By Andy Fiffick, MACS Chairman and CEO, owner Rad-Air Complete Car Care, Cleveland, OH
I was fortunate enough to talk with a few dozen of the MACS membership during the annual Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas in January. We discussed three issues at length:
1) the lack of new young talent entering the industry, 2) the public’s lackluster image of our industry, and 3) our lackluster profit margins and price pressures.
As well, I have come to some conclusions; there is no magic pill, fix or remedy to our current situation. It appears to me that we as individuals, technicians and shop owners need to do a better job of leading by example in all aspects of our business and private lives. And all three specific concerns can be addressed with the same set of actions—good news in itself.
Most of us live a good and honest life, run a good shop and are civic minded. We may go to church or be on a bowling league. We love the USA, donate to charities, respect our elders and love our families. We pay homage to anything with an engine. We watch sports. All of this sounds good; however, how many of us promote our industry on a daily basis? If not, why not?
Face it; no one is going to do it for us! We need to overcome our negative image if we are to win the trust of the public, raise our prices, and attract young talent to our shops. Quite frankly, the media is always looking to sensationalize negative press about us and degrade our profession.
The “big box,” chains, and dealerships offer everything for free (or next to nothing) to build traffic, but paint a less than stellar picture of our industry. I for one am ticked off as heck about this and we need to fight back! We need to set the bar a little higher every day and promote our wins and good examples at every chance. So where do we start?
Get involved in your high school or vocational school. Visit, and get to know the vocational students.
Hold a “car care tips” day for all the students and show how to check fluids or change a tire. Hold a career day or evening at your shop and invite the parents as well. Show them that Johnny or Jane can earn a good living in a clean and well respected shop. Show them that we are professionals and need to be respected for what we do. Give away a few door prizes and discount tickets for service at your shop.
Join the Chamber of Commerce and contact all your local organizations the Garden Club, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, senior citizens club and others you can find. Offer to hold a training session on how to maintain and service their vehicles. Provide light snacks, and show the audience how to do a quick safety check or how to check fluids. Let them see a scanner and scope in operation. Sell your professionalism and give them a reason to come back.
When you see a negative news story in the local media, contact them and get the facts. If the story is one sided or the writer is misinformed, say so. Write, call, fax or e-mail them; explain the facts and the complexity of the story. Give them reason to look a little deeper. You might get some positive press, or maybe not, but you should at the least make them think the next time.
While I’m on the subject, contact your local media outlets each and every time you have a win or positive event in your shop. Learn to write a simple press release and send one every chance you get. Planning a fundraiser, coats for kids collection, food drive, scout program, after hours clinic or a career day open house? Invite the press – local papers, blogs and radio stations thrive on this stuff. Blow your own horn; let them know how good our industry can be.
Of course, you must lead by example. Make sure your shop is clean, neat and your staff looks professional. Make your reception area user-friendly, and offer free WiFi. Believe in yourself, your staff and your shop’s abilities. You will gain the respect of the public, grow your business and attract new talent into your shop.
We are the good guys and most of our regular clients already know it. Let’s let the public in on the secret and give them a positive, long lasting impression. Can you imagine the effect we could have if everybody led by example?
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When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 33rd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Be the Best of the Best will take place February 7-9, 2013 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.