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Found 24 results

  1. Each year at this time I advise shop owners to set aside time to look back at the current year and start planning for the year ahead. The more due diligence you perform, the more successful you will be. Below is a short list of things you need to do. Remember, the time you spend now, will pay off next year. Review all your numbers, year to date - Did you hit your goals? Arrange a meeting with your accountant and review your projected sales and determine any tax implications Speak to your accountant about investing in any end-of-year equipment purchases or any other large purchases in order to save on taxes. Please do not listen to your tool truck guy or equipment reps. Sometimes having cash reserve is much more important that reducing taxes Have a meeting with your key employees; determine what you will need in the coming year and begin to create a budget Set your new goals for 2018 and beyond, both personal and business Create a Wish List, those things your would like to accomplish, both in business and personal - This will help keep you focused Consider needed future training for all employees Review all insurances: Life insurance, liability, etc. Perform a facility inspection: Identify any needed work, upgrades, OSHA concerns, etc Create an emergency crisis plan in case something happens to you or a key employee; and make sure your loved ones and family have a copy of the plan
  2. This is not new topic for me, but I need to revisit it again. And I will keep revisiting this topic for the sake of our industry. For independent repair shops to "thrive" today, you must take a proactive approach with regard to business. If you only want to "survive" you can stop reading now. Waiting for the phone to ring, or for cars to breakdown, or for a customer to drive into your shop asking for a repair or service is business suicide. The days of broken cars lining up in front of your bays are over. Sure, cars still breakdown, but you cannot thrive with a wait-and-see strategy. Make sure you perform multipoint inspections on all cars in for any type of service. Yes, any type of service or repair. Look up vehicle history on all vehicles. Let the customer know of needed services, missed services and services due. And lastly, book the next appointment. Yes, I know....Joe's been preaching this over and over and it does not work in your shop. Fine, then let me focus on those shops that do book the next appointment. Because those are the shops that are adopting a proactive approach...and I will see those shops in the future.
  3. One thing I often repeat over and over again is this; "Back in the 1980's, there were three things that made repair shops successful; General Motors, Ford and Chrysler." Those cars broke down a lot, and there was an endless supply of cars that required a lot of profitable work. Well, those days are gone. Cars today are build better, last longer (thankfully), and have ever-increasing service intervals. Consumers are also conditioned to think that their cars don't need maintenance. It wasn't that long ago when your customers were coming to you 4 to 5 times a year for service. Now, you are lucky to see those customer twice a year for their routine LOF service. The point here? You must take a proactive approach and promote preventive maintenance. You must inform your customers of their next service and any other future service recommendation or repair. You must do all you can to get your customer to return to you. Which means providing the absolute best customer service with quality repairs. Even the term "repair shop" needs to redefined. Be proactive and you'll be successful!
  4. If there is one thing I have learned in my 36 years in business, it’s that people make the biggest difference in terms of success. No matter what equipment you have, or tools or information system. It’s the quality of your employees that will determine your success. Think about this. If you were the coach of a football team and your goal was to win the Super Bowl, what would be your first goal? To assemble the best players possible, a team of superstar athletes. The fanciest stadium on the planet does not win games. It takes great players and a great coach. And a great coach understands that he needs to surround himself with superstars. Your repair shop is no different. If you want to attain great success, it will be achieved not only by your work, but by the work of others around you. Your success is truly determined by the having the right people and then by bringing out the best in them.
  5. With my work as a business coach, I get to speak to other coaches and shop owners around the country. It appears that many shops are slow, others are busy. And while there will always be ups and downs in the auto repair business, the present roller-coaster ride is one for the books. There are pockets of the country; northeast and mid-west in particular (among other areas) that are going through very tough times. Sales and car counts are down and shop owners are pulling their hair out trying to make sense of all this. There are other areas of the country that are having banner years. Hard to understand, to say the least. If you are going through a slow period, continue to build for the future. Maximize each week, each day, and each car. Discuss strategies with your employees and look for ways to increase sales and control expenses. Speak with all customers about their automotive needs. Don't get sucked into any negative moods of the customer. Most of all, remain positive. Things will get better with the right positive mental attitude. By the way, the above strategy applies to all shops, whether you are doing good or bad. Why? As I stated earlier, every shop goes through tough times. The problem? No can tell who will be next. So, plan for the future and keep your eye on your business​.
  6. Source: Some Repair Shops slow, others busy for others. What gives?
  7. Business has been up and down the past month or so. Some shop owners say that business this past winter was ok, others complain that the lack of a real winter hurt business. My advice, forget about the past and plan for the future. The world of auto repair and servicing has changed. We need to be proactive, not reactive. For those old enough to remember the 1970s and the 1980s, cars broke down at an alarming rate. Being proactive was unnecessary. There were broken cars lined up in front of our bays every day. Well, the good old days are gone. Today we need to be proactive. Every customer is an opportunity to build a relationship. Speak with your customers. Make sure you find out what their auto needs are. Create an amazing experience that tells the customer: Please return. Explain the benefits of preventive maintenance. At car delivery, discuss their next service, book their next appointment, and let them know of any upcoming needed repairs. Little things such as informing customers about their next tire rotation, next wheel alignment or next scheduled maintenance can make a big difference. And of course, send out those service reminders. Remember one thing: Every car in your shop today will need futures services and repairs. Will they come back to you? In other words, become more proactive and not wait by the phone for the customers to call you. That may not happen these days.
  8. There are a lot of positive indicators for the future of the independent automotive repair shops. (See below). As shop owners, we need to be proud of the fact that we are still the number one choice of the motoring public. But positive indicators are not enough. Plan now for your future. Be proactive when it comes to your business. Understand your numbers and determine what you need to be profitable. Take care of your employees. Continue to provide the necessary training and above all, provide the absolute best possible customer service. From the Auto Care Associations 24th edition of the Auto Care Aftermarket Factbook: *In 2014, more than 840,000 technicians were employed - a 3.4% increase over the previous year. *The light vehicle scrappage rate in 2015 was 4.4%, the lowest level in 13 years. *In 2014, the number of general repair shops actually increased slightly over the previous year. *The number of licensed drivers in the United States continues to climb steadily and sat at just over 212 million at the end of 2013 *Vehicle maintenance costs are second only to gasoline when it comes to total vehicle operating costs. *The independent aftermarket share of the total market has been 70% for the last four years and is expected to remain steady through 2018. Source: Motor Magazine, John Lypen Editors Report, February 2016. To read the complete article, click the link below: https://www.motor.com/magazine-summary/editors-report-feb-2016/
  9. Let’s look at sports for a minute. Take for example two premier quarterbacks. Both equally talented and both equally successful. While they play the position according to the rules of football, neither quarterback plays the position exactly the same. The inherent differences between them allows them to bring out their personal best. They draw upon their uniqueness, which translates into their individual strengths. In essence, this is what makes them great, but different. It’s the same for your technicians, and in fact, for all your employees. Years back I tried to mold my employees to follow a strict set of rules and guidelines. I soon realized that although we need policies and procedures, being different is ok, and doing things differently is ok. With regard to employee management: Set the parameters of your business, establish each job role and clearly describe each position, set the goals for each position, and then let the employee flourish by allowing the employee to bring their uniqueness to their role. Oh, one more thing. Not doing things your way is not the end of the world either. Thoughts?
  10. As we head into the fall, many of are looking back on the year to determine the state of our business. While looking back and learning from the past is a good thing, we need to look forward and continue to push to reach our goals. For most shop across the nation, this year has been a wild roller-coaster ride. To be honest, business has always been challenging. You know the old saying, "If were easy, everyone would be doing it." What ever happened yesterday is gone. All you have is today and tomorrow. So, set your goals, adopt the philosophy of continuous improvement and work hard to make today better than yesterday, and tomorrow better than today.
  11. There has been a lot discussion lately over flat rate and other pay plans. This is a topic that has been brought up before, but appears to be raising concerns among shop owners and techs. What is your experience with pay plans and flat rate?
  12. Legendary college basketball coach, John Wooden, would preached that it’s the details of how you play the game that matters most, not the score. He also said that to focus on the win during the game did not matter as much as a focus on execution during the game. Sloppy performance during the game usually means a loss. If the players execute every detail to the best of their ability, the score and the wins will take care of themselves. This concept holds true for the auto repair business. Everyone involved in the workflow process, from write up, to the repair or service, and right up to car delivery must be executed with precision and paying attention to detail. It doesn’t matter that a 3 hour job is completed in 2 hours, if the car is delivered back to customer with grease stains on the steering wheel. It’s the details of the entire process that count the most. When you have a sloppy workflow process, you will produce sloppy jobs. And that will mean lost business. The customer can only judge you on what she sees. The customer cannot see the brake shoes you installed, or the timing belt you replaced. But, they can see the condition of the car when it is given back to them. Paying attention to every detail and executing each step of the process to the best of your ability is crucial. In addition, the work area, the service area and the shop in general must be organized and clean. If your surroundings are sloppy, there will be a tendency to be sloppy with everything else too. And again, the sloppiness is something your customers can see, and they will judge you on that. Pay attention to detail, pay attention to every step in the workflow process. Execute each step with precision and quality. Don’t worry about the end result or when the car will be done. That will take care of itself if you take care of all the steps in between.
  13. For Mitchell 1 users, there is a workshop to be held in Orlando, October 1-3, 2015. I have been to these workshops, and they are worth the trip. For more information, click on the link below. http://www.buymitchell1.net/form/m1usersinfo.htm
  14. As shop owners, we need to know the numbers of the business. We need to know when we are profitable, what margins we need to make on parts and labor, and continuously monitor and measure the performance of each employee. But, if your focus is only on the numbers of the business, you will sight of the most important component of your business…your employees. And you will struggle. People are driven not by numbers, but by emotions. Oh, everyone may say they work for money, and to a certain degree, that is correct. But to truly have a workplace environment that is united and all pulling in the same direction, you must put people first, quotas second. When you put people first, the group becomes strong. Everyone feels that what they do matters. Everyone feels that the shop owner is interested in them as a person, not a number. Reach out to your employees as people. Create a workplace environment where everyone feels secure. Create the feeling of family. You do this, you will build a powerful team. And the numbers? When everyone in your shop works as a family unit, the numbers and profits will take care of themselves.
  15. Perhaps one of the most difficult things to do as a shop owner is to consistently present yourself with a positive and upbeat attitude. Let’s face it; your life is filled with issues; from bounced checks to complaining customers, to comebacks and employee problems. But the fact is you are the boss and the leader of your company. And everyone is watching you. What you do and what you say is seen and heard by everyone. As the leader, you set the tone, the mood and morale of the shop. If you are negative, everyone around you will be. One of the best ways to lead is to set an example by being positive at all times. I know this may be hard at times, but to walk around with a doom and gloom attitude will actually makes things worse. People react to the emotions of the leader. It’s far better for the long term success of the company to have the people in your shop feeding off your positive energy, then being brought down by doom and gloom.
  16. 2014 is coming to a close. Most of you by now are already shifting your thoughts to 2015, which is good. Take a look back on 2014; check to see what you have accomplished and what you did not get to. Don’t just use this knowledge as a score card, but rather to plan what you will need to do in 2015. Set your new goals with deadlines and use the past to spring-board you into the future. You will always have obstacles to overcome. That’s called…life. But business, as in life, is not a destination, but a journey. And just like any journey, it’s the experiences you encounter on the way and how you react and learn from those experiences that really matter. Remain positive in 2015, dismiss negative thoughts and dream big. Remember, what you can conceive you can achieve!
  17. As shop owners, we are often overwhelmed by all the tasks we need to accomplish on a daily basis. We run from morning till night putting out fires and dealing with difficult situations. The days, weeks and years pass us by. And we sometimes end up realizing that activity does not always equate to accomplishments. To be quite honest, too many shop owners are doing too many things that they should not be doing. For example, is it the best use of your time running across town to pick up parts? Or repairing the plumbing in the customer bathroom? There was a time when I thought that I had to be everything, everyone and everywhere; the lead tech, the service advisor, the manager, the building repairman, the bookkeeper, the receptionist, and even the janitor. And I also thought that every situation had to be handled by me. If not by me, how would things get done? In order to grow a profitable business, the owner needs to concentrate on what will achieve the greatest amount of return. For one week create a list of all that you do; every activity from answering the phone to helping in the shop. Then, begin to strike from the list, things that could and should be handled by someone else. When you narrow your focus on those tasks you should be doing, you will become more efficient and achieve more. Delegate and help others in your shop grow. Success is determined by not only how much you achieve, but also by how much you help others achieve.
  18. Let’s face it, as business owners we run a marathon all year long. Our day as no start, no middle and sometimes, no end. We do what we have to do. It’s our life, our job, and to a degree, it defines who we are. But, in spite of all that, we need to take a breather from time to time. So set aside time this holiday season and put down the tools, put away the laptop and focus on the things that really matter. Take this time of the year and spend it with the family, with friends and set aside time for you too. Do something different. It will do you a world of good. Trust me; the business is not going anywhere. The truth is the time you take away from the business will recharge your batteries. You’ll be in better shape to move forward. Make the best of this holiday season!
  19. I know that there are many things on your mind this time of the year. With the winter coming and the holidays upon us, theres a lot going on these days. But, as a business owner, you need to consider that 2015 is right around the corner. The better you prepare now, the more successful you will be in the New Year and beyond. I have put together a short To Do list to help you prepare. 1. Review all the numbers for the first 11 months of 2014 and compare those numbers with the same 11 months in 2013 and 2012. 2. Based on the numbers, you can now begin to plan out your 2015 budget. 3. If you have not done so yet, have a meeting with your accountant. Review all the numbers for 2014. You want to know now about projected taxes you may owe, and not wait until April 15. Also, make sure you get a current checklist from your accountant on what is needed for yearend 2014. 4. Review your inventory. This goes hand in hand with your tax strategy. It will also indentify dead stock that hurts your cash flow. 5. Are there any tools, equipment, improvements to your facility or any other expenses that you can use in 2014 to reduce your tax liability for 2014. 6. Review all your goals for 2014. Did you achieve all your goals? If you did not, dont worry. Thats to be expected. Reestablish your personal and business goals now, before the end of the year. Also, start thinking about your future training and equipment needs. 7. Contact your financial advisor and discuss any financial issues and retirement plans. 8. Have an end of the year shop meeting. Outline all the accomplishments of 2014 and outline your goals and objectives for 2015 and your vision of the future. Most important; thank each and everyone for their efforts and make sure you convey to everyone that its the efforts of the team that determines success. 9. If you have not done so in a while, have one-on-one meetings with your employees. Do not make it a beat up session. Promote the positive attributes of the employee and ask for feedback on how the employee views the business, and ask for ideas and suggestions on ways to improve the business. 10. And, lastly, make sure you set aside time to work on self-improvement. As the leader of your company, all eyes are on you. Its your vision, your leadership qualities and your positive attitude that ultimately determines your success. Remember, you can achieve what you want from life, if you help others achieve what they want. I hope you had a good year, and best of luck in 2015 and beyond!
  20. Many of you know that I write a monthly column in Ratchet + Wrench Magazine. The magazine feature articles on shop management and business related articles. In my opinion, as shop owners we need to read publications such as Ratchet + Wrench. I think too many of us tend to maintain our technical knowledge, but may fall short with regard to the business side of the of running a shop. Ratchet + Wrench has great articles and also feature actual shops across the country. If you do not subscribe to the magazine, the link is below. And to be fair and balanced, there is another magazine, Shop Owner Magazine that is also dedicated to business, and is worth reading and subscribing to. Here are the links: http://www.ratchetandwrench.com/ http://www.shopownermag.com/
  21. One of the toughest things to do as a business owner is to step away and let the people you have put in charge make key decisions and take control of your business. Business becomes part of your life, maybe not your entire life, but a big part of it. You still value family and friends, but for shop owners, business becomes an integral part of one’s life. As a shop owner, your thoughts are never far from family and from your business. This is not the first time I have spoken about how hard it is to let go, and it will not be the last. I have put people in levels of management and built systems to take care of the tasks that should not be done by me anymore. But, in order to have real control and to keep moving the business in the right direction, we need to ignore certain things, and trust not only the people we employee, but the systems that we have put into place. The other day I walked into the shop at 11:50am and saw two techs having lunch, while the other techs were working. Normally lunch is a 12noon. I was annoyed and visibly showing it. My manager made the decision to have these two techs take an early lunch since their ordered lunch had arrived early. I made no comment, just walked away. While I may not be in agreement with his decision, it is his decision. I must not and cannot undermine, prejudge and take away his authority by stepping in and forcing my opinion on this matter. As business owners, we need to build the systems, polices, and the procedures that will allow our businesses to run and grow with or without us. We need to put into place a system of checks and balances to insure success. Most of all, we need to hire the right people, assign them to the right position, train them, mentor them and then leave them alone and let them do their job.
  22. As shop owners, what we say to our employees and how we act is important in how others view our ability to lead. It’s crucial to be consistent with your policies and with everyone you employ. Never show favoritism and follow through on all promises and commitments. The morale of the shop starts at the top. The shop owner, the leader, sets the tone. We all know how hard it can be to remain positive and find the good in people and that silver lining each and every day. But, if we are poor leaders, inconsistent and convey a negative demeanor, the results will be damaging to not only to morale, but to the success of the company.
  23. Smith Corona, a global typewriter company, was founded in the 1886. In 1991, CEO Lee Thompson made a statement that Smith Corona would never abandon it core product: The Typewriter. Four years later Smith Corona was bankrupt. What went wrong? Smith Corona viewed itself as a typewriter company, not a company that offered solutions and products to businesses. By the time Smith Corona tried to get into the word processing market, it was too late. Technology had passed them by. So, the question for all of us is; “What business are we in?” We will see big changes in our industry in the next few years. It’s how we adapt to change, embrace technology and truly define who we are that will make the difference in our survival. Your thoughts?
  24. Shop Owners: Time for thanks and to look forward Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season and it also means that another year will be ending soon. We all know how tough business has become, and with each passing year, it becomes increasingly more complicated. But, when you reflect on the big picture, we need to be thankful for a lot of things. Oh, I know there are shops and areas of the country that are still feeling the affects of the recent recession. But, if you are reading this, you are still around, and that alone is a testament to your resilience. As the year comes to a close and we enter into the holiday season, focus on the positive and on the things that make life worth living. Disregard what went wrong and live by the principle my father preached to me. “Make today better than yesterday, and work hard today to make tomorrow better than today.”


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