Auto Service World
Feature   June 1, 2007   by Steve Bowles

Management training: Professionalism is what is needed for success

There are always challenges in staring an independent service shop, including finding the right staff, developing relationships with jobbers and slowly building the trust and relationships with client...


There are always challenges in staring an independent service shop, including finding the right staff, developing relationships with jobbers and slowly building the trust and relationships with clients. I was lucky in some ways, as the town of Shelburne certainly has lived up to it unofficial title of, “The Fastest Growing Small Town in Ontario.” With more people moving to Shelburne and more disposable income, there was room for another independent service facility in town; and I was eager to step up to the challenges such a move was going to have.

Today, I have expanded the business to where I have seven bays, a Drive Clean bay and a car detailing section. As well, I have four full-time technicians, a Drive Clean inspector, and two excellent and experienced service writers.

Getting to where my staff and I are today was not easy. I am not going to blow my own horn and say we are the best service shop around; but all of us have learned a few things along the way that I believe can help everyone in the industry and raise the profile and professionalism of everyone who embarks on this career.

The first thing to do is to take a management training course, and everyone in the business has to take that course, not just the owner or manager, but also every technician and service writer. The reason is that a good management training course will help everyone to understand what it takes to run a successful shop, how to identify weaknesses that need to be fixed, business opportunities that will help the business grow and how to work together and achieve a more efficient work flow that will translate into a more profitable cash flow. Everyone needs to play from the same page when it comes to running the business and to work together to reach business goals that can be objectively identified and measured.

We also have processes in place that keeps all lines of communications open, from the front desk to the technician in the back. There are procedures that make sure we can track at-a-glance where a customer’s vehicle is during its servicing and maintenance job. We’ve even moved to streamlining ordering of parts by doing more online ordering, having parts delivered directly to a technician’s personal bin so he or she can begin working with everything they need right away. We have developed a strong business relationship with a jobber. Your jobber is your business partner and can help you grow and be profitable.

Next, there is appearance. We strive to always present to every customer who comes into the shop a professional image. Our reception area is kept neat and clean, as our are uniforms and bays. There are no stray bins lying around, parts on the floor or workbenches and the floor is cleaned each day.

We spend time educating clients on the importance of a regular maintenance schedule for a vehicle. We have prominently displayed our mission statement telling everyone who comes in what we believe in and what we are here to do for them. We are proud of our business and professionalism, and we want out customers to be proud of that professionalism as well.

Finally, there are the little things. We have a regular staff appreciation lunch. This is a huge moral booster and it also give an opportunity for everyone to discuss how thing in the shop can be improved. Everyone contributes and everyone’s suggestions are taken seriously. Everyone is part of a team of professionals running a professional business.

When we all take the time to learn how to manage a business and treat ourselves as professionals, then this industry will grow.


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