Frank Motors was started in 1960 by my father and I've carried on his work and business since 1980. Over the years, I've seen this industry go through a lot of changes, some good and some bad. Many of...
Frank Motors was started in 1960 by my father and I’ve carried on his work and business since 1980. Over the years, I’ve seen this industry go through a lot of changes, some good and some bad. Many of the changes have made operating an independent service shop much more challenging.
But some of the problems of this industry’s challenges, and what we as shop owners have to deal with, is self induced. What do I mean by that? Simply, the shop owners who are dedicated to being business owners rather than those just having a job have not come to the plate and stood up for themselves.
Too many shop owners have focused on price, trying to entice customers into the bays with the lowest price on the block. They haven’t grown because they can’t afford too and they end up having a job rather than running a business. Many of those shops think they are doing their customers a favour by providing great service at a lower price, but at the end of the day, that approach won’t work in the long-term and does nothing but hurt everyone in this industry.
I know this has been said before, but it must be said more often. If this industry is to survive, we have to be focused on building strong business relationships not only with customers but with suppliers, with the community, with the schools and training centers in our industry. But what is most important is that independent service providers work at running their shops as a business, working at growing that business no matter that the focus of the shop may be.
How can this be done? The progressive businesses know who their competitors are and they need to communicate with the ones that are thinking ahead and growing their business. They need to share concepts, pricing and supplier information. They need to support each other with repair problems, and they need to work together to build an atmosphere of trust amongst themselves which will have positive benefits for customer. The shops need to strengthen that bond and stand up against the dealers and the price slashes, and say enough is enough. They need to become leaders in the industry.
When independent shops come across as professional and have relatively the same pricing and processes the customer can see, then customer confidence and satisfaction will increase, as well as business for everyone in this industry. What we must do is have a consistent message that says, “We are here to provide excellent service and to do so at a reasonable rate that benefits both customers and our ongoing business.” We need to stand up to shop owners who consistently do substandard work. We must support suppliers who only believe in supporting healthy business. We must focus on preventative maintenance, not only for our customers, but for ourselves as business people as well. We need to show everyone, from jobbers to distributors to customers and finally to ourselves, that we mean business because we want to be in business and to stay in business. Enough talk — let’s get it done!