Auto Service World
Feature   May 1, 2001   by Auto Service World


Successful installers do have something in common, yet no summary has really taken place so others could have a checklist to follow. This is that checklist.

The following 10 points seem to be consistent in the better businesses in our industry. See if you recognize them, and while you may be thinking about your best installer clients, think about your own business as well.

1. PICK A NICHE AND ADD VALUE. The better installers know who they are selling to and go to great lengths to build relationships with their desired clientele and exceed their expectations. They truly understand one thing, namely, that they can’t sell to everyone who comes through the door. Not everyone out there wants the level of service and quality that the better shops want to deliver. The management of these shops do not freak out about not making a sale to everyone; rather, they simply say, “I guess we are just not the shop for you.”

2. REINVEST PROFITS. When a shop owner is willing to reinvest by putting profits back into the business, it demonstrates a commitment to its future. The commitment also says a lot to the bankers, who now notice that the retained earnings account is not being drained. As retained earnings grow, the company is getting healthier; as the company gets healthier, the company gets wealthier.

3. LEARN FROM THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS. Good installers study their peers. Experience is often the best teacher. While many successful installers learn from their own mistakes, they also learned from the errors of the shops they worked for before starting their own business, and even from errors made by their peers that they respect.

4. KEEP DETAILED RECORDS. The best installers truly understand that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. They can measure productivity and profitability accurately. They do not just measure sales. Productivity measurement can lead to dramatically increased profitability. Their record keeping is outstanding compared to the installers who run their business based on their bank account balance.

5.CUT DOWN ON OVERHEADS. Due to the nature of business today, many expenses are moving to the common sense category, which reflects on the maturity of the shop management. Top shops ask “What must I spend to deliver the service, quality, and value to the desired client base I want to grow my business with?” They do not use a slash and burn approach, but they do understand where waste is occurring within their business and attack it accordingly.

6.BE FLEXIBLE. The better shops are more than willing to adjust their business to changing times. They have found that the ability to respond quickly to change gives them an advantage over the larger companies known as “the real competition.”

7.GIVE GOOD SERVICE. Many very successful installers have sacrificed short-term profits for long-term gains by providing outstanding service. They realize that in the long run this will build a larger and more solid client-based business; they know a client will attract a client, and a customer will attract a customer. They run a client-focused business.

8.BE GOOD TO SUPPLIERS. The best and most profitable installers realize that a solid relationship with their supplier is mandatory for sustained business profitability. They seek out progressive, knowledgeable jobbers that truly understand the jobbing business and how the wholesaler and installer business must interact for both parties to be financially successful.

9.PRACTICE WHAT THEY PREACH. Great shops walk the talk. Management of that shop is proud of their place and the employees that work in it. They never insist that employees “do as I say, not as I do.” Their shop uses a team concept and is admired not only by other shops, but also by the jobber serving them.

10. SHARE THE WEALTH. Great shops are profitable and have a designated profit sharing plan in place for the staff. They recognize that the shop would not be successful without the commitment of a dedicated workforce; therefore everyone shares in the success of the business.

Better shops have these values in common. Analyzing better shops also reveals the fact that these shops expect a lot from the suppliers with whom they do business. If a supplier does not understand the mind set of these installers, he eventually loses the installer’s business. Too many jobbers have a tendency to blame their installer customer for everything.

Reexamine your own mindset. Be honest here. Have you changed your way of thinking about what is required to attract and keep the best installers in your area? Examine your store’s staff and review how they are interacting with your store’s customer base. Are they trained on the installer’s business, or are they just going through the motions and doing the rounds? Does your entire staff see the vision for the business and what is at stake for their future?

Step out of the box, change your jobbing business and take it to the next level. Reinvest in your business, and demonstrate to the best installers that you are the one that has what it takes to secure their trust, loyalty, and total first call business.

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