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.
By Joe Marconi
After 39 years in business, it's time to get serious about my exit plan. While I don't think I will ever truly retire, I do think it's time to plan the next chapter in my life. I would like to hear from shop owners out there in the same situation. What are your plans? Are you selling your repair shop? Do you have a succession plan? And are you thinking about a different line of work to keep you busy?
By Joe Marconi
The days of cars breaking down and lining up in front of your bays on a daily basis are long gone. Today, we need to be proactive. Now I know many of you are having a great summer in terms of sales, but don't rely on this to keep you going the rest of the year.
Here's a tip to keep in mind: Every car in your shop today will need a future service and/or repair in the future. The question is, "Will the customer go back to you?"
Here's what you do: Make it a practice that you inform all customers in for service today of their next service and/or any future repair they may need. Let them know you will add their vehicle to your calendar and send them a card/email as a reminder. But here's the deal-sealer. Let them know you will call them also when the vehicle is due.
Afraid that customers might see this as too pushy? Don't be. If done properly and if you convey that what you are recommending is in their best interest, they will listen.
Will every customer return? No. But how many will if you leave it to chance?
By Mail Shark
There’s an old adage in marketing: “features tell and benefits sell.” This is critical to keep in mind when you’re promoting your auto repair shop. If your prospective customers don’t understand the features your shop offers, how they’ll benefit from these features, and why they should consider your shop for their next repair or maintenance service, you may lose them to your competition.
The main constraint you’ll encounter when emphasizing benefits on your direct mail is usually space. There are a lot of important elements an effective direct mail advertisement should contain, all of which are fighting for valuable space. Furthermore, putting too much information on an ad can make it cluttered and hard to read, which could diminish your return. A great solution to this problem is to provide a clear, concise, and organized list of your shop’s features that can easily be scanned by your prospects.
Depending on the available space, there are two ways you can do this. If you have limited space, you can simply list your benefits out in a bulleted list. If you have extra space, you can list them out in conjunction with an icon to help illustrate the benefit and call additional attention to them.
Here’s a starting point to help you develop and build a list of your shop’s features and benefits.
-Are your technicians ASE certified?
-Do you offer a warranty on your work?
-Do you offer a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee?
-Do you offer any financing options?
-Do you offer any amenities in your waiting room?
-Do you offer any type of shuttle service or loaner car service?
-Do you offer same day service on most repairs?
-Do you offer early drop-off and/or after-hours pick-up?
-Do you offer roadside assistance?
-Do you offer online appointment scheduling?
-Are all repairs approved by your customer before any work is done?
Pro Tip: Make sure you give your list of benefits a header. Something like: “Why Choose XYZ Auto” or “Our Benefits For You.” or “10 Reasons to Choose XYZ”
Executive Vice President of Sales
Email: [email protected]
I have been lurking on this board for a while. I have read a lot of posts and have been shopping for a shop to buy. I have heard and seen so many misrepresentations from existing shops that it's difficult for me to trust any seller's claims.
I would like to have about a six bay shop. So, my question is buy a shop or build a shop? I am very interested to hear any comments from the experienced.
Thanks in advance