By Joe Marconi
One of the lessons from COVID is for repair shops to have a strong cash reserve. Shop owners need to budget their money each week, and allocate money to different bank accounts, such as payroll, operating expenses, taxes, etc.
Another account I would recommend is to have a Cash Reserve account, where money is allocating each week, and not touched unless their is a emergency, such as an economic downturn and or if an economic emergency occurs in your area or with your company.
While no one could have predicted the affects from COVID 19, I think we can all agree that being cash strong is a viable strategy.
You should have anywhere from 3 to 6 months of covered expenses in a separate bank account. I know, I know....it's a lot of money. Start slow and build each week. Anything set aside is better than nothing.
Of course, to have a reserve means that you need to have the profit to put away. Right? Well, another reason to know your numbers, revisit your pricing and make sure your labor rate is enough to support your payroll, operating expenses and have enough left over to set aside money for the unexpected.
Trust me, you'll be glad you did.
By Joe Marconi
The strength of your company relies on many factors, and one of the most important is having a great set of systems and procedures in place. Systems and procedures bring consistency to your customer service, and to your repairs. While I am not a fan of creating a company with employee clones, having everyone in your company on the same page, sharing common goals is crucial for overall success.
In terms of selling your company, having systems and procedures in place is an advantage when potential buyers are interested in your company.
Please remember, it doesn't matter where you are in your business career, you are never too young to start planning for your exit strategy. And, perhaps equally important is that by preparing your business for sale will actually help build a stronger and more profitable business.
Stayed tuned for more tips on Creating Your Exit Plan.
Kevin Syed, Owner of Integrity 1st Automotive, 8 Locations, Dallas Fort Worth TX, grew up with an entrepreneurial father and was always encouraged to lead. Having successfully earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from University at Buffalo, Kevin went on to become a franchisee with Getty Petroleum / British Petroleum service centers for the better part of a decade in New York City. After gaining the knowledge, experience, and funding required to produce his own operation, Kevin went on to operate his own independent shops in New York. Kevin sought to find a new place to call home with his wife and twin girls; he longed for the community values and environment of the South and so his family made the decision to move to Texas. Integrity 1st Automotive was then born in Texas and Kevin has scaled his business to multiple locations across the Dallas Fort-Worth Metroplex. When he’s not working, Kevin enjoys local car rallies (e.g. Lamborghini Club Dallas), traveling, and hunting. Listen to Kevin's other Episodes HERE
Carl Hutchinson, Owner, Complete Automotive, 2 locations, Springfield, MO has been in the car industry since 1982, but has worked on vehicles long before that time. He has a passion for engineering, for understanding how vehicles operate, and how to repair a customer’s concern. Earlier in his career, Carl started working at a GM Dealership, then went to work at independent repair facilities as a technician and eventually became a service advisor. Carl’s experience in the automotive industry led him to his current position as co-owner with Maureen Hutchinson of Complete Automotive in Springfield MO., where he works every day to provide high-quality, valuable service to all customers. Carl is an Alumni with Ozarks Technical Community College, Springfield MO Campus. He currently sits on the Automotive Advisory Board with Ozark Technical Community College, a member of South East Rotary, and a member of the Springfield Midwest Auto Care Alliance chapter. Carl has his Master ASE Certification, L1 and Service Advisor certification and is an AMI Graduate. Listen to Carl’s previous episodes HERE Kenny Wedow, Owner, Fine Tuned Auto, 2 Locations, Broomfield and Erie CO knows cars. A natural talent even at the young age of 17, he pursued it auto repair in shop classes in school then slipped right into the work field. Working for dealerships such as Saturn, and Nissan, as well as other independent shops, has afforded Wedow with extensive and well-rounded education. More importantly, before Wedow branched off to open the doors of Fine Tuned Auto in 2013, he already learned the importance of patient diligence. Many dealerships and independent auto shops can default to make generalizations about the problems with your car, sometimes not always seeing the things that really might put you in danger on the road. The patience Wedow has to pull everything apart if need be to find the root answers makes him unique in his field. It is a quality that got him promoted to foreman at a Nissan dealership when he was only twenty-three. It wasn’t that the six technicians under him weren’t experienced, in fact, some of them had worked considerably longer than Wedow. However, his attention to detail and follow-through put him above and beyond. Listen to Kenny's other episodes HERE
Key Talking Points
Building Trust- Focus on relationships, not transactions. Reviews, book of business, referrals etc. People always like to try something new, wow them. Make customers feel better- don’t fake it. Location Location Location- be selective. Walk-ins at an easy location will increase with oil changes etc. First chance to gain customers for life. First impression marketing- Kenny uses poker chips with his information to attract new customers. Signage, uniforms, customer waiting area etc elevate the professionalism. The image plays a huge role in sales, female-friendly bathroom/lobby, cleanliness, smell in the waiting lobby, convenience etc. Be mindful of female customers, educate and simplify. Direct mail, google ads, geofencing- who is your clientele? What advertisement is right for your area? Once you have multiple growing businesses- what is your year after year retention? Why do people choose certain careers/trades? What is the reason? Look at different industries and see what they provide. Focus on the relationship, not the transaction Be involved in the community Connect with the show:
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Champtires – one of the leading e-commerce used tire sellers – is not facing supply chain issues. In fact, over the past several months, Champtires’ inventory has grown exponentially.
“Luckily, we are still able to source really great tires right now,” said Brad Rea, president and founder of Champtires. “Ninety percent of our inventory has 7/32 tread or above, and we’re adding hundreds of Michelins, Pirellis, Continentals – tires in every brand really – every day.”
Reselling used tires with significant tread life left saves them from ending up in a landfill. And it allows consumers and auto businesses to save drastically compared to new tire prices.
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First time poster and glad to be here.
I'm a 40 something entrepreneur not currently in the auto repair business but I've been exploring shop ownership for several years.
Unfortunately, I've come up short using traditional business brokers to find a shop worth purchasing. To date, all that I've looked at have been overpriced and/or have some serious issues.
As shop owners and managers, do you have any tips for finding a solid, well-run general auto repair shop (EBITDA/SDE of $250k-$2MM) to acquire?
I would be grateful for any insights.
In may I quit my job of 9 years and purchased an auto repair shop. I was previously employed as a field mechanic for Cummins. At my shop we focus on general repair. It's been a whirlwind since I bought the place but i couldn't be happier to be here. I've included some pictures of the shop.
Hi! I'm looking to open a new automotive repair shop and I could use some help assessing a specific opportunity from the experts here. To put this in perspective, I would be a new owner without prior repair shop experience, however, I understand repair work and have done almost all of my own work on my personal vehicles for nearly 30 years. The scope of work I have personally performed included transmissions swaps, suspension, brakes, ignition systems, fuel systems, computer diagnostics and so on. My formal training is in science and management and I've been in corporate positions for 20+ years. I also have experience running my own real estate rental business. I've always been interested in auto repair and I believe this business would be a very good fit for my aptitude, skills and experience. I would plan to operate as the business owner and bring in skilled staff to handle repairs and customer engagement under my leadership.
Here is the scenario I could use help with. I found a 10,000 sq. ft. building which is split up between 6 existing bays (3 front and 3 rear), office space and retail area. The section with the bays has about 5000 sq. ft. , about 1000 sq. ft. of office space and another 4,000 sq. ft. of retail area. The property has not been used for auto repair in a long time but could be converted back very quickly along with opportunity to do something interesting in the retail area. I have many potential ideas for the property. I am running into two primary challenges in evaluating the opportunity. The first is the competitive landscape and the second is how quickly I could ramp up the business along with how much business I would likely do from the location after ramp up.
The property is located on a main road with 20-40k total vehicles/day depending on the day of week. About a mile up the road, in a cluster, there are 6 name brand auto dealerships. On the same road, within just a few miles from the site, there are three tire shops, one local and two name brand, along with a Midas and another local 6 bay garage. Think of this as 5 competitors, each with 6 bays plus the new car dealers. There are a handful of smaller local shops with 1-2 bays locally as well. Also, there is a State DMV location, with inspection services in the same zone. The overall geographic area is in a town that contains a Wal-Mart, Lowes, BJ's and a Costco plus restaurants, etc.. These stores are all within 10 minutes from the potential new location. The next closest big retail areas are 30 minutes north or 40 minutes south of the target area described. The demographics of the area skew affluent and population density is moderate - this is not a big city - however people are drawn in from at least a 30 minute drive time radius due to the shopping and other resources.
I have a few ideas to differentiate my business from the rest in the area although on Google, it appears that most of the competing businesses have decent reviews overall. My shop would do all types of repairs including the heavier stuff and the bays are very tall so we could potentially accommodate trucks too.
So, my questions are:
Is this an opportunity worth considering given the competitive landscape? If I were to open a shop, how quickly should I expect business to ramp up? I am really looking for solid feedback from folks with deep experience in this industry to help me evaluate if this is a business proposition worthy of consideration at this location.
I feel like my area is extremely competitive. My area is a small town with about 8000 households (includes town and rural areas). We have 6 legitimate 4-8 bay shops, 1 Chevy dealer, and at least 3 hole-in-wall/backyard guys (800 households/shop). The next town over has 8000 households, 1 legit 8 bay shop, 0 dealers, and 2-3 hole-in-the-wall/backyard guys (2-3000 households/shop). Just wondering what some of you are dealing with out there so I have some reference point. Also, for those of you with multiple locations, does this sort of thing impact the success of individual locations?