Has the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impacted your auto shop business? If it hasn't yet, it has the potential to do so soon. Please share what you are currently doing, how your business is impacted, what plans you have in place, etc.
Some things to consider:
Do you have a plan in place should you or one of your employees become ill? With school, event, and business closures, how will this affect your shop? Are you sending anything to your customers in terms of sharing your plans around keeping your customer and employees healthy and doing your part in your community? Many small and large businesses have been sending email communications to their customers. Are you marketing to your customers in terms of not delaying car repair, should there be a need to temporarily close? Are your parts suppliers sharing their plans, should the pandemic affect supply chains? Are you stocking up on business and shop necessities? Please share your experience in this topic and stay healthy!
In the media:
The coronavirus and its growing tally of sick and dead victims around the world have been roiling financial markets, prompting countless hand-washing reminders and ruining more than a few vacations, and that’s before anyone knows exactly how widespread the effect will be on the automotive industry, including your local repair shop. Source
“By mid-March, the shortage of supplies will be felt and members are projecting they’ll experience disruption through May or June,” even if operations in China soon get back to normal, said Stacey Miller, senior director of communications at the Auto Care Association, a trade group representing 150,000 auto aftermarket and service businesses. Source
By Joe Marconi
Today is the first day of summer, and we are still dealing with the dreaded COVID-19. However, there are positive indicators that business will be better than expected this summer. People will be taking more road trips, will avoid airplanes, trains and Ubers and will take to the roads in record numbers.
Gear up for a great summer and look for opportunity with each vehicle visit. Perform those multipoints as if your business depends on it….why?....Because it does!
We have a lot to be thankful for. Keep positive, be a leader and thrive!
By Joe Marconi
For many of us, it's been a wild ride the past few months. We had to take care of everything, making tough decisions, dealing with banks and the SBA and running the shop from the trenches. But, with things looking better each day, it’s time that we get back into the role of building and operating the company.
For many, the COVID-19 crisis is far from over. However, the sooner we begin to adjust and build for the future, the better off we will be.
Shop Owners are among the hardest working people on the planet. We find ways to get through the most difficult situations. I have no doubt that the lesson’s learned from this crisis will make us stronger and more successful.
By Joe Marconi
Sometimes I feel like I’m alone on a deserted island. I charge for diagnostic analysis. Why? Because I know what cost is to buy the tools, equipment, information systems, training and pay a technician to professionally and accurately diagnosis a check engine light, air bag, ABS or any other complicated problem. But, I feel a lot of shops are willing to give this up in hopes to get the work. In my opinion all they are doing is digging themselves in a hole.
And, I have heard all the reasons:
“If the customer gives me the job, I waive the analysis”.
“I package the analysis into the repair, so the customer does not see the diag charges”
“I will lose customers if I charge analysis”
And the best yet: “It only took me 10 minutes to diag the O2 sensor, so I can’t charge diag labor”.
Waiving the analysis is the same as a doctor waiving the x-rays and blood tests. They don’t do it, we should not either. I will also challenge those who “package” the analysis into the repair. You mean to tell me that after taking 1 hour to find a faulty mass air sensor, you will add the 1 hour to the 5 minutes it takes to install a new mass air? Come on, we all know the truth.
And let’s address the 10 minutes it took to find the failed O2 sensor. Did it really take 10 minutes? NO, it took years of training, years of experience, the investment in the right equipment and the investment in the right information systems. Why we sometimes diminish what we are truly worth is amazing. No other profession does that.
Sorry for being so tough on this topic, but business is hard enough these days and people question everything. If shops don’t realize what they are giving up, it makes it bad for all of us.
Please tell me what you think. Agree? Disagree? Or any other thoughts....
Is your business down 40 or 50% like many on this forum? If so, I have an idea to help a bit now, but especially in the future. And even help the impression of our industry.
You probably have more time available to spend with your customers. It’s the perfect time to build or cement a great relationship, to create that illusive trust with your customer, that’s mentioned in just about every trade magazine, but they never tell you how. May I suggest “The How” that I’ve been using for years? This will be handy now and in the future when this is over.
Learn more about your customers. Become “friends.” Talk about everything: the lousy situation we’re in, ask about their job, their kids, their past vacation, their future vacations, their weekend jaunts. Exchange good news. Exchange not-so-good news. Listen. Talk about what comes up.
I treat our customers like friends, like former high school friends. And these friends know we have to make a profit (EVERYBODY knows that!)
For me, it’s a given that we’re going to take care of their car. If they tell me their dad just went into the hospital or nursing home, we’re done talking about their car. I ask, “How’s dad?”
But still do your (digital) inspections. And write down everything, even the stuff that can wait six to nine months. This may affect the service writer or shop’s approval percentage, but so what! Your percentage will be lower, but you will do more work on the car this way. (Notice that I didn’t say you would sell more work. I don’t “sell.”) No decision now on the future stuff, it can wait.
If their car came in with a problem, this is what will fix it (there’s no selling: this is the solution). I point out the other thing that needs attention now. There will be some explanation, but no selling: it needs it. No decision for the customer, actually. Their car needs it.
Next I say, “Here are the things that can wait six to nine months, but I want you to be aware so there are fewer surprises.” No selling, no decisions on their part. Plus, I’m the trustworthy guy who’s telling them they don’t need everything now.
“Now let’s come up with a plan for these other things I found about your car.” I’m explaining, not selling. “You can do these now or in two or three months.” NOBODY wants to come back in two or three months so they are leaning in that direction, but no pressure from you. They will probably ask; “What would you do?” I say, “If you hate bringing your car in, do it now.” (this is where you would bring in a little value, benefits and safety) Again, not selling, suggesting; letting them make the decision. Notice that the first two issues didn’t involve them making a dreaded decision: It needs this, doesn’t need that.
If your inspection has 5 things, they will do 2 to 4. If the inspection has 8 things, they will do 3 to 5 – with no selling. You are their friend, you are advising. List everything!
Now think about that phone call. There is only a little selling value or benefits: maybe some safety. So there’s no pressure on you, no bad news. You are the car detective, reading the cars clues and helping your friend thru this.
When you take care of the customer in this fashion, you come from a place of trust, like taking care of a high school friend.
You will be happier because that call back won’t be stressful, you will have more work, and they are more likely to refer your trustworthy, easy-to-work-with shop, which means even more work.
Similar Tagged Content
By Ron Ipach
I want to talk about collecting the right information from every one of your customers while they’re in your shop. What do I mean by that? When we’re talking about marketing, it’s important that we collect all the current information that we have on our customers so that we can continue to market to them. Marketing to your current customers, it’s like picking the low-hanging fruit. It’s the easiest group of people to get back into your shop, so we want to make sure that we collect all the data that we can from our customers while they’re sitting right there in our shop.
Obviously, what you want to do it get their correct name. Make sure their name is spelled correctly. Have that in you database.
Then, also, we want their mailing address. Everybody’s got a place they’re living. They’re not living in their car, chances are. So we want to make sure that we get their home address so that we can mail something to them.
The next thing on the list is we want to make sure we get their e-mail address. We want to make sure that we’re getting the right e-mail address. Not the e-mail address the junk e-mail that a lot of people, including me, I have a junk e-mail address that I give to everybody because I don’t want them to contact me. We want to make sure that we get their actual e-mail address. The one that they actually do check. It’s very important you do that.
You May Also Like: Putting An Auto Repair Ad In The Yellow Pages Then, the next thing that I want to make sure that you get is the two phone numbers that they have. One is their home phone number. Some people don’t have home phones anymore. I happen to still have a home phone number. If they don’t have their home phone number, certainly, they have a cell phone. You want to make sure that you’re collecting that data as well.
What you’re going to be able to do with all this, if you have a home address, you can send them a piece of mail. If you have an e-mail address, the good e-mail address, you can send them an e-mail. If you have their home phone number, not only can you pick up the phone to call them, I call it dialing for dollars when you’re on your slow days to see if you can get some of them to your shop, but you can also do something. It’s a technology called the voice broadcast where you record a message, and it blasts it out to everybody’s home phone number and leaves a message just like you would’ve left a message on their voicemail by calling their home if you called them one by one. This is different, where you just record it one time and it blasts it out to everybody. Then, if you get their cell phone number, you can send them a text message, and 99% of text messages get read, and 95% of them get read within the first five minutes. So it’s a very valuable way to be able to market to them.
You May Also Like: What's New In The Automotive Repair Industry? But none of this is going to work for you if you don’t have the accurate data in your database. So here’s a suggestion that you start right now, today, with the very next customer that walks through the door and you start collecting that data. Think of it like when you went to the doctor’s office the last time. What they did is they handed you that clipboard and said, “We’re updating our records. Please fill all this out.” You can protest all you want, but they’re going to make you fill those forms out every single time you go in. Why? They have insurance forms that they need to fill out, and they got to make sure everything’s accurate. You, you need to market to them. You got to run your business off of this data. So require that they fill out each and every one of those lines. Their name, their e-mail address, their phone number, their cell phone number. You want to make sure that you collect all that data so that you can market to them.
Just assume that they’re going to give you that data and no questions asked. If you just ask for an e-mail address, now there’s a dialogue that kind of goes back and forth. If you simply hand them a form that says “We need all this information for our database, for our records,” they will go ahead and fill that out. Make sure that you get that done.
You also, at the bottom of that form, you want to have like a little disclaimer that by singing below, and you want to make sure they sign it, by signing below, you are allowing Ron’s Auto Repair to contact them by mail, by phone, or any other electronic means necessary. You want to have that little catch-all, cover-your-butt legalese on there so that when they sign it, they literally have given you permission to market to them using all of those means.It all starts with good information if you want to be able to market to your current customers. Your current customers are your best source of income, and we’ll cover that on other videos like this. You got to make sure that you have the data first so that you can market to them in the future.
note: Be sure to watch the replay of my Live Webinar
By Joe Marconi
By now you have a pretty good idea how 2016 will end up. Are you going to achieve your business goals? Your personal Goals? That’s not to say you can make up ground or work hard to do even better. But, as we close the third quarter for 2016, it’s time to review the year, revisit your goals and start planning for 2017.
It all starts with reviewing your financial situation. Set up a meeting with your accountant. Discuss your 2016 projected sales and profits. Don’t wait until 2017 to do this. There are many tax implications that need to be addressed before the end of the year. In addition, you need to review all your expenses and payroll in order to reestablish your breakeven sales number; and to also create your 2017 budget.
This is also the time to review your marketing plan and budget for 2017. Lastly, you need to perform an audit of your facility. Inspect your facility and equipment. Is it time to upgrade equipment? Are there any building or facilities repairs needed? Needed training?
Planning for the future is planning for success. And while there is no “perfect” plan, not planning is a path to eventual failure.