Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2003   by Bob Greenwood


TO CHANGE -- To make Different; To enter upon a new phaseTO BE PROGRESSIVE -- Moving Forward; Striving For Reform(Funk & Wagnalls Canadian College Dictionary)TO HAVE YOUR 18 YEAR OLD SON DARE YOU -- T...

TO CHANGE — To make Different; To enter upon a new phase

TO BE PROGRESSIVE — Moving Forward; Striving For Reform

(Funk & Wagnalls Canadian College Dictionary)


They say a picture says a thousand words, or is it a thousand laughs?

Consider that I have had my moustache for over 30 years. My wife, my kids, and her family have never known me any other way. I consider myself to be an open minded, progressive person who embraces positive change. However, on the outside I still appeared the same. I didn’t see that. It took my 18 year old son to point out the obvious. “You say you are doing things Dad, but it still looks like the same old Dad to me. Prove to me you are really willing to change … show me!” The dare was put in place on Canada Day around the breakfast table, and my youngest son and wife were enjoying the “sparring” show. I couldn’t back down now. Pretty smart kid to corner me like that.

Isn’t it the same with your business? Consider what your business looked like the day you opened the doors for the first time. Now compare what it looks like today. I am confident that you will notice some changes. However, has your business ever actually had a real “make-over” convincingly noticeable to your customer/client base?

Most of us fall into the trap thinking we are changing, thinking we are progressing; however, to the outside world everything still looks the same.

Making radical positive changes to your business is telling your customers/clients that you recognize that change and progress go together. If you are to be recognized in your marketplace as up-to-date, on top of issues affecting your customer/client base, then they had better “see” that you can handle it.

Many shops are stagnant and are not willing to progress — not willing to change. Consider how that attitude compares against the technology development of the vehicle. Consider how that attitude compares with the technology development in equipment. Consider how that attitude compares with the shortage of competent people within our industry. Consider how that attitude compares with a changing, higher educated, consumer.

If you don’t change, if you don’t become seen as a positive forward moving business, that is visually noticeable to your customer/client base, then a perception may develop that you are not capable of handling the newer vehicle. “You were great on my old vehicle, but I must find someone who is up with the latest technology to look after my new one”…. may be the thinking of your customer base. As you know, the wrong perception can kill you.

The argument I hear against this physical change is “my customers will think I’m making too much money to afford all this upgrading”.

Sit back and really think about that statement.

In reality, the shop is probably strapped for cash now to make any physical changes. Upgrading has not been a top priority, it is now a matter of just staying open.

Management is obviously saying that they haven’t noticeably changed for some time.

Management must be saying they are behind in the latest vehicle diagnostic, and maintenance equipment because the facility would have to be noticeably up-graded and re-organized to hold what is required today to professionally service today’s vehicle requirements.

Management has placed, and marketed, the shop based on price by establishing a pricing policy and a labour rate in the lower half of the marketplace, and wouldn’t dare think of striving to be part of the top 10% of the marketplace.

Management has attracted a very price conscious customer base, not a value focussed client base.

Management lacks vision and progressive determination. They are only “determined” to stay the same.

The bottom line??? … management is the problem –management is scared of change and he or she is using the customers as the excuse — their daily crutch not to act.

The business will now eventually fall by the wayside to become another Canadian statistic.

Don’t be afraid to embrace a progressive attitude. Don’t be afraid to move in a different direction. Don’t be afraid to open your mind to new adventuresome possibilities. Don’t be afraid to act. When you do, you will be proud that you are one of the very few who can make this type of business very financially successful and personally rewarding.

However, be very careful of what conversations you get into around the breakfast table!

Robert (Bob) Greenwood is President and CEO of E. K. Williams & Co. (Ontario) Ltd. and Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. Bob has over 27 years of Business Management experience within the automotive industry, counseling individual shops in Ontario. E. K. Williams & Co. (Ontario) Ltd. offices specialize in the independent sector of the automotive industry, preparing analytical operating statements for Management purposes, personal and corporate tax return completion, Business Management consultation and Business Management and Employee Development Courses. Visit E. K. Williams & Co. on the Internet at and sign up for their FREE monthly management letter sent to you by E-mail. Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. is a company devoted to developing Automotive Shop Business Management skills through the E-Learning environment over the inter-net. Students learn at their own speed, and at a time, and place, that best suits their needs; available 7 days a week 24 hours a day. Visit Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. on the Internet at Bob can be reached at (613) 836-5130, 1-800-267-5497, FAX (613) 836-4637 or by E-mail; or

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