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How was everyone's April?


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Wondering how everyone did April. There are 4 other shops in the same shopping center as one of my shops and they said they were really really slow. Talked to various parts stores and they said everyone was slow. Friend owns a busy shop and he said it was slow. Seems like everyone had a great March though.

 

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5 minutes ago, Joe Marconi said:

Many shops are experiencing a slower than expected spring in pockets around the country.  The shops that are doing good are those that are proactive with sales and vehicle inspections.  If you wait for the customer to come to you and tell you to service or repair their car....good luck.  

You must view every car as opportunity and looking at the entire car.  

Also, every car in your shop today will need future service and repairs. Make sure those cars come back to you. Book the next appointment and plan out their total car care.

I don't have all the answers, but sitting on your hands and wondering where the work is not a viable strategy. 

I like the idea of scheduling the next repair. I want to implement it asap. It's like going to the pediatrician, we always get scheduled for the next appointment, often 2 months ahead. We then schedule our lives around that appointment. Thanks Joe

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Setting the next appointment has not worked for us BUT identifying (and agreeing on) the next interval has. When we check out the customer we identify the next interval and let them know to expect a call. We then call to remind them of service due and it keeps our bays fuller. When things get too busy we stop calling for a couple of weeks and fall behind a bit and when we get slow we speed things up a bit. We have been doing this for over 5 years so its a bit habitual for us and our customers.

April was our second best month this year and only second by 3k. Car count was up 4% over last April and avg ticket was up $35

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I had a great April. Car count was down (382 last year vs 353 this year) but since I increased my ARO by $110 over last April, we came out ahead by $27K. Also my GP % was up almost 4%, so my GP Dollars are up $21K.

Car count is up YTD by 80 RO's. ARO is up. Sales are up. GP is way up. ELR is up. And my guys are absolutely destroying May.

I had a very weak January, down 23K from '16, and 40K off our target. Finally made up for that, and then some. Life is good.

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Great Q1 2017, right on budget.  April car count was under budget by 24%.  The parts stores are slow and so are the other shops in town.  May is tracking slightly better but still under budget for car count.  

Keep in mind, April was 10% shorter with 19 business days as opposed to the typical 21.  I expect to make some of that up in May with 22 business days.

But I still think something is happening out there.  Both my new customer and returning customer numbers were down the exact same percentage.  Cars keep breaking but nobody seems to be stopping by to fix them.

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On 5/5/2017 at 8:35 AM, Joe Marconi said:

Booking the next appointment is a gold mine.  

I know, I know...I have heard all the shop owners that say it doesn't work. Really? Just ask your dentist, your doctor, the hair salons, the nail salons, the boiler repair guy, the chimney cleaner, the eye doctor, the chiropractor and the septic cleaning company.  They do it; why does it work for them??? 

We have tried booking the next appointment. Most customers are reluctant to do so and most ended up being a non show. We tried offering an incentive. If they came back within 6 months for their next service, they would receive 10% off labor. This just irritated a lot of customers. If they did not make it back in 6 months, the felt like they were cheated. 

As far as asking my dentist, I did just that. His response was that they we are in 2 very different businesses and he could not see it working well in auto repair.

For what it is worth, this is a young guy who has taken over a practice recently and is very business minded. He has doubled if not tripled the practice in just a few years.

He said for it to be successful in his business, it takes a lot of follow through.  Multiple reminders via email and text and they have to call any patient who has not confirmed. He said skipping any of those steps, the success rate drops off dramatically.

I know some shops that swear by scheduling the next appointment, but I know a lot more that found it ineffective.

Scott

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Every small business owner I talk to says this year is slower. It's weird, like something in the air is affecting everyone. Highway traffic looks down too. The media isn't talking about it, but there's definitely something going on around the country.


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I agree with Joe. For us, the key was identifying the interval the customer believes, and the n if acceptable tailoring the reminder (phone call for us) to fit that schedule. People are being told many different things when it comes to maintaining their vehicles. Follow the light, wait till it says 20%, every 3 mos 3k even.

 

intervals are being lengthened and we have to agree and advise our customers. I do not think 5k is too long, I do think once a year is. Whatever, if you send automated reminders every 3 mos, most are being tossed. Figure out what each customer believes and tailor your reminder, next appt to that. It greatly improves the chances of the next visit being to you.

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17 hours ago, Joe Marconi said:

Booking the next appointment does not mean getting 100% of your customers to return at the day and time you set up.  It works as part of your marketing strategy, and it takes time for the process to work.  By informing customers of their next service appointment and other services and repairs due in the near future, you are increasing the odds that your customers will return to you. 

When a patient leaves the dentist's office, the dentist sets up the next cleaning or dental work needed. Even the dentist knows that not all people come back as scheduled. However, many do. And those that due are the ones that value preventive maintenance and also value the opinion of the dentist.

I do agree that most shops do not book the next appointment, and most shops do have a effective rate of return.  But those that are diligent and give time to train their customers and are proactive, do see positive results. 

I also agree that it takes work.  You will need some form of reminder other than the typical service reminder or email.  Successful shops will either text or phone call the customer a few days to a week prior the scheduled appointment.  Even if the return is a handful, it's a win because you are in better control of the work and your schedule.

The repair shop business has changed of the decades. We need a proactive approach to remain competitive.

Joe,

I agree that we need to do all we can to keep customers coming thru the door, and none of us know what will work and what won't until we try it.  If you do the math, scheduling the next appointment is very appealing.  If you can add one more car a day with a 5 day work week and a $300 average R.O. it would add $78,000 a year in sales.  I have just not been able to get it to work for me.  

I realize this has gotten a little off the original topic of how was your April.  We were down 33% from last year.  I believe there is a lot of uncertainty with the new administration and we are just outside of Washington so it is very pronounced here.

Scott

 

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13 minutes ago, Joe Marconi said:

Scott,

Trust me, I am not suggesting that booking the next appointment and/or informing customers of needed future work is the cure all to all of our problems.  As a coach for Elite, I get to talk to a lot of shop owners and coaches from around the country.  There are pockets of the country that are doing quite well, other areas are struggling.  The reasons area many.  All that I am suggesting is that as shop owners, we need to be as proactive and positive as possible: Do complete inspections on all vehicles, look at vehicle history and help your customers by mapping out their total,future car care needs. Any effort in the right direction will help.  

And there is one more thing I want to say; but before I say it, I say this with all sincerity and respect for all my fellow shop owners.  Here it goes: don't look for reasons why business is bad.  Because you will find it.  Yes, the economy plays into it, the current political climate, the weather, the competition, etc.  Don't dwell on it, because it will become contagious and your employees will begin to become negative too.  And before you know it, you will go week after week wondering what happened to business. 

Look at each day as a reason to win.  Look at the positive. Celebrate every win,each sale, no matter how small.  Set goals and talk to each customer in a positive way.  When people ask you how you are doing. Tell them great.

Sorry for going on and on, just trying to help here.  After 37 years of riding the repair shop roller coaster, I know that in tough times, being positive is lot better than being negative. I only wish the very best for each shop owner out there! 

Great post! I often tell parts people who come in here and tell me it's quiet on the street as if to console me when we are a little quiet it's a BS excuse that makes everyone feel a little better. What did I do today to change that is far more important than sitting on my a@@. While there may be less cars in bays there are still cars in every shop. If I can get more of those cars to come here they can console each other it's just slow......

 

I am not a coach for elite :)

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34 minutes ago, Wheelingauto said:

Great post! I often tell parts people who come in here and tell me it's quiet on the street as if to console me when we are a little quiet it's a BS excuse that makes everyone feel a little better. What did I do today to change that is far more important than sitting on my a@@. While there may be less cars in bays there are still cars in every shop. If I can get more of those cars to come here they can console each other it's just slow......

 

I am not a coach for elite

Joe,

I think this is a valuable discussion and I agree with most of your last post.  A good attitude is the first thing I look for in a new employee.  In this business, we have to remain positive and continue to look for ways to succeed.  But when you are coaching a shop owner, and sales, car count, ARO, or even profit margins go down, I think the first question you are going to ask is why.  If you can't identify the issue, it is hard to address it.  

Denial can be just as damaging as a negative attitude.  If a customer's car came in with a loud knocking noise under the hood, I don't think you would tell them all is well.  Being overly optimistic has gotten me into trouble a few times in my life, and I've seen it do the same to others.  In fact I just purchased the customer base, phone number, url, social media profiles, etc. from a shop owner who was getting coached, increasing his marketing, and was convinced he was going to get his business back to its peak sales days, only to end up in bankruptcy.

I think it's good to look for the reasons why business is bad or when something is not working.  I think what is most important is what you do with that information.  Do you use it as an excuse and become a victim, or do you put it to use, to find ways to overcome the situation and succeed.

Scott 

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I am in Brownsville, TX....down south or the upper part of Mexico if you will.... Lol

It has been the same for us....our business is a 3 yr old but we still growing as a new business.

 Our numbers are very low compare to the numbers you guys mentioned...

But it's very similar to you al'.....great in March and April and on the avg for Jan & Feb compared to last year.

so far no loses yet and we're braking even.

We were setting up to do State Inspection with the idea to increase our sales but the Great State of Texas decided to do away with them...

now back to the drawing board and see what we can do to increase our sales,,,,

 

....and let me say this "Hope is not a plan"

 

Regards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. Reluctant to say. Don’t want to jinx myself, but business was up and has been up for the year. I like to think it’s the hard work being put in and with a great coach at Elite and not a fluke. I have heard on a weekly basis from parts reps and have noticed doing drive by surveys that most shops are slow. Car count is up for the year. I need two more tech’s. That’s been a major challenge !

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just talked to Chevy dealer in town and he said service and parts were terrible in April.  My May is OK but still not where it should be as far as car count goes.  Anybody else seeing May car counts lower than expected?

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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