Automotive consultant John Watt says too many shop owners are out of control… and it’s hurting their businesses.
The former head of PetroCanada’s Certigard shops says repair shops need to slow things down, book fewer clients in a day, and look for all the work that needs to be done on the vehicles that come into their bays.
“If you don’t take control over the arrival of work into your shop and process it correctly, two things happen: you miss a bunch of work, and you miss filling the capacity of your technicians,” he said.
Watt, who now works as a business consultant to repair shops, was speaking at AIA Canada’s recent Service Providers Forum in Toronto, where the topic of capturing more maintenance work kept coming up.
“You want to know where that $14 billion of undone maintenance work is? Or at least a big chunk of it? It’s in that lack of control,” he said.
Watt said slowing things down and gaining control of work flow has many benefits beyond improving shop efficiency and technician productivity. It also builds trust with the consumer, and it evens out the peaks and valleys that beset most shop owners.
“If I can move a bunch of preventive maintenance from my busiest months into my slowest months, everybody wins. The techs win, I win, and the customer wins,” he said. “But you have to have the plan in place to do that.”
The one-day conference featured four speakers who offered a variety of insights into the business of fixing cars.
Rick Nadeau, president of Quorus Consulting Group
Rick Nadeau, president of Quorus Consulting Group shared some of his company’s research into consumer attitudes about automotive repair and service.
He said the aftermarket may need to enlist the help of “secondary organizations” like the Canadian Automobile Association to convince consumers to invest in automotive maintenance.
“Most owners seem to think they’re on top of things,” he said. “They think they’re doing a good job of taking care of their vehicles, but our research is showing that they’re missing stuff. They’re not spending what they should be spending. There’s some public outreach that needs to happen.”
Toronto shop owner John Cochrane, a former chairman of AIA Canada, gave a thorough presentation on the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS), a voluntary agreement that provides a framework for automobile manufacturers to share repair information with the aftermarket.
And to close the day, Peter Frise, scientific director and CEO of Auto21, offered a glimpse of how the automobile industry is changing and how repair shops need to respond to new technology.
At a workshop the day before, young executives in the automotive aftermarket heard from world-renowned blogger Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of Awesome.
They also learned about the value of mentorship from industry veteran John Vanstone, former owner of Mississauga Ont.-based sales agency Specialty Sales and Marketing, and now in charge of business development at the auto parts buying group Modern Sales.