By Joe Marconi
We, automotive shop owners of America, must take the opportunity of a lifetime and turn it into a bunch of success stories. What opportunity? Look around you. The world is in turmoil. COVID-19, social unrest, uncertainty about the presidential election, the economy, how are we going to get out kids back to school, on and on and on.
While the world is spiraling out of control, we have the power to make big changes to our auto repair shops. And it can all be positive!
First, the average age of a car in the U.S. is about 12 years old, attaining well over 200k on the clock.
Second, Uber, taxis and limo companies are suffering. Guess why?
Third, the motoring public in the foreseeable future will be traveling by car, taking road trips like they have never did before.
Fourth, the roads are packed with motor vehicles, as more and more people prefer their own car as their primary means of transportation.
Fifth, as the cars get older and older, more of them will be out of factory warranty.
Sixth, independent auto repair shops have a vast amount of training, resources and replacement parts.
Seventh, the overwhelming majority of cars being build and sold today are still internal combustion engine powered cars. If you factor in the expected average age of car these days, we can safely bet that those gas engine cars being sold today will still be on the road in 2033 and beyond!
Eight, You need more? That's not enough!
Get your plan in place. Get your prices in line with making a profit. Don't give anything away anymore (I am mostly referring to checking, testing, diags of any sort!) Offer world class customer service. Be a leader of your employees. Show the world what you are made of!
By Joe Marconi
As a result of COVID-19, most business realize the need to enhance their crisis planning. For example, I have always set aside funds to offset any downturn, but my worst-case scenario fund accounted for a 25% decline in business. That was not enough. In addition, securing a line of credit, to only be used in a economic crisis is another way to shore up a business financially.
What changes have you made that will prepare your business for the next crisis?
By Joe Marconi
For many of us, it's been a wild ride the past few months. We had to take care of everything, making tough decisions, dealing with banks and the SBA and running the shop from the trenches. But, with things looking better each day, it’s time that we get back into the role of building and operating the company.
For many, the COVID-19 crisis is far from over. However, the sooner we begin to adjust and build for the future, the better off we will be.
Shop Owners are among the hardest working people on the planet. We find ways to get through the most difficult situations. I have no doubt that the lesson’s learned from this crisis will make us stronger and more successful.
I currently employ a mechanic and friend who has been with me for about 20 years. He was formerly a transmission rebuilder, but we have switched to mostly reman units and have no need for a rebuilder. His pay has remained the same despite his value declining. I am currently paying him roughly $100,000 a year. The problem i'm having is that his skill set is not near that pay level anymore. He does light diagnostic and basic managerial work, but I am not confident enough for him to run the shop for more than an hour. With the current state of the industry our numbers have gone down a bit over the last two years. While still being profitable, I can't help but think about the extra income that would be available by terminating this employee, I just dont know how to do it. Any advice on how to do this? I like him as a person and have known him a very long time, but I feel his is paid about twice as much as he is worth. Any help wouldbe greatly appreciated.
We don't have direct access or a window between the shop and the office. One has to walk outside the front door to reach the bays. Does anyone use a shop intercom system they can recommend to speed up communications? I have searched all over amazon and google but can't seem to find a good commercial use product.
Thank you for any suggestions you might have. Scott
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By Joe Marconi
Today is the first day of summer, and we are still dealing with the dreaded COVID-19. However, there are positive indicators that business will be better than expected this summer. People will be taking more road trips, will avoid airplanes, trains and Ubers and will take to the roads in record numbers.
Gear up for a great summer and look for opportunity with each vehicle visit. Perform those multipoints as if your business depends on it….why?....Because it does!
We have a lot to be thankful for. Keep positive, be a leader and thrive!
By Joe Marconi
As shop owners, we sometimes feel that we need to answer every question and handle every situation. While you need to be proficient as a business owner, you also need your employees to think for themselves.
Empower your people to solve problem. Ask them for their opinions and don’t be too quick to jump in on every situation. The more you jump in and solve their problems, the more they will rely on you. This is not to say you don’t have their back; but a team functions best when everyone takes ownership of their position and takes responsibility to take care of problems.
Will employees make mistakes? Yes. But there isn’t a shop owner on this planet that has a perfect record at making decisions. We all make mistakes.
As a shop owner; teach, mentor and coach. Include your employees in on decisions that relate to their job position. When employees feel you trust them, they will begin to solve their own problems. This will set you free to work on the things that will bring you greater success.
By Joe Marconi
I’ll never forget the day when Mrs. Obrien brought her car back for me to look at. She was furious. I stayed late the night before, well into the night, to finish her car so she could have it for work the next day. I even did a few little things on the house because I felt she may be a little inconvenienced picking the car up so late.
Why did she bring the car back? A comeback? Well, not in the conventional way. It was the greasy smudge on her seat that she was angry about.
But what about me staying late? Or giving away a few minor services? Doesn’t that count? She is upset about a grease smudge? Oh yes, and she has every right to be.
The fact is, you can do the best repair, using the best parts, performed by the best technician on the planet. But what the customer sees is not necessarily your hard work, it’s that little greasy smudge that you are judged by. Unfortunate and unfair? Yes. But it’s a reality.
Perform the best repairs and provide world-class customer service; and never forget; it’s the little things the customer sees. And that’s what important to them.
By Ron Ipach
Let me start off by asking you a very important but very quick question: what BS story are you telling yourself? Let me repeat that: What BS story are you telling yourself? We all have these stories and shop owner excuses that we keep telling ourselves that we think are true, that when you really look at it, they're really utter bullshit, but we've been telling ourselves the same story over and over that we actually believe it's true.
Case in point, now if you've ever been on one of my live webinars, you know that because I'm live, I can have a conversation with some of the people that are on the webinar. The other night, a gentleman was complaining about car count. He said because cars are made better (another thing I hear A LOT), there are no cars out there and there's a lack of car count, and that's a big problem.
I took that as an opportunity to tell him what I've probably told you before, if you've been watching these videos, that I don't believe that there's a car count problem out there at all because in every city all over the United States, all over Canada, there are cars sitting on lifts right now in your own town, dozens, maybe even hundreds of them, every single day that are being repaired and maintained by other shops, other shops collectively, but on any given day, there are tons of opportunities to repair cars. The problem is they're just in somebody else's shop, they're not in yours.
It's not a lack of cars out there to be repaired, there's just a lack of cars in your auto repair shop. It's a marketing problem, it's not a problem caused by cars being made better. Now I've told that story before. In case this is the very first time you've heard that, please believe me it is a marketing problem, not cars are made better. That's the reason why you don't have enough cars. Now we're past that.
Because I can go back and forth with them, I told that same story. He'd so believed that it was a problem that he wasn't able to fix, that he told me about the shop owner that was less than a mile away from his shop that said the very same thing, that his shop was down with cars as well. I guess the two of them got together and commiserated about the car count being down, and now both of them believe that there's a car count problem out there. That's an example of the BS story we keep telling ourselves that simply isn't true.
I want you to go back and think of all the things you say on a daily basis, maybe, "I can't find good techs," or, "There are no good techs out there anymore." There are good techs out there, they're just not working for you. What you look for, you're going to find. It's just the truth. Let me give you an example, and this is a story I've told my clients over and over. It's a great example of what you look for, you will see in abundance right there in front of you.
A few years back, we bought a beach condo down in Florida. We thought it'd be fun to have a Jeep, to be on the beach, and just the perfect car to have down there. I never owned a Jeep before, but guess what? As soon as I decided I was going to buy a Jeep, I saw Jeeps everywhere, all shapes and sizes and colors driving everywhere. I've been seeing them every single day go by, but I didn't see them until I decided I want to buy a Jeep.
Did everybody all of a sudden go out and buy a Jeep when I decided? No. It's because I was looking for Jeeps, all of a sudden I saw them. There was an abundance of Jeeps driving by me every single day. I just didn't notice them because I wasn't looking for it.
Then I decided I was going to buy a blue Jeep. You guessed it; pretty soon everybody was driving a blue Jeep. There were blue Jeeps everywhere. Everybody didn't go out and decide that they're going to buy a Jeep, and then they didn't decide if they're going to buy a blue Jeep. It's just I started focusing on it and I started finding exactly what I'm focusing on.
If you're saying that there are no good techs out there, you're going to focus on all the bad hires that you've had, you're going to focus on all the bad interviews you've been on, and you're going to say, "See? I told you so. There are no good techs out there." The same thing with your car count.
If you're going to constantly complain and look at the lack of cars that are out there in your own shop, you're going to keep seeing the same problem over and over and over. It's going to become etched in your mind. It's going to be a BS story, but if you start looking around, start driving around and realize there are dozens, if not hundreds, of cars sitting on lifts every single day in other people's shops and not in your shop, you'll realize you have a marketing problem and you'll start to tackle the big problem that you have right there.
I hope this helps. Go and think of all those things that you tell yourself so often that it's now etched in stone and it's true, and see if you could find the opposite. I guarantee you'll find it everywhere. Thanks for watching. Oh, by the way, I really appreciate all the comments.
By Joe Marconi
As shop owners, our focus is on business, for the most part. There is nothing wrong with this mindset, but it may push employees away from you. Whether you like it or not, people are more concerned about their own lives and what’s important to them.
When speaking to your employees, find ways to engage in conversation that has nothing to do with business. Find out about their interests, and what’s going on in their lives. Simply asking, “How was your weekend? Do anything special?” can work wonders to motivate people.
When speaking with employees, be more concerned about them, not you. This will send a message that you care about them as a person. In turn, they will care more about your business.