Could A Specialty Be Your Next Profit Center?
When it comes to nailing down or deciding against a specialty, both industry experts and shop owners agree geographic location makes all the difference.
A specialty is more likely to pay off in some places more than others, depending on your market’s competition.
“It’s a geographic and competition-driven decision, and the market move away from general repair is becoming stronger and more urgent in metropolitan areas” says Lang.
Shops based in more rural hubs are more likely to have an advantage as generalists and likely won’t want to risk decreasing their market share with a set focus, whereas for shops based in areas with a population of 200,000 or larger, specialization can help eliminate the training and overhead expenses of general repair while servicing a large enough customer base to remain profitable, Lang notes.
“The first thing you have to do is examine your competitive environment to see if specialization and what type of specialty is going to provide you with the maximum benefit,” he says. “What does your market look like? Who would your competitors be?”
For Chris Christensen and Todd Ainsworth, co-owners of Swedish Automotive in Seattle, Wash., location played a role in his team’s decision to begin servicing European brands like Mercedes and Volkswagen.
“We're in a kind of isolated part of Seattle, so to expand and open up that potential for more traffic flow was something we just couldn’t turn down from a profit standpoint,” Christensen says.
And for Jack Crowley, owner of C&J Automotive Specialists in Berwyn and Newtown Square, Pa., location helped clinch the deal in nailing down the EV and hybrid specialty his shops had already begun to explore when a Tesla dealership opened up just down the road.
“We were already starting to work with more [hybrids and EVs] when the dealership opened, and with Teslas needing an inspection before new owners can drive them home, it was just an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” says Crowley. “It’s helped seal that identity for us in the area and the location piece made it clear that new focus made sense.”