Auto Service World
Feature   August 1, 2006   by Tom Venetis, Editor

Proactive strategies will pave the way for continuing success

Success comes from going beyond the minimum and investing in strategies to grow the business and retain and develop new clients.

In the July 1st edition of the Toronto Star, Robert McMillan, president of the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association, presented a Top Ten list of things that supposedly make a dealership great. McMillan’s suggestions are all excellent and can be applied to any kind of business, including the independent service provider.

But that list is just the bare minimum of what has to be done.

A good independent shop will be clean, will have courteous and knowledgeable staff, and will work to promote a good brand image. But all that alone will not get people and their vehicles to come into the bays. Why?

The reason is success comes from going beyond the minimum and investing in strategies to grow the business and to establish repeat clients. Let’s do an exercise:

1. Have you invested in training and upgrading the skills of the shop’s technicians?

2. Have you invested in business management software to get a better handle on inventory and costs?

3. Have you taken a business management course and do you host regular meetings with all the shop’s staff to discuss business strategies for growth and then schedule later meetings to see how well those strategies are working?

Running a successful independent shop, one that grows and becomes more profitable each year, means becoming proactive and taking steps to invest in training, new technology and business management processes. Successful businesses will make the time to sit down and work with the staff to find and remove inefficiencies and waste, and develop new revenue growth strategies.

Sticking with the minimum, means the business will not grow, and over time, will lose money.

Once a shop starts losing money, it becomes all too easy to begin slashing bay rates in order to attract customers, thereby cutting into margins even more; or trying to skimp on the quality of the work in order to attract new customers, but driving away long-time clients who notice the drop in service and take their business somewhere else.

So the bare minimum should only be treated as the start of what needs to be done to be successful; it should not be the end.