The new year is here, and the opportunities are plentiful. All of us have the desire to improve on the things we did right in 2022. If you are a shop owner or manager, there are some ways you can make tangible improvements that will improve your financials and make coming to work a bit more enjoyable for your team and your customers.
A new look for the New Year on the old shop
How does your shop look to your customers, employees, and the community? Survey your domain with an objective eye. Bring in a neutral party to evaluate your digs. Seek their advice and then strive to carry out the recommendations. The fixes may range from a simple and inexpensive coat of paint to a complex and expensive construction project.
Need some ideas on refurbishment? Use Google Maps Street View to look at your competition. You will quickly learn how much improvement is needed by comparing your shop with other shops in your area. Curb appeal is critical to your business.
Going further, you may explore moving to a new location. Shops can flourish by just moving a few miles to a new locale. The increase in revenue can, over time, greatly exceed the expenses associated with a new address.
With the current inflation, your hourly labor rates should have risen at least 15% since January 2022. If your building rent has risen, that should factor into your cost of doing business. Employee pay and benefit increases must also be considered as you set your labor rates.
Show me the money
Do your labor rates reflect the true cost of doing business? Consider an increase. With the current inflation, your hourly labor rates should have risen at least 15% since January 2022. If your building rent has risen, that should factor into your cost of doing business. Employee pay and benefit increases must also be considered as you set your labor rates. At a minimum, your income minus expenses and taxes should produce a 10% net profit.
For your business to be a business and not a charity, you must show a profit every year after the second year. If you don’t know how to create a profit and loss statement, find someone who will help; business management classes at your local community college are a good source of training. You can also consider improving your shop management IQ via training with ATI Automotive Training Institute, or Aaron Stokes' Shop Fix Academy.
This is also a good time to review the services you offer. Large jobs such as transmission and engine overhauls tie up space and money and can take weeks before they pay off. If you are limited on space and technicians, then focus on “fast turnover” jobs that can be finished in one to two days. You must know which products and services result in the most profit and the fastest turnover.
Finally, examine your vendor relationships; who gives you great service and fair pricing? This is a great time to make changes for the new year.
The beginning of the new year is a great time to do some goal setting. In 2023, consider making your goals SMART. Ask yourself these questions:
Specific: Is your goal specific enough to avoid misinterpretation?
Measurable: Can you track your progress towards your goal?
Attainable: Is your goal realistic?
Relevant: How does your goal relate to your dreams or ambitions?
Time-bound: What’s your target date for completion?
Specific: I will help my team feel like they can communicate effectively and freely.
Measurable: I’ll use Slack channels to communicate with our employees, encourage them to do the same and see how often they use these communication channels.
Attainable: We all have smartphones and we all understand that strong communication skills are important for a shop.
Relevant: It can be difficult to share ideas and concerns during a busy day at the shop, so we need to get better at communicating with one another.
Time-bound: I will send Slack invites to everyone tomorrow morning, and in a month, I’ll ask everyone how they feel about their communication abilities.
If your shop is running smoothly and the money is rolling in, the new year is an opportunity for further improvement. Develop plans and goals for the coming year and evaluate your progress quarterly. Throw some outrageous dreams into the mix; some of them may bear fruit. Carry some of those plans through the following years with a 2-year, 5-year, and 10-year game plan.
Pay it forward
What have you always wanted your business to do to help others? Have you wanted to donate car repair to those who are less fortunate? Is there a children’s sporting team that you wanted to sponsor? If you have the capital to do so, this is a great time to give back to the community.
For your employees, what are you doing to improve their livelihood as your business grows? Share your business forecasts and when those hoped-for numbers become reality, share the wealth with the people who helped make you successful.
Make fun part of the plan
Don’t forget to schedule fun and enjoyment for the team. Include their family and close friends if possible. When you do this, work environment improves and profitability often improves with it.
Let’s make 2023 better than 2022 and let that success carry through the years ahead.
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