Jon Bockman has seen his business’ sales swell in recent years, but things weren’t always so promising at his northern Illinois auto shop. In fact, it was hard to muster much enthusiasm around Bockman’s Auto Care a decade or so ago.
“I became passionate out of necessity,” Bockman says of his work. “I was a three-bay gas station quite some time ago, and I was struggling.”
Forced to be a jack of all trades around his Chicagoland shop, Bockman had become a master of none. Eventually, he had a clear vision: He needed to narrow the focus of his business. The owner dropped the convenience-store element and concentrated strictly on auto repair.
Slowly but surely, Bockman grew more confident in his decision, secure in the belief that his business was now focused on its strength. The Illinois shop owner changed locations in 2010 and added incrementally to his shop, to the point where he added four bays in July 2016. Sales, in turn, increased more than 180 percent from 2010–2016.
Bockman details his keys to improving the shop’s financial figures via expansion.
Know When to Grow.
Bockman’s Auto Care featured just three bays and limited parking as recently as 2010, when the shop owner decided it was time to move.
“It was just out of necessity,” explains Bockman, whose shop moved roughly 3.5 miles, from DeKalb, Ill., to Sycamore, Ill. “We could only do so much with three bays.
“When the shop becomes inefficient and jobs get backed up, it’s time to expand; one tech per bay is a recipe for disaster.”
Three additional bays were added to Bockman’s in November 2010, and the shop’s most recent expansion now leaves the facility at 10,000 square feet and 10 total bays.
The business’ coffers swelled right alongside its footprint. From 2010–2016, annual sales increased from nearly $474,000 to $1.5 million. Also of note, the shop’s average repair order has increased from $234.90 in 2010 to $361.89 currently, representing an uptick of 54 percent.
“When looking for a new shop, I was looking for a place that could grow with me,” Bockman explains. “I wasn’t as worried with it being located on a busy street, because I knew what I was saving in rent I could spend on marketing.”
And Bockman is certainly a crafty marketer, as his Thanksgiving insert, which has a unique handwritten appearance, suggests.
When You See Opportunity, Seize it.
In the fall of 2016, Bockman took over a neighboring building for a second time this decade. He had simply let his landlord know that he’d be willing to take over the next-door building, if no other business owner jumped at the opportunity. Before long, Bockman’s Auto Care had promptly increased in size.
Bockman’s is on the upswing in virtually every way imaginable. It was recently named Best Repair Shop and Oil Change Facility by InVironments magazine, for example.
“Growth came naturally,” Bockman contends, “because we were taking care of our customers so well.”
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