By Allan Janssen
The list of challenges facing the automotive aftermarket is long and familiar. It starts with rapidly advancing technology and a shortfall in skilled labour. For owners and managers of repair shop owners, those are the first two action items on the daily To-Do list.
But as consumer behaviour changes and margins get even tighter, repair shops are facing a whole new set of operating demands, including mastering complex human resources issues, improving business forecasting and planning, achieving higher efficiencies, and implementing advanced marketing strategies.
It’s safe to say these things don’t come naturally to most shop owners – particularly those who started out as an apprentice, worked their way up to become a journeymen technician, and eventually inherited or bought the business.
When these home-grown shop owners transition out of the bay and into an office, it often takes them years to come to the realization that they need real business training.
And, jobbers… that’s where you come in.
If you truly want to help your customers, you have to be ready with much more than well-made, well-priced, and quickly delivered parts. Quite frankly, repair shops will be buying less, not more, if they can’t meet the evolving demands of modern business.
You need them to be productive and profitable.
Your store is a bigger fish in the aftermarket pool, probably three to five times bigger than your best wholesale customer’s operation. You buy more, sell more, and face greater market complexity than they do. You also have a better sense of business trends and have access to a wider array of resources.
For the sake of your own business, you need to apply some of those resources to ensuring that your wholesale customers are fiscally sound.
I know this is not a new message to you. But here’s a new twist: perhaps we can work together to deliver rock-solid business advice to service providers.
I’d like to create a panel of engaged jobbers who wish to share their views and knowledge in the pages of CARS magazine, the sister publication to Jobber News. Together we could discuss a wide variety of best practices and business improvements:
* Optimizing inventory
* Streamlining workflow
* Understanding local vehicle demographics
* Minimizing part returns
* Maximizing profitability
* Improving team dynamics
* Developing effective selling techniques
You are the experts in these areas, and I know you have a lot of wisdom to impart.
If you’re interested in joining a panel, please send me an email and tell me a little bit about your operation. I’m looking for a wide assortment of members, with a range of affiliations, from all parts of Canada.
Tell me what you see as being the biggest repair-shop challenges, and where too many shop owners fall short.
I’m not expecting easy answers. Like I said, it will be a discussion… and at times, probably a debate. But a multiplicity of views is sure to unearth some useful nuggets for shop owners who are looking for help.
Let’s work together to give them what they need to thrive.
Allan Janssen is the editor of Jobber News and CARS magazine. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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