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  1. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a big proponent of understanding your numbers, and the need for bottom line profit. However, we can sometimes get side-tracked by focusing too much on the numbers and not enough on people. I have seen time and time again with struggling shops that have their numbers dialed in properly but can't achieve their goals, and the reason all too often is their culture. Focus on people. Find out what's important to them. Your employees have dreams and goals. Find out what they are. Align their goals with company goals. When an employee sees that by achieving company goals, they can achieve their own goals, then you have the right culture and a powerful team.
  2. This tip actually comes from a fellow Elite Business Coach; The Tire Rotation is the New Oil Change Service! I agree! With extended oil changes and people waiting until the oil change maintenance light to tell them when they need an oil change, rather than your Windshield Oil Sticker, shops need a way to get people back into the bays. Also, let's face it, the average consumer DOES NOT change their oil as often as they should. One of the best ways to get your customer to return to you is to schedule a tire rotation every six months. Wrap the tire rotation around a vehicle multipoint inspection and you now have a new powerful sales strategy and customer retention plan.
  3. This topic has been addressed before, but it's timeless in its importance. Doctors, dentists, nail spas, hair dressers, pet groomers, boiler service companies, and chimney cleaning service companies all have one thing in common. They all book the next visit or service. Want to increase future sales and smooth out the highs and lows in your schedule? Then remind each customer at care delivery of their next Oil Service and any other services that are coming due soon. Put the customer's visit in your calendar and have a process that reaches out to them when their visit is due. REMEMBER: Every vehicle in your shop TODAY will need future services. The question is: Are they returning to you?
  4. Do customers really have clear expectations when they arrive at your shop? Think about it. Who is responsible for setting clear expectations? Consumers may have a preconceived idea about what to expect, but when it comes down to what or who sets the expectation, it's the shop's responsibility. Great customer service is created by the shop and its people. The consumer will judge that experience, but they don't create it, you do. We may think that the consumer will tell us what they expect from us. I think it's the opposite. Henry Ford once said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
  5. First, I would be the last person to tell anyone that car counts is not a measurable and important KPI. Every shop needs to know their needed car count and what their sweet spot is. And then use that KPI to understand other important KPI's - ARO, Labor margin, part margins, etc. Now, with that said, the industry in general, has and will see, a decline in the amount of times your customers will visit your shop. It was not that long ago when we had customers bring their cars in 4 to 5 times per year. That has changed. Plus with COVID and many people not using their cars as they used to, we cannot rely on trying increasing car counts. We should, rather, making sure that we make every vehicle visit...COUNT. Here is my strategy to drive up sales per visit, while promoting the right culture with your customers: Ensure that the customer experience is the best on the planet! - Give every customer a reason to return back to you. Perform a complete MPI on each vehicle, but find out the particular needs of customers. What is their car used for? Get your entire staff to understand that the customer is everything and their safety and their car care needs are most important. Promote your Culture of taking care of people, not sales - Believe me, sales will come and so will the profits. Promote vehicle maintenance, safety, and reducing the overall cost of owning their car. NOW HERE'S THE TOUGH ONE: PLEASE BOOK THE NEXT APPOINTMENT AT CAR DELIVERY! Doctors do it, dentists do it, boiler service companies do it, hair dressers do it, nail salons do it, ..even chimney cleaning companies do it! It's not hard, just do it. Hope this helps. Thoughts???
  6. Got your attention? Good. That's the power of advertising and marketing. I know many of you are affected by COVID and experiencing a downturn economically. Studies have shown that the businesses that maintain advertising during downturns do better with market share and sales when the economy returns to normal. Maintaining your marketing presence is a lot easier and less expensive than playing catch up when things get better. I know the reality of tough times. Do your best to maintain your advertising during tough times. You will get back what you invest.
  7. Today is the first day of summer, and we are still dealing with the dreaded COVID-19. However, there are positive indicators that business will be better than expected this summer. People will be taking more road trips, will avoid airplanes, trains and Ubers and will take to the roads in record numbers. Gear up for a great summer and look for opportunity with each vehicle visit. Perform those multipoints as if your business depends on it….why?....Because it does! We have a lot to be thankful for. Keep positive, be a leader and thrive!
  8. A woman called her dentist the other day and asked how much would a root canal cost. Her dentist replied, “Sure, hold on, let me look that up. Ok, that’ll be around $1400 for that job. Would you like to come in and have that root canal done?” Ridiculous scenario, you’re thinking? I agree! A dentist would never give a price over the phone without first examining the patient. Why do some shops continue to give prices over the phone? Even something as simple as a wheel alignment price can lead the customer and you in the wrong direction. Do you really know the car needs an alignment? Pricing over the phone is the same as giving them a diagnosis. When a customer calls for a price on a water pump and you give a price, you are saying to them, “Yes, it IS the water pump and here’s the price. And then you get the car in the bay and it needs hoses, a thermostat, and the radiator is leaking, not the pump. Giving prices over the phone also tells the caller to please judge you on price alone; a road I refuse to go down. I know this is going to push a lot of buttons today, but my tip today is to resist giving prices over the phone. Get the car into you bay, perform the inspection and/or the proper testing and then when you know what the problem is, sell the job. We are professionals, no different than the Dentist. Your thoughts?
  9. If there is one thing that doctors and dentists do very well, it's that they book the next appointment for their clientele. I have heard every excuse possible why many auto repair shops don’t do this. But the fact remains that everyone in your shop today will need future service and repairs. And the question is, “Are they coming back to you.” Another reason for booking the next appointment is that there are times when not all the recommended services were done today. Some were postponed due to budget and prioritizing what’s most important. So, before that customer leaves, make sure the customer commits to a future date to have the work done. After all, why did you recommend it in the first place? Car delivery is the time to review all the work done today, continue to build the relationship and to inform your customers of upcoming work and services. But don’t leave it to chance that the customer will remember. Be proactive, discuss future dates and put those dates in your calendar. Lastly, call customers a few days before the appointment as a reminder. If the appointment has to be moved, then move it.
  10. In my opinion, competition is actually good for the industry, and good for your repair shop too. It keeps us focused and forces us to maintain pace with other repair shops. It drives us to take a look at our own business to see where and how we can make improvements. Don't worry about the competition. And never compete on your competition's features. Find what sets you apart; your differentiation factor. Deliver world class service and promote your culture to your employees. So, how do we handle the competition? Learn from them, but don't copy them. Become the best you can be. Promote a culture of customer caring with your employees. The rest will take care of itself. Your thoughts?
  11. We sell service, not products. Yes, we sell water pumps, brake pads and air filters. And yes, those are products. But it’s the service we sell, the customer experience, which lives on well beyond the customer leaves your shop. Think of it this way; when you buy a watch, or a new cell phone, the experience of what you purchase continues after the sale. When we replace a customer’s water pump or air filter, there is very little about those items that lives on beyond the sale. But, what does live on is the customer experience. The better the experience, the more likely the customer will return to you. So focus on the customer experience, not the products you install.
  12. Here's a tip I have posted before, but it's worth repeating. One job that goes unnoticed most of the year is the job of the part's driver. You get part deliveries all day long, every day, all year long. Many times, these part's drivers take all the abuse due to wrong parts, the parts took too long to be delivered, on and on and on. Those drivers may not say anything, but they take it to heart. So, here's what you are going to do. Buy small gifts, such as small boxes of candy or chocolate. Nothing expensive. During the holidays, give all the drivers one of these small gifts and say "Thank you, I appreciated what you do." Two things will happen. First, the driver will be stunned and will not know what to say, and they will be very thankful that you thought of them. The second thing that will happen is this: The very next time those part drivers have three delivers to make at three different shops, what shop do you think they will want to go to first? Yes...Yours!
  13. 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?
  14. July 4th is this Wednesday. And as a shop owner, it means that sales may suffer. But, there is more to life than sales. Celebrate July 4th; commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence! Speak with your employees about their plans for the holiday. This will send a message that you care about them as people, and that it’s not always about business. With the right attitude, you will build morale and you will make up those sales. And let’s face it; we all need a little time off now and then.
  15. I recently made a call to my Internet provider to discuss and issue I was having. After multiple attempts at trying to explain my problem, the customer service rep on the other end of the phone had no clue how to solve my problem. She was nice, extremely polite, and had the voice of an angel. She was well-trained, but not in the art of problem solving. Great customer service is not about being nice to people, it’s all about understanding the customer’s needs and coming up with solutions to their problems. Train your service personnel in the art of proper etiquette, but also in the art of problem solving. Empower your people to also make decisions. Set limits, but give them the authority to solve issues without every problem reaching your desk.
  16. 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.
  17. If you are currently texting your clients and are using one of those potentially expensive services that charge a pretty decent monthly fee, and then in some cases, up to an additional dollar per text to send automated and group texts to your clients, you'll probably want to check out a service that I've been recommending to my clients for several years - and it's totally FREE for your first 250 texts, then only .05 cents for each text after that. https://www.eztexting.com/ Sure, it doesn't have a direct link to your client list, requiring you to export/import your mobile numbers into their system (a 10-minute process) - but once your client's mobile numbers are uploaded into EZtexting you can pre-schedule your individual and group texts to go out whenever you wish. Happy texting!
  18. Hello Everyone, New member here. I wanted to pose a question to the forum here. Which types of leads are most likely to turn into sales for you? Put another way, what is your best source for generating new business? I don't want to know how you advertise, I want to know know for example if phone calls are more valuable than web leads, or which types of leads have the highest closing ratio for you? For most people here and in most industries, its unanimous that word-of-mouth and in person interactions are your most likely sales but besides those what is the most reliable? Web leads, phone calls? And when you do advertise do you push people to the form of contact that your most likely to close? The reason I ask is because I see people just advertise their website with no phone number sometimes or some people really push people to call. Do you find that people who call your shop are more likely to come in than people who might come from a web lead such as an online form? Thanks in advance for any input.
  19. Back in the late 1990’s, I began to get concerned about car counts and customer retention. Around that time, cars were beginning to become more reliable and many of the services and tune up components we once counted on, were going away. I also started to notice that many customers were going to the quick lubes for their oil changes. To be honest, I couldn’t blame them. There was a time when I did not offer any “wait” service and I was never concerned about the oil change business. That all changed. I began an all-out blitz to get my customers coming back to me for their next oil change. I especially made it a point to inform customers of their next appointment when we did not due their last oil change. I just informed them of their next service date and made sure they received a service reminder. The plan took time, but it worked. It increased car counts and customer retention improved. We still use this strategy to this day. Make sure you speak to all customers at car delivery about their next service. Book it in your calendar. And if the car was not in for an oil change, check the oil sticker, enter the date in your CRM reminder system, and assume that the customer wants to return to you. We need to be proactive these days. We cannot wait for the phone to ring, we have to make it ring!
  20. What The Marketing Budget Should Be For Every Auto Repair Shop Owner Somebody recently sent an email to me asking the same question that I get dozens of times every single month. Basically, it says, "Ron, how much should I budget for my marketing?" I have a very simple answer to that. One that actually a lot of people are gonna totally disagree with me... My answer is, throw out the marketing budget. You do not need a marketing budget, and here's the reason why: A lot of times, I've heard five, six, or even three percent of your growth sales should be used towards advertising. Now, that might be a good number for some months, but it's a horrible number for other months. But if you're budgeting and you're only gonna have a certain amount of money for marketing every single month, your business is gonna be going to be heading on a downward slope. For a lot of our clients, the summer months tend to be their busiest month. They don't need to be spending a lot of money on marketing at all during those months because they're just naturally busy. But then when the kids go back to school in August and September, everything screeches to a halt. So I'm gonna say throw out the marketing budget and spend it where and if you need it. You don't need to spend a lot of money on marketing if you're naturally busy. You do need to spend a lot of money on marketing if you're gonna be slow. Now, this goes to ... I guess I should mention, it's not a matter of just throwing a bunch of money out there on marketing. You have to do good quality marketing. You have to have the right message sent to the right market at the right time using the right media. In other words, a way that they're actually gonna see your marketing. You have to get all of those things straight. So I'm going to probably guess that if you follow me and participate in my Car Count Daily campaign by watching my videos, you're getting a good idea, a good sense of what good quality marketing is. I'll assume that you're doing good quality marketing. Now, if you're spending money on good quality marketing, you're gonna get good results. If you don't need it during the summer months, slow it down. If you're gonna need it in the fall, you need to raise it up. I don't like marketing budgets for that reason, because everybody gets used to spending the same amount of money every single month, whether they need to or not. Pay attention to your numbers. Pay attention to what your shop is telling you. Pay attention to what your car count's telling you and spend the money when needed. Also, if you're running short of your numbers, you may need to spend a lot more money and put in a lot more effort on your marketing for those specific months. Don't look at marketing as an expense. Look at it as an investment. A marketing budget is something to be spent. Marketing investment, your marketing dollars if it's done right, is actually an investment. It's not taking money, it's actually attracting more money to your shop.
  21. 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!
  22. 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​.
  23. Source: Some Repair Shops slow, others busy for others. What gives?
  24. It’s easy to get sucked into the drama and the negativity of your worst customers. For some reason, no matter how hard you try, there will be some people that you will find impossible to please. My advice: stop trying. I am not suggesting that you ignore all problem customers. That goes with the territory. What I do suggest is that you don’t ignore your BEST customers. Pay a lot of attention to them. Educate your customers; explain the reasons why you are suggesting certain repairs or services. However, you will find that devoting your time and energies to your best customers will bring you a lot more happiness and add a lot more to your bottom line.
  25. When a workplace suffers from poor morale, so does productivity. When a company enjoys high morale, productivity improves and profit follows. It all starts with the leader; the shop owner. You set the tone. Your attitude will dictate the direction of every employee. Too many work places suffer from poor morale. And it doesnt matter that you have the best tools, the best training, top techs and top service advisors. Without a healthy workplace environment, you will never reach your potential. You will also lose key employees. People do not want to work in an environment filled with stress and drama. As a shop owner, set the right tone each day. Look for things to be thankful for. Dismiss negative thoughts and make it a point to thank the people around you. Is this easy? No. But if you want to succeed in this tough economic, competitive market, you have no choice.



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