How’s your business performing?
As you well know, appearances can be deceiving. We have all heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. No matter how much we hear these sayings and deep down we know they are true, it is still hard for most of us to overlook certain things.
Sad to say but in many cases, appearances are an indicator of just how bad something may turn out to be in practice. A poorly managed business, of any kind, can give off a stench of mismanagement, compared to the agreeable fragrance of a well managed enterprise.
Now, permit me to insult your intelligence. The following is a description of the wrong ways to manage an auto repair shop, which you surely don’t (and won’t) do in practice. Here are the bullet points:
- Untidy shop, parking area, and grounds
- Slovenly-looking staff
- Bad attitude on phones
- Untrained technicians
- Customer leaves with a bad taste in his or her mouth about the whole experience
There’s another, more subtle way that gives a wrong impression, up front. That’s a shop that looks intimidating, rather than friendly. If your business is ringed with signs, chains, and fences that warn folks they will be towed away at owners expense, if your color scheme is ‘stop sign red’ (with stop sign logos), and you give a visual impression of being strict, lighten up! While you may attract no-nonsense types, nonsensical types need auto repairs, too. You want to make new customers feel welcome, not uncertain.
Don’t forget that bad word travels a lot faster than good. If people are talking about your business and describing it as the “tatty looking transmission shop on the main road” or “that place always looks like it needs a wash, so do the staff”, or my favorite “There is always staff smoking outside whenever I go past”. If your staff smoke, have them do it round the back and not in view of anyone who visits or even drives past.
Let’s look at the right ways you and your staff can reach and satisfy your customers:
- Neat and tidy shop, parking area, and grounds
- Presentable staff
- Excellent phone manners by all
- Experienced technicians
- All leading to positive word of mouth
First Impressions Count
When you were dating you would make sure to be clean and tidy and look the best you can wouldn’t you? We all do this as we want people to like us, your business is exactly the same. Keep the outside clean, get your staff uniforms and keep them clean as well.
Answering the phone is a talent
You can have 2 people use the same words when they answer the phone and one will sound friendly and open and the other will sound like they are ready for a fight. Writing a short script for people to use when they answer the phone is a good start, spending some time coaching your service writers and receptionists on how to answer the phone is a great idea. If you use Kukui Auto Shop Marketing suite they record the calls that go through their system and you can then listen to everyone.
If you have anyone who EVER answers the phone, it is just as important that they know how to do it correctly as it is for your service writers to know.
Experience and Expertise
They cost money and takes time. You may well have to pay the best techs more money and it can take time to find them but your auto repair shop will flourish. Finding a top notch Service Writer who knows how to use auto shop software to run your business is worth the time and effort it takes.
Having a team who have experience in dealing with people and the expertise to fix cars in a timely manner is one of the hardest things but it is exactly how you build a profitable business.
Word of Mouth
There’s also an intangible that can lead to a better first (and following) impression in your customer’s mind: paying attention to what they need and want. Word of mouth is a very strong way to get clients, it is also one of the most cost effective, but it takes time.
If you keep getting the same or similar feedback about some aspect of your business that needs attention, don’t keep ignoring it. Either fix it or feature it. That means if you can’t fix it, make it a feature of your business. That may take some creative thinking, but do it.
Review Your Business With a Honest Eye
Car repair shop owners work such long hours that they are often tired and stressed and can’t always see what is going on around them. For those of you that fall into the wrong-way category, you need to ask yourself just how committed you are to fix your business and making a profit, which should be your first priority.
No business can stay in business if it doesn’t make enough profit to be in business next month. By putting profit first, and what helps your business be in profit, your excuses for not fixing all the deficits in your operation behind you, you stand a better chance of being in business next month.
For those of you that are up to snuff in the basics but could use some help in tweaking your business’s performance, shop management software can help. While you may have a vague idea of how efficient your technicians are, being able to track Technician Efficiency with a metric can equal real profitability.
In fact, web-based auto repair software management of your business can actually free you to concentrate more on all of the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that your business needs to track; car count, average repair order value in dollars, technician hours on each job, etc. Also, cloud-based software means you aren’t tied to just one computer for your operation. You can run this with a smartphone and laptop and tablet and desktop computer, with custom access tailored to each user.
So, after you’ve cut the grass, swept the floors, held inspection of your employees appearance, trained (or retrained) your technicians, and given a tutorial on phone manners to everyone, think about upgrading your operation to with some proper shop management software that helps you increase profitability, and decreases waste, inefficiency, and costs. It’s your bottom line!