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!
We have a rather small waiting room and have removed a few chairs to aid in social distancing (we now have only 4 chairs total). I wanted to know if your shop is requiring customers to wear a mask while they are inside the waiting area? How is your experience? Do you have a sign up on the front door stating they must wear a mask?
Stay safe and healthy!
Thought it would be a good conversation to understand how your shop is doing through the COVID-19 pandemic. Thought the best way to get a grip on it all would be to get your response to these 3 questions.
1- How was your shop doing in early March - pre-pandemic? Were your numbers better, worse or about the same as last year.
2- What’s the biggest challenge you faced when the pandemic spread?
3- What’s your forecast for your shop moving forward?
Is business getting better? About the same - like nothing has happened? Or are you struggling to get customers through the door?
Look forward to hearing your BEFORE-DURING-AND AFTER to understand where the industry is at. Hope this generates a better “picture” of what’s going on.
“The Car Count Fixer”
P.S.: Join my on YouTube at Car Count Hackers
Grabbed this shot of a crazy 68 Camaro (with wild Mickey Thompsons!) at a car show last week! Thought I would share it to help you remember "where we came from!" - Enjoy!
By Joe Marconi
Technicians have been working very hard during tough times the past few months. And I am not just referring to maintaining production levels. The emotional strain is also a factor. They have been true heroes and have not let up with their commitment to their jobs, the companies they work for and the people they help each day.
We need to recognize what they do and say thank you to our techs and let them know how much we appreciate what they do each and every day.
By Joe Marconi
As part of our debt reduction, I revamped all of our usual marketing and advertising and put those dollars into customer service and social media. For example, we ramped up our shuttle pickup and delivery service, extended our hours of service, made sure we spend a lot of time with each customer and made sure we called as many customers as possible. We also stepped up our meet and greet process and made sure will followed up with customer after the repair. Lastly, we increased our social media posts and increases ads and boosting. This has made a huge impact on our customer and already starting to pay dividends.
What changes have you made to your marketing strategy since the Virus Crisis hit?
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By Joe Marconi
Due to COVID-19, many repair shops experienced a severe economic downturn, some with a drop in sales over 50%. Without a strong cash reserve and/or SBA funding help, many shops would have gone under.
My 40 years as a shop owner has taught me to always have a cash reserve. However, never would I have ever imagined a downturn like the one with COVID-19.
So, how do we plan for the next financial crisis. And, it will happen. Perhaps not as bad as the the virus crisis, but it will happen.
Here are a few things to consider: Have a separate, and hard to access, cash reserve bank account that has least two months of expenses. Also, secure a line of credit for at least one to two months of expenses. Also, know your numbers, keep payroll in line, and make sure your prices are fair to you too, not just your customers. Keep in good standing with all your vendors and keep your credit score high!
The bottom line here, is truly the bottom line. To weather the next financial downturn, you need a strong balance sheet and net profit to the bottom line.
What other strategies are you considering or implementing?
By Joe Marconi
A ride to the Mall with my wife today (yes, I went to the Mall, got a problem?) gave me assurance that things are really getting back to normal. The stores were full, the roads were packed and expect for the masks people are wearing, you would think it's just another ordinary summer weekend!
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
Although COVID-19 has brought our industry plenty of challenges, it has also taught us a valuable lesson. Many of us have seen a drop in our car counts, but have simultaneously witnessed an increase in our AROs and happier customers. These slower days give us the opportunity to spend more time with each and every individual and vehicle that enters our shop, yielding positive results for both our business and our customers.
From this point forward, in order to maximize every single opportunity at your shop, I recommend you implement the following three items.
First, I recommend you hold a meeting with your employees as soon as possible and make sure they know that each vehicle that comes in should be properly, professionally and ethically inspected. Make sure they also know that everything should be documented.
Next, it’s important that every single customer that enters your facility gets full disclosure on what is going on with their vehicle. This includes what needs to be done now, what should be done in the near future, and what may need to happen in the long run.
Lastly, make sure that everyone in your company believes in all of your products and services. When a tech or advisor is on the phone with a customer, they must truly believe in their recommendations in order to really get through to that customer. The customer will be far more likely to listen if they know the recommendations are coming from a place of honesty and care.
If you can implement the three items above, not only will you see sales go up, but you will have happier customers as well. I can assure you that the more time you spend on each vehicle and with each customer, the more successful you will be.
For additional help making the most of your shop’s opportunities, visit the Elite website or call 800-204-3548.
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By Joe Marconi
Whatever your normal advertising and marketing strategy is, now is the time to tone down call to action advertising and promotions and communicate your brand to your community. In times of crisis, it’s crucial that your customers and community know what you stand for and there to help if at all possible.
Contact your customers by phone, email, text, etc. Not to sell them anything, but to ask if they are ok. Let them know that you are thinking about them. Connect with them emotionally, like a friend or family member would.
For many shops across this great nation, there will be significant sales drops. With the new financial package, there will be help on the way. Contact your accountant, payroll company, financial advisor, bank rep and find out about the help that is coming your way.
We will get through this together.