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CarER

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Greetings all!

 

Just wanted to take a moment and introduce me and my shop! My name is Reuben Yavny and I'm the owner of Car ER in Harrisonburg, VA. We opened up the shop in March of 2013. It's essentially a two bay shop (75 x 46.5 ft) in which we have two lifts, tire mounting and balancing and in which we also perform auto body as well as auto repair.

 

I've been a member for only a few days here, but have read and learned a lot since I joined. Some questions have come up that I was hoping you guys could help me with.

 

1. (I've tried searching the forum but didn't really come up with anything, maybe I don't know how exactly to use this.) What is a banner program? How will it help?

 

2. Was your first year in business successful or were you guys struggling as much as I am now? What did you guys do to help?

 

Just for fun, here's a picture of the front of the shop, maybe you guys could let me know what I could improve on. (We are located on a major road in town and location is great.)

 

Ask as many questions as necessary. I know my details are a little vague. It's a pleasure being here and I look forward to learning from all of you guys and maybe you guys can learn something from me!

 

post-2266-0-79847000-1411999223_thumb.jpg

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Greetings Car ER and welcome to the forum!

 

 

I don't pretend to know as much as a lot of the pros on here but some things i might have some comments on.

 

1. A banner program is basically a organization or network of shops that represent a certain "banner." For instance if you have a NAPA auto parts store in your area you may be eligible to sign up for their program. Some of them are free others there is a small fee. You are entitled to all the discounts, programs and benefits that the banner program provides which normally includes discounts on insurance, payroll services, parts, warranty services, business and tech training, marketing, and other auto business related stuff. You may or may not also have to hang a sign stating you are say a NAPA auto care center. It is worth looking into. I am a Bosch Service Center and there are some of nice perks that go along with that.

 

2. Your first year of any business is going to be rocky unless you have a bit of luck and a lot of detailed planning. Researching and writing up a business plan as well as executing that plan will save you years of pain and hardship TRUST ME. Look into and learn about marketing heavily.

 

If I could make any suggestions, a more visible sign and possible a larger sign would work great for you. You can hardly see the sign with the combination of colors you are using which blend in with the building color. I would assume that it would be hard for cars passing by to spot you.

 

 

 

Good luck with the business!

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Thanks mspecperformance,

 

I will definitely look into these banners that you speak of. Any idea on how to find some of these programs or do I just ask local parts stores?

 

Thank you for those suggestions! You are definitely right as far as the sign goes. I have asked several customers and they all stated that it's hard to see. I'm actually getting a standalone sign that will be lighted and right next to the road and the sign should be done this afternoon. I can hopefully get on that right away.

 

I appreciate your welcome as well.

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Thank you Joe,

 

I appreciate your welcome and advice. I will actually be going back to college right after the new year for business management and marketing. And I've already learned a great deal on this website! Actually, just yesterday I spoke to Elite Coaching yesterday and I may be joining them for their New Jersey seminar Nov. 8th. If I'm not mistaken, they said that you may be there, so perhaps I would have the pleasure of meeting you?

 

xrac,

 

I don't think the banner would be a problem, but as far as I know our city doesn't allow the streamers. At least, not easily. Thank you! With everything going on and trying to get started, I tend to overlook details like that. It definitely is a struggle, but one that I'm enjoying immensely and don't plan on backing away from anytime soon.

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Agree with xrac on the grass in the pavement and in front of the building. It is the very first thing I noticed, but I'm a clean freak.

 

As far as the streamers, if you are really struggling with business and getting noticed, I would go ahead and put them up and wait for someone to say you can't have them and take them down. You would be surprised at how many rules aren't enforced and what you can get away with.

 

I also agree with getting a more noticeable sign.

 

Good Luck!

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You're in a great school town. Cater to the students and earn their parents' trust. Parents love knowing there is a shop they can trust when their kids are off at school. When you work on the kids' cars, get their parents' contact info if possible so you can establish a relationship.

 

I waited until I was on the brink of disaster before I got professional coaching. Don't make that same mistake. Everybody needs a coach.

 

The only banner program I'm familiar with is NAPA Autocare. They offer a mind boggling array of marketing tools, special programs, etc. They will also subsidize dressing up your shop in their motif. You have to qualify to join and it's not free, but we have been very happy with it. They also sponsor business development groups that are a great tool for information sharing. There 13 autocares within 25 miles of Harrisonburg, but it doesn't look like they have formed a BDG.

 

Good luck!

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mmotley,

 

Thank you for your input. At the end of last week (Friday) I got a new free standing sign put up that's a florescent lit sign, and I kept this one up on the building. And as far as the weeds go, I hope to get on that tomorrow if it's not raining. I think I may try your streamer idea, I just don't want to get hit with a fine from the city...

 

flacvabeach,

 

I thought of trying to market to the students but honestly don't even know where to begin. I know a lot of them go to the local Aamco and Meineke, and I'm not sure how to compete with them. Any ideas? I'm currently talking to Advance about the Tech-Net program. We'll see how that goes. Business is unusually slow, so I'm stumbling around trying to get quality customers in the door.

 

Thanks!

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         5 comments
      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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