The 3 Biggest Myths in the Auto Repair Business

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Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet thousands of shop owners, participate in and speak at events and listen to what the industry has to say. I find it interesting that there are a number of myths in the auto repair business, but there are three that stand out as the most common. With every article my objective is quite simple: To help you build a more profitable and successful business. So, by sharing these three myths with you I hope that I’ll be able to do just that.

Myth No. 1:The biggest competitor is the new car dealership.

Throughout the years I have listened to our industry voice countless concerns about the dealerships. One primary concern is that dealers have the first shot at the service customer, not the independent. A second concern is that the dealer has the financial wherewithal to bury any independent, and a common third concern is that dealerships have nationally recognized brands. 

Although there is some legitimacy in each of these concerns, by remaining focused on and fearful of any competitor, one thing is for certain: You are not focusing on your business. I have discovered over the years that the top shops in America understand their competitors, and rather than operating out of a position of fear, they operate from a position of confidence in who they are, and in the extraordinary value they bring to their customers. 

In conclusion, in business your biggest competitor will never be the dealer, nor the shop down the street. In actuality, it’s the person you see in the mirror every morning who, if you’re not careful, will slowly let the confidence you have in your company and in your people erode.

Myth No. 2:The ever-growing shortage of technicians is a bad thing.

Although I understand why shop owners view the shortage as something that will make it that much harder to make a profit, I disagree with the argument that it’s a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I see it as a blessing. In all cases, scarcity create opportunity. To put it another way, the shortage will unquestionably have a devastating impact on countless shops, but certainly not on all. The shop owners who create a culture that never puts money ahead of people, who implement the right compensation & incentive programs, and who understand the incredible value in apprentice programs, will always have a team of superstars that their competitors would long for. 

I ask that you also consider this; If every shop had extraordinary technicians, and world-class service advisors, then with all due respect, why should customers leave those shops in order to come to you? Without a doubt, in the service business people do business with people, not with companies, and people leave people, not companies. I would encourage you to not be discouraged by the ever-growing shortage of techs, but to look at it as a blessing in disguise. 

Myth No. 3: It’s hard to make a profit in the auto repair business.

This myth has been around for decades, and it’s kept alive by shop owner who continually struggle with their businesses. If you compare the returns you can make in a well run auto repair shop to the returns made by global companies that are household names, you will find that on the average the top shops make a substantially higher return on their investment, as well as on their sales. 

The fact that the vast majority of shops struggle with profits is not a surprise. Although they have the right principles and truly do care about people, they suffer from complacency, or they are looking for “one more idea” that will take them to the top. In such cases, they are either unaware, or they have simply forgotten, the basic principles of building a successful business. The most successful shops in America live by these principles, and it’s why they’re able to eclipse all others. First of all, they understand that if you want to go to the top you need to have clearly defined goals, and you need a plan for reaching those goals. They realize they can’t do it all on their own, so they surround themselves with superstars, set their egos aside, and never hesitate to reach out for help. 

They also realize that bringing aboard the top techs and advisors is no more than the first step, so in the same way as a good marriage, they are committed to keeping the relationship healthy and alive. Lastly, they make a personal commitment to ensuring the success of the company. To put it another way, rather than saying they will “try” to do something (such as hiring a superstar tech), they simply say they “are” going to find and hire the tech. By embracing such confidence, failure is not an option for them. I’ve seen endless evidence that, “It’s hard to make a profit in the auto repair business” is only an applicable statement for those who ignore the basics of running a good, ethical business. 

In summary, I ask that you believe in yourself and in your people, more than you believe in the strength of any competitor. I also ask that you view the shortage of techs as a blessing, and realize that with the right culture, pay programs, apprentice programs and systems, the price will be paid by your competitors, not by you. And lastly, I ask that you embrace the principles of building a more profitable business that I shared. If you do the things I have recommended, and if you live by the principle of never putting money ahead of people, then not only will you grow a far more profitable and successful business, but you’ll make your friends and family proud, and will serve as a role model for generations to come.


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