There are just always some things that you can do to get better. And when it comes to a repair shop, there is a lot to manage at once.
The best shops and shop owners are the ones that gain a competitive advantage by doing things that other shops aren’t. While these tactics do take a little extra effort, the pay-off usually comes back quickly and exponentially.
To help you gain clarity on the characteristics that could help your shop reach the next level, we’ve made a list of 10 things to consider. After all, these are the things that we’ve seen work for many shops year after year.
1. They’re Clean
Being a mechanic can be a dirty job. You’re often underneath a car, putting our hands in grease, oil, and gas, and can be at the mercy of the conditions of the car itself.
What’s most important about these facts, however, is that it gets kept in the garage. A dirty job doesn’t need to equal a dirty shop. If you can create a strong divide between the work and what the customer is exposed to, you’ll make customers feel much more comfortable.
Taking that a step further, go above and beyond. Add air freshener to control the smell, place hand sanitizer on every desk, and decorate your office walls with tasteful artwork. White walls can be great if you can maintain them, but the trick here is to create the illusion of a juxtaposition between the dirt and the grime and the freshness of a car wash once the project is over.
2. They Educate Customers
Whenever I speak with satisfied car owners, they frequently allude to stories about their car that references “what their mechanic (their guy) told them.” While some shops see a more knowledgeable customer as a threat, we strongly believe that honesty and transparency is one of the most critical characteristics of a positive customer experience.
Think about your teachers growing up. You remember most to all of them, right? That’s because learning something new leaves a profound effect in our psyches. For a shop, this education leads to more customer confidence. This creates multiple layers of secondary outcomes; most notably being trust and referrals.
Now, those customers will come to you when they have different questions. They’ll also tell their own car story with your name attached to it at parties. As soon as you realize that knowledge won’t block the need for a future repair, you’ll want to leave your customers smarter every time you solve their car problems.
3. They’re Always Learning
This attributable is fundamental for improvement anywhere in life. There is a popular phrase “Never Stop Learning” that even repair shops should enforce internally with a heavier hand.
As technology changes processes, cars evolve, and best practices are shaken up, the shops that remain in business the longest are the ones that move with the industry.
This goes beyond constant on-the-floor tests and training. Start a book-of-the-month club at your shop, have group discussions, and share industry-specific articles via email. As long as you continue keeping up with the trends, you’ll find more shortcuts to better work.
4. They Pay By Performance
Workers should always feel incentivized to go above and beyond. It’s one thing to meet expectations, but these days, customers expect service that often hovers close to the realm of perfection.
Find what motivates your team and give them what they want. It’s the human spirit to want to meet goals and earn more than whatever is standard. Not only will you be able to treat your best workers that way, but this is also an ideal way to weed out the ones that simply don’t do what they can.
Finally, paying by performance is a great way to pace your expenses alongside revenue generated. This keeps your shop financially healthy and allows for transparency in how things work internally.
5. They Work as a Team
A business is a lot like a team. Certainly, a repair facility falls right into the center of this notion. It would be a disservice to everyone at the shop if any one person was solely thinking of themselves.
The best way to create a culture that celebrates this type of synergy is to have team meetings, hosting fun events outside of work, and finding ways to force workers to group together to complete a project.
In the midst of doing all of these things, greed will rise to the surface. It’s important to identify any bad actors so that you can rectify the situation before it starts to impact the culture you’re trying to create.
6. They Price Strategically
Accurate pricing can be a sticky issue. Many shop owners spend too much time worrying about ways to stay competitive. Then they mess with prices to see if that would either bring in more customers or elevate the revenue generated per customer.
To piggyback off of the above points on honesty and transparency, pricing should be treated similarly. Prices should always be based on value.
Whether it’s the service itself, parts, or warranties, smart customers can see right through anything that doesn’t make sense to them. The best place a shop can stay is that sweet spot of “just profitable enough” to run the business while also allowing the customer to feel satisfied that they got great bang for their buck.
7. They Strategize
The best repair shops are frequently looking at all of their internal operations and tweaking the minor parts. Everything can be refined, but this can only be accomplished when it’s treated as a priority.
From marketing promotions to ways your reps speak to customers, you’re creating a well-oiled machine. These machines work really well when everybody knows their role.
So take a step back and watch the cogs moving. Where can the machine improve most? Start there and proceed accordingly.
8. They Set Goals
I’ve seen too many shop owners that are unable to answer questions on the spot. Data like number of customers, revenue, ROI on marketing, and even the types of cars coming in should be recognized and documented. Once a baseline is established, it’s time to put that strategy into motion by setting objectives.
Goals can encompass all types of categories and shop operations. If they’re financial, great. But if you can move the needle to meet goals that lead to happier customers, you’ll be well on your way to being one of the best shops around.
It’s all about the challenge. You’ll always be pushing your shop to be better.
9. They Use Technology
Scary stuff aside, technology can make life easier at work.
Seasoned shop owners know to implement smart systems to help them run their business. Systems can help to quickly identify problems and hang-ups in your operation. Systems also document each step so that accountability exists around every corner.
At the end of the day, if you choose the right software and tools, you can save a ton of time and money by automating a lot of the tasks human used to do – and often erroneously.
10. They Delegate
If your shop is filled with busy mechanics and single role positions, then you should probably try not to stretch individual responsibilities too far. That goes for the owner and/or operator as well. It’s stressful to try to do everything. Plus, you know, more than anybody, that you aren’t good at all of those things.
The best shop owners are the ones that figure out the formula that leads to them solely focusing on growing the shop and/or managing the team. Everything else is either done by employees or outside contractors.
If you know you need marketing, for example, reach out to local agencies and pay the experts to do what they’re best at.
As you know, running an auto repair shop is no easy task. But if you can follow even a few of these best practices, you’ll find yourself moving toward success at a quicker, and less stressful, pace.
We wish you the best of luck to you and your shop. Please let us know how we might be able to help.