Today’s successful shop owner recognizes the critical need to stay ahead of the curve with regards to the newest technology in every new car. That need doesn’t end under the hood, however.
In the 21st century, that curve is accelerating at a breakneck speed and shop owners must not only keep up but embrace all of the new technology found in the management tools available for today’s successful business. They need have confidence that if the correct management technology is put in place at their shop, they will see the rewards today, next month and next year.
A real – but sobering – fact is that even after implementing technology in your shop (for example, the right Digital Vehicle Inspection (DVI) system for your needs), there’s no guarantee that you won’t have to reexamine and perhaps even replace that software. As the business owner, you need to commit yourself to always investigate new offerings in the market. It may mean just updating your present systems software, but it may also mean looking at a brand-new company that just released the newest and much improved DVI platform.
That commitment includes training. Even if you have the latest technology in your shop, if your team doesn’t know how to use it or doesn’t understand the full extent of what it can do, it’s a pointless investment on your part. As the owner, you need to ensure that your crew receives continual training. If the systems you are buying don’t include training, you should look for another company. If you’ve invested in them, they need to invest in you as a customer.
According to Peyton Knight, Owner of Knight’s Automotive Repair, Ledgewood, New Jersey, “As business owners, we need to be smarter and more precise every day. It’s important that we continually push ourselves and our team, to understand each platform we have in the shop on an on-going basis.”
Listen and Learn
It’s a common recommendation for all areas of owning a successful repair shop (and, really, any business) but networking and listening to both your fellow shop owners as well as industry experts is key.
As the business owner, you need to be in the loop when new systems are released. Attend industry events. Talk to other shop owners. Develop relationships with industry leaders. Hearing about the latest technology available and getting direct feedback about its functionality from actual users is invaluable.
You’re in the People Business
You may have opened your business originally because you were great at fixing cars, but as a business owner, you’re servicing your customers. They come to you, confident that you will take care of their vehicle, efficiently and at a fair price. They need to know their car is safe.
The best technology impacts your customers. If you’re able to text them with reminders about upcoming appointments, if you can send them photos quickly and clearly showing the issue that needs to be taken care of, that customer will feel confident that you will take care of their car – and them. Good customer service and technology go hand-in-hand.
“Being able to efficiently text customers is a win/win for everyone. It’s terrific for me as a business owner and my customers love the immediate communications,” says Knight, AAA Top Shop Winner and DRIVE Client.
The decisions you, the owner, make affects the bottom line. Your family and the families of your team members rely on that for continued growth and success. That goes for all technology decisions. The right choices here will be seen in the P&L of the shop. If all of the management software of a business is integrated correctly and the team is using each to its full advantage, a higher production and efficiency rate will be the outcome.
You need to get the word out to both existing and new customers. But that word, or words, must be in the right message. That includes not just the graphics or the look of an email blast to customers, but also the mechanisms to deliver it. Today’s business owner requires a powerful way to track, analyze, plan – and use any and all data to better communicate with customers.
The drill-down on this data and how it can serve the business owner to increase sales is vast. In fact, it is too vast to rely on your gut about what your overall Marketing plan and mission should be. The power of a great Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is as an essential business tool for an owner in today’s environment. There are too many social media platforms, too many possible messages and too many ways those messages could be delivered incorrectly to not have a best-in-class CRM in your arsenal of shop technology software.
“It’s imperative that you stay in communication with not just your customers but that next new customer that may be moving into your area. A sophisticated CRM is the only way a shop will achieve true and continued growth in today’s world,” says Knight.
Owning an auto repair shop today is nothing like it was 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. You need to be the CEO of your business and, to do that, you need to have the best available technology on your side.
Carolyn Gray handles marketing for DRIVE, a Monrovia, California-based consulting group and provided this article. For more information visit driveshops.com.