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Adding Value To Your Auto Repair Business In 3 Easy Steps

If you were to spend one day, taking notice of how much time is wasted, you’d never bide time again.

We speak to shop owners who are just biding time waiting for the proverbial end of their career.  Many of which have been talking about 5 more years, for at least 10 years now.  The most common theme found among many of these shops, they never focused any time on adding value to their business or their customers.  So they’ve entered a stale state where they don’t know what to do, partly paralyzed from years of inaction.  This doesn’t have to happen, change is easier than ever in 2018 and all it requires is a little willpower.  If you truly want to move onto the next step in life, build value where you are today.  It’s often not difficult and it does as much for morale at shop as it does for you personally.
Building value starts with looking within, look for areas where you can improve. It’s not an easy exercise to do, critiquing oneself. Yet, we all do it and categorically wrong in most instances. We judge ourselves based on the reflection of who we think we want to be like or should be. Which essentially has us biding time, because we don’t see the flaw in our logic. Stop worrying about what you can’t change and start worrying about what you can.
Tomorrow morning when you go back into work, I suggest you do 3 simple steps, but only if you’re serious about committing to being better at what you do. Or if you’re really serious about it, don’t wait till tomorrow… start now.Looking To Open Up An Auto Repair Facility?
We’ve all been there, tired and frustrated with our boss.  You get the feeling that you can absolutely do this better than they can… and you want to do this better than they do it.  So you start to dream about what it would be like if you ran your own auto facility. Funny thing about our dreams, they don’t account for the brick walls you’ll run into.  Lucky for you and your dreams, we account for quite a few of them in this article. 
We are going to lay out the challenges, that we are aware of, that ‘soon to be shop owners’ may face and need to consider.  Please note that our experience, is from a densely populated area, local laws might make it harder or easier to accomplish some or all of these tasks.  This is meant to be used as a guide on what to expect and the type of research to do when trying to open a shop in your local area.
Where It All Starts

Budget:  All of this costs money to start.  The less you plan for, the more expensive things get. You can save significant time and money finding an existing facility that is abandoned or is for sale already and has the equipment you need to get you started.
Patience:  Nothing happens at the speed of light these days, unless you’re using CAR on your mobile device.  A lot of time is spent waiting on the input or response of others. Pick a method to manage all of the tasks.  We outline how to build a team with your gmail account. You can also organize everything in your plan to open a business with Gmail using the same logic to track tasks, save documents and have mobile access to everything.
Research: You want to survive the first 5 years?  Get used to asking a ton of questions, to anyone who will help you or hear you out.  Ask questions about everything, and most importantly… ask yourself and do your own homework.

Questions to consider asking yourself, others, and/or Google:

How many shops are in a 4 mile radius?
What’s the population in the 3 surrounding towns, plus the one I’m in?
How many households?
How much money do I have for this investment into my future? The sub questions here are insane.  What’s my projected monthly expenses? How long can I survive after having setup the business?
Are there other people I can partner with in this endeavor?
Does this location have parking?
What’s the crime like in this area?
What’s the traffic like? Go there, morning, noon and night… get to know your potential new neighborhood before you sign on the dotted line.

Now that the easy stuff is out of the way.  Let’s dig in.
3 Steps To Start Adding Value
Take note of things you’ve been waiting to address and haven’t.
Start with this, when you walk into your auto repair facility… walk around for 10 minutes and jot down all the things you’ve always wanted to do or need to be immediately done and aren’t done. Just ten minutes, set a timer on your phone and then spend 5 minutes jotting them down. You can use your shops Gmail account for this.
Start with this, when you walk into your auto repair facility… walk around for 10 minutes and jot down all the things you’ve always wanted to do or need to be immediately done and aren’t done. Just ten minutes, set a timer on your phone and then spend 5 minutes jotting them down. You can use your shops Gmail account for this.
Take note of how much time certain sequences take to accomplish.
As silly as this is seems, take note of how slow your computer might be. Time to turn on? Time to load websites? Frequent crashes?
As silly as this is seems, take note of how slow your computer might be. Time to turn on? Time to load websites? Frequent crashes?
Stop for 30 minutes at the end of the day and review the two items above.
You may think to yourself, why do I want to waste my time learning how much of my time is wasted? But then you just realized how that makes sense.
You may think to yourself, why do I want to waste my time learning how much of my time is wasted? But then you just realized how that makes sense.
Your Team

Let me start by saying, they are not your employees. Treat them as such and they will treat it as a job not a career. I can’t stress how important this aspect it.  The world is changing at an alarming rate and this industry is no exception right now.  If you want to ensure longevity you need to prepare to share the burden and some of the benefits, in order to attract employees that build a team.
A lot of people let their ego drive their initiative to do more.  Sometimes it can work out but more often than not, it burns people out and you’re left alone wondering why you can’t “find good help”.  As a business owner, I made the choice to involve our team members in all company decisions. This doesn’t mean they have the final say, this means they have a say.  When your team members have a say, they are more vested in everyone’s success.
In addition, we are going to make an assumption here.  We need to in order to provide a good example. We are going to assume that you, the person reading this article, have technician experience and you want to open a shop because you can and will do things better.  First, congrats. That feeling is amazing. Second, research till you question everything…. THEN, execute.
If you are the good technician, you are going to need at least ONE more team member to start.  That team member will inevitably become the shop manager if you can do this correctly. Here are the responsibilities that you are NOT aware of as a technician.

Who’s going to answer phones?
Who’s going to monitor your social media?
Who’s going to deal with happy and/or irate customers?
Who’s going to follow through on parts orders?
Who’s going to make estimates and get customer authorizations?
Who’s going to keep your paperwork in order so you can review it on weekends?

If you’re a technician and you’re serious about opening up a business in this industry in today’s world… the very first hire needs to be someone who is going to keep the business moving, according to your vision.  You can not focus on being great at repair and running a front office. You can try to do both for a while, but you will eventually burn yourself out. The amount of mental energy it takes for you to switch from one role to the next, is exhausting beyond measure.
Your team and your vision to build this team… is your greatest long term asset. Please note, this is not the definitive guide on how to open an auto repair business. This is merely a guide to get you to start thinking about the things you will need to worry about to run a successful business in nearly every industry… but especially the auto repair industry.Organize These Thoughts:
We recently wrote about how you can take a Google Gmail address and turn it into a team foundation to give your team the tools they need to get things done.  Here’s yet another element you can use that method, with Tasks, it will help you keep yourself and team members accountable to distribute the workload around maintaining your facility.
My Computer Is Fine! So What If It’s A Little Slow?:
So you think that it’s ok that your computer is a little older and slower, but I bet you didn’t realize that investing as little as $600 can get you 1 hour of lost time back, per day!  Let’s see if you qualify for the hour of productivity lost per day.  Let’s time how long your computer takes to turn on.
Turn on your computer.  If it’s already on, shut it down and turn it back on.  Time this sequence.  Does it take 30 seconds, 3 minutes or 8 minutes?  Hear a lot of noise when this happens?  Don’t want to turn off your PC because of fear it won’t turn back on. If your PC takes longer than 30 seconds to get to the login screen, you would benefit greatly from newer hardware.  If you can’t get to the internet within 2 minutes of turning your PC on, you need to change things.  It’s not 1989, it’s almost 2019.
Ok, So I Did The Three Steps, Now What?:
We’re going to work with an assumed set of tasks, to help you understand the exercise. Below is a made up list of things we found that needed attention.

So your 10 minute walk around yielded 15 things that you need to do around the shop or want to do. This is the easiest to resolve, use Tasks in your Team’s Gmail account and assign these responsibilities to yourself and your team.
Your PC takes 6 minutes before you can get to the internet. This may require a little more effort to resolve, we will cover “how to choose an effective PC for my shop” in a separate article.
Your coffee maker takes 4.5 minutes to brew a cup of coffee. This is absurd right.  Who times a cup of coffee!! Well, upgrade your coffee machine and get your coffee in 2 minutes.  Giving you back 2.5 minutes a day and 50 minutes a month.
Your average time for parts research (buying or researching) on the phone is 15 minutes.  This is a complex task to tackle and we will discuss how you need a combination of hardware and software to really become effective at this.
You spend more time squinting at your monitor than you do reading or writing on it. Between Costco and Amazon, there are plenty of opportunities to upgrade for reasonable rates, consider it.  It’s going to make your life easier.Here’s what I’d like you do.  Evaluate that list.  Top to bottom and let’s figure out how to eliminate it.  We can break any of the timed sequences into these questions:

How long to resolve the problem? For instance, if you need to take the heaping pile of scrap to the yard, time how long to fill the truck, clean the area, go to the scrap yard and dump it, reorganize the scrap pile so it’s better contained next time. Let’s assume this is a 4 hour endeavor.
How much is it going to cost? Well if you have a shop truck, it’ll cost you 4 hours of time in one block, or 30 minutes of time in 8 blocks.  The choice is ultimately yours, how you want to break that down and delegate it among your team.  Maybe you must rent a truck, or maybe… it’s as easy as calling a scrap collector to come and haul most of it for free.
What is the benefit? Well a clean shop always presents well to customers and potential customers.
Do I get time back? Well, no this one costs you time but brings you organization.
Is it worth the time? To look clean, I think we’re going to go with a ‘Yes’ here.

As with all the advice on our site, this is not the end all.  We are merely giving you ideas that helped us move out of ruts and turn things around in our own business.  All of our writing, suggestions, and solutions come from running an auto repair facility in Linden NJ.  But we know that solutions aren’t a one size fits all.  However, we have learned that most of our solutions came from reading about different things… and trying them! So we encourage you to do the same and share your stories about your experiences.Follow through with this article by reading about our other experiences in the auto industry, where we pass on lessons about running a business in 2018. This is focused on the auto repair industry, but there is plenty here that can be applied forward to help other businesses get off the ground and noticed locally.  Even though the businesses may differ significantly, the challenges of getting noticed and operating efficiently are similar.

Part 1 – Challenges Of The Auto Repair Business In 2018 Part 1
Part 2 – Auto Repair Business Marketing Challenges In 2018 Part 2
Part 3 – Advertising For Auto Repair Businesses In 2018 Part 3
Part 4 – Software For Your Auto Service Facility In 2018 Part 4
7 Basic Steps Of The Auto Repair ProcessUsing CAR’s auto repair software is a natural transition to the digital age.
Our auto repair software is so easy to use, we explain CAR through tutorial videos that are almost all 2 minutes or less each. 
Contact us for a demo and find out why we are the “Process that leads to Profits!”