Management: 50 Tips to Improve Your Shop in 2008

Management: 50 Tips to Improve Your Shop in 2008

Andrew Markel, editor of BRAKE & FRONT END magazine, offers 50 pointers that shop managers and technicians can use to improve their service shop in 2008.

By Andrew Markel

1. Increase the labor rate. Chances are your customers will not notice.
2. Send fewer cars to the dealership.
3. Buy better uniforms.
4. Secretly shop the competition.
5. Attend more training.
6. Take down all the old, dirty or out-of-date “push/pull” or “we install” stickers off your front door.
7. Use your shop management system more effectively. Explore all menus and options. Nobody ever broke a computer by scrolling.
8. Make better coffee for your customers and employees.
9. Update your “in case of emergency” phone number list. It is amazing how an out-of-date phone list can induce panic during a real emergency.
10. Buy new fender covers.
11. Hire a window cleaning service.
12. Help a local shop that everyone is complaining about. Be part of the solution, not the problem. It will help everyone in the long term.
13. Log onto OE repair information websites and become familiar with how they work before you have to stumble through during a repair.
14. Attend at least one city council or local government meeting and introduce yourself to everyone that attends. You will be amazed at the business it will drum up.
15. Contact a landscaping company before March to get an estimate.
16. Stop eating from the roach coach if possible.
17. Chase away tool truck drivers that waste your shop’s time.
18. Update all software including the alignment system and scan tools.
19. Build or update your website. It is a lot easier than you think.
20. Set up regularly scheduled evaluations for your technicians and shop personal.
21. Join The Motorist Assurance Program (MAP).
22. If you are a small shop where customers are often transferred into voice mail, update the message everyday. Also, update your “on hold” message as often as possible.
23. Open an eBay account and sell your old parts inventory that you have little hope of selling in your area. Use the money to do something nice for the shop.
24. Get to know your employee’s families.
25. Clean up the waiting room and bathrooms daily.
26. Request email addresses from customers.
27. Use email to contact customers about future services.
28. Make follow up phone calls to customers after a costly repair.
29. Do something nice for the business next door.
30. Invite your first-call parts supplier to lunch at your shop.
31. Ask suppliers for better pricing. The worse they can say is no.
32. Talk to your part supplier about merchandising kits and customer showroom displays.
33. Join ASA and the Car Care Professionals Network (CCPN).
34. Attend meetings of ASA and CCPN.
35. Buy flat screen monitors for your front counter. They are getting cheaper by the minute. Check after Christmas sales.
36. Attend at least one aftermarket trade show. It does not have to be SEMA in Las Vegas, many trade associations and program groups hold local events.
37. Buy an inexpensive digital camera for the shop to use during customer estimates.
38. Install a new set of struts or shocks on your personal vehicle. How can you sell something if you would not have it done on your own vehicle?
39. Make it a point to try out several brands of brake pads on your personal vehicle. How can you sell a premium pad if you do not know what makes it premium?
40. Learn how to properly diagnosis and sell oxygen sensors. Just using trouble codes does not cut it.
41. Service your air compressor every week.
42. Install air driers and oilers on your air lines.
43. Read the owners manual for the lifts in the shop.
44. Perform a proper service on all your lifts.
45. Update the tire changers and balancers to handle larger wheels.
46. Change the solvent in your parts cleaner.
47. Service the brake lathe on a regular basis.
48. Start charging storage fees to customers who use the shop for winter storage.
49. Smile more.
50. Read more BRAKE & FRONT END, and pass it around the shop.

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