Skyrocketing Your Car Counts - LIVE TONIGHT
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By Ron Ipach
This is something that I'm hearing from shop owners constantly when we're talking about car count levels in their auto repair shop:
"Car count is down in my shop because cars are made better."
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times, and chances are you've probably said it yourself. Look, I'm not going to tell you cars aren't made better because that would be sheer stupidity.
The fact is that cars are made better. Cars are made to last much, much longer than they used to.
But... That's not the reason why car count is down in shops.
How do I know that? Well, a recent study came out that said the average car on American roadways is over 14 years old.
Let me say that again... The average car is over 14 years old. That's not a new car. The average. That means for every brand new car out there, in order to have an average of fourteen years, that means there's a car that's 28 years old. There is a balance there.
If the average car is 14 years old, those are the cars you work on. Right? 14 years ago the cars weren't made as good as they are now, and even if they were, they're 14 years old right now, odds are that they're going to need a lot of maintenance now or in the near future. It's important to make your shop available for those repairs.
Don't get caught up in the thinking that the car count is down simply because cars are made better. Those cars that are made better are not your business. Those aren't the ones that are going to give you more cars in your bays and increase your profitability. The most of a shop owner's profits is going to come from the cars that are older, and the average car is much older than it used to be.
Clear the "cars are just made better" excuse out from your mind, understand that there are plenty cars out there, it's just up to you to go focus on your marketing and attract more customers to your shop.
-- Ron Ipach (a.k.a Captain Car Count)
President/Founder of Repair Shop Coach More articles and content like this and originated through Ron Ipach's Car Count Daily campaign Auto Repair Shop Owners, Managers, and Automotive Industry Professionals are invited to join 'Car Count Daily Boosters' LinkedIn group to provide resources and gain insight on boosting car count DAILY and filling up the bays in their shops.
By Joe Marconi
Back in the late 1990’s, I began to get concerned about car counts and customer retention. Around that time, cars were beginning to become more reliable and many of the services and tune up components we once counted on, were going away.
I also started to notice that many customers were going to the quick lubes for their oil changes. To be honest, I couldn’t blame them. There was a time when I did not offer any “wait” service and I was never concerned about the oil change business.
That all changed. I began an all-out blitz to get my customers coming back to me for their next oil change. I especially made it a point to inform customers of their next appointment when we did not due their last oil change. I just informed them of their next service date and made sure they received a service reminder.
The plan took time, but it worked. It increased car counts and customer retention improved. We still use this strategy to this day.
Make sure you speak to all customers at car delivery about their next service. Book it in your calendar. And if the car was not in for an oil change, check the oil sticker, enter the date in your CRM reminder system, and assume that the customer wants to return to you.
We need to be proactive these days. We cannot wait for the phone to ring, we have to make it ring!
Article: You Want Fries With That? - - This hurry up pace, get it done now, then ask for more world we live inBy Gonzo
I often wonder if some people think car repair is like a fast food drive up restaurant. They must be thinking it is, because it’s the only way to explain their actions and questions at the front desk. I’ve even had people pull in front of the shop or right in front of a bay door (blocking any progress I was making) and expect me to do whatever it is right then and there. Where in the history of auto repair did this ever get started? Some of these “hurry-up-get-done-now” people just don’t get it. They seriously think there is a magical scanner that will not only diagnose, but also repair their car in 15 minutes or less. Now, I pride myself on diagnosing most problems within a given time period, usually 10 minutes or less, to no more than 45 minutes for some stubborn type problems. If it takes longer than 45 minutes just to diagnose it, I’m either doing it wrong, skipped a procedure, or I’ve finally met my match, and it’s time to go flip hamburgers for a living. But if we are talking about the actual repair … that can take a lot of time. But as far as what it means to a service tech when somebody wants to wait while hovering over them like a vulture… well, it usually means (to me), they don’t trust the technician. Maybe they just want to learn something… Really?… Learn what? How to fix their car so they don’t have to bring it into the repair shop next time...? I guess that would speed things up a bit. But I’m not there to teach, I’m there to fix the car. I’d like to tell them they should go stand over the cooks and watch how they’re making their next burger … yea; I can see that going over real well at the restaurant. There is also another type of person out there that not only has a great deal of miss-trust for service people, but their personal lives are so hectic they can’t slow down to watch a sunset. They expect everything in their life to snap to attention when they say go, and nobody better slow them down. They’ll wait in the lobby or waiting room for only so long, and then they’ll start to pace around like a thoroughbred race horse anxious to get out of the starting blocks. First in the waiting room, then into the front of the office, finally their pacing reaches out into the parking lot, and up and down in front of the service bay doors… usually with their cell phone stuck to their head, trying to find another repair shop in the area that can “get-to-it” quicker than I can. By the time the pacing has reached the service bay level, the waiting is usually over, and they’ll come up with some excuse like, “I just need to check on a few things across town. I’ll be back in an hour or so” or “I forgot something at home, I’ll be right back. Save me a spot OK?” Sure … you forgot something … Oh don’t worry, I’ve saved a special spot just for you. Now really, do ya think I just fell of the proverbial turnip truck just yesterday? I guess you think you’ve come up with this grandiose idea of how to graciously back out of waiting all by yourself, and nobody has ever tried that line on me before. Right, you keep thinking that… … and of course, they never make it back… they’re gone… gone for good. My wife will always tell me, “One car at a time, honey.” I know, I know… it still bugs me that people can’t be patient. I guess I’ll never understand. Maybe what I should do is buy an old fast food restaurant with a drive up window, and set up a menu board with a selection of different types of auto repairs on it with prices clearly marked. Forget diagnosing cars, forget verifying complaints, and just fix whatever they order through that scratchy sounding intercom. I’d do all the money transactions at the first window, and then motion them onto the next window where a team of techs would jump out with little paper hats on and go at it with the speed of a pit crew. Wrenches flying, impacts at the ready, timing belts flying through the air and landing in the engine with every tooth precisely in place, and… before you know it… the car is back on the road. Wow, what an idea… Rush, rush, rush, rush… hurry, hurry, hurry… that’s what it’s really all about. I’m rushed enough anymore, I don’t need any help from a cell phone carrying customer pacing in front of my service bays. It should be pretty simple to understand if all the bays are full and people are busy it’s more than likely you’re going to have to wait. You know, we all can’t be first in line… quit shoving; you’ll get your turn. What’s really funny, well sort of funny… is the car in question isn’t even in the service bay yet. We haven’t even begun to see the fun we’ll be having with Mr. or Mrs. Hurryup especially when you finally get it diagnosed and you tell them it’s going to take a few hours to fix their car. I’d like to think I can help anyone who comes to my door, but you know, I’ve been at this a long time. I know better. Trying to please everyone is never going to be possible. I’m better off standing at the front desk and taking down their information and when they tell me… “I need this done right now!” I’m going to answer them with; “You want fries with that?” and see what kind of response I get then.
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By Joe Marconi
The Pearl Harbor Attack, December 7th 1941 A day that will live in infamy
On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941 America's naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was attacked by aircraft and submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy, killing 2,403 American military personnel and civilians and injuring 1,178 others. The attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships and damaged four more. It also damaged or sank three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer. Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 damaged.
The day after the attack, the United States declared war on Japan and entered World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt, in a speech to Congress, stated that the bombing of Pearl Harbor is "a date which will live in infamy."
There are some things that we must never forget, the attack on Pear Harbor is one of them.
By Joe Marconi
Car count is a key performance indicator (KPI) showing you the health of your business. But before we blame low car counts for the reason why we are not achieving our sales goals, we need to take the time to look at all the numbers; analyzing labor and part margins, average repair order (ARO) production issues, other critical KPI’s, customer retention and workflow processes. Only after a thorough analysis can we begin to work on the issue of car counts.
This is not to suggest that a shrinking car count is not a problem. Many shops are experiencing declining car counts for a number of reasons: increased competition from dealers and mass merchandisers, improved car quality, decreased factory scheduled maintenances, decreasing vehicle visits, and other of factors.
The key thing is to track all key numbers and vehicle visits per year, per customer. If you see your car count trending down and you are not meeting your sales objectives, and all other KPIs are in line, then you need to address this issue.
But, are you really losing customers? You may find that that customer visits per year is the problem. With increasing scheduled oil services and the perception that cars don’t need maintenance, this is a big problem. And it may be the problem for a declining car count.
A more proactive approach, selling preventive maintenance and other services will help. In addition, bump up your marketing efforts, especially with you existing customer base. And lastly, make sure you stand out by providing world class customer service.