actions of hybrid working, paperless working, online payments etc expedited the system which could have been adopted much earlier.
Above actions which were initiated in pandemic situations are proving to be blessings in disguise.
The pandemic adversely affected human life and business activities across the world beyond human imaginations but it also encouraged us to explore new innovations to meet such challenges in time to come. Being optimistic in each situation I will like to call this pandemic as blessing in disguise.
Mentor & Advisor with Rich Marketing Experience
Country Head in Leading Indian and
Multinational Corporation in the Automotive / Tractor Industry
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