Raising the Bar
SHOP STATS: Spencer's Auto Repair Location: Krum, Texas Operator: Jerry and Rachel Spencer Average Monthly Car Count: 300 Staff Size: 6 Shop Size: 3,000 sq. ft. Annual Revenue: $1.1 million
“I strongly believe I was put here on Earth to help people. Not only in our business, but in the industry.”
Rachel Spencer joined Spencer’s Auto Repair, her husband’s automotive business in Krum, Texas, back in 2004 with no automotive background whatsoever. At the time, she was working as an account specialist for the city of Denton, Texas. When one of her husband's employees left after his wife had a baby, the shop needed a little extra help answering phones, so she stepped in.
With her background in sales and customer service, it made sense for Spencer to stay and run the business side of the auto repair shop.
“I’ve kind of managed and taught myself and had a vision for where we were going and we just built on that,” Spencer says.
On average, the shop generated $55,000 in sales per month and the Spencers felt like they never could get over that hump. Last June, however, they hit a peak of $70,000 per month and realized the potential the business had.
“I thought, ‘Here’s my sign; here’s what we can do,’” she says.
From there, they started to make changes in the shop. They searched for their dream team, joined a coaching company after another shop owner recommended it, hit marketing hard and started doing digital inspections. From there, Spencer says they have skyrocketed. In the last quarter of 2018 compared to 2017, the auto repair shop saw a 105 percent growth in gross sales, and in the first of 2019 compared to the start of 2018, there was an 85 percent growth.
Currently as the co-owner, manager, a service writer, and running all of the day-to-day operations all in one, Spencer is committed to constantly growing the business she helped cultivate.
“I want to know that I inspired people to be the best that they can be, that the sky's the limit, that leadership is about making others better as a result of our presence and my job is to make sure that the impact lasts,” Spencer says.
My typical day starts out getting here at 7:30 each morning. We check the cars in that were dropped off overnight and then I meet with the staff. Then I put our welcome board outside, where we welcome each customer who’s scheduled for service. We have team meetings pretty much every morning, where we go over the stats for the previous day, where we are for our goals of the week, where we are at for hitting our goals for the month, problems that we’ve had and any comments my employees have, stuff like that. Then, we go over what remaining cars we have from the day before so everybody knows what they are doing and how it needs to be done. Typically, each month, we will review what we did previously, if we met our goal or if we didn’t meet our goal and what prevented us from meeting the goal if we didn’t.
From there, we just start going through the day. I stay at the front counter because that’s what I want to do—I want to be the face of our business. I want people to feel like they are at home when they come to our shop. Our auto repair shop isn’t like others. We don’t just fix cars here, we help people, and I want that to be my legacy. It’s not about what we do, it’s about how we make them feel. The experience is our trademark.
Every time my service advisor needs any help, I’m there. When he’s busy, I answer the phone and I help him build estimates. I always keeping my staff updated throughout the day and make sure everyone is on task and that we’re all following through with our goals. In November, I wrote 102,000 words worth of service writing all by myself and that was with an ARO of about $410.
I’m typically up front in a dress, but it’s not out of the ordinary for you to see me dumping the trash cans. I am totally committed and honestly feel that the most powerful tool that we have is our own personal example. We set examples to our customers and to our staff.
Throughout the day, I go over daily numbers. I’m tracking our car count, reviewing the numbers, where our car count needs to be, looking at the marketing, and how effective it is. I’m looking at previous recommendations from people that haven’t been back and brainstorming how I can get them back in. Once per week, I reach out to customers from the previous week to see if they have any questions, concerns, if there is anything I can help them with, and deciding if their experience was good with us or if there was something we can do to improve. Customer retention is very important to me.
We are constantly doing in-house marketing, too. We started doing mail-out flyers in September 2018. Right now we are hitting three different zip codes: Krum being the primary and two other towns that are close to us. Keeping our name out there is so important because people will remember us when they see us, so we really focus on branding and our logo. I handle our Facebook advertising and try and post daily if I can.
For Christmas last year, I sent out goodie bags with candles that say “Thanks for making our spirits bright,” along with pop-sockets and other fun things. When kids come in, I have a box with Hot Wheels and stuff like that as a gift for them, too.
I’m constantly working with my service advisor on training and reviewing our process and procedures, doing roleplay, reviewing phone calls. With our meetings we go to through Shop Fix, we go to a meeting every three months, constantly bringing back different ideas that we can implement with our staff. And, in the back, my husband handles the technician training.
At 4 p.m., we start running through the cars to see where everybody is so we can start updating customers of when we will have their car ready. Then, we start planning out at the end of the day on how we will proceed in the morning, so that way, we know exactly what we need to do when we get in. If a customer was expecting to get their car back and something came up or the parts didn’t come in, we have the ability to offer them a loaner car, one of two that we have. We constantly try and keep them updated—we don’t want them panicking.
We make sure credit cards are swiped, cars are locked, and people are contacted before the end of the day. And if the customer can’t get here before we close, we have a text-to-pay option, where we text them the invoice and they type in their information and we have a lockbox out front for their keys.
I want to continue creating that positive culture here in the shop. My secret is our passion for exceptional work and experience in this industry is what sets us apart from everyone else. We want to raise the bar in the auto repair industry for our customers, employees, our business, and for other owners. I really feel like people choose us because we are different. I’m not here to sell to you. My job is to educate you and make sure your car is safe and reliable. Our No. 1 priority is keeping you on the road and off the side of it.