INNISFAIL — Palliser Chev has had supply chain issues, just like any other vehicle dealer, but their mechanics have found creative ways to do repairs and keep customers on the road, general manager James O'Dwyer says.
“Certain parts are harder to get than others. Definitely the global microchip shortage has affected getting certain parts for certain vehicles,” O'Dwyer said during an interview.
“There’s been unconventional or non-traditional ways of fixing peoples’ cars. We’ve had to just figure out ways to make it work.”
O'Dwyer said that’s often meant repairing certain components that, pre-pandemic they’d probably simply replace.
“We have to, because if it’s an over-a-month wait for a part that makes the vehicle run, well let’s figure out a way get it going until we can get that part in,” he said.
O'Dwyer said he has a lot of respect for the company’s automotive technicians, given that they’ve found ways to repair vehicles despite supply chain issues.
“They’re brilliant people that know how to fix things and they’ve done a good job of figuring out ways to get people back on the road, so it’s been pretty cool," he said.
New vehicle sales have been a challenge due to high demand and low supply.
“We've had our ups and downs," he said. “The main visible thing for the public to see is that you know, the conventional way of us doing business for vehicle sales on the vehicle sales side is normally we have a lot of stock on the lot that customers come and choose from and drive home, if they like it enough.
“The situation is now that we don’t have the supply on the lot, so customers are having to wait for vehicles that are incoming. And then the whole chain of events that follows is that the vehicles that are coming are now sold before they get here, and then the vicious cycle continues.
“So if you want a new car, you’ve got to start the process months ahead of time as opposed to driving up and taking one home. So that’s kind of been the biggest thing we’ve dealt with.”
High demand and low supply is a problem for used vehicles as well.
“The nice thing is we’re able to offer our customers great trade values over the last 12 to 18 months," he said. "The negative is there’s not as much to pick from.
“So sourcing used vehicles is a challenge. But if somebody’s considering trading, it’s a good time to get some equity out of your vehicle or get really good dollar value for your vehicle.
“So there’s pros and cons to it. Having low supply means the prices go up, right? Basic economics, basic supply and demand, so it’s interesting, to say the least."
He doesn’t anticipate any of those issues changing much in at least the near future, either.
O'Dwyer says Palliser Chev has managed to do fairly well during the pandemic, so the family-owned and operated business has done its best to support other local business that have been suffering.
“We haven’t been greatly affected," he said. "We’re an essential service, we’ve stayed open the entire time.
“And in this part of the world, nobody walks to work, everybody’s got to drive their car, so we’ve stayed busy throughout it. We’ve been open the entire time. We’ve made sure that it’s a safe place for our customers and it’s a safe place for our staff to work.
“Where our frustration really is through this pandemic is the different businesses and the business community that’s been more negatively affected than we have, and we certainly have done our part to try to support the businesses that have really been challenged through this and have had to deal with shutdowns and the lockdowns have greatly affected (them).
“So yes, like everyone with the pandemic, we’re frustrated and we want to move past it, but we also want to make sure people are safe and that their health isn’t jeopardized because of this, so it’s a balancing act."