Automotive & HD Business Management Articles.
Bob Greenwood. December 1, 2015. ( over 3 years ago ) 609 views
Some common denominators create this scenario: 1. Understaffed by at least three people. 2. Owner and staff don’t communicate well—shop has negative ambiance—owner constantly “battles” attitudes. 3. Owner has high stress level trying to satisfy every customer. 4. Owner believes more in price competitiveness to gain customers rather than delivering high value to build long-term client loyalty.
Notice a common ground here? All the points have to do with “other” people’s issues and their desires—the owner’s personal needs aren’t addressed, including: time for mental/physical escape from business; confident things are in good hands while away; personal satisfaction that shop is appreciated by its customers, perceived as a valuable industry and community member.
Shop owners need to address personal needs otherwise future business failure could happen. More importantly, future health could become “the” issue. This business isn’t worth risking personal health.
To address personal needs, the owner should first acknowledge he/she has a problem with the current state of business. If this isn’t acknowledged, nothing will happen.
Second, time should be set aside to think about, write down and mathematically work out a proper business plan addressing issues. It’s December now, so likely you can set a day aside for some serious thinking.
Third, consider a reasonable time frame to implement the plan. Allow yourself 1 to 2 years to start seeing a change that will reward you for your efforts.
The bottom line to any strategy and results must provide the owner with personal satisfaction. Why implement something that causes aggravation?
Consider implementing a pricing strategy allowing you to provide service and quality work now. Put your labour rate where it’s supposed to be, based on shop competency. Accept that you’ll lose some so-called “customers”—those that are always focused on price. You’re better off without them. They’re likely the customers causing the stress.
Once that’s in place, focus on the front counter processes counseling customers on preventative maintenance and lead them to the “service on need” business model. Use your systems so you can give each person a written commentary prescribed by the manufacturer. This is the area where one must LEARN to slow down procedures. Most people are uninformed about manufacturers’ recommendations for proper vehicle care. The key words are SLOW DOWN.
Start to measure productivity by “labour hours billed” per work order. Too many shops measure “sales per invoice.” Labour hours billed are what creates the net profit needed. Measure productivity, not activity.
Search for the right staff… people with the right attitude who are willing to learn, be trained, and embrace training. Sometimes a super qualified individual brings negative attitude baggage. Focus on maximum competency with the right attitude of the people, not just “cost” of staff. Competent, positive people make the shop money. If the right labour rates are in place, you’ll have the cash to hire and train the best, providing your accounts receivable are in order.
Communicate daily with your staff. Clearly point out the positives they’re doing, but ensure they understand the vision the shop must move to and how each individual staff member fits into completing that vision. Give them the feeling of ownership. Staff respond when they truly feel part of the business. Keep the “vision message” up front in their minds. Communicate, discuss collectively and individually, then communicate more. This is critical today… too many shop owners aren’t paying enough attention to it. Repeating important messages and concepts is vital to move forward. This begins the process of changing the culture of what the business is about.
Develop a customer/client follow-up procedure... a telephone call or personally addressed short letter. This tells people you appreciate them and their business, the message being that you’ll never let them down.
Reformatting your business to achieve great personal satisfaction is a process. Don’t rush. Stay on track! Keep repeating to yourself that the personal rewards gained through implementation of your own self-discipline will see it through. You can do it!