In the afternoon breakout session, it was a particularly fiery Bob Greenwood that took centre stage in a presentation that both challenged the owners in attendance to take a hard look at their own business practices, while also encouraging them that success was indeed attainable.
In a presentation that centered around the idea that owners, and the industry at large needs to evaluate – and in some cases establish – a more focused set of standard practices, Greenwood took no prisoners in his analysis of where many shops stand today. “We simply can’t be out there saying that the customer is cheap, or the customer won’t pay for it, anymore,” he said. It’s our collective processes within our industry that has to change. We can do this, but we have to focus on it.
To wit, Greenwood noted a common reality for many today, the customer with a little knowledge. “We’re bombarded with information today. On my computer, on my phone, etc. And, as a customer, I can take that information and I can look into your business, and I can read about what you need to do to my vehicle, or so I perceive it. As a result, I submit to you, the owner, that today, we are in the knowledge business. We should no longer be out there selling hard, but out there educating.”
And, according to greenwood, that education has to not only be about preventative maintenance, so a customer is not shocked when presented with a $2,000 bill, but rather about teaching them that vehicle maintenance needs to be a regular item in family budget. “I’m sure you’ve always thought of your business in terms of sales,” he said. “But now it’s time to ask your client to work with you, to manage this vehicle not just through 150,000km, but through 300,000 and beyond.”
However, according to Greenwood, setting up the right kind of process, in which these sorts of relationships work, owners must first avoid the peaks and valleys that plague many repair shops. “We can’t make money in this business if we’re too busy,” he started. “Everyone gets running around, and it becomes about getting that car out. Opportunities are always missed. But, of course, we lose our shirts when things are too slow, and we end up putting on a sale, just to keep the boys in the back busy. In essence, when a shop looks like this, there is a lack of process somewhere.”