We all know that the #1 most common New Year’s resolution is to get fit/lose weight. But while everyone is busy signing up for gym memberships and purchasing treadmills, you should be looking at your business and creating your own New Year’s resolution. Chances are you might also want to whip your shop into shape.
Your New Year’s resolution should be something that gets you closer to your long-term goals. If you’re a relatively new shop, your goal may be to acquire more customers or increase overall revenue. If your shop has already been around for a few years and you’re happy with your current financial position, your goal may be to shift to a more balanced work-life schedule, possibly by adding some new employees or automating some tasks. Or perhaps you’re a well-established shop and see retirement right around the corner but would like to get to a point where you can either sell your business or put it on cruise control while you decide what to do with your free time.
Here are some things to consider when creating your resolution.
Your New Year’s resolution should be something that gets you closer to your long-term goals.
Look within your shop
Hopefully by now you’ve shifted to a shop management system with digital estimates, repair orders, and invoices (if you haven’t, I would highly suggest incorporating this into your New Year’s resolution). Shop management systems, like ALLDATA Shop Manager or ALLDATA Manage Online, can give you some key insights as to where your biggest profits and costs come from, and depending on the capabilities of your system, you can learn a lot from the information that you’ve accumulated over the last year. Most systems will at least let you find some basic information such as the amount of your average repair order, or the average number of labor hours charged per invoice. More advanced systems will even let you keep track of the most common repairs or services performed in your shop, even breaking it down to the average vehicle age. By having access to these different metrics, you can make informed decisions about purchasing, training, and staffing. You may think twice about purchasing the latest and greatest scan tool once you discover that less than 5% of your work is diagnostic-related. Instead, you may find that a better return-on-investment would be to purchase a more mid-level scan tool.
Prices may need to go up
Prices for everything have increased over the last year and auto parts are no different. Parts prices have increased dramatically and have even become difficult to source. So if you haven’t done so in the last year, it would be a good time to revisit your pricing matrix to make sure that you are marking up your parts correctly. Use inflation as a guideline. For example, as of November 2021, the annual inflation in the US rose 6.81%. This means that overall, everything from a carton of milk to a can of brake cleaner is almost 7% more expensive than it was in 2020. If you haven’t adjusted your prices to compensate for this increase, then you are eating this price increase with your profits, because chances are, your vendors have already passed this increase on to you.
Just like a technician has to keep up on the latest diagnostic techniques, a shop owner should also keep improving their skills as a business owner and employer.
Look outside of your shop
Stay current on the industry and remain competitive in your market. Trade organization and national affiliations can be a critical step to taking your shop to the next level and achieving your goals. Organizations such as the NIADA (National Independent Automobile Dealers Association) and ASA (Automotive Service Association) host seminars and trade shows that can be a great resource for shop owners to not only keep up with the latest trends and technologies in the industry, but also learn some best practices for running a business. Just like a technician has to keep up on the latest diagnostic techniques, a shop owner should also keep improving their skills as a business owner and employer. These associations are set out to improve the industry as a whole and can help business owners become savvier when it comes to the financial aspects of running an automotive business, either through newsletters and events, or by providing discounts to other services that are vital to your business. (NIADA members actually get a discount when they subscribe to ALLDATA)
Also keep in mind that some of your vendors may offer their own programs that can help reduce some of the costs associated with running a business, such as discounts on specific brands, parts, or even software. These programs can also help you gain new customers either through referral as being a member of their network of shops, or by helping you stand out from the competition through the additional benefits and perks that you can provide to your customers. Running a business is a full-time job and it’s important to take advantage of every resource at your disposal. Finding the right vendors and suppliers to partner with can be the competitive edge that makes your shop stand out from the rest.
Your shops New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, but it should be a step in the direction of your long-term goals.
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