Paul Morris, president of Jack Morris Auto Glass – Memphis, was recently featured in the Finding Funding segment of a New Normal virtual summit developed by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. Jack Morris Auto Glass didn’t close, furlough employees, or reduce its hours, and according to Morris, these were factors in why the mayor asked him to present.
“I started out by thanking the mayor for letting us stay open as an essential business, and we were included in his order of protection,” Morris said. “As we all know, with this virus being at the top of our minds, we still should be cautious of driving because it’s still very dangerous and is still causing a lot of physical damage.”
After his introduction, Morris discussed the top priorities for his auto glass business, which include safe operations and financial stability.
“Safety has always been a part of our culture because what we do working with glass is dangerous and glass cuts. We’re dealing with large knives and doing other things that can cause harm,” said Morris. “But this is a new challenge to deal with this new kind of risk. We had to change how we do things in order to keep our employees safe and our customers and community safe.”
In March, the auto glass company issued a COVID-19 safety plan to inform its employees and customers about the changes it’s implemented, in accordance with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations.
“Our second priority was stability,” Morris said. “I thought ‘How are we [auto glass shops] going to keep paying our bills when we’ve got governments telling people not to drive?’”
The concern with increased stay-at-home orders directly relate to miles driven. Morris explained how fewer miles driven results in negative impacts for the industry. “If people aren’t driving, they aren’t breaking their auto glass, which means they aren’t coming to us,” said Morris. He also mentioned his mixed feelings about auto insurance companies sending a portion of premiums back to their customers.
“I’m happy about that as an insured driver but, on the other hand, I realized a lot of that money that’s being sent back to the insured, well some of that money, was destined for companies like ours that fix vehicles,” said Morris.
Auto glass repair and replacement businesses, according to Morris, do a lot of work through auto insurance companies. The challenge of continuing to pay his 95 employees despite the loss of revenues began to sink in, he said.
“We spent a lot of time reading what was at the time pending government [relief] legislation, to figure out ways we could use those resources to stay open. Luckily we were eligible for a lot of those programs and are actively using them. By doing that and for other fiscal measures we’ve been doing, we’ve been successful,” adds Morris.
According to Morris, the choice to maintain his employees’ salaries despite the decline in work—including guaranteed overtime for some—was a risk. During that time, he noticed many of his competitors announcing furloughs and layoffs, as well as changing their hours of operation.
“This made sense [to furlough and change hours of operation] from a business standpoint, but we took a different direction. We wanted to see if we can stick this out and if we can make it without doing any of that,” said Morris.
That decision paid off because business has started to pick up. And according to Morris, his employees value their jobs now more than ever, appreciating the fact that his business didn’t “cut and run at the first sign of trouble.” Meanwhile, the company’s mobile services aided in its success, because customers like the option of getting their vehicle glass repaired or replaced while being away from technicians, he suggested.
“We even were able to pick up customers who weren’t able to get serviced by our competitors. So we then had excess work,” said Morris.
To view Morris’ presentation and more, click here.