Auto Evolution

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I often catch myself talking about the demands of “today’s industry,”the  changes in vehicle technology and repair procedures and the need for shops to  prepare for what’s hitting the roads—and their facilities—next. 

It’s true that the auto service business is far more complex and demanding, both in terms of vehicle repairs and business management, than ever before. But really, that same statement could’ve been said, and probably was, in every era throughout the history of the automobile. 

Vehicles have evolved year after year for well over a century. Cars aren’t flying yet, but they sure are different. Electronic ignition, fuel injection, variable valve timing, computers galore—there are many vehicle enhancements that shops have had to adjust to over the years. Change often brings trepidation, but shops have always conquered new challenges and moved on to the next one. Those that didn’t have faded away.

Recent evolutions, such as hybrid and electric power plants, should be viewed in the same way as previous enhancements. That’s the message I tried to get across when taking part in an impromptu panel discussion about hybrid training during an industry event earlier this summer. These vehicles are not a trend, they are simply the next evolution of the automobile. I expect that before too long, hybrids will be the standard, and all-electric vehicles will follow.

From my perspective, shops that don’t think they need to be trained to repair these vehicles, that think they can “wait it out” as if it’s a passing trend, will be the ones losing business in the not-so-distant future. I don’t see it any differently than a shop refusing to learn about fuel injection 30 years ago. Those shops are no longer around. Just as it has been in any era, shops that keep up with auto evolution and are prepared to fix what’s on the road today will be the ones with full bays.

Those forward-thinking shops are the ones we feature each month in Ratchet+Wrench. In this issue, we hone in on some of those shops’ extraordinary leaders. In “Lessons in Leadership,” three top shop owners share their most impactful leadership lessons.

One of those leaders, John Cannon of Cannon’s Automotive in La Porte, Ind., talks about how he has adapted to customers’ changing needs, showing that vehicles aren’t the only evolving part of the business.

“You have to welcome change with open arms, because if you don’t, in business today, no matter the business you’re in, you’re not going to be around long,” he says.          

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. Shoot me an email and we might publish your two cents in the next issue.

Jake Weyer

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