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Challenges Of The Auto Repair Business In 2018 Part 1

As the auto industry moves on into the modern age, repair centers all around the country are experiencing pressure with the tech world and our world colliding.

 We are all trailing nationwide franchises and dealerships that have endless resources working at their disposal. For most smaller auto repair businesses there isn’t enough time, money, or energy to attempt to constantly and actively secure the new business. We’re mostly worried about attempting to maintain the existing business we have, which has newer cars and increasing demands. Most of our time is now spent adjusting to the learning curve of advanced vehicle systems. However, that’s just a shop problem. The front office of your shop has its own issues to contend with that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Make no mistake about it, our industry is in the middle of a revolution and with 3D printing knocking at the door… the amount of balls to juggle are going to be considerable and it’s all just getting started.

CAR can’t help you find a good location, but what we do is unique in its approach. We take elements that are a part of the tech world and bring them to your fingertips. For instance, with CAR you can create employee profiles, so each of your employees can login to the system and track their work within each vehicle they touch. This helps you keep track of employee productivity and gives you the tools to make informed decisions about each employee, allowing you to reward them as they grow with your business in real time.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.
Today’s auto repair businesses need to worry about the following:
Advertising
Can be expensive and very confusing. The best method to start is to get your feet wet with small budgets that keep your name in front of your potential customers, constantly.
Can be expensive and very confusing. The best method to start is to get your feet wet with small budgets that keep your name in front of your potential customers, constantly.
Employee Advancement
Providing an environment where employees know they can grow with your business, whether financially or moving up within the organization, is the key to keeping and securing talent.
Providing an environment where employees know they can grow with your business, whether financially or moving up within the organization, is the key to keeping and securing talent.
Employee Engagement
Keeping your employees as interested in your success as you are is critical to the elements that keep people returning and employees from leaving.
Keeping your employees as interested in your success as you are is critical to the elements that keep people returning and employees from leaving.
Location
Securing a proper location and the authorization to conduct business there over the long term ensures survival.
Securing a proper location and the authorization to conduct business there over the long term ensures survival.
Marketing
This is the most complicated element in today’s world. It involves a mix of a strong web presence, good advertising ethics, social media profile, and following up with customers.
This is the most complicated element in today’s world. It involves a mix of a strong web presence, good advertising ethics, social media profile, and following up with customers.
Software
Without good software, it is difficult to run any business. Good software is and always has been subjective. Our experiences indicate that good software saves you time and builds trust with your customers. Most importantly, it should work for you and not against you.
Without good software, it is difficult to run any business. Good software is and always has been subjective. Our experiences indicate that good software saves you time and builds trust with your customers. Most importantly, it should work for you and not against you.
Tools
Without the proper tools, we just can’t work on today’s vehicles.
Without the proper tools, we just can’t work on today’s vehicles.
Training
Without the proper training, we put ourselves and our customers at high risk.
Without the proper training, we put ourselves and our customers at high risk.
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.CAR’s proprietary tracking system also ensures you are billing customers appropriately, which leads to higher revenue and a happy employee who’s being rewarded for his good work. So, CAR can help you check Employee Engagement and Employee Advancement off that checklist. Being appreciated in your work place is best method to retaining talent, second only to paying your employees appropriately for their work.
The most important thing to take away from all of this is that our tracking system works without your intervention. It’s the backbone of the entire process within CAR. That’s what makes us different, our intuitive process makes everyone at your organization from the employee to the customer… feel like they are the most important thing going on at the moment. We do that by integrating each process into the business. It’s also worth noting that you can completely opt out of the process of employee tracking, the choice is up to you.
No other software in this industry presently accomplishes this. In part 2, 3, and 4 of this article, we will discuss the Marketing, Advertising and Software on that list. CAR has a unique process that markets on your behalf as the customer is at your facility and we are working on the incorporating outside elements to enhance this. Why a 4 part article?  In order to provide actual value that you can use at your business the remaining topics need to be discussed with actions you can take to start using today to adapt to the landscape.  CAR isn’t the answer to it all, but our experience has a lot of the answers to help you along the journey.
Follow along with this 4 part series, where we pass on lessons about our experiences 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 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 Process