Hi! I'm looking to open a new automotive repair shop and I could use some help assessing a specific opportunity from the experts here. To put this in perspective, I would be a new owner without prior repair shop experience, however, I understand repair work and have done almost all of my own work on my personal vehicles for nearly 30 years. The scope of work I have personally performed included transmissions swaps, suspension, brakes, ignition systems, fuel systems, computer diagnostics and so on. My formal training is in science and management and I've been in corporate positions for 20+ years. I also have experience running my own real estate rental business. I've always been interested in auto repair and I believe this business would be a very good fit for my aptitude, skills and experience. I would plan to operate as the business owner and bring in skilled staff to handle repairs and customer engagement under my leadership.
Here is the scenario I could use help with. I found a 10,000 sq. ft. building which is split up between 6 existing bays (3 front and 3 rear), office space and retail area. The section with the bays has about 5000 sq. ft. , about 1000 sq. ft. of office space and another 4,000 sq. ft. of retail area. The property has not been used for auto repair in a long time but could be converted back very quickly along with opportunity to do something interesting in the retail area. I have many potential ideas for the property. I am running into two primary challenges in evaluating the opportunity. The first is the competitive landscape and the second is how quickly I could ramp up the business along with how much business I would likely do from the location after ramp up.
The property is located on a main road with 20-40k total vehicles/day depending on the day of week. About a mile up the road, in a cluster, there are 6 name brand auto dealerships. On the same road, within just a few miles from the site, there are three tire shops, one local and two name brand, along with a Midas and another local 6 bay garage. Think of this as 5 competitors, each with 6 bays plus the new car dealers. There are a handful of smaller local shops with 1-2 bays locally as well. Also, there is a State DMV location, with inspection services in the same zone. The overall geographic area is in a town that contains a Wal-Mart, Lowes, BJ's and a Costco plus restaurants, etc.. These stores are all within 10 minutes from the potential new location. The next closest big retail areas are 30 minutes north or 40 minutes south of the target area described. The demographics of the area skew affluent and population density is moderate - this is not a big city - however people are drawn in from at least a 30 minute drive time radius due to the shopping and other resources.
I have a few ideas to differentiate my business from the rest in the area although on Google, it appears that most of the competing businesses have decent reviews overall. My shop would do all types of repairs including the heavier stuff and the bays are very tall so we could potentially accommodate trucks too.
So, my questions are:
Is this an opportunity worth considering given the competitive landscape? If I were to open a shop, how quickly should I expect business to ramp up? I am really looking for solid feedback from folks with deep experience in this industry to help me evaluate if this is a business proposition worthy of consideration at this location.
In may I quit my job of 9 years and purchased an auto repair shop. I was previously employed as a field mechanic for Cummins. At my shop we focus on general repair. It's been a whirlwind since I bought the place but i couldn't be happier to be here. I've included some pictures of the shop.
I'm Ricardo from Complete Auto Reports. You may have heard about the shop management software that we made at a shop in Linden NJ.
We've been really busy over the last year trying to refine the process at a shop through the software. We have come up with something we think that people can and will benefit from. We want to start with smaller auto repair facilities who are looking for something to transition out of paper and pen, as well as word documents and/or excel spreadsheets.
We've taken our software and made a free package that allows the following from any device with a updated and functional browser:
Take appointments from your customers Digital Vehicle Inspections - Included in every service request and sent to each customer if performed Workflow - Pending, Under Process, Awaiting Approval, Approval Completed, Work In Progress, Completed Ratings - Customers can communicate ratings directly to you Messages - You can communicate with customers through the platform Customer App - All service history available, can schedule appointments with the app, transfer vehicle records to new owners Sales Reports 100% mobile - Works on everything from your 5inch iPhone to your desktop.
You can presently upload all of your customer information: name, address, phone numbers, email.
Paid for versions offer parts ordering through PartsTech.com and Employeement modules that track employee time on jobs.
Are there members here who are interested in trying the free platform to see if it's a fit for their business? Anyone interested in the paid for versions, can also get 60 days of free use and discounted rates available from our SEMA promotions.
Our 3 plans can be broken down into these simple differences: Free: No inventory, no online parts ordering through PartsTech, only one photo/video per service request, one login, no employee management $50 per month (also have yearly options to save $): Includes online parts ordering through PartsTech and includes inventory, one login, no employee management $100 per month (also have yearly options to save $): includes everything with 5 logins to access the system. We often get asked, "What use can a bigger shop possibly get from the free plan?"
With the free plan, you can take appointments digitally from your customers and then upload a copy of their receipt from your existing system to their profile in CAR. Reducing paper waste and creating a digital record for your customer to always have. You can also use the free plan to send your customers a video or photo of the services you are performing, complete with billing the customer through the free plan at the end of the service. These are all features that you pay for with add on systems, they are all available for free with us as you learn to adapt to smarter, more efficient technology.
The data you enter is yours, we do not have any agreements presently to share it with anyone and we certainly will never be sharing any personally identifying information with anyone. Majority of the data we are interested in is to build better features to serve you better.
Should you ever decide you no longer want to use our platform, your account will be available to you for free for one year at minimum. In addition to that, we can and will provide you a complete data dump of all of your records within 72 hours of the request. These companies that make it impossible to recover YOUR data is the reason for our open policy. We want everyone to change their practices and we're leading by example.
If you decide to cancel your subscription for any reason, all of your data can and will be exported and delivered to you via a USB stick you provide or through email in the way of an Excel file(s). Additionally, you can access ALL OF YOUR information on our server for one year without any interference from anyone at CAR. Most of you may not know, but I actually own a shop and if it's one thing I can not stand behind, it's these companies getting access to all of our information for secretive reasons or keeping us from having the very data that belongs to us in the first place. You will never encounter this experience with us.
I am looking to open up my new shop within 3 months and honestly feel a little in over my head, I’ve spent days reading on here and while it’s awesome I feel I need something more formal. The main 2 things I’ve found has been the RLO training course or the Ron Ipach fast lane training program. Has anyone one taken either of these courses or have a different one to recommend?
IRVINE, Calif., Sept. 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Kelley Blue Book announces its new Auto Repair Guide experience, addressing both consumer and automotive industry needs for a principal source of trustworthy recommendations related to servicing and maintaining a vehicle. The all-new experience on KBB.com guides consumers through three primary service categories: Recalls, Maintenance and Repairs. KBB.com is also including the ability to allow consumers to schedule service online through the Featured Auto Repair Center, a pilot with its sister company, Xtime.
To point consumers in the right direction, the Auto Repair Guide on KBB.com helps car owners answer their top service and repair questions: What do I need to get done? When should I get it done? Where should I get it done? How much should it cost? With this new experience, Kelley Blue Book serves as a trusted advisor that connects consumers and service departments.
Kelley Blue Book's all-new Auto Repair Guide includes:
Information on recalls, maintenance and repair work
A Fair Repair Range estimator—similar to the Kelley Blue Book Price Advisor tool—to guide consumers on service and repair price ranges, based on average dealer service pricing
The ability to schedule service appointments with local dealerships directly on KBB.com through the Featured Auto Repair Center
Kelley Blue Book, backed by more than 90 years of experience and the most trusted third-party automotive brand,1 enables both consumers and dealers to remain on the same page for pricing and now, in the service lanes with its integration with Xtime, the leading integrated software platform for retail automotive service departments.
"Car shoppers have long trusted Kelley Blue Book to provide them with vehicle values, new-car information and more," said Jim Roche, vice president at Cox Automotive. "With this new auto repair feature on KBB.com, now they can rely on Kelley Blue Book throughout the ownership experience for guidance on service and repair costs, all while experiencing the same trust and transparency they've come to expect from the brand."
Consumers have negative perceptions about getting their vehicle serviced at dealerships, citing unreasonable total cost, overcharging, and labor or parts charges among top reasons for not using their dealership service department2. In reality, common maintenance and services provided by dealerships are on par from a pricing standpoint with independent offerings3. Kelley Blue Book's new Auto Repair Guide also makes service appointment scheduling easier for both consumers and dealers. Car owners can see the Fair Repair Range, select a service provider, and book service without leaving the site. Meanwhile, the Featured Auto Repair Center can connect dealers with engaged car owners, increasing consumer trust and confidence by validating their service pricing within the Kelley Blue Book Fair Repair Range.
"The complexities of how to maintain and repair a vehicle, as well as understanding the associated costs, are a major pain point for most consumers," said Tully Williams, fixed operations director of The Niello Company in Sacramento, California. "Not only has our dealership increased service cost transparency and communication with our customers, but they also have an increased sense of trust from knowing they are being fairly charged for every service visit."
To learn more about Kelley Blue Book Auto Repair Guide visit https://www.kbb.com/auto-repair, https://www.kbb.com/car-maintenance-service and https://www.kbb.com/ownership/recalls.
For more information and news from Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com, visit www.kbb.com/media/, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kelleybluebook (or @kelleybluebook), like our page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kbb, and follow us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/kbb_com/ (or @kbb_com).
About Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com)
Founded in 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, is the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry. Each week the company provides market-reflective values on its top-rated website KBB.com, including its famous Blue Book® Trade-In Values and Kelley Blue Book® Price Advisor tool, which provides a range for what consumers can reasonably expect to pay for a vehicle in their area. Car owners looking to sell immediately can also get a redeemable, transaction-ready offer with Kelley Blue BookSM Instant Cash Offer. The company also provides vehicle pricing and values through various products and services available to car dealers, auto manufacturers, finance and insurance companies, and governmental agencies. Kelley Blue Book is a Cox Automotive brand.
About Cox Automotive
Cox Automotive Inc. makes buying, selling, owning and using cars easier for everyone. The global company's 34,000-plus team members and family of brands, including Autotrader®, Clutch Technologies, Dealer.com®, Dealertrack®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, NextGear Capital®, VinSolutions®, vAuto® and Xtime®, are passionate about helping millions of car shoppers, 40,000 auto dealer clients across five continents and many others throughout the automotive industry thrive for generations to come. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc., a privately-owned, Atlanta-based company with revenues exceeding $20 billion. coxautoinc.com
2018 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Cox Automotive Service Industry Study 2018 Cox Automotive Service Industry Study 2018 SOURCE Kelley Blue Book
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By Joe Marconi
Shop production is a hot topic these days. High production results in higher sales and profits. But there seems to be so many obstacles to overcome to achieve high production levels.
I was discussing production with a few shop owners, and one shop owner mentioned that he recently hired a shop foreman; an “A” tech in his early 50’s. The foreman uses his knowledge and skills to organize the work flow. For younger techs, it’s even more important that they know how to work and keep productive.
What are your thoughts? Does anyone else have a foreman or similar position? And how does this role affect production?
By Elon Block
New blog post on this very important topic here:
All major pricing changes like this one, affects everyone in the auto repair industry.
By Oova At Autovitals
A Candid Analysis of Today's Workflow Management Tools
Lets summarize the tools and processes available to the independent shop owner, service advisor and technician to manage workflow.
the service advisor's ability to memorize what is going on the technician's ability to recall what the service advisor said 10 minutes ago or earlier the service advisor'a ability to decipher the tech's scribble The tech's ability to put clear explanations on a piece of paper (work order) the WIP screen in your point of sale software (POS) the printer printing work orders the paper rack holding printed paper sheets the bags keeping the key to the vehicle and the paperwork together the scheduler in your POS a white board or spreadsheet managing the vehicles going through the shop a time punching system or flag sheet The sad part:
Not one of these 11 pieces can be skipped. Service advisors are super heros juggling 11 disjointed "management tools" at any time during the day.
How do they do this? Super hero ability, you knew it already.
Now the even sadder part:
In order for the service advisor to juggle all this successfully, they often skip or at least minimize the engagement with the motorist.
Lets repeat that with different words:"Service advisors skip advising service because they are too busy doing busy work because the tools available are inadequate."
Do you agree, or am I smoking something here?
Last but not least, the saddest part:
You as owner can't measure behavior today, only results from the POS reports.
What does that mean?
you don't know what tech is pencil whipping or over recommending you don't know how many recs from the tech uncovered during the inspection make it to estimate (our research revealed 56% of all recommended actions from the tech are not sold. Fifty-six. Do you smell opportunity here as well?) you don't know why the vehicles are in the shop for way too long. Is it the waiting for parts or the service advisor or the dog ate the home work? you don't know why the tech efficiency of tech A is at 95% but of tech B at 53% you can't change behavior if you can't measure it
How to we turn 11 disjointed tools into 3 integrated ones?
You add a tablet(1) to the techs toolbox, replace the paper rack with a second screen(2) and download SmartFlow(3) to the tablet from the App Store or Google Play and add it to the browser bookmarks on the second screen.
Then get rid of
paper time punching system laptops in the back shop paper rack running back and forth (you might have to buy the service advisor a gym membership) white board spreadsheets bags flustered service advisors Done.
Now your service advisor counter might look like this
The photo credit goes to Matt Purselle, he turned a typical two screen setup into a four screen setup. One screen for the POS, one for SmartFlow, one for email, one for everything else. Two are enough for the beginning, some of our clients use only one and it works too, thanks to built-in alerts.
Matt's counter looks like this seen with the eyes of the service advisor(s).
How do the techs know what is going on? they clock in on the tablet, EVERYTHING is on the tablet now, Identifix, Alldata or Mitchell, work order, inspection sheet, any info they need. They stay at the vehicle and smart-chat with the service advisor and get alerted about new info and new assignments for them.
Have you introduced a daily huddle with the techs? Great, do it like Matt and use a 55 inch screen with touch overlay to manage the day.
How does that sound to you?
Service Advisors are freed up, and can focus on the customer. All recommended actions by the tech are on the estimate now. You can measure and correct tech and service advisor behavior. Pencil whipping, over recommedning, time on the vehicle, tech efficiency and productivity, shop proficiency, anything you want really, since you are digital now.
One of our franchise clients just send this over to me
Sound to good to be true?
Ask SmartFlow users in your area or us.