For many Americans, 2020 started off rather normally. The economy continued to pick up steam, unemployment was at a record low, and there was general optimism for the year and decade to come. Until everything changed on the week of March 8th in the U.S.
At the Southwest Car Wash Association’s 2020 Convention & EXPO, keynote speaker Dick Cheney, former vice president of the U.S., continually cited concern about COVID-19 throughout his presentation. However, few in the room that day could have imagined the grip the virus would have not only on our nation — including its small businesses, like carwashes — but also on most of the world.
Leading up to March 8th, apprehension about large gatherings and unneeded travel were starting to set in. Messages compelling us to wash our hands frequently, stop the spread and practice safe distancing began to percolate.
Then, on March 11th, the NBA suspended its season due to concerns over coronavirus; the following day, the NHL suspended its season, and the cancellation of the NCAA March Madness tournament followed.
That same week on March 10th, International Carwash Association made the difficult decision to cancel the original dates of The Car Wash Show™ 2020.
Like dominos falling, major business and entertainment events, including the annual Tony Awards and the 2020 Olympics, were either cancelled or postponed during that week or shortly thereafter.
By the end of March, carwashes across the U.S. were all faced with a similar decision: Close the business or stay open (if possible). Questions about how “essential” a carwash is came to the forefront.
By the end of the week on March 13th, it was quite obvious that the U.S. — especially in certain states like New York and California — was going to be severely impacted, and I wanted to get a reaction to the evolving situation from carwash operators.
I reached out to several and, as expected, many were unsure of the future but remained open without too much disruption to business. However, that also changed by the end of March, as many carwash locations across the country had to close and make tough decisions about laying off employees.
At the time of writing this, social distancing has become a way of life. Although we do not know how long this situation will linger and impact us, resources are available to help keep you informed. Please visit Carwash.com and www.carwash.org for developing news and information.
Most of all, stay safe.