When your shop is busy, it’s easy to look past the need to market your shop to draw in customers. Things are going great, so why bother, right?
No, warned a shop coach. It’s a mistake many shops make.
What typically ends up happening is shops wait until “the dip” — when things slow. “Halfway through the dip, they start marketing. And guess what [happens]? Their next busy season is way too busy again, and then they’re not as profitable as they would like. They missed the curve,” explained Murray Voth, B.C.-based president of RPM Training.
By marketing ahead of the dip, you’re setting up your shop to turn that slow period around.
Forecasting is a common issue among shop owners, agreed Voth and Texas-based Vic Tarasik, founder of Shop Owner Coach, during the webinar Navigating the Rapids Ahead. Shop owners need to figure out the amount of business needed to be successful.
For the tech-turned-owner, think about business forecasting the way you would take on a vehicle repair. You have a deadline in mind as to when you will finish with the vehicle.
“Operating his business is no different. It’s just putting the numbers in,” Tarasik said.
Being a million-dollar shop is a lofty goal. But it’s attainable if you plan for it. That means figuring out how many cars you need, how many hours are needed and so on. It’s a conversation coaches have with their clients regularly.
“And you’d be surprised the guys that look at that number go ‘Oh, I can do that without a problem.’ And they do it. They step into the be in the million dollar shop very easily,” Tarasik said.
Another issue that shop owners stumble over is the feeling they need to be perfect in their job as the boss. After all, a stable of employees is counting on the owner to run a stable, successful business.
“That’s a lot of pressure,” Voth acknowledged. While technicians are given leeway to learn the ropes — no one expects a rookie lube tech to diagnose sporadic engine codes — shop owners need to have a plan in place on Day 1.
So that means paying attention to the trends and keeping an eye on forecasting what’s ahead, Tarasik noted. “If you’re starting to see a dip in sales or a dip in people walking through the door, make an adjustment. If the phone starts to drop, calls stop coming in or queries over the internet, make an adjustment.”