Ramping Up for 2010: What Are You Doing to Stand Out from the Competition?

Ramping Up for 2010: What Are You Doing to Stand Out from the Competition?

As you get ready to close the book on another year, it's not uncommon to think about challenges in the year ahead and how you will be handling them. Many shop owners take a hard look at their business model and make strategic adjustments that will help pave the way for increased profits and a bigger market share.

Here are some things to consider as you ramp up for next year.

Get more training. Specialized training will help turn the challenges of the vehicle electronics revolution into opportunities for shops that are well equipped and techs that are properly trained. Some areas where you should plan to concentrate those efforts are: hybrid technology, electric vehicle technology, telematics, new safety systems, vehicle security systems, programming modules and reflashing computers, electronic steering, electronic throttle control, ABS with ESC, brake by wire and new powertrains.

Help get your customers’ vehicles ready for the winter driving season. And, start thinking about your next vehicle inspection event. It is never too early to start planning for National Car Care Month in April. For more information, visit www.carcare.org.

Check your customers’ tires. Millions of drivers are sporting at least one bald tire, according to research by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). A survey of more than 7,000 vehicles revealed that more than 11 percent had at least one bald tire, which can increase the risk of a crash, especially in wet weather conditions that frequently occur during fall and winter months. Extrapolating that data out, that means that nearly 28 million vehicles are in dire need of new treads.

Don’t “eat” valuable service time by not charging for diagnostics. This was a message delivered by Kelly Bennett, a certified management trainer, who conducted a “Gross Profit” seminar at the recent WORLDPAC Supplier & Training EXPO held in Orlando, FL. Bennett advised: “The most complicated thing we do is diagnostics – don’t simplify it when speaking with customers.” He also warned against “PLO” – parking lot opinions – where a techs’ impromptu diagnosis is accurate only 11% of the time. Rather than give in to a customer who asks you to quickly assess their vehicle in the parking lot, say “here’s our service advisor and he can make you an appointment.”

Go green. Beyond the environmental benefits, it’s also smart marketing. It will help your shop gain recognition as doing something unique, and will help you win customers in the process. Beyond recycling automotive fluids, consider recycling aluminum, steel, rubber, cardboard and paper. (For every ton of paper that is recycled, the following is saved: 7,000 gallons of water; 380 gallons of oil; and enough electricity to power an average house for six months.)

If you want to stand out from the competition and ensure repeat business, now is the time for you to kick things into high gear. It’s time to network in a big way, invest in more training, gain skills, gather resources, seek out competitive advantages, market, promote, advertise and, in the process, you’ll become masters at working smarter, faster and more profitably.

If you have some ideas along these lines that you’d like to share, please e-mail them to me ([email protected]) and we’ll publish them in an upcoming issue.

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