By Bob Cooper
The top shop owners in America have a number of things in common. They were the first to embrace the incredible value in utilizing exchange rebuilt components, rather than trying to repair all the components themselves. They were also the first to provide their customers with extended warranties on their repairs, and they geared up for selling maintenance service while all of their competitors were still living in the world of repair. You may call them forward thinkers, but one thing for certain is that they embrace the future long before it arrives.
Today cars are better-built, they are requiring less repair and maintenance, and the dealerships are continuing their attempt to conquer the service business. So the question is: What opportunities will be available for you in the coming years? Well, the services you do offer will certainly be your personal choices, but considering the current state of our industry, and all the indicators of our future, I see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for shop owners.
In the coming years there will be an absolute explosion that will take place in the vehicle infotainment industry. I am referring to the mixture of onboard data such as onboard diagnostics, guidance systems and vehicle control features, and the entertainment/communication features such as Wi-Fi, voice texting and audio/video systems. Just step inside of any new car showroom, or watch any car company ad, and you will clearly see that the car companies are competing in the field of infotainment far more than for anything that is mechanical in nature. What I find interesting is that the world of infotainment is one space that is virtually void of competition among independent shops at this time, and it is wide open to shop owners who are willing to embrace the future.
There is no doubt in my mind why shop owners have not yet shown any interest in this explosive opportunity. Simply put, they feel they don’t need to offer infotainment services today, and they are fearful of the unknown, which in this case is the complexity of the technology. For those of you who may share these feelings, I would like to remind you that there was a time when shop owners were deathly afraid of automatic transmissions, there was a time when they were afraid of fully electronic ignition systems, and there was even a time when they were afraid of things as simple as disc brakes. As we all well know, the shop owners who took on those early challenges were able to build remarkable businesses.
So here are my recommendations. Start the process by exploring how you can better help your current customers by installing and servicing infotainment components. The manufacturers are currently filling the streets with technology-laden vehicles, and beyond the opportunity to install additional equipment in today’s vehicles, the components in all of those new vehicles will inevitably do one thing: They will fail. The question is, who will be performing those repairs, and if not you, why not you?
In closing, I would like to leave you with this thought: When speaking of investment strategy, at one time the famed billionaire Warren Buffet said, “First come the innovators… then come the imitators… and then come the idiots.” If you embrace this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and if you take the steps to be the innovator in your community, then there is no question in my mind: The world will be yours, and your competitors will become imitators at best.
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.