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By Joe Marconi
In my opinion, competition is actually good for the industry, and good for your repair shop too. It keeps us focused and forces us to maintain pace with other repair shops. It drives us to take a look at our own business to see where and how we can make improvements.
Don't worry about the competition. And never compete on your competition's features. Find what sets you apart; your differentiation factor. Deliver world class service and promote your culture to your employees.
So, how do we handle the competition? Learn from them, but don't copy them. Become the best you can be. Promote a culture of customer caring with your employees. The rest will take care of itself.
By [email protected]
I'm hoping some experts can help me out. I'm buying an existing full-service shop and need to polish a transition business plan not only for my lender and partners, but also to help give us some focus and direction. I'm certainly not coming into this empty handed, but would love to see what others might have used so I can be as successful as possible. HELP!
I was talking a few months ago to an old-timer who has been building race engines for 50 plus years and he mentioned something about never turning his radio off in the shop. I am wondering if anyone has ever heard the significance or reason behind this? You could bearly hear the radio was on but thought it was interesting.
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.
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By Ron Ipach
Fellow shop owners and entrepreneurs,
Over the last several months, I've spoken to hundreds of shop owners and managers who have all seemed to have a different issue in their shop, resulting in slow business (or sometimes, no business at all). These issues seem to range from not enough car count, disgruntled employees, inability to turn a profit, can't find a good tech, high turnover, marketing isn't working, and the list goes on. For most of these shops, the conversation I've had with them has either been able to assist in solving their biggest problem, or at the very least, steer them in the right direction.
I wanted to take this topic over here to AutoShopOwner and generate a better understanding of the biggest problems that shops are having right now - whether they are based on season, shop placement, or circumstance. Please leave your reply below and I am sure that I'll either be able to help, or steer you in the right direction.
By Joe Marconi
A few weeks back I had a problem with my refrigerator. I got a referral and called an appliance repair company. I called three times and each time I called this is what happened: "C and E appliance, please hold." I was put on hold three times for about 5 minutes. After being put on hold each time, a women would say, "What's the problem?" No engagement, no sign of interest for me the customer, no signs of caring. I gave the women a brief description of the problem and each time she told me someone would call me back. Well, no one did.
So, I called for the 4th time, and as the person answered the phone I said, "DO NOT PUT ME ON HOLD." There was silence, so I continued. I explained to her that she has spoken to me three times, I left messages three times and three times you told me that someone would call me back. She replied, "You are talking to the wrong person, if you have any complaints, write a letter to my boss, after all he won't listen to me anyway." I hung up the phone and called another company.
The lesson and takeaway here is simple: Who's answering your phone? The wrong people on the phone in your shop can kill your business. Have meetings with your people. Make sure you review your phone skills policy. If you don't have one, create one. Empower your people to people to handle issues. And make sure you log every phone call. If you feel you have a problem, start recording phone calls.
Your phone is your lifeline to future business. So, please ask yourself....Who's answering your phone?
By Ron Ipach
I'm going to go out here on a limb here and tell you -
YOUR ONLINE REVIEWS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN ATTRACTING MORE CAR COUNT!
First of all, the reviews given by your customers reveal the health of your business. If your customers aren't saying good things about you, that's a warning sign that you better get your act together right now and start providing a better experience for your customers.
Also, if you only have a few handfuls out of all the hundreds or thousands of customers you've worked saying good things - that's not a healthy sign either. They may like, or even love, doing business with you, but if they aren't telling the world (aka writing an online review), their little secret is hurting your chances to attract more car count.
You see, studies show that 92% of folks will read reviews before making a buying decision, and if you don't have a stellar reputation (4.7 or higher), they'll move on to the next shop.
In fact, I advise that you completely stay away from any form of online advertising for new customers unless your score is at least a 4.7 out of 5.0. Why? Because your prospective new customer will easily be able to compare you with everyone else and will more than likely choose the shop with the better reputation - negating all the time, money, and effort you've put into your advertising efforts.
Look, you can argue with me all you want, but we're talking human nature here. Most will always go with the higher recommended shop. Why not? If you don't have a great reputation score, all you're really doing is advertising for your competitors that do.
But your score isn't the only factor being looked at. There are actually three factors that are important about your reviews.
1. Quality (4.7 or higher overall score is needed)
2. Quantity (These days, a minimum of 75 reviews are needed, but in highly competitive areas, 150+ is needed)
3. Recency (You must be getting 1 or 2 new reviews every single week)
=== So you say you do a great job, your customers love you, but they just aren't writing those positive reviews that you need in order to let the rest of the world know how awesome you are, right? Here are three ways to get more reviews:
1. Ask. (Duh!)
2. Bribe. This has been very effective for a lot of my clients in the past, however it's also considered a no-no by the review sites and may get your account shut down if they find out.
3. Use an automated service like Soapboxx to do it for you that will email or text your customers after their service, ask if they were happy, and then send them directly to Google, Facebook, YP, or wherever you wish so they can write a quick word about their experience.
Soapboxx is the only automated review-boosting service created specifically for the auto repair industry and the beta-testing of the software has just been completed. (See just a few of the remarks from the users below) Go to www.Soapboxx.io for more details.
Check out what some of the members of the new Soapboxx platform are saying...
Whatever you choose to do, ask, bribe, or automate the whole thing - put getting more 4-5 star reviews at the top of your to-do list. It's simply the best thing you can do to help attract more car count to your shop!
Is it just me? or does it seem that lately there are a lot of businesses being started that insert themselves into the flow of existing transactions only to harvest your profits and lesson the margins of those doing the work and accepting responsibility (us). I am referring to technology companies: Repair Pal, Openbay, CarFix and now Blockchain to mention a few. It is frustrating to me after having built a business (brick and mortar), purchased equipment, hired employees, provide training, accepted full responsibility and risk, supported my community only to have a startup backed by money hungry venture capitalists attempt to erode our profit margin.
I find the statements from co-founder Vladimir Lupenko of Blockchain in this months Ratchet & Wrench extremely arrogant: "The repair industry is huge, and people always get cheated" "We use reputable and undisputable technical data to set the market and price rate". Vladimir goes on to say "Based on our contractual agreement , the repair shop will have to provide the service at the price we have calculated".
As good shop owners, protective of our future, we best rally against this technology, this Wolf in sheep's clothing. My research of these companies leads me to believe that no good will come from their involvement in our businesses. We, as independent shop owners, are operating in an industry some see as ripe for consolidation and this technology is just one of the signs.
I ask that anyone reading this post refuse to participate. The involvement of these companies is not a 'quick fix' for a shop needing car count. Their intention is to drive down your prices, recruit price shopping customers only and mine your data base for their benefit. If our industry sees their existence as a threat and together, refuse to become a member of their organization, they will disappear. Without shops to refer to they lose all value to the consumer and will not be able to return a profit to their investors.
To read the complete article, follow this link: https://www.ratchetandwrench.com/articles/5504-how-blockchain-technology-could-affect-your-shop
To support this research here is a seperate article from this months Ratchet & Wrench magazine discussing how to price your services for long term health and growth: https://www.ratchetandwrench.com/articles/4841-how-to-price-to-gain-customer-loyalty?utm_medium=email&utm_source=utm_code