There are many good auto repair shops that are making a solid effort to improve their circumstances.
It has not been easy for them. Change is difficult for any business. But some shops have made tremendous efforts, and the results are seen in their business projections.
I’ve spoken with many of these shop owners, and a common point of agreement is that they’ve reached the absolute limits of their tolerance for jobbers that operate without regard for the value they deliver to their clients.
They have little patience for jobbers who remain unfamiliar with the capabilities of modern computers to streamline business procedures. They are frustrated by suppliers who ignore the power of the Internet and the assistance it can lend in serving ASPs more efficiently. They are troubled by the missed opportunities for better research and clearer communication from their parts providers.
Many auto repair shops have embraced technology and they do their best to stay current. It allows management to be better organized and more in touch with what is really going on in their businesses.
It’s gotten to the point that many progressive shops measure their businesses better than their jobbers do.
Unfortunately, too many jobber sales reps are not very well trained, and they fail to command the respect of their clients. All too often the rep responds to reasonable questions with an awkward, “I’ll have to check on that,” or “Can you leave that with me? I’ll get back to you.”
Successful shop owners have learned to train their staff well, and they are comfortable delegating projects to their employees. If a jobber can’t – or won’t – train their own people to develop professional relationships marked by competence and authority, what does that say about jobber management? Why can’t they trust their own people in the field?
There are still many jobbers who do not respect their service provider clients, or understand the challenges they face. What does that say to progressive shop owners who are seeking a “value” relationship with their suppliers?
Here’s what some jobbers may be missing: Really great auto repair shops develop relationships of trust with their clients. When they make a recommendation, their clients listen carefully, and usually heed the shop owner’s advice. Their shop clients trust them.
How many jobbers have developed that kind of relationship of trust with their ASP customers? When the jobber makes a recommendation – about an upcoming training course, perhaps, or a conference that will be helpful – is the relationship is so tight that the shop owner heeds the advice?
Few jobbers have that kind of relationship with their clients. Consequently, they blame their customers for being short-sighted and unwilling to participate in new programs or events. The jobber says, “I try to get my customers out to training but they won’t go. They never do.”
Perhaps more accurate would be, “I haven’t developed sufficient credibility with them so they’ll take my advice.”
That kind of truth stings, doesn’t it?
Service providers don’t want you just to keep trying to sell them stuff that really benefits you. You have to prove that what you’re proposing is really in your client’s best interest. They’ll be further ahead if they listen to you. They’ll win, not you.
Sadly, too many jobbers act like their very worst customers: they act out of crude self-interest for short-term gain. They refuse to foster relationships, be professional, and take a progressive stance.
Progressive jobbers attract larger, more progressive shop owners. They offer true value, not gimmicks. Their clients are not price shoppers. Their selfless efforts are appreciated. They are rewarded with in excess of 85% of the shop’s business.
Progressive jobbers lead the marketplace. They become the voice of the industry in their communities. They credible, informed, and plugged in.
They don’t blame their customers for lost profits or slumping sales. They don’t accuse their clients of being unprofessional or incompetent. They build up their clients. They’re thrilled and challenged to keep up with them.
I can tell you that ASPs wish this was the description of a typical jobber in today’s market. But it isn’t. There are too few that operate like this. They’re lucky to find one.
A jobber can have a positive influence on the market but not when they run their business in a one-sided fashion, with no regard for the health of the repair shops they do business with.
What is the future of the independent shops in a marketplace served by self-interested jobbers? It is bleak indeed.
We need good, progressive jobbers who will help develop the market. Yes, they really do have that much power!
The best shops in your market area wished you would step up and take your role in the industry more seriously. The entire independent sector would benefit from it handsomely.
Slow down, and re-evaluate your jobbing business and the value you bring to each shop. Prepare yourself to make investments in the marketplace. Stop looking at everything as an expense. Re-examine every client. Assess the volume level, and gross profit level, you could take them to if you got focused on them.
Consider investing in the technology that will raise the level of service you offer. Get focused on your marketplace!
I’m confident, that if you do your homework, you’ll be able to achieve an additional 3 to 5 percent in gross profit. In a $1 million business, that’s an additional $30,000 to $50,000 in gross profit. It is also net profit. If you have another 10 years left in your business, that type of focus represents an additional $300,000 to $500,000.
With that kind of opportunity, I think you’d have to agree it’s worth your time.
Bob Greenwood is an Accredited Master Automotive Manager (AMAM), offering personal business coaching and ongoing management training. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.