How the Automotive Service Industry is getting back on track amid COVID-19 crisis

Mr Vikrantt Mohan

Mr. Vikrantt Mohan National President, AIAWA

“When the vehicle moves, only then the service industry moves. We are all linked with the movement of vehicles”, says Mr. Vikrantt Mohan, National President, All India Automobile Workshops Association (AIAWA) and Chief Executive of Shree Mohan Auto Service. 

As lockdown restricted the movement of the vehicles on the road, the Automotive Service industry witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime crisis. With the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19, the industry has undergone some major changes. As the vehicles have started to move and the traffic has returned to the roads, the industry is slowly gaining momentum. 

To gain more clarity about the pandemic’s potential impact on the Automotive Service industry and the road ahead, Team NSN interacted with Mr. Mohan, who is also the Founder and Chairman of Automobiles Service Providers Academy. Read on to know more.

What is the impact of COVID-19 on automobile service industry and the jobs?

COVID-19 is indeed a massive, once-in-a-lifetime disruption in the industry. When the lockdown was announced in the country, the business was immensely affected. People were not travelling to longer distances and were not using their vehicles regularly. So, the servicing time required for the vehicles was prolonged.  

The service industry is highly dependent on the movement of the vehicles. So, when lockdown was removed and people started using their vehicles again, the business started gaining momentum. Now, we are almost back to normal. Yes, the industry needs make up for the loss, but thankfully the industry started moving again. 

The pandemic didn’t cause much job loss in the industry. In most of the cases people were on hold except for those who migrated back to their hometowns. For those who went back to their hometowns, some of them are yet to come back and some have resettled somewhere else.  Even if they have shifted the town, the profession remains the same. So whoever was working as a service technician before is definitely working somewhere else now. 

What are some key learnings by the industry during the last six months?

The unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 has taught the industry many lessons. Skill in various levels has increased drastically and the entire industry is now a part of the digitalization which has become crucial for Automobile workshops. It has taught the industry how to face the future and it is gradually helping them to adapt to the new normal. Particular precautions are being taken by both the workshops and the customers amid the pandemic. 

Thanks to social media, people across the country are now more informed regarding the current scenario. They have required knowledge regarding social distancing and other safety measures that should be taken during this pandemic. Every workshop has adapted to the safety measures and are being holistically implementing them for the safety of customers and themselves. 

How the Automotive Service IndustryPlease tell us about your entrepreneurial journey in the field of automotive services.

I have dedicated 38 years of my life to the automotive service industry. In the past, the automobile service industry was not regarded as a dignified field. There were stereotypes attached to the work. It always pained me to see that this skilled job doesn’t have the deserved respect.

Because of my passion for meeting new people, I used to tour a lot and I met many workshop owners where I was wholeheartedly welcomed.  I first started talking with various automobile part suppliers, manufacturers as they refused to sell their products directly to the workshops. To address the issue I spoke to many workshop owners to form the All India Automobile Workshops Association. Now we exist in about 112 locations. We have been patronized by many big organizations like ACMA (Automotive Component Manufacturers Association), FADA (Federation of Automobile Dealers Association), SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers).

What are your views on the importance of skilling in the automotive service industry? 

The importance of skilling and upskilling in the industry can’t be stressed enough. Thanks to the initiatives by the government, skilling is now becoming a reality in the automotive service industry.  Those who are working in the workshops as service technicians, need recognition for the skills that they have. Automobile Skills Development Council (ASDC) gives certification to people who have the skill. This is a great awakening that is happening in the technical skilling part of the industry. 

The government initiatives and schemes are designed to uplift the people working in the industry. However, the initiatives and schemes are yet to reach the grass root level. Many initiatives don’t reach the workshops. There should be a program or an initiative just to make sure the deserving people are benefiting from the government skilling programs.

I have founded Automobiles Service Providers Academy (ASPA) with an aim to provide skilling to the owners, managers, service advisors and all backup staff. ASPA will be focusing more on self-employment and entrepreneurial skills. It will also be focusing on the personality development, communication and other life skills that are necessary to manage a workshop while dealing with the customers. We all have ample amounts of skills, we just need the right guidance to move forward and grow in our life.  

Also read: Paramount Auto Bay Services (PABS) breaks gender stereotypes in Auto Service industry through skill-based training

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