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Throwing my hat in the Mix, German Car Shop New Location


mspecperformance

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Hi guys, I just recently joined the forum however I have been on the site a few times over the last few months. Looks like a GREAT place with a lot of awesome information.

 

 

A little background history on my shop and I. My partner and I started the business in our early twenties from my backyard working on BMWs and over the years grew it into a full service shop servicing BMW/Mercedes/Audi/Mini with an emphasis on the BMW side. I came into this business not knowing anything about the business side and pretty much made "shot in the dark" decisions on everything pertaining to this business. We struggled terribly for the first 3-4 years and got into a bit of debt running the business until I discovered service advisor and auto shop management classes which helped tremendously. We most recently moved into a larger location partially due to necessity. Our previous location where we were at for close to 5 years was terrible small and run down however had a very nice curb appeal location (approx 1000 sqft of shop space, additional 1500 sqft lot and about 300 sqft office). Due to some property issues that the landlord was dealing with I was forced to find a new location for my business. I was lucky enough to find a very nice building to rent at a very reasonable price for the sqft (overall 5,000 sqft shop with additional 1000 sqft front lot). The only draw back it is not the easiest location to find and the curb appeal is not as good as my last shop. Since being in the new shop we completely renovated 80% of the building with epoxy floors, new lights, customer lounge/waiting area, office, bathroom etc. We are also have on order our first alignment system/rack and tire equipment which was a service we didn't offer previously. We have a loyal customer base and the response has been great. I am hoping with providing more services, we can capture a bit more of the auto repair market in our area.

 

Our main problem is however with the added space/overhead I am struggling to find good methods and drawing in new customers. I have been staying on top of our customer retention and feel that I have a decent footing on that end. I recently sent out a direct mailer through mudlick mail which has been a disappointment for me thus far.

 

In any case, although sometimes the stress of the business has been intense, the last week or so browsing the forum has given me some perspective on my own situation after reading other shops stories/posts/problems/solutions. I am hoping my ship turns around soon, I guess I have to be a little patient and keep being proactive on the business end of things.

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It takes a lot to be in business today, and your story is similar to so many. Most of us started out the way you did, with great technical skills. I opened my business in 1980 and struggled financially for 10 years until I woke up to the fact that technical skills will never replace business skills. I was busy back then, very busy, but made little to no money.

 

In the 1990's I started to learn about business, customer service, learned about tracking key numbers, started an advertising/marketing programs and forced myself to be a business man, not just a man in business.

 

Most of us are very successful mechanically, but fail financially. Where ever your focus is, is where you will succeed in. The best advice I can give you is to work hard in the areas of business. Learn all you can about the numbers of the business, leadership, marketing and advertising. Pay close attention to your customers, especially your profile customer. AND, know your breakeven, and when you are making money. Set goals to become profitable and never view profit as a dirty word. Lastly, do not be everything to everyone but take care of your key customers as family.

 

Best of luck!

 

 

Thanks Joe! There has been a dramatic difference in the way I approach the business starting when I got some training however I know I have a LONG way to go.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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