The auto repair business is looking remunerative. Auto manufacturers are facing increasing demands and it has been predicted that by the year 2035, there will be more than 1.7 billion vehicles globally. Despite the rising trends, several small auto repair shop owners and managers find it challenging to generate more customer leads, hire employees, manage finances and work on cars. This article will cover the how-to on everything you’ll need to manage an efficient auto repair business:
- How to Hire Staff
- How to Manage Employees
- How to Buy Parts and Equipment
- How to Choose an Auto Business Software
- How to Build Customer Relationships
- How to Market Your Auto Repair Business
- How to Finance Your Auto Repair Shop
Throughout the country, businesses have been hit by a severe labor shortage. According to The Atlantic, low employment and sluggish productivity of businesses have been the main reasons for this. Consequently, the recruitment of mechanics and employees should be done all year round, as opposed to only when the business has lost staff.
- Update Your Website: Most auto repair business owners tend to place their websites on least priority. The first place someone checks to learn more about your business is your website, so make sure the details you have there are correct, especially the physical address, phone number, and email ID.
- Utilize Social Media: Social media is a great way to market your brand not only to customers but to potential employees as well. Let people know you’re hiring and be specific with details mentioned. Make sure your business social media profile is complete, and link back to your website. 69% of active candidates are more likely to apply for a job that manages its brand well. Ask other employees and your network to re-share your “We’re Hiring!” posts as well.
- Search Across Auto Industry Boards: It sounds cliche, but industry-specific job boards let you reach out to the exact skill set you’re looking for. A more narrowed focus to your industry and skills can draw in the people you’re hoping to find. Here are some of the auto industry boards you should consider:
- Collect Employee Referrals: Always have people in the pipeline. Create an employee referral form that makes it easy for employees to connect you with potential employees. Ex-employees may also have a great network, so keep them updated on any skill set you’re on the lookout for. Stay in touch with the best, even if you’re not ready to hire right away.
- Connect with Local Trade Schools: Most small businesses don’t stay in touch with schools where resources are huge and leave that to larger businesses and corporations. Attending job fairs and other school events can help establish relations with auto repair specialists. They will be happy to have a job lined up for as soon as they graduate, which can be cost-effective as you won’t have to go through the efforts of training them.
Managing employees is a huge part of business management. Given the current economy, it’s critical to keep your employees happy. People don’t like to work unless they see a personal benefit, which need not always be monetary. In other words, your business needs to offer your employees incentives.
- Boost the Community Feeling: Motivate your employees by creating a sense of family and encourage friendly competition. Co-workers often can push people along better than a manager or employer can. It’s easier to reward people working as a team and also boosts team spirit.
- Give Recognition: People appreciate being recognized for their efforts when they perform above what is required. Depending on the employee, they may appreciate either publicly being recognized or being awarded in private.
- Appeal to their values: The best way a boss connects with their employees is through common values. This will make the employee feel comfortable at the work-place and can help build your relationship with them. Get to know each employee personally and where they come from, to establish yourself on this level.
- Money: Last but not least, money as an incentive is always a yes. Bridging pay with performance is one of the best motivators, whether this is as a reward, a bonus, a voucher, or a pay raise. Most employees won’t appreciate a ton of extraneous incentives without a monetary one as well. It can trigger them to question the overall business performance and classify a job as “steady” or not.
Why this is so important…
Although the pay can be a blinking indicator light of your business’ profitability, your employee is always observant of other signs of a failing work-place. In an auto repair shop, the first would be employee safety. An unclean, sloppy shop doesn’t look good to customers, nor to the employees who work there. It shows carelessness and poor work standards and your employee will reflect this.
You can prevent this by keeping the shop clean. An employee safety protocol in place and investing in compensation insurance for them are other ways to show your employees they are valued. Also, keep safety equipment around and emergency contact numbers hung around the shop. This shows them you care about their safety, and that they’re an indispensable resource to your business.
Ultimately, it’s critical your business maintains a low employee turnover rate. This can boost both employee morale and confidence from your client who get uncomfortable when they see new faces every time they visit. Keep your skilled, hardworking employees and ensure there are no snags in hiring new ones so your shop runs smoothly.
How to Buy Parts and Equipment
Auto repair shops face a unique challenge when it comes to inventory-they never know when they’ll need what. It all depends on the next car that comes through the door. As a precaution, all auto repair shop owners like to own every part for every possibility to ensure business runs smoothly and they don’t lose out to the competition. This isn’t practical for several reasons, least of all because it occupies a lot of space and managing stock count can be exhausting. A better way is to build a good relationship with your parts supplier so that the items that your business requires will take priority and be delivered quickly. Other common items and equipment that your business will always need to use should stay on hand. These should include:
- Air Compressor
- Jack, Jack Stands and Pole Jacks
- Oil Drain and Oil Caddy
- Battery Charger and Jumper
- Engine Hoist
- Brake Lathe
- Strut Compressor
- Air Conditioning Machine
- Transmission Jack
- Oils, and car fluids
- Other parts according to your specialization
Luckily, there are several kinds of auto repair software and tools to help you monitor inventory and manage your auto repair business as a whole. These can be personalized according to your business.
How to Choose an Auto Repair Business Software
Auto repair software includes features to help any auto repair shop owner and manager perform everyday tasks such as car repair procedures and other general office tasks. These procedures can include maintaining schedules, holding a customer database, repair history, job estimates, and ordering parts. Understanding the different kinds of software in the market and which ones would suit your business can help reduce time spent on other consuming work and focus on car repairs. Some popular auto repair software includes:
- Autofluent: Autofluent is a business management software that lets you understand your business performance as a whole with the help of dashboards. These are designed to help you track and manage customers, employees, inventory, sales, and suppliers. This software has proven particularly useful when managing several locations at once.
- CCC One Total Repair Platform: This tool brings all functions of the business together and helps you manage shop performance and business costs. It has an outstanding estimation feature and is extremely accurate at booking times and scheduling appointments. Daily updates and part ordering can be done directly on this platform, and it’s found to be user-friendly.
- AllData: AllData provides OEM Service and auto repair information, and service. It also offers a host of other products to manage traffic, processes and repair quality. This software is easy to use, the data is up to date and covers all makes and models.
- Repair Shopr: RepairShopr is an all-in-one invoicing system to integrate CRM, tickets, invoicing and marketing for auto repair shops. However, the personalization of this software cannot be done.
Ultimately, the objective of an auto repair software is to build a more efficient work environment, which will allow you to focus more time on your customers and service.
How to Build Customer Relationships
Auto repair shops have a 65% chance to sell a service to an existing customer, whereas with a new customer there’s only a 10% chance. This is why building a great customer relationship is extremely important. There are several CRM tools on the market, but nothing comes as close to you making a personal connection with your client. As a service, your business should aim to build confidence in your customer to make him come back, and trust your prices and the work you do is the best in the market. To most people, a vehicle is almost like a family member and as a repair center, you play the role of doctor. Building the right rapport with your customers is the best way to build their loyalty to your brand. Here’s what you should do:
- Pay Attention: It’s really that simple. When a customer is visiting your shop, make sure they have your undivided attention. Understand what the problem is, and how long they’ve been facing it. Inspect the vehicle, discuss your recommendations and explain to them your reasoning and diagnosis. This will build confidence in your business and service. Prepare them mentally and financially on what they need to do.
- Schedule Appointments Ahead: Inform the customer of the date and time to visit your shop next. Services such as doctors and hairdressers always book next appointments, so inform the date when their car can visit the shop next. Give it to them in writing, so when the date comes around, or the next time they need help, they’ll think of you.
- Send Reminders and Special Discounts: Let them know you value them by sending reminders for appointments and other deals and offers their way. It helps if you can personalize this to their car model and the problem they last had, and this is where software can come in handy.
Building a database and a relationship with customers can be useful to bring in referrals and it’s your best way to market yourself to existing and new customers. A sign of a busy shop is always a great way to attract new people.
How to Market your Auto Repair Shop
As a business, it’s important to always be generating new leads. A common mistake made by business owners is marketing only when business is running slow and leaving out marketing for the rest of the year. Marketing your auto repair shop needs to be a year-round activity and a proper marketing strategy should be in place. As an auto repair business, you can try:
- Content Marketing: Owning a website for your business is a given, but it needs to be putting out quality content associated with your business. The most popular way to do this is to have a thought-leadership blog providing auto-repair advice. Videos are content that does the best across social media channels.
- As an auto repair shop manager, you’ll be able to create extremely useful clips on auto care and DIY auto repair tips. Explore other options of content marketing so when a customer searches for anything auto-repair related, you’ll be the first name that shows up, establishing your business as the experts.
- Social Media: We mentioned this as one of the top ways to find employees, but it’s also a top way to generate leads. Share pictures from your shop, employee moments, customer testimonials, and build an interest in your shop. Pictures of smiling, happy people can humanize your repair shop and create a feeling of trust with the business. Consistent posting is key when it comes to social media, and stay engaged with customers in the comments. You can also promote the content on your site on social media sites.
- Customer Referrals: Yes, utilizing your existing clientele is the best way to market. Most services bring in more business through word-of-mouth marketing and your biggest untapped audience are those within the physical radius of your shop. Offer membership to a Customer Loyalty Program for employees that bring in referrals with benefits and discounts. Loyalty programs also encourage existing customers to revisit your business.
Ask every new customer that walks through your doors the million dollar question “How did you hear about us?”. This gives you insight on what works for you, and if they came through a referral from an existing customer, call that customer up and thank them for spreading the word of your business. They’ll likely be glad to thank you in return and let you know how satisfied they are with your business which is indirectly reselling to them.
How to Finance your Auto Repair Shop
Depending on; the number of years your auto repair business has been running, your credit score, business revenue, and your business specialization- there are several types of financing in the market that help you run your shop even when the budget is tight. Do a comprehensive study based on your needs and choose the auto-repair shop funding option that meets those best. Some of the common types of funding availed by auto repair shop owners include:
- Short-Term Financing: Short term financing is one of the most common and safe alternative funding methods where you can borrow an amount of up to $200,000 depending on your business requirements. This financing method does not need a high credit score or a complete business plan but just the bank statement for three months from your business checking account and the amount requested can be approved and funded within 48 hours.
- Bank Loans: Banks offer loans to small businesses that are either term loans, a business line of credit or equipment loans. If you need money to fulfill your immediate business needs, then opt for term loans. Loan a lump amount of money from the bank and repay them at a fixed time interval. The term of repayment is set between 1-25 years and a bank interest rate for the amount borrowed is added to the repayable money.
- Equipment Financing: Equipment financing can cover your auto-repair equipment 80% to 100% costs because they can seize the equipment in case of failure of repayment. Make sure to understand the terms of the equipment financing.
Management of an auto-repair shop can come with its own unique opportunities and challenges. These depend on the location of the business, the specialization, employees, business equipment and tools, and other niche factors. Overall, it’s up to you as the business owner to choose the best action items for your business and optimize on them, as no two businesses are alike. This will guarantee your auto-repair business will be a success.