Many shop owners get their start the old-fashioned way: Their dad or uncle owned a shop, and they grew up learning how to fix cars. Essentially, it was “in their blood” so to speak. But Matt Weber, co-owner of Clark’s Car Care, has a very different back story, one that starts with a detour from an accounting degree to take a less traveled road to shop ownership.
If you close your eyes and picture a tough customer, what image do you see? Is it a price shopper on the phone? An argumentative customer at the front counter? A Yelp reviewer who went directly to the Internet instead of giving you a chance to address his or her concerns? Each of these kinds of tough customers can put a kink in our day if we let them.
Many years ago, I read an article that featured an interview with Herb Kelleher, the co-founder of Southwest Airlines. In the article, he stated that he and his mother (who was a Harvard graduate) would often debate who was more important. He argued that it was the employees of a company, and his mom argued that it was the customers. With all due respect, I would argue, why does it need to be one or the other?
When brothers Chris and Brian Weeks purchased [atc] AutoCenter in Augusta, GA, back in October 1999, they did so knowing they needed to live up to the expectations set by the previous owners. This wasn’t just any business transaction – Chris and Brian purchased the shop from their father, Carl, and their uncles, Allen and Larry, upon their retirement in 1998.
Shop owners who are focused on serving their customers and operating efficiently are taking a little extra time to also get their financial house in order. They realize the value of the ABCs of a well-managed business: A for attorney, B for banker and C for CPA. These trusted advisers could help you focus on your customers and your business, while also ensuring you operate legally, effectively and profitably.
Many shops across the country have introduced Digital Inspection and Workflow Management on tablet devices in the back shop and internet browsers in the front office. A significant number of these shops scored such incredible productivity and efficiency results that it begs the question, “What have they done differently than others who are still trying to find their mojo?”
Robert Sanford is general director of the ACDelco channel of General Motors and is responsible for its business strategies and overall performance. He joined GM in 1982 and has served in a variety of service, sales, aftersales and management roles with the company.
“Sellability” is a powerful indicator of the value of your business, regardless of whether or not you have any intention or even interest in selling your business today. A high Sellability Score may confirm or surpass the value you have in mind. A lower Sellability Score may point directly to the underlying issues in your business which undermine its value.
Can an independent repair shop still be successful with only limited space? Just ask Scott “Oz” Osborn, who makes the most of his three-bay shop in Redondo Beach, Cal. Square footage comes at a premium in Southern California, and Osborn prides himself on providing quality service and making every square foot count.
As business owners, our best teachers will always be our employees and our customers. They understand many components of our businesses, and, in most cases, they really do care about our success. Learning from our employees is relatively simple. All we need to do is pay attention to their passing comments and engage them during our employee meetings and reviews. Learning from our customers, on the other hand, may take some extra effort.
If you think you’re too busy running your shop to focus on branding, you might want to think again. Thanks to longer service intervals and better-built cars, your customers don’t have to visit you as often as they did in the past. They also have more choices when it comes to service – from specialty providers to dealerships to chains that seem to have shops on every corner.
Some people seem to have an uncanny ability to find professional success without venturing too far from home. One such individual is Dennis Fourreau, owner of Automotive Specialist, a six-bay automotive repair facility in Lisle, IL.