Shop Life Columnists

Are You Honestly Scoring Your Business?

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Greetings to all my industry friends, those I know, and to the many more I hope to get to know! Some of you know that I was on the Ratchet+Wrench editorial advisory board for many years and have been excited to see what Ratchet-Wrench has done and continues to do to bring up our industry. I was delighted when they asked me to be a contributor and share my thoughts and insights with you.

I have been in the industry since 1991 when I started as a general service technician at a small Volkswagen shop. My limousine business had failed, and the only real skill I had was being a self-taught, air-cooled VW mechanic. From there, I moved between a few independent shops and dealers, working as an ASE Master Technician with my L-1 certification. I also worked as an assistant manager and managed a shop before going out on my own in 2001.

I started my business in my garage, working as a technician and service advisor. I’ve grown the company now and have five shops in Colorado, with plans to continue growing. It hasn’t been easy, and I have learned a lot of valuable lessons. Unfortunately, some of those lessons came with a very high price tag (I’m sure a few of you can relate)! I will be sharing more with you in the upcoming months in this column. I also own and run Transformers Institute, a coaching and training company dedicated to transforming the automotive repair industry, lifting our industry up, and, eventually, earning the respect it deserves.

It’s a lot of hard work, but this industry has been very good to me. It has allowed me to experience financial success in a way that I never dreamed possible. It’s allowed me to travel the world and speak to other auto shop owners who are looking to build great businesses. 

Some of the most extraordinary human beings on the planet are in the automotive industry, and it’s truly an honor to know them. 

I won’t sugarcoat it, though: We are in a challenging industry, and it’s not going to get any easier. Staffing and technology are the two biggest challenges I see.

The great news is that, according to all the charts, graphs, and forecasts I see, we’re going to have more vehicles out of warranty on U.S. roads than ever in history. Shops that prepare will see success as they have never seen before; others will be driven out of business, retire, and close their shops. Plan to see significant disruption, consolidation, and innovation in the near future.

I hope you will be one of those shops that will dominate their market, providing honest, ethical, and quality work. I hope that you will be prepared to service whatever drives or flies into your shop, even if it comes to you without a driver!

I have the privilege of working with the top five percent of shops, seeing what happens behind the scenes, and talking to their teams. People ask me all the time what their secret is, and when I share with them that it’s much more about the culture and the attitude of their team than some system, process, or piece of technology, folks seem a bit disappointed and think I’m holding back.

The reality is we all have service bays, equipment, point-of-sale software, websites, systems, processes, and employees. Not that those things don’t need to be improved, and we all need to spend time doing so, but I have found that the business owner who focuses on what his or her clients want and makes sure the culture is all about the same things, is experiencing explosive growth.

What does every client want, you ask?

  1. Quality service and repair—free of defects
  2. Timeliness
  3. Someone who is nice to them
  4. A personalized experience

As an auto repair shop owner, begin by honestly scoring your business on these four areas, and you will know what you need to work on first. I find that getting your team lined up and having an open and honest discussion is the place to start. You will quickly learn who’s on board and who thinks we are “just here to fix cars” and doesn’t understand it’s real people with real needs and wants that drive those vehicles and pay all of our paychecks.
I hope that you will take a nugget or two out of my column every month and systematically make progress on building the business of your dreams. 

Blessings of health and prosperity to you, your family, and your business.

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