After a crazy 2008 with gas prices ranging from more than $4 per gallon to below $1.50, a presidential election, a financial meltdown, a drop in miles driven and a federal loan to the Detroit Three, we are now into 2009 with great hopes of good days ahead. These tough times make every owner take a closer look at their business operations in pursuit of the “one” problem that needs to be fixed to get profitability back on track. Well, it rarely is just one thing, but a combination of many factors that need to be examined and adjusted to set your business on the right path for future success.
So, here are 10 areas of your business to examine or re-examine as you get into 2009:
Service Offerings — The mix of vehicles on the road and the technology in them is changing rapidly. This may create new service opportunities for your shop and may also reveal services you should stop offering.
Tools and Equipment — Do you have the scan tools to service all makes of vehicles? Can you handle TPMS, ABS and hybrids? Can you fit another lift into your service area? Do you have an alignment rack?
Appearance — When times are slow, clean, paint and throw out the junk. This will enhance the “customer experience,” which can pay off later.
Employees — Other service shops and car dealerships are closing, which means there are some good, qualified techs available. Evaluate your current techs and determine if they are right for your future. Are they current on ASE certifications? Do they embrace training? Are they investing in tools? Give them an assessment test.
Training — There is an abundance of technical and management training available online and face-to-face, but if you don’t plan ahead to commit to it and schedule it, another year will pass.
Business Systems — Having the tools to analyze your business is critical for survival. There are a number of products available that are tailored to your business that will help take you to the next level.
Marketing — This is the time to make sure you are effectively communicating to your customers (your new business system can help). With dealerships closing, encourage your customers to tell a friend about your shop and get your name out in the market.
Suppliers — They depend on your success, so make sure they are delivering the support you need and the service you expect. Sit down with them and communicate your needs.
Brand Offerings — Installing quality product is the best way to go. Tell the customer about the brands that were used on the job and make them feel good about the money they spent. These brands are an asset that reflects positively on your business.
Attitude — Remember, it’s contagious. Stay positive. Keep your technicians in a positive mood. Feel good about keeping America on the road.
The businesses that can survive the tough times will be in a better position to capitalize when conditions improve.