As you get ready to close the book on another year, it’s not uncommon to think about strategies that will boost your bottom line and garner a bigger market share in 2012.
Profitability hinges on shops being able to cater to new service demands, brought on by ever-changing technology, armed with the proper tools, equipment and training, says Scott “Gonzo” Weaver, owner of Superior Auto Electric, Tulsa, OK, and contributor to ImportCar magazine.
“Since my shop does mainly electrical repairs, I’ve seen plenty of changes. Years ago, alternators, starters, turn signals and power windows were the normal, everyday repairs,” Weaver explains. “These days, power windows, turn signals and lighting systems are still high-priority repairs, but more often it’s CAN system failures, theft systems, dataline corruption and reprogramming components, when parts were changed without any regard to the recalibrating needs of the system in question.
“These changes require a huge investment in high-end scanners, technical information and training, and I think this is where the modern, up-to-date independent shop should focus its efforts.”
Chris Klinger, co-owner, Precision Incorporated, Tucson, AZ, and a member of the ImportCar advisory board, says profitability for his shop can be bolstered with software upgrades, cost-effectiveness in the buying parts process and expanding his marketing strategy as a key element in his overall marketing package.
“At the shop level, we are updating our software tooling regularly and, in today’s world, that translates to more capabilities and opportunities to earn higher profits,” explains Klinger.
“Our parts department is also analyzing our buying patterns as well as each of our suppliers’ buying requirements for ‘best pricing’ and working on more cost-effective ways to buy our parts, while not necessarily looking for a less expensive vendor.
“The most effort spent this year, to prepare for the coming years, has been to reevaluate our entire marketing strategy. We have been building new relationships with professional service providers that have skill sets other than our own. We are continuing to shift advertising dollars into the digital world in a way that aligns with our marketing goals.
“More importantly, we are evolving as a company and spending time developing a complete marketing package that includes our brand, our strategy and our positioning, so that our marketing productivity and efficiency increases will result in more sales and more profits in the coming years.
“In a nutshell, we continue to actively invest in our future and will always resist the temptation to just be passive and hope for the best.”
What immediate changes (major or minor) are you planning to make in your business in 2012 to increase your shop’s productivity and profitability?