Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2004   by Bob Greenwood

Your Shop Attributes Confirms Your Industry Position

The best shops in our country all seem to have many common attributes about them. These attributes relieve the every day stress of running a shop as well as puts the fun back into the business. When you run across one of these shops they always se...


The best shops in our country all seem to have many common attributes about them. These attributes relieve the every day stress of running a shop as well as puts the fun back into the business. When you run across one of these shops they always seem to grab your attention as you stop and think, “Wow what a cool place”. The top five common attributes of the best shops include:

The Numbers Picture: These shop owners know their shops financial numbers really well. They understand their sales mix of their shop but more importantly they know precisely the gross profit dollars that must be produced each day to sustain a healthy business. While most shops have been taught to think sales and activity, the best shops learned how to properly measure this specific type of business. They understand the right balance of revenue is the very key to producing the right gross profit dollars on a daily basis. Proper gross profit dollars produce proper net profit dollars and the best shops understand net profit dollars today are required if they still intend to be here three to five years from now.

The Staff ARE the Business: Great shops have taken the time to put together a great team of people who take pride in the business. When you walk into these shops you can “feel” the positive attributes. The staff conducts themselves in a calm, focussed manner. They look great with clean, modern uniforms that project a professional image. They smile. They interact among themselves with mutual respect. They enjoy dealing with the shops customer/client base and they are relaxed when “the boss” is in the room. A respectful relationship is in place. The shop owner is always speaking “with” the staff and not “at” the staff. They truly are a team with each member of the shop clearly understanding his/her role within the business and takes pride in fulfilling that particular role.

Pride of Facility: As soon as you can see these locations on your approach to them, you know they are not average. These shops are clean. The facility outside appears organized and well maintained. The vehicles are “neatly” placed in their spot. It’s like every vehicle has been allocated specific space, whether a company vehicle, a staff vehicle or a customer/client’s vehicle, each seems to be placed “just right”. It looks good. Inside the pride of ownership is on display. The customer/client area is clean and professional looking with educational material very prominently displayed throughout. The customer/client area actually looks like it was built specifically for the customer/client. It is not intimidating; it exudes a relaxing, calm atmosphere. The air is clean and fresh. The lighting is modern and appealing. When you enter the shop area, the floor is well organized, very clean and very functional. Once again, it appears as if the equipment is meant to be where it is placed. It is obvious that “much thought” has gone into the function of the total facility.

Pride of Their Profession: The great shop owners seem to have an atmosphere of “confidence” around them. As you watch them, listen to them or speak with them, you notice that they take their role very seriously and are proud of it. They are not “sheepish” about their work, in fact, they “stand tall” with much pride as to what they do, how they do it, and what they have accomplished so far in their career. These owners are very focussed and truly understand how our industry works and their role within it. These owners earn, and have, the respect of their clientele. They never let them down. They “walk the talk”. They are also always part of the solution in that they freely contribute their time and energy to the progression of our industry and its future. They are engaged in our industry because they love this industry.

They Understand Relationships: The best shops have owners that understand the importance of business relationships. They have taken the time to develop the right relationships. It started with their staff, ensuring they had the “right” staff in place, then, moved on to their clientele, and then eventually each piece of the business puzzle came together. They speak with pride and great respect of their relationships they have put into place that includes their accountant, their lawyer, their banker, and specifically, their chosen parts supplier. The relationships are built on earned trust and for a long-term purpose as these owners know that without this kind of “business partners”, the business cannot continue to prosper. They also acknowledge that it has really reduced the stress level of doing every-day business allowing Management to clearly focus on their most important relationship — namely, the shop’s clientele.

These attributes did not “just happen”. These owners took the time to learn this side of the business; they made the effort and are determined to excel at whatever they take on. Are they satisfied? — never, but are they satisfied? — absolutely! They are never satisfied with being just a status quo shop; they always want to be the very best that they can be. On the other hand, they are absolutely satisfied with the track their business, and their career, is on. They know very well that their system and their approach to running the business will get them through any tough roads that they will cross. They also know that to maintain a secure future, they do not take anything for granted. They stay “tuned in” to everything going on in this industry.

These are challenging times in the independent sector. It is nice to see that there are shops that will be here years from now representing our sector of the industry in its “finest colours”. Perhaps it is also a “wake-up call” for other shops. Imagine, just imagine, what “butt” we would be kicking if these types of professional shops were the norm for the independent sector. I believe, with perseverance, determination, and clear out very hard work by all during 2004 and 2005, we can see more shops rise to the top in their given marketplace. Perhaps now is the time to consider “your position” within our industry.

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 www.ekw.ca 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 www.aaec.ca Bob can be reached at (613) 836-5130, 1-800-267-5497, FAX (613) 836-4637 or by E-mail; greenwood@ekw.ca or greenwood@aaec.ca


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