Every shop, in every community, for better or worse, has a reputation. There are the honest shops, the shady ones, the cheap ones, the expensive ones, the fast shops, the black holes from which your car will never be returned, and so on.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, take a lap around your community and think about what they see, what they hear. Where does your shop fit in? How have you engaged your community to shape your reputation? Does your own vision for what your shop is (or should be) match the perception?
Taking a look at this bigger picture is often hard for shop operators to do, as it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine—or the disruptions to that routine that seem to absorb so much time. But when a shop takes a moment to consider its place in its community and how to become an integral part of it—and how to build relationships that go beyond auto repair—that’s when real growth potential presents itself.
The two shops in “Passion Play,” this month’s main feature, are great examples of this. Owners Mark Smith and John Fowle share some simple ideologies: Follow your heart, do what’s right and focus on people. The success will follow, they say, and it has for their operations, Fowle’s Willoughby Hills Auto Repair in Ohio and Smith’s four Midas locations in Virginia. Both shops have built strong reputations for spreading goodwill in their markets through charitable initiatives and events. Those efforts keep the shops top of mind and ultimately drive business.
“If you have a business in the community, you’re a part of that community, and you need to support it,” Fowle says. “It’s not about good business, it’s about doing what’s right.”
I know that this season in particular brings out a variety of community-engagement efforts at shops, but these initiatives can, and should, be considered year-round. If you’d like to share some of the efforts your shop has made to build a stronger community connection, shoot me a note. We might feature your business in a future issue.Jake Weyer[email protected]