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New Car Sales Are Up! Prepare or Beware?


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I see what your saying Joe. And, it's a very likely scenario. What can we do to combat the "total care" or "free maintenance" issues? I wish I knew.... Hopefully, things like customer loyalty still has some clout. I would think most of my customers that I have been serving for years that would go out and buy a brand new car would only go to the dealer until it wasn't free for them. That might take me out of the loop for a while, but I think it would all turn back to the independent shops sooner or later.

 

Price still drives sales, and repairs. If it wasn't free... they would be at my door looking to save a buck.

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  • 2 years later...

As long as Mercedes, BMW, and VAG continue to make cars, I will continue to have work. None of these dealer service plans are truly "free". The cost is built into the vehicle price. The coverage is also very lean, and laden with asterisks, and side notes. About the only thing that is covered is oil changes and wiper blades, and inspections. The wear and tear stuff must be paid out of pocket by the consumer. That is where we still hold the edge, when you consider dealer labor times, and parts costs. They just cannot compete in that department.

 

I agree that we must rethink our marketing. We must show customers that we are just as equipped and prepared as the dealership at half the cost in most cases. We may need to invest in new equipment, maybe do some "spring cleaning" around the shop and clean up the appearance and layout. Maybe the next time you offer to buy that clean vehicle off of your customer that requires a new transmission, instead of reselling it, maybe you can make it a loaner car you give out to customers for repairs that require significant down time. Maybe you can invest in new equipment which will boost your efficiency and productivity. There are many ways to go about it, but the indy shop is not going anywhere. There will always be used cars, and used car customers on the road, and those cars will need service, and that is where we come in.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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