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Should we specialize?

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Hello, we are a new shop (open for 1 year) and right now, we work on a lot of different types of cars. We have been lucky enough to have a great customer base and enough work that keeps everyone busy every day (sometimes have to be selective), but the question I discuss with my significant other (owner of the shop) is Should we specialize in a type of car? If so, when?


This is how I see it:


Pros of specializing:

-People trust techs that work over and over on their type of car

-Easier for techs to become masters of their work
-No more spending on tools/manuals that are specific to other cars


Cons of specializing:

-It would close the door to a lot of potential customers

-We find that the variety keeps day to day interesting



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Water Proof And Self Adhesive

We are general service, but chose to ally ourselves with The Hybrid Shop and specialize in hybrid vehicles. I believe that hybrids have a strong future in our business. The first ones that came out are aging and need help. Hybrid owners are almost cult-like and really love their cars. We used our special skills training and equipment to rescue distressed cars and became a used car dealer. The Prius has a huge following and the damn things last forever. One of our company shuttle vehicles is stuck at 299999 on the odometer and we proudly point that out to customers. Soon we will be maintaining the hybrid city buses under contract to the local transit administration.

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If things are going good, why fix what isn't broken? We specialize on European cars. Namely, the German big 3. I'll get into the pros and cons of that in a minute, but first I just want to say that if the system you have in place is working for you, why make such a drastic change like specializing in specific brands? That would be fine if you were a specialty shop to begin with, but if you have been providing general service for a year now, and suddenly want to cut your customer base off and cater to selective ones, I don't know but that just sounds like bad business practice to me. Turning customers away is a bad move IMO.


Specializing has its pros and cons like everything else. For one you are limiting your customer base to a specific demographic. This can stunt your growth some. You will not have as much traffic as a general repair shop, or income potential off the bat. You should do some research of your immediate area, and see what kind of vehicles are predominant in your community, and cater to those. Definitely, you want this choice to sync with your business plan. The other issue is personnel. If you plan to specialize, you may want to hire staff which is knowledgeable in the brands you service. This can limit your hiring options, and may bring up compensation issues as well. Hiring in this industry is tough enough as it stands. Some pros: specializing really allows you the flexibility to expand your coverage and support for the brands you service. You can focus more funds on buying specialty tools and equipment which give you deeper coverage and repair options most other repair centers won't have. This is expensive, but since you will be seeing the same cars everyday, these tools and equipment will pay for themselves fairly quickly, so its justified. For example, with the Star Diagnostic scan tool, I have the ability to replace and reprogram ALL modules, keys, and perform system re-flashes on Mercedes Benz just like the dealership. I also have special manufacturer tools which make repairs more efficient, and less time consuming, and expand my repair coverage. Plus like the saying goes, repetition breeds familiarity. Seeing the same cars everyday will make your operation much more efficient and time saving. For example, I can get a BMW in, and just on the mileage alone, I know exactly what services I need to sell, and what issues to look for because I see these cars every day. In about 15 minutes, I can perform an entire inspection on a vehicle, and have plenty of upsell work ready to present to the customer. It is also easier to sell the work, because you pitch it so many times a day, you learn to perfect it.

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  • 10 months later...

This industry is constantly evolving and will continue to do so. One hundred thousand mile factory warranties, free maintance, lifetime tires, Etc., all mean you will have to adjust your business plan in the future. Be carefull limiting your opportunities by establishing a brand that doesn't include potential future customers. Once you establish your brand it is nearly impossible to change without rebranding at great expense.

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