By Joe Marconi
In my 40 years as a shop owner, I have battled the age old dilemma: Is it my car count, my customer count or some other reason why some weeks I find it hard to hit my sales goal.
It always comes down to production. Now that's really simplifying it, I know. But, when you look at the numbers, with the right jobs and a balanced schedule, the ARO goes way up and car counts become not as important as we thought.
Another thing to consider, this is not 1995. Cars do not come in 5 to 6 times a year for an Oil Change Service. You are lucky to see some customers every 10,000 miles as they wait for that Oil Change Percentage light on their dashboard to tell them...NOW IT"S OK TO GO TO YOUR REPAIR SHOP. Isn't it funny how so many people will listen to the dash board light, and not you!
Anyway, what are your thoughts. How do you reach your weekly sales goals and what KPI's are important to you?
Wanting some opinions. I have been having a problem the last couple years with customers approving repairs and when we get the job done and call them for them to come pick up and pay they either don’t have the money all of a sudden or say they will come get it and don’t. It may sit there for months, I had one sit for two years that owed 3000 dollars. Finally got my money! Just wondering what some of you guys do? Thought of charging storage after so many days?
By Joe Marconi
It was a busy Friday morning when Tom called me for an update on his vehicle. I let Tom know that his car would be ready at the end of the day. There was a pause, and then he blindsided me with this, “You know, Joe, I did a little research on that water pump you’re replacing on my car. I can get that same part for $30 less. Why does your part cost so much?” I fired back at him by saying, “That’s impossible; it can’t be.” I went on and on attempting to defend myself, but I could tell I wasn’t getting through to him. After a few more words back and forth, Tom finally said, “Look, you started the job, so you might as well just finish it.”
You’re probably thinking Tom went online to check the part. Well, this happened in 1980, my first year in business, and years before the Internet, as we know it today, even existed. Tom simply called a local part store. The parts store gave him a discounted price and then figured he would challenge me.
Consumers checking your prices is nothing new—it just got a whole lot easier these days with the world wide web. Now, let’s clarify one thing: I am not going to tell in this article that there is a foolproof way to train consumers not to go online to check your prices. However, what I can tell you with certainty is that if you continue to feature products and not the customer experience, you are telling people to please check your prices.
Consider this: You’re out to dinner and you ask the waiter for the wine list. As you scan the list, you recognize a brand and then look to the right at the price. Do you Google the bottle of wine to check what you could buy it in the store? We all know that a $10 bottle of wine in the store can cost well over $40 at the restaurant.
Here’s the bottom line: The restaurant is selling more than wine and food—it’s selling the customer experience. And if all goes the way it should, we pay for the meal and the bottle of wine, even when we know the wine is priced higher than we could purchase it at the store. And, we are OK with it.
Our business is no different. We need to focus on the experience, not the products. Yes, we install water pumps, control arms and radiators. But, that’s not our main focus. Our focus is on the value and the benefits of doing business with us. Now, with that said, there’s a delicate balance between being competitive and being profitable. But, as value goes up, price becomes less of an issue.
Here’s the difference between our business and a product-driven business. When you buy a product—let’s say a watch or a cell phone—the experience lives on long after the sale. Every time you put on the watch, or use your cell phone, you are continuing the experience. And if the product is high quality, the experience gets reinforced over and over every time you use it. With auto repair, in most cases, what we do, does not live on after the sale. Once a customer leaves with a new timing belt and water pump, there’s not much about that repair that lives on in the eyes of the consumer, except the customer experience. Your entire sales process—your marketing, the look of your shop, the people you employee and every aspect of your business that the customer sees—must tell the customer that what you sell is worth the price.
Let’s remember one thing: Your prices will be challenged from time to time. So, here are a few more tips. Get the right training for your service advisors, especially in the area of customer service. Make sure your marketing and advertising communicates your brand and your culture, and please be careful with discounting. Claims that you have the best price on tires or brakes only results in consumers checking online to see if that’s true. Highlight your warranty, which has a lasting impression on the customer. Above all, communicate the benefits of doing business with your company.
Let’s get back to Tom. After 39 years, Tom and his family are still customers. I have to believe it’s because Tom appreciates the level of service we have given him throughout the years and the relationship we’ve built. Tom has learned what Warren Buffet has often said, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on May 1st, 2019
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By Elite Worldwide Inc.
Elite is proud to announce that we are partnering with BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY to help auto repair shop owners become more successful. When choosing to partner with a company we always take a careful look at their principles, at their ability to help shop owners, and at the impact they're having on the industry. BOLT ON has been able to exceed our most optimistic expectations in all of these categories, so it's truly an honor to be able to partner with them.
BOLT ON and Elite will elevate the auto repair industry by making it more sophisticated, attractive to a new generation of shop owners, perpetuating ethics-based business practices, and overall creating better opportunities for success. The valuable technology and education provided by the companies will give shop owners the critical tools needed to improve car counts, AROs and customer trust.
BOLT ON provides an award-winning suite of shop management products that makes shops more attractive to prospective employees and customers. Each tool helps shops operate efficiently by streamlining scheduling and updating customer information, producing more accurate reporting, strengthening customer communication through digital inspection capabilities and allowing managers to stay on top of business performance. Elite provides shop owners premium training in business practices such as recruiting courses, marketing courses, phone skills and sales training, peer group meetings and comprehensive coaching programs where every Elite coach is the past or present owner of a very successful auto repair business.
“We’re proud of our partnership with BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY because of all the synergy between the two companies both in our cultures and overall goals,” says Bob Cooper, founder and President of Elite. “Our belief is that every shop owner needs both the right people and the right systems to reach their potential, and this partnership helps them achieve both objectives.”
“The key to fulfilling our mission is making every resource available to our customers that will improve their business,” says Mike Risich, founder and CEO of BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY. “We’re extremely excited about our partnership with Elite because the best solution for a shop that wants to grow is not just to train management or implement new technology, but to utilize both.”
About BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY
BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY equips the automotive repair and maintenance aftermarket with award-winning technology tools to improve customer communication. The company's technology instantly transmits photos, videos and text messages to communicate automotive repair details, thereby increasing customer trust, boosting sales and empowering shops to build long-term customer relationships. Along with ongoing training and support, BOLT ON's mobile and digital tools also reduce problems inherent in the service process, while increasing shop productivity, revenue, and customer satisfaction.
For more information, visit www.boltontechnology.com or call 610-400-1019.
Elite was founded in 1990 with two primary goals in mind: To help shop owners build more profitable, successful businesses, and to give back to an industry we love. Elite’s services help shops identify business challenges, and improve in the areas of sales, marketing, employee management, recruiting and all facets of shop management so that they may reach their full potential.
Elite hires only coaches and trainers with extraordinary track records of success, who share these goals and have the same passion for making this industry a better place by improving the lives of shop owners, their employees, their customers and their communities.
For more information, visit www.eliteworldwide.com or call 1-800-204-3548.