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Bad Economy is Good Business for Auto Repair Industry


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Bad Economy is Good Business for Auto Repair Industry

 

October 7th, 2008 @ 10:04pm

By Sarah Dallof

 

The shaky economy is prompting many to cut back on spending, but one industry is reporting a spike in business.

 

Auto-repair shops across the country say business is up. You may not be able to afford a new car right now, but you can't afford not to keep it running.

 

Dennis Roennebeck At Master Tech Automotive, the repair jobs are coming in faster than they're going out. "The last couple weeks have been very busy," owner Dennis Roennebeck said.

 

It's a big change from just a few months ago when gas prices spiked and travel declined. Now business in great, and not just in Utah.

 

"Basically the exact same thing all the way across the country," Roennebeck said.

 

Technicians say the majority of the repairs aren't minor. They require several days of work and can cost thousands of dollars. "We're seeing a lot of cooling problems, overheating problems, major engine damage," Roennebeck explained.

 

The repairs fall into two categories: problems people didn't want to pay to fix months ago that have now gotten huge, and maintenance -- people who don't want to buy new right now and are taking all precautions to keep their older cars running.

 

"A lot of people aren't sure about their jobs, what the market's doing right now," Roennebeck said.

 

College student Mason Nichols said, "Stuff always happens with cars, especially when they get old like mine."

 

Nichols was scouting out a good price for new tires at the auto-repair shop. With a full schedule of school and work, keeping his car going for a few more years is critical. "It's cheaper just to keep it going; little repairs every year instead of buying a new car," he said.

 

Roennebeck estimates if you take care of your car -- everything from changing the oil to replacing major systems when needed -- you'll actually save hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

 

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I have to believe that there are more than a few shop owners who read that story and wonder why they have been left out. I communicate with quite a few shops from coast to coast and there are precious few who are as busy as described. Our shop did have a decent September compared to 2007 (+28%), however October has softened (-22%).

 

I have never heard from so many shops who have reduced their staff or are preparing to do so. I have never seen so many shops with drastically reduced sales, mainly in the last 2-3 weeks.

 

I do believe some shops will do very well in the sinking economy, but that will likely take some time to materialize. How these shops operate will be significantly different than in the past.

 

We are working to get our October back up and I believe that we can.

 

I also suspect that more than a few shops are sinking fast and are unlikely to be able to recover.

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We have not had let anyone go yet, but we have cut down on hours and eliminated OT. This will be a test for all of us. Although it's hard, I think now is the time to maintain your advertising and find new ways to market your business. Let's maintain our business and customer base and be ready for when the economy does turns around. If we don't do this we may be chasing the market instead of cashing in when times are good again.

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We have not had let anyone go yet, but we have cut down on hours and eliminated OT. This will be a test for all of us. Although it's hard, I think now is the time to maintain your advertising and find new ways to market your business. Let's maintain our business and customer base and be ready for when the economy does turns around. If we don't do this we may be chasing the market instead of cashing in when times are good again.

 

New ways to market at LOW cost is a big key.

 

Also, we should make our shops very adjustable so we can make changes quickly as required. Contingency plans should be in place now.

 

Unfortunately, it seems to me that we still in the pre-game show phase. The game has yet to begin and when it does it won't be pretty.

 

A quick downturn with an upswing soon would be nice, however the fed is working to prevent that due to their ignorance and arrogance. When things dropped in 1929 it took over 20 years to recover. But today the fundamentals of the economy are far worse than they were back then.

 

The US may be about to change significantly from the one we grew up in.

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