Auto Service World
News   November 24, 2022   by Greg Aguilera

From the magazine: Keys to success

The 5 things every independent automotive repair shop needs to know to up performance

Shop owners feel stress and pressure to perform when their business isn’t performing as well as it should, be it from a financial or customer perspective.

There could be many reasons why this is happening. Owners have a lot on their plates. But if they’re not paying enough attention to just one of the key areas outlined below, the business suffers.

Which of these challenges is holding back your shop?

Business coaching

Every athlete is surrounded by coaches. Not because they don’t have a talent, but because when someone is being coached, it’s from a clearer viewpoint, guiding the play and the decisions with reasoning and questioning.

It is the same when we talk about business. If you don’t have an experienced business coach on your side, you should get one to start seeing the benefit for yourself.

Don’t get suckered into business coaches trying to impose the way they worked on their business 20 years ago. The ways we do business have fundamentally shifted over the past few years and will continue to change moving forward.

Accounting and bookkeeping

They say a good accounting team is worth its weight in gold— and it’s true. I have put both the accountant and bookkeeper in the same bucket here because having both ensures you can focus on the strategy of building the business, rather than just running it day-to-day.

When you have this part sorted, a whole bunch of stress is taken off — not to mention time saved. Your accounts will be easy to read, you can make decisions on the business from a place of clarity instead of being buried in a sea of paperwork and lost invoices. When you have an involved accountant, you can rely on them for open and honest conversations regarding the investment strategy of your business.


If you have a strong sense of direction and know the message you want to put out in the market, then you need a team that can bring that to life for you.

Great marketing is addictive and worth every penny of investment. They should get to know you, understand your current business and then create messaging that meets your needs.

Not all marketing strategies will have instant results. The goal is to be a customer’s first thought when service or repair is needed, and that you are easy to find with a simple Google search.

Enthusiastic staff

This one is tricky. Your staff’s enthusiasm for the job is not their responsibility — it’s yours. Your responsibility is to create and maintain an environment that helps your team perform.

When a business owner says staff are unhappy or not motivated, it’s a clear sign that there is something going on at a structural level in the organization. We need to look at all the facets of engaged employees to understand where our shortfalls might be.

Great customers

The phrase “the customer is always right” came from pioneers of the retail industry. This statement is only partially correct. It’s fair to say most customers believe that they are right.

Toxic customers destroy your morale in the business and are simply not worth it.

Look at what you offer your customer and take an approach that says what you are doing is right and fair. If they are being neither fair nor correct, then let them go.

Greg Aguilera is a director of IARN Canada, an organization dedicated to management development of independent repair shops in Canada

This article originally appeared in the September/October issue of CARS

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