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Elite Worldwide Inc.
Elite Worldwide Inc.

If You Think Your Shop is a Business, This Article May Surprise You

Most shop owners begin their careers as technicians, and eventually buy their first shop. These are often the people that feel they own a business, when in reality, it’s the furthest from the truth. Consider this…

When most past-technicians open their first shop, they spend most of their time test driving or under the hood of a car. They know if they stop working on cars, their income will come to a screeching halt. They feel that as long as they are turning wrenches they will have an income stream, and the faster they work, the more income they’ll make. So what they have in this scenario is a job; not a shop, and not a business. Ironically, they’re not much different than the tech down the street. They’ll go home tired, and they’ll judge their success by the number of vehicles they fixed that day. The only real difference is that the tech down the street doesn’t have all the liabilities, and they don’t take their problems home at night. 

Some of these aforementioned past-techs will make it to the next level, which is being a “shop owner.” The difference between having a job and being a shop owner is that shop owners have more than one person working for them, and they are able to take a few days off without everything shutting down. In most cases, shop owners feel this is a good place to be, and it is, until it’s time for them to either retire or sell their shop before their planned retirement. You see, what most shop owners fail to realize is that very few people are willing to buy shops, and if they do find a buyer, it’s typically a tech with very little money. The reason that business people with real money will rarely buy shops is because shops are typically dependent on the current owner, and there’s a shop on every corner. 

Now here’s the good news: Every shop owner can turn their shop into a business. You see, a “business” is not dependent on the owner. It has clear-cut, written systems in place for all facets of the business (pay programs, the recruiting process, the marketing plan, the sales process, etc.) so that when the new owner steps in they have everything they need to continue building the business. They have the business plans that were created by the seller, they have a seasoned staff, and they have all of the established systems in place for the business to continue to prosper and grow. In this case, what the buyer has bought is a “business”, not a job, and not a shop. 

The shop owners that are willing to embrace the fact that there is a major difference between a job, a shop and a business all have one thing in common: They are creating their own future, and they are building real equity at the same time. Is it worth the effort to transform your shop into a business? Well, the best answer I can give you is this: When the day comes for you to sell, I have a very strong suspicion that you will be thankful you turned your shop into a business. 

Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com.

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So true. I can say from first hand experience that I was a tech that owned a job, not a business. It took me years to figure it out, but when I did, my world changed. Having a background as a tech is not a bad thing, but it does properly prepare you for the world of business. 

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I wonder what the percentage is of shop owners that never worked as techs and shop owners that have worked as techs before they became shop owners? I would think there are more shop owners with backgrounds as techs!

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Most shop owners used to be techs. Many still are techs.  Most of these techs turned shop owners own their job, not a business. It's a very difficult transition to make going from technician to business owner. Like damn near impossible, which is why the vast majority never make it. I'll readily admit I don't have all the processes and procedures in place to make it a turn key operation for a new owner, and I definitely need to button that up. That being said, my list of responsibilities here has become very short. As it should be.

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When you say, 'I own a shop' is quite different than saying, 'I run a shop'.  They are two different things entirely.  It's when you (the shop owner/mechanic) realize the difference and work towards making your 'shop' into a business.



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