Bunch: Are You Ready to Ride the Coming Wave in the Automotive Repair Industry?

May 5, 2023
It's time to take a good hard look at your business and prepare it for changing times.

It's time to start thinking about your future and the future of your business. And who better to learn from than someone who has already navigated the choppy waters and come out on top? 

Meet Troy Kaplan, a 42-year-old man who started as a technician and went on to create a company that did over $65 million in annual revenue out of 25 locations. Not only did he do well for himself, but he also helped make 15 others on his team millionaires and multi-millionaires when he sold his company last year through his managing partner program. 

Troy is a colleague at the Transformers Institute and has become a dear friend of mine. If you remember, he was featured on the cover of Ratchet+Wrench a few years ago and is an example to all of us of how we can change this industry for the better. When people ask Troy how he did it, the answer is not some super-secret strategy. It's what we all know to do but continue to struggle to do for various reasons. 

  • Hire great people, train them on how you want your business to run, hold them accountable and get out of the way! 
  • Focus on a great customer experience while charging enough to make a reasonable profit. 
  • Document your systems and processes and train, train, train accordingly! 
  • Always do what’s right and ethical, no matter what it costs.  

Easier said than done, I know, but it’s not impossible, and getting your goals written out is the first step. Ask yourself what is holding you back. We all fix cars and have the same amount of time in the day. Realize you may be just one good hire away from reaching the next level. 

The industry is changing, and it's changing fast. Strategic buyers are scouring the country for well-run single and multi-store operations to add locations to their growing portfolio. And if they came to you, what would they find? Would they find a company solely dependent on the owner? Would they find accurate financial books? Would they find documented systems and procedures? Would they find that you have invested in the technical skills and leadership development of your team? 

Unfortunately, if they were to look at most shops in the U.S., they would find businesses that depend on the owner to be on-site every day. They would also find that shop owners are stealing from their own businesses, stacking cash and avoiding paying taxes. But the days of "stay small and keep it all" are over. Small shops will not be able to compete for talent if they cannot offer the benefit programs, training, and tools for career technicians who are looking to be in the industry for years to come. 

It's time to start thinking about your future and the future of your business. Do you want to stay small and struggle to compete, or do you want to build a rock-solid automotive repair business that will generate profit now and be a future target for a buyer? Whether that buyer is a family member, current employee, investor, strategic buyer or private equity company, the automotive repair business is one of the most recession-proof industries, and it's the reason the "big guys" want a piece of our pie. 

It's time for all of us in the automotive repair industry to reflect on our businesses and plan for the future. We need to decide what we want for the next five, 10 and 15 years, and take the necessary steps to achieve our goals. Building a strong and profitable automotive repair business that can withstand economic downturns and attract top talent should be our priority. Adding locations to our portfolio may be a viable option for some, but it's important to carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks before making any decisions. As the industry continues to evolve, we need to stay informed and adapt accordingly to ensure our long-term success. 

I would love to hear from you and get your thoughts. 

Email me at [email protected] 

About the Author

Greg Bunch

Greg Bunch is the founder/CEO of Aspen Auto Clinic, a six-shop operation in Colorado, and the founder/CEO of Transformers Institute, a training, coaching, and consulting company for the auto repair industry.

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