Shop Management | Operations - Service Repair

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You’re wrong — cars simply don’t matter!

Friday, November 15, 2019 - 08:00
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This may sound crazy, I know, but like it or not you are not in the car business. Let’s listen to veteran ATI Coach Geoff Berman explain what he means by that statement:

Think about it. Has a car ever driven up to your front counter all by itself, looked you in the eye and said, “I’m here for my 8:30 oil service?” Have you ever seen a car pull up to a traffic light and turn to the car next to it and say, “Hey dude . . . you have to go to Jim’s Garage . . . they have the best tasting oil in town!” Cars don’t have feelings or emotions and they don’t make the decisions on the services they buy. This is not a Disney movie.

So what business are you in?

If you are thinking you are in the service business, you wouldn’t be wrong. The problem is that the service part of your business is only half the picture. There are two kinds of people that come to your business.

First, there are the people that trade their dollars for your service. These are the ones you think of when you relate to being in the service business and you call them your customers. The problem is that you tend to see customers as the ones who are most important to your business. I say we are putting the cart before the horse here.

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The other group of people who come to your business are the ones who trade their service for your dollars. You typically refer to these people as your employees. Employees are just as important as (you might even say more important than) customers. Employees provide the service experience that you want customers to have. Therefore, you should be more engaged with your employees to ensure they provide the expected experience to customers needing vehicle service. In other words, you can no longer ignore your employees and assume that because they get paid, they will always do the right thing. So instead of thinking you’re in the service business, a better way to look at this is: you’re in the “People Business.” Realize that all people matter. Not just customers.

Do you really know what you sell?

If you take a moment and consider the products and services you sell, the top three that come to mind are probably parts, labor and sublet. For most, the top two are parts and labor with sublet a far distant third. Of these top two revenue categories, you can boil them down to one that really matters. Without this one, the business cannot survive. It’s the glue that holds it all together — and when focused on, the other is almost certain to follow. In case you haven’t guessed it, it’s labor. What you sell is labor. Isn’t it labor that makes payroll? Without it you’re nothing but a parts store.

Have you ever had a day where the place was insanely busy? You were so busy in fact you could barely find the time to use the bathroom and neither could anyone else. You knew it had to be a great sales day. Then you looked at the deposits for the day and couldn’t believe how little was there.

On the other hand, have you had a day where it felt like you hardly worked? The work flowed smoothly and efficiently. It seemed as if everything just lined up nicely, and it did. As a result, you had great deposits that day, but it didn’t feel like you should have. Usually when I hear about these great days the shop owners tell me: “We had the right jobs that day. Everything just fell into place.” My answer is always the same: “Do you want that every day? Of course, you do. The solution is to focus on labor.”

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