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Could A Specialty Be Your Next Profit Center?

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The general auto repair industry is shifting. Have you noticed?

Maybe you’ve spotted a steady uptick in the EVs heading to the shop up the street or spied a very distinct name change from a former fully-general competitor. 

More and more shop owners are beginning to embrace specialization—and for good reason. 

“With the broad spectrum of training, and tools, and equipment, and diagnostic software you have to keep up with to stay competitive, being a generalist is increasingly difficult these days,” says aftermarket analyst and president of Lang Marketing, Jim Lang. “And expensive. Being a generalist can be incredibly expensive just in terms of maintaining the basics.”

Experts also find the increasingly technical nature and complexity of cars hitting the market today to be spurring the shift, potentially overwhelming the average general repair shop.

“The technical expertise you’ll need to service all of those different vehicles as a general shop can be staggering, and it’s becoming even harder to maintain that expertise as independent shops try to compete with the dealerships that know these cars inside and out,” Lang says. 

Buzz on the industry shift’s been building for years, but the trend’s actual momentum has been more of a slow and steady climb than a tidal wave as shop owners take their time to think through the move (most general shops are cautiously wading in with a new focus or two, while shops that have already specialized are considering adding new areas of expertise).

The perks may be obvious—adding a new specialty could easily become an additional profit center—but with the tools, training and branding involved, it’s no small decision and may not be the right fit for every shop. 

So, where exactly is a shop owner to start and how do you determine if a specialty could be right for your shop? Ratchet+Wrench tapped some top shops already and industry experts to break down the key elements you’ll need to succeed through specialization.

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