As a proprietor of an automotive repair shop, you deal with a lot. You don’t just have to work on cars, but you also have to worry about bringing in customers – and even further than that – make sure they leave your shop satisfied. Throw in some administrative stuff, managing a team, ordering parts, and staying safe and compliant, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Well, let’s take a moment to take a deep breath and take in some helpful information.
Here at PartsMarket, we’ve partnered with thousands of repair facilities that have done great work, or simply worked harder to streamline their processes over a longer period of time.
In all cases, shop owners realized that they should be able to focus on what matters (everything I mentioned above) and never waste time where they don’t need to.
To keep your business running on all cylinders just like them, we developed the following list of common mistakes you can look out for and avoid as your shop grows.
1. Fail To Properly Train Staff
One of the first things a growing shop will look to do is allow you, the owner, to step away and spend less time working on the cars (if that’s what you want to do). Whether that’s your goal or not, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to hire someone to help out.
Whether it’s another mechanic, a service advisor, or something in between, you need to not only ensure they understand how you work, but that they know exactly how to do their job to the standard work you expect.
Take service advisors, for example. They are the front line of your business. They are responsible for having extensive knowledge about cars and parts and should be trained to ensure that’s the case no matter what. Since they will be dealing with customers, they should also be trained on their people skills. Successful service advisors with a sales edge that can build a trusting relationship can bring in repeat customers.
When you fail to train these types of employees, you risk allowing customers to leave your shop dissatisfied.
2. Not Communicating With Customers
This doesn’t just mean “talk to your customer.” This is more about the in-between. What happens if their car is delayed? What is your protocol? How do you notify your customers?
It’s important that throughout your correspondences, you remain transparent. If one of your guys dropped the ball, apologize and tell the customer the truth. In the end, sweeping inconsistencies under the rug can be spotted by a savvy customer, and no one wants to leave a repair shop feeling like they’re being lied to!
3. Not Compensating With Incentives
Whether it’s a commission-based structure, or a series of milestones they can hit for a bonus, this type of motivation keeps the wheels spinning in a shop. For larger shops, internal contests can help fuel the competitive nature in your staff. This type of healthy competition can lead to greater productivity and a collective sense of synergy.
On the other hand, salaries and/or hourly rates that are not tied to output in a shop do not motivate the employees to produce. The most common commission structures used by the most successful shops in the industry include paying a flat rate per billable hour or paying a percentage of the work generated by the employee.
4. Ignoring Promotional Opportunities
Unfortunately, far too many shops we’ve dealt with rely solely on word of mouth. With that, they don’t set any clear goals in regards to advertising and marketing. In their eyes, these types of services are expensive and potentially unrewarding.
When you look at the alternative, though, it’s hard to dismiss the opportunity to experiment. You could either wait for a car to break down right in front of your shop or go out and make some noise. Even if it costs a little bit to get started, track the ROI and see what works for you.
Treat advertising as a revenue-generating opportunity to boost your shop’s brand awareness and increase sales by reaching more customers.
5. Trying To Do Too Much
Like many sole proprietors, you’ve probably taught yourself many different skills as your business grew. After all, you LOVE getting your hands dirty and diving right in!
There is a fine line between knowing enough and being an expert, though. Understanding that divide is a pivotal attribute and it should be something you stay aware of.
Resist that urge to handle every function of your business. Partner with as many third party vendors as possible so that you can focus on what you need to do and what you’re best at. That type of mentality will inevitably help you scale a healthy operation.