There is a lot involved with owning an auto repair shop, as there is a myriad of day-to-day operations that are key to success. Owners are often auto mechanics themselves, so it is important to be able to balance their job duties. Auto shop owners cannot always spend their entire workday repairing cars, as there are other elements of the business to focus on. When the right balance is made, auto shop owners can enjoy a very rewarding experience. This service provides the opportunity to earn a handsome income and it also provides a valuable service to the community.
Go from Auto Mechanic to Shop Owner
Being a good mechanic will allow a shop owner to oversee everything that goes on. That includes making sure all the right repair work is being done correctly and all the right parts are being used. Being an experienced mechanic allows owners to be both authoritative and credible. The owner should also have acquired some ASE certifications. This will provide the skill level needed to diagnose tough problems. If a car comes in with a problem that cannot be identified by the mechanics on staff, then the owner should be able to step in and diagnose the problem. Here are some more mechanic-based issues that owners need to address.
Meanwhile, the business aspect of owning an auto shop means that an owner will have to oversee marketing, advertising, payroll and other important areas. It may be beneficial to hire an accountant to make sure all the books are balanced correctly. There are even a variety of ways that owners can brand their business within the community and those are as follows:
One of the benefits of having an auto shop owner on site is that the individual can actually interact with customers. Larger service centers are much more informal. Smaller shops have a more intimate feel as owners can become a familiar face to customers.
The Owner/Operator of an Auto Repair Shop
As an owner/operator, the job duties are going to be multi-dimensional. Owners are often on-site and act as managers, supervisors and even mechanics. That means owners will always be getting pulled in every direction. That is why it is important to delegate authority. Having a trusted staff that can be counted on will make the job of an auto shop owner much easier. In some instances, owners can hire a manager to attend to those day-to-day duties. However, it is important for owners to be abreast of all that is going on, as owners are the ones entrusted with monitoring their managers.
It remains important for owners to know where to devote their attention. For example, if there is a lull in business, then owners need to be drumming up ways to attract new customers. And if the repair schedule is full, owners can be in the garage helping out with the actual auto repair.
Objectives of an Auto Shop Owner
It is not uncommon for auto shop owners to take on a different mentality than mechanics. Paying the monthly bills and balancing a budget adds a lot of stress. However, it is important to clearly define the everyday objectives of an auto repair shop and stick to them. Here are some common objectives to follow.
Establish a Trust
The key to keep customers coming back is to build a bond of trust. This occurs by avoiding any tactics that might make a little extra money by providing unneeded repairs. As an owner, one may be inclined to squeeze the most money out of customers. However, it is important to put the customer’s needs first, as that is a way of keeping them for the long term. So, what may be a simple oil change and tire rotation today, may eventually turn into an engine rebuild somewhere down the line.
Dealing with customers can be a precarious situation. When a vehicle is in need of a repair that can be expensive, then it is important for shop owners to let them know just how much time they can afford to let it go before it becomes a major issue. Pressuring customers is often met with animosity and it may cause them to go out and look for a second opinion. Scare tactics also have a habit of backfiring on auto shop owners. Give your customers information without pressuring them into a decision.
How to Operate an Auto Shop as an Owner
Because most auto shop owners were mechanics first, the business savvy that comes with owning a shop needs to be learned. An owner has to know more just the essentials of auto repair. Auto shop owners can keep in mind the following tactics when trying to build their volume of business.
Guarantees on workmanship are a sign that a shop stands by its service. Meanwhile, it is difficult to guarantee parts that you do not manufacture yourself. However, the right type of guarantees can go a long way. If a mechanic on your staff has proven to be at fault for some type of issue, it is the ethical responsibility of a shop owner to guarantee repairs for that mistake. There is also the option of posting a guarantee that states customers will never be overcharged or recommended for service they do not need. Posting some sort of guarantee or code of ethics always seems to resonate with customers.
Communication does not always consist of telling customers what is wrong with their vehicle. It also involves listening to customers. This will give them a greater sense of comfortability. And if they believe something specific is wrong with their vehicle, it is important to hear them out before diagnosing the problem. Even if the problem is not what they think it is, taking the time to listen to their concerns makes them feel as though they are a part of the decision making in the repair process.
Explain, Explain, Explain
Most customers are not going to immediately understand the intricacies of what’s wrong with their vehicle or how the repair process will work. It is important to take the time to explain to customers what is wrong with their vehicles. If a customer is unaware of what a rear differential is, then take some time to explain it. And try using layman’s terms so that these explanations are not too technical.
Show the work
A good auto mechanic will save the broken car component and show it to the customer once the repair is complete. This serves two purposes. First, it establishes trust by showing the extent of what was wrong with the car and evidence that it needed to be replaced. Secondly, it teaches the owner a little more about their vehicle and how it functions.
Auto Shop Owners and the Online Experience
Much of today’s shopping is done online. Shopping for an auto repair shop is no different. Vehicle owners have a habit of reading online reviews and visiting company websites before ever stepping foot in that actual place of business. For this reason, it is vital for auto shop owners to become visible online. It even makes sense for shop owners to hire someone who is skilled in online marketing. Some important online areas to focus on are as follows:
Keeping a current Facebook, Twitter and YouTube page are all free forms of advertising. It also encourages customer interaction.
Being listed in as many online directories as possible will help when people are searching for an auto repair shop.
It is important to accumulate quality reviews on sites like Google and Yelp. Make sure people are talking about your business in a positive way.
Marketing to customers via email is a terrific way to provide them with discounts, coupons and relevant information about auto repair and vehicle upkeep.
It is almost an essentiality for any business to have a functioning website in this day and age. Investing in an online presence is a way to bring in new customers. Auto shop owners need to stay current and ahead of the curve by utilizing online marketing techniques to their advantage.
Setting Customer Service Standards
As an auto shop owner, you will be responsible for the way your mechanics treat your customers. Teaching the specifics of customer service has become just as important as teaching mechanics how to change an alternator. Not all shop owners are experts in customer service, which is why it helps to bring in a professional, who can provide some helpful tips to the entire staff. This may only occur once, although it could set the standards for the accepted customer service practices within the auto repair shop.