This month, AutoShopOwner.com celebrates its first year anniversary as a web-based automotive management network and forum, dedicated to the success of automotive shop owners around the world, through shop owner networking and the exchange of ideas. I want to take this time to thank all members, welcome new members and wish everyone great success in the coming year.
We all know that 2008 has brought many economic challenges to not only our industry, but also to industries around the globe. It appears that the economy will not begin to recover for a while. It seems that every sector of the economy is affected. We haven’t seen a downturn like this, since the great depression. Whether you are for or against the “bail out” of American corporations, the fact remains that, what ever happens in the short term will greatly affect us all, well into the future.
Many businesses, large and small, will fail in 2009 and more people will loose their jobs as companies trim the fat and become leaner; something that should have been done years ago. More domestic new car dealerships will close their doors. For many of them, they have no choice. Their business model just doesn’t make sense anymore.
Is there only bad news? Not really. We happen to be in an industry that prospers in any economic climate: good and bad. 2008 was a terrible year for new car sales and ALL manufacturers, resulting in the greatest opportunity for service and repair work we’ve seen in decades. People may have held back spending money in “08”, but eventually they will need to get their cars in to you for service. And you need to be ready.
Now is the time to be aggressive in your marketing and advertising. Create ways to offer cost savings services to your customers. Give them options and be flexible. You don’t have to hit home runs to win the game. I understand money is tight, but the shops that stay strong and invest today will reap the benefits when the economy turns around. History as proven that the companies that maintain a positive outlook, continue to advertise and adjust to the changing times, are stronger after the economy picks up.
Maintain a constant watch on all the businesses in your area that are suffering, especially other automotive chains and new car dealerships. As these companies fail, this will create opportunity for you. Watch your overhead, but continue to invest in training, tools and equipment. You can’t afford to be left behind technologically these days. Playing catch-up may not be that easy. And of course, be accommodating to your customer and provide outstanding world-class service, anything else won’t cut it. In tough times, consumers can become fussy and demanding and won’t settle for sub standard service.
From the dialogues I have had on AutoShopOwner.com, throughout this past year, I am impressed by the resolve and strength of the typical shop owner and see a positive future for our industry. As a group, we are strong. Failure is not an option for us. We find ways everyday to solve the most complicated mechanical problems and that determination will be the reason why we will not just survive in the coming years, but thrive. The best of luck to all shop owners in ‘09’ and look forward to the forum discussions.