As AutoShopOwner.com enters its fourth year, I would like to personally thank all the members for their continued contribution and making AutoShopOwner.com the “go to” online business forum for the independent automotive repair industry. The success of ASO is truly due to the strength of its membership. The combined knowledge and participation of its membership base has far exceeded our expectations. For that reason, we at AutoShopOwner.com are very proud.
One year ago I wrote about the tough economic times we have endured the last few years. I stated that although 2009 was very challenging, 2010 would be the year to make our mark.
Well, another year has passed and the automotive independent repair shops have once again shown their resilience and the ability to overcome just about anything thrown their way. We may have lost a few colleagues, but not many; certainly not nearly the numbers that were predicted. And, when you compare it to new-car dealership losses, we truly need to stand up and give ourselves a round of applause. In an era where conglomerates such as Chrysler and General Motors needed Uncle Sam to bail them out; we tightened our belts, restructured our pricing strategy, diversified our services, continued to train our technicians, and stood up to adversity. The truth is we maintained the attitude of, “Business as usual”.
Our strength always has been and will continue to be, ourselves. Yes, I know how you are constantly being told that you need to run your shops more like a business, and I have heard over and over again how an industry of “mechanics-turned shop owners” is the main reason for our demise. But, how do you explain our continued success? How do you explain the fact that the independent repair sector is alive and well? How do you explain that we, the independent repair shops, are the number one preferred choice of the motoring public? I think it’s time to examine how WE do business, and maybe the rest of world should take a few lessons.
To be honest, many of can do better financially. Shop owners and technicians work extremely hard, give a lot of the profits away in lost productivity, and simply do not always charge what they are worth. Too many of us end our careers with little to show for it. For many of us, breaking away from skills of mechanics and learning the skills of business is almost unattainable. As we get older and a bit wiser and beat up, we make the necessary changes to ease back and take more of a managerial role. We see the writing on the wall and feel the pain of years past in our backs, hands, and shoulders. But, we endure, and make a life for ourselves and our family.
As a fellow shop owner, let me outline the profile of the typical shop owner. The typical shop owner is a dedicated, community focused person, involved with either the local Church or other organization(s). We put in an enormous amount of hours each week, working on every aspect of business. We always strive to do our best and produce the best product possible. We commit ourselves to continued education. We always give the customer the benefit of the doubt and will do just about anything (even at a loss) to keep the customer. We warranty repairs long after the warranty period. We come to work sick and take very little time off. We never hesitate to pick up a wrench, broom, mop or push a car into the bay. We are in the business of helping people and keep this country moving. Without us, our communities would come to screeching halts. We will work days on a problem, until we find the fix. We never give up. We always find a way to win.
No one, and I mean no one, can take away the fact that the typical shop owner is truly committed to their customers and to the industry. As a group, we may not be the best business people, but we always find a way to get the job done.
My vision for the future is to see more and more shops realize that our proven track record dictates that it’s time to secure our place in the future. We have done great things in the past, now it’s time to do even better. Continue to shift your role as a company leader and look for ways to transform your business where all the people in your company can enjoy the fruits of their labor. Build a solid future for yourself and for the people around you. This will be your legacy. Do this for all the reasons why you have done everything in the past, not solely because of economic gain, but because it’s the right thing to do. You owe to you, your family, and to the people who work with you.
As we move forward in 2011 and beyond, AutoShopOwner.com is committed to your success and will continue to provide a platform where the open exchange of opinions and ideas will provide valuable information through shared knowledge and experience.