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Recharging Your Internal Battery

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Wise words. I think too many of us are so caught up in the day-to-day operations we often don't have time to stop and smell the roses.


I agree and when I make myself do this I am and the business is better for it however it is such a struggle because I know that unless I change what I am doing with my business then everything will stay the same. I went for a good XC ski last Saturday and while I was listening to SHowcase seminars while driving back and forth I forgot about work while keeping my heart rate at 160 for sure and I was more energized as a result.


For those of you who are in TurnAroundTour, it sounds as though Gary's answer to every problem is always a HowToManual.


While I applaud and endorse creating structure, if your shop has good staff and low turnover then is a HowTo Manual the most pressing priority when profitability and car count are low or stressfully seasonal due to geographic circumstances beyond your control?


Plus if you are lean on the profit side, there's no one to delegate the tasks to because I have cut my support staff to the bone in an effort to cut overhead.


When it is slow that's the time to document procedures that you would like to delegate to others I grant you, but isn't my time better spent focusing on marketing and business financial analysis? I know that my car count is too low for the number of techs I have. I am reluctant to fire a tech because when the snow-birds (retirees) and tourists return, 4 techs is barely enough.


I know that my overhead is too high for the GP that I generate but I have had techs with me a long time and their generous benefits are part of overhead.


Raising prices is not an option because we lose customers due to our already high prices and that is the most common complaint in the AAA report cards that some customers turn in.


On the other hand we have a great core of customers who are completely delighted with our services and price is never an issue because the quality of our operation is so high


I am starting to work with Zed Daniels of Ad-Card.com with the hopes that we can pull in more A clients to broaden our core base but that's a hope not a reality



Just venting my frustration I guess. This is not a simple subject/dilemma to ask others to answer. Sorry for going off but not so sorry that I didn't post.

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I think you speak for many of us. In an effort to be the best we can be, we hire the best, offer great pay, purchase the best equipment and enroll in continuous training. All this eats into our profits. I am not saying that we should change our business models. I am saying that with the ways things are today, we need to increase car counts in order to have the opportunity to sell more work. Business is different today, but too many are running their business as if it were 1975. And the national accounts and mass merchandisers are destroying the market by advertising cheap prices.



We can have it both ways. We can’t expect to attract the best people, pay them a decent wage, pay for training, invest in the best equipment and not charge for what we are worth.


Perhaps this really should be another thread as it's not about recharging your internal battery EXCEPT that RL O'Connor said "the most effective cure to burnout is profitability"!


Agree with you 100% so long as the client is willing to pay otherwise no transaction takes place.


I remember going to one of many Automotive Service business financial seminars where the consultant went through the calculation of how to determine break-even and labor rate. I had absolutely no problem with the computations. This was in the era when money was virtually flowing in the streets and the attitude has been "you shop owners are afraid to get what you are worth". I am not afraid to ask for it and charge it but the clients comments on many (not all) of our AAA report cards are essentially "too expensive" and they vote with their feet by not returning - and yes we have a beautiful shop, wash & vac cars, try to sell the sizzle with the steak, and our comeback rate is virtually non existent - less than 1/2 of 1% in annual sales of $980K on which we are realizing only 5% net after all wages including mine ($50K plus benefits).


As I said, I have listened to many of the Lifeline Interviews in Gary Gunn's archives and there is 1 shop owner who never follows up with "lost customers" because he feels it's a sort of Darwinian Natural Selection process - ignore the people who don't want to step up to your plate. Other shop owners have different solutions.


Much as I personally hate Walmart they have successful business model that has put a lot of people with our attitude out of business! And they pay their workers crap in terms of benefits and wages. A strict comparison is erroneous because they are selling packages not services except in their super stores.


My bottom-line may simply be I either have

(1) too many techs for the number of "A" clients,

(2) too expensive of a tech mix for my work load - I don't need an ASE L1 Master Tech doing money losing State Inspections and Oil Changes to motorists unwilling to be up-sold, my average RO is $ 385 at a posted labor rate of $82 (higher for diag work)

or (3) Increase the number of A clients through marketing and advertising.

(4) Cut Operating Expenses - specifically benefits which is the same as a cut in pay


#1's solution is emotionally uncomfortable - it means letting go of a good tech and that's tough for me

#2 involves the step for # 1 and replacing the proven good tech with a "General Service Tech" and training that person to see and recommend legitimate up-sells to be performed by the remaining techs

#3 involves EFFECTIVE advertising and marketing to increase the number of "A" clients - costly if you guess wrong and impact takes a while

#4 sounds great and we have made some headway but high quality customer service takes high quality people at decent wages and benefits. And as one adviser from SCORE (SBA's Service Core of Retired Executives) told me "you can't save your way into profit"


Why can't I find the "intestinal fortitude" to "pull the trigger"? Because I am not sure of which gun to fire.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      My son is not in the automotive industry. He is in the commercial real estate business. However, the workplace problems are the same. Recently, his frustration with the heads of the company reached an all-time high. When I asked him why he doesn’t speak up and let the leadership know how he is feeling, he responded, “Anyone who has voiced concerns or issues has been viewed as weak and incapable of doing their job. I don’t want to be viewed like that.” This is an example of a toxic work environment.
      If you are a shop owner, you are a leader. And leaders must be approachable. That means that you are willing to hear the concerns of others and have them express themselves. It also means that while you may not agree with someone’s perspective on an issue, it is their perspective, and that viewpoint needs to be recognized and respected.
      Make it known that you want to hear the opinions of others. Literally, ask for input from others. And thank those that speak up. Now, I am not saying that you need to act on every concern or opinion. That would not be realistic. But just listening may be enough. And you never know, someone in your company may have an idea that you never thought about and even improve your business.
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