This story initially appeared in Metro Magazine, School Bus Fleet's sister publication, on March 19.
Launching the first of what are planned to be weekly Town Hall Meetings, United Motorcoach Association (UMA) President and CEO Larry Killingsworth was joined by UMA members and associates to discuss the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the motorcoach industry both in the U.S. and Canada.
Killingsworth began by noting that like other crises that have been faced in the past, including 9/11, the motorcoach industry will get through this troubling time. He also noted that in the first two days more than 6,000 letters have been sent urging Congress to help protect the industry, with the latest predictions being that $8 billion will be lost by companies that operate motorcoaches over the next five months.
He added that the next wave of Congressional outreach would take place by late Thursday, with the release of legislation the industry would like to see passed, which includes guarantees for $10 billion in grants in $5 billion in loan guarantees.
Killingsworth was also joined by UMA Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs and Industry Relations/COO, Ken Presley and notable industry leaders who provided key tips for operators to help safeguard their businesses during this extremely difficult time.
Some highlights included:
- The Small Business Administration is now taking applications in many states for Economic Disaster Relief Loans. Presley said that the administration has indicated a more streamlined approach than in the past, and urged those in the industry to apply online so that they can then track the status of their request.
- Tim Delaney from Lancer Insurance and Michelle Wiltgen from National Interstate said that most insurance companies in the industry are now offering relief packages for up to 30, 45, or 60 days, depending on the company. Both said to reach out immediately to your brokers to find out what they are offering, but that some financial relief can be experienced in a relatively short amount of time.
- Likewise, Matt Hotchkiss at Wells Fargo said that his and other lenders are offering deferred payments for 30, 60, or 90 days. He added there are options available, including deferring on the interest or both the principal and interest with no fees, no change in interest, or any negative impact on your credit. Again, speaking with your individual lender was strongly encouraged.
- Finally, Jim McCann discussed the importance of crisis leadership versus crisis management, stressing that first and foremost to communicate directly with your employees. He added that in a time of crisis that many motorcoach businesses are currently facing, it’s important to examine your operation and cutoff all purchases, look after any receivables that are still on the books, and eliminate payroll where necessary. McCann also said it is good practice to re-examine your processes and take up any of those big picture items that you haven’t picked up because of slim resources, which can help you generate revenue once the industry resumes.
In closing, Killingsworth and the group stressed the importance of educating all you can on COVID-19, from reputable news sources, including its website, and to focus on a plan for when business is able to resume.