By Joe Marconi
After 39 years in business, it's time to get serious about my exit plan. While I don't think I will ever truly retire, I do think it's time to plan the next chapter in my life. I would like to hear from shop owners out there in the same situation. What are your plans? Are you selling your repair shop? Do you have a succession plan? And are you thinking about a different line of work to keep you busy?
By Joe Marconi
The days of cars breaking down and lining up in front of your bays on a daily basis are long gone. Today, we need to be proactive. Now I know many of you are having a great summer in terms of sales, but don't rely on this to keep you going the rest of the year.
Here's a tip to keep in mind: Every car in your shop today will need a future service and/or repair in the future. The question is, "Will the customer go back to you?"
Here's what you do: Make it a practice that you inform all customers in for service today of their next service and/or any future repair they may need. Let them know you will add their vehicle to your calendar and send them a card/email as a reminder. But here's the deal-sealer. Let them know you will call them also when the vehicle is due.
Afraid that customers might see this as too pushy? Don't be. If done properly and if you convey that what you are recommending is in their best interest, they will listen.
Will every customer return? No. But how many will if you leave it to chance?
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.
By Nevil Jay
I'm currently looking into a business acquisition. It's a wheel repair shop based in South California. I have questions in terms of profitability and also, the expenses involved within the business.
I have profit and loss statements of the business. They currently operate 24/7 and have 30-35 employees. I am looking for someone who has experience in this sector that may be able to give me some unbiased advice. I also wanted to somehow come up with a valuation of the business. It operates out of a leased building, but consistently profits the owner a large amount of money. Who should I look for to verify these numbers? Will any CPA be able to understand?
Thanks in advance,
By Joe Marconi
If you have a repair shop business in New York State that you are looking to sell, please let me know. I will keep this strictly confidential. Criteria required, shops with 6 plus bays. Other details to be explained. Please email me: [email protected]
Similar Tagged Content
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.