While the motorcoach industry wasn’t specifically cited in the CARES Act passed unanimously on Wednesday night, opportunities exist for operators who need financial assistance, which was discussed during the UMA’s second town online town hall amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the biggest opportunities available for motorcoach operations are Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. The UMA’s Ken Presley said to approach the loan with the thought in mind that you are a store keeping your doors open for business and are just waiting for customers come back through your doors.
It was noted that there are several ways to apply for the SBA loans, which include working through a consultant, contacting lenders who specialize in SBA loans, and through an online process. It was noted that the SBA has already greatly streamlined the process, but with something like 30 million small businesses in the nation strain on the online system has been occurring. One tip was to visit the site in the wee early hours between 2 a.m. or 3 a.m.
Applying online will also allow operations to track the progress of their application, with the turnaround taking about two to three weeks.
Another option is Emergency Economic Injury Loans/Grants, where there is $10 billion available with $10,000 available per applicant of emergency funding that will be wired three days after completing the loan application. Companies applying for and not receiving the loans can keep the $10,000.
For more specifics on these programs, visit UMA’s COVID-19 resources slideshow, click here.
Also during the town hall, Gladys Gillis of Starline Collection gave tips operations could use for resiliency during the pandemic.
Communications management: Gillis said it is important to maintain communications with employees during these times so that you don’t lose them once this time passes and business picks up. She also said to streamline communications with actual work that may still be coming in. Gillis said every phone call is going into one central line that is being monitored 24/7. Meanwhile, each email is being directed to four different emails covering each aspect of the operation that is still doing work during the crisis.
Employee support: As mentioned, Starline is still operating some business, so Gillis is operating with a skeleton crew. She mentioned that while she has furloughed most employees, they are still able to come back to work, with the employee only needing to report the work to unemployment, who will take it out of their benefits for that period.
Money issues: Gillis suggested reaching out to all your operation’s lenders, insurers, and vendors to ask for deferments for the next 90 days. She added some have said yes and some have said no. She is also asking providers that are charging monthly fees for their services, such as ELD and camera providers for up to 90 days. She also reminded operators to track their losses, adding that Starline lost $500,000 of business since the beginning of March, when the situation with COVID-19 escalated.
Imagineering the future: During this time, Gillis added that it’s also a good time to look ahead and think of what business will look like as the situation with COVID-19 begins to de-escalate. She added that some of the work could be taking over some of Amtrak’s routes, or using motorcoaches to move major infrastructure such as military.
UMA will continue to hold the weekly town halls every Thursday at 2 p.m. Eastern.