By Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber
Traffic jams everywhere, more cars on our highways than ever before, but where are the repairs? With the ever-increasing number of cars on the roads, our customers’ shops should be packed, however, this is not the case.
As we speak to your technician customers at our seminars, one pattern becomes increasingly apparent the number of cars on the roads today does not translate into the proper number of cars coming into the bays for repairs.
As we are jobbers, this has an immense effect on our business. We are constantly preaching that buying parts for a few dollars less will not fix the lack of qualified techs or the high cost of putting the key in the door every day. Today, we explore items such as tech efficiency and shop labor rates or the number of cars a shop needs to repair to be profitable.
Recently, we purchased new cars, both cars came with the now-famous two-year no-charge service agreement (of course, wear items not covered). This means that for the first two years of these cars’ lives, they won’t see the inside of our customers’ repair shops. If you do not think that this is huge, ask your shop customers what they think or listen to the phones on your counter. Are they ringing like a few years ago?
To compound this, my car came with a lifetime guarantee. Shy normal wear items (brakes, tires, etc.), every other system in the vehicle was covered as long as I used this new car dealer for all of the required services as specified in the owners manual. Obviously, this car dealer purchased a master insurance policy to cover these repairs and is willing to play the odds now this is thinking outside of the box. At this point, I have not decided if this is a good deal or not, but I will read it again. Let’s not forget that today’s modern car is just plain made better and does not require the same repairs of years ago.
So, where does this leave our technician customers, the core of our business? What are we doing when our outside salespeople report that they observe more and more empty bays?
Do not dismay, all is not doom and gloom. As with many businesses today, we are an ever-evolving industry. Many of our technician customers are realizing that it is time to shape up and work on their financial, as well as their management, skills. In addition, they are also requiring their service writers to build up their selling skills to meet today’s new selling arena. We are even seeing shops hire new service writers to free up the owner and allow him to better run the business. All of this will yield results …
Now, it is our turn. As independent jobbers, it is our turn to re-think how we do business. As many of us have salespeople and counter professionals who have been with us for many years and are dedicated employees, it is time to introduce them to new modern methods of problem-solving and selling to our customers. And yes, when properly handled, this too will yield results.
As far as I am concerned, I think I will read over my new car lifetime warranty and try to find the loopholes. Somehow, I doubt that I will never pay anything for these “covered” repairs.
Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber operate Auto Biz Solutions, which provides training, marketing, management and business consulting services to both the automotive jobber and independent repair shop.
For more information, go to: www.autobizsolutionsllc.com or e-mail [email protected].