Gauging Success

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When we launched this magazine, we knew it would be important to get in touch with some of the industry’s most successful shop operators to uncover the strategies and philosophies that built strong auto repair businesses. The challenge, though, was figuring out what, exactly, success looked like in this industry.

What we’ve found is that, unlike in the insurance-driven collision repair industry that we cover in our sister publication, FenderBender, the term “success” is somewhat subjective in mechanical auto care. On the collision side, key performance indicators such as cycle time and touch time are top-of-mind and increasingly important for maintaining insurer relationships. It’s fairly easy to get a snapshot of where a collision repair facility stacks up compared with the rest of the industry based on a few questions. That’s just not the case on the mechanical side, where performance metrics aren’t uniformly tracked across the industry and the measure of success varies widely depending on who you talk to.

Some shops might consider themselves a success just because they’re staying busy repairing cars, or because the shop is still in business and employees are getting paid.

Though the word “success” will always be somewhat subjective, you should be able to gauge whether you are getting the most out of your facility and your people — whether you are meeting your full potential. The only way to do that is to measure your performance.

That’s why for this issue, I spoke with Jeff Odom, owner of Evergreen AutoWorks in Mill Creek, Wash. (“Three Keys for Measuring Success”). Odom happens to run both collision and mechanical operations and has become a master of metrics for both. Though there are a number of performance indicators shops can and should track, Odom pulled out the most critical, talked about why they’re important and explained how to measure them. Those key performance indicators (KPIs) have helped Odom set, meet  and often surpass financial goals month after month.

Odom says performance tracking is lacking in the mechanical field and it’s something many shops could benefit from.

“I really think that’s something that’s lacking in the mechanical repair field. People don’t think about throughput as much as they think about how much did they sell that part for, that transmission for, that sort of thing,” he says.

We have a new monthly columnist premiering in this issue who also knows a thing or two about this topic. Industry veteran Mitch Schneider, owner of Schneider’s Auto Repair in Simi Valley, Calif., wrote his first Ratchet+Wrench column (“Making Measurements Matter”) about the importance of measuring performance — as long as you put those measurements to use. We are excited to bring Schneider’s three decades of repair experience to you each month.  

So after reading this issue, take a moment to think critically about whether your shop is successful. Is it meeting its full potential? If you’re unsure, it’s time to start tracking your performance to find out.

And if you have additional KPIs that you’ve found to be essential for growing your business, please send me a note about them. As always, we’re looking to share the best methods for improving business at auto repair shops and ensuring success for everyone.

Jake Weyer

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