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.
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
By Bob Cooper
Given the uncertainty many businesses around the world are currently experiencing, we must look for ways to save as much money for our shops as possible, while also making sure we are maintaining and building a more profitable business in the long haul. Here are 4 powerful tips to help you save on your shop’s expenses.
1. Review your profit and loss statement, and take a look at each and every line item. For each line item, you should ask yourself up to 3 questions: First, ask yourself if the line item is going to lead to an immediate profit. An example of this would be parts purchases or labor. If the answer to this question is no, then ask yourself if the line item will lead to a potential profit in the near future. An example of this would be your advertising or marketing investments. If the answer to this question is no again, then ask yourself if the line item will lead to any foreseeable profit at all. Examples of these items would be insurance investments, utilities, and your water cooler payment. Once you have the answer to these questions, it will be much easier to see where you can scale back or even put certain items on hold for the time being.
2. This tip comes from Dean Kuhn, a successful transmission shop owner and one of Elite’s rockstar Business Development Coaches. He recommends taking a look at the top 2-3 most expensive items on your financial statements each month. When you look at these expenses, really dive deep into every single line item that goes along with it. This way, nothing will slip through the cracks and you can get a complete picture your business’s finances, which will help you determine areas where you can save.
3. Always remember that your vendors are your partners, and it’s important to treat them this way. I would highly recommend meeting with each of your vendors and having an honest conversation with them to make sure your partnership is as mutually beneficial as possible. During these discussions, set clear expectations for the vendor and make sure that you are meeting theirs. This will save you valuable time in the long run and will make both of your businesses more successful!
4. To save on what’s likely one of your biggest expenses, I recommend that you sit down with your landlord or mortgage owner and have a conversation with them to see what can be done to reduce this cost. You’d be surprised how often an agreement can be made to help in situations like the one we are currently facing.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (www.EliteWorldwide.com), a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers the industry’s #1 peer group of 90 successful shop owners, training and coaching from top shop owners, service advisor training, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can contact Elite at [email protected], or by calling 800-204-3548.
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I'm Ricardo from Complete Auto Reports. You may have heard about the shop management software that we made at a shop in Linden NJ.
We've been really busy over the last year trying to refine the process at a shop through the software. We have come up with something we think that people can and will benefit from. We want to start with smaller auto repair facilities who are looking for something to transition out of paper and pen, as well as word documents and/or excel spreadsheets.
We've taken our software and made a free package that allows the following from any device with a updated and functional browser:
Take appointments from your customers Digital Vehicle Inspections - Included in every service request and sent to each customer if performed Workflow - Pending, Under Process, Awaiting Approval, Approval Completed, Work In Progress, Completed Ratings - Customers can communicate ratings directly to you Messages - You can communicate with customers through the platform Customer App - All service history available, can schedule appointments with the app, transfer vehicle records to new owners Sales Reports 100% mobile - Works on everything from your 5inch iPhone to your desktop.
You can presently upload all of your customer information: name, address, phone numbers, email.
Paid for versions offer parts ordering through PartsTech.com and Employeement modules that track employee time on jobs.
Are there members here who are interested in trying the free platform to see if it's a fit for their business? Anyone interested in the paid for versions, can also get 60 days of free use and discounted rates available from our SEMA promotions.
Our 3 plans can be broken down into these simple differences: Free: No inventory, no online parts ordering through PartsTech, only one photo/video per service request, one login, no employee management $50 per month (also have yearly options to save $): Includes online parts ordering through PartsTech and includes inventory, one login, no employee management $100 per month (also have yearly options to save $): includes everything with 5 logins to access the system. We often get asked, "What use can a bigger shop possibly get from the free plan?"
With the free plan, you can take appointments digitally from your customers and then upload a copy of their receipt from your existing system to their profile in CAR. Reducing paper waste and creating a digital record for your customer to always have. You can also use the free plan to send your customers a video or photo of the services you are performing, complete with billing the customer through the free plan at the end of the service. These are all features that you pay for with add on systems, they are all available for free with us as you learn to adapt to smarter, more efficient technology.
The data you enter is yours, we do not have any agreements presently to share it with anyone and we certainly will never be sharing any personally identifying information with anyone. Majority of the data we are interested in is to build better features to serve you better.
Should you ever decide you no longer want to use our platform, your account will be available to you for free for one year at minimum. In addition to that, we can and will provide you a complete data dump of all of your records within 72 hours of the request. These companies that make it impossible to recover YOUR data is the reason for our open policy. We want everyone to change their practices and we're leading by example.
If you decide to cancel your subscription for any reason, all of your data can and will be exported and delivered to you via a USB stick you provide or through email in the way of an Excel file(s). Additionally, you can access ALL OF YOUR information on our server for one year without any interference from anyone at CAR. Most of you may not know, but I actually own a shop and if it's one thing I can not stand behind, it's these companies getting access to all of our information for secretive reasons or keeping us from having the very data that belongs to us in the first place. You will never encounter this experience with us.
By Jeremy Glassco
I get asked this many times. How would I use a custom mobile app if I had one for my shop?
Take a moment to think about that.
Imagine what you could do IF you had a custom mobile app for your vehicle owner customers to download, interact with, and engage with your brand?
I'm noticing this trend in the food industry, retail industry, and now even in the medical industry.
What about our auto repair industry niche?
We're working on version 7.3, and part of what I love to do is get great feedback and build it into our upcoming versions.
What about you.
What type of features would an auto repair professional like yourself want in your dream app?
Please share your ideas here and my hard working team of app gurus will get on it!
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....
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I've detailed on posts before about declining hours billed over the years. Brief summary: From 1979 to 2008 every year was a record year. From the late 80s thru 2008 we always billed around 97% of our 3 techs hours [avg 6150/6350 hrs/yr]. Didn't matter recessions or whatever we were never more than 50 hrs off those numbers. The recession hit and our numbers started to decline around 3% a year. We did have a few up years, but also a year or 2 when the hours took a 8-10% hit. From 2008, our last "good year" to 2015 we saw our hours billed drop 25% to 4610/6348 or 73% productivity. So for 8 years I've been looking at the numbers from every angle and kept coming back to my theory that it was all due to the recession and slow recovery, consumer confidence, etc. But I think I have been ignoring the elephant in the room. For the first 25 years or so in business, I always had the biggest shop in our little town. Started with 3 bays in 79 and grew it to 12 bays in my old shop. In 2006 we sold the land the old shop was on and built a new shop again with 12 bays. Prior to 2006 our town of about 15k population had by my estimate 40-45 bays in town so I accounted for 25% of that. Then there was a change that I have been ignoring when analyzing my business. Prior to that time we had no car dealers in town. We now have 5. Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Honda and VW all within a 1/2 mile of my shop. So in our little town we have gone from 40-45 bays to easily double that. Being "old school" I just never considered them my competition. I now think I was in error. So what to do? Last year my very first employee retired to run a non automotive home business. Wished him well, told him to keep his key in case he ever needs to use the shop. I mean after 37 years he's like a brother. So now I'm trying to see if we can make it with the remaining 2 full service techs, 2 tire techs, 2 service advisers and myself. Because I pay my techs minimums no matter how slow we get, I've had a big savings in wages. I've been able to cut expenses in other places as well. Plus we upped out labor rate from $95 to $100 per hour. We're still making money, not as much as before but it just feels better without techs standing around. Maybe I'm getting lazy in my old age. Anyway, I just think we have over capacity in our town at this point that will hopefully get better as town grows, which it is. Thoughts?.
I am new to the service side of the retail auto industry having worked in sales for 5 years. I am now the mechanical department manager of a Carstar collision repair shop. In addition to the usual insurance work, I am starting to take on more customer pay repairs. An issue I keep running into is that because I am located in Canada (South Ontario not far from Detroit) many of the vehicles we work on are severely rusted underneath and many bolts have siezed in place. Many require torches, cutting, drilling, and other unusual disassembly of adjacent components to remove. For example right now I am having a starter replaced on a caravan, and the lower engine mount needs to be removed but is siezed. We needed to apply heat but because it is so close to the rad fan shroud, ended up having to remove the shroud and other items nearby just to attempt to heat and remove the bolt. This ultimately didn't work, and we are now cutting it and drilling it out. Often times using heat causes damage to components. We needed to use heat to cut into a suspension knuckle to remove it after it was damaged from a curb, and ended up destroying a wheel bearing. Abs sensors also commonly need to be snapped off and drilled out because they are just so fused in place. Obviously this gets expensive.
This happens all the time, and as a result the times I am using from shopkey pro and mitchell are not reflective of how long these jobs actually take. On one hand I don't feel it is fair to the customer to charge 2.6 hours for the starter replacement, and another 3 hours to attempting multiple ways to get a bolt out, heating, removing adjacent components, fan shroud R+I... turning a 2.6 hour job into 5.6 hours. On the other hand I understand that this is just the reality of working on vehicles older than a couple years in this part of the country and the customer should be paying for it.
What would you consider standard practice in this situation? I don't want to be eating all this extra time, but I also don't want to have to charge customer hours upon hours additionally because we have to figure out how to unsieze everything.