By Andy Fiffick, MACS Chairman and Owner Rad Air Complete Car Care, Cleveland, OH
FREE A/C Check. These signs are all over the Cleveland area now, and they’re a fair indication of a tough market. If your competitors’ free and low-cost services make you uncomfortable, let me help you see things in a different perspective.
Over the years I’ve heard shop owners all over the country say their situation is different or their local economy is tight or their competition is giving away work or there just isn’t enough business to go around. This same-old same-old has been going on since the auto repair industry was born, and most of us old-timers have seen it all time and time again. The question is, what do we do about it?
Anyone remember Circuit City or wonder why Best Buy seems headed for a similar fate? It’s about client interaction and perceived value for goods and service, and about making the right decisions. Successful shops have clients who know the value of the service they receive. Shops that survive know how to handle tough times by making good decisions. These decisions include:
Work smarter and harder: Successful shops know that when times get tough, they have to work harder and smarter. What I mean is, they have to work harder on working smarter. Just working 10 extra hours a week will not solve underlying problems; working smarter will!
Work like your life depends on it: Remember the day you first opened your shop? You were eager to do anything and everything to be successful. Get back to that mindset and fight for your shop and livelihood. Go back to what made you successful in the first place and tweak it for today’s marketplace.
Promote: Successful shops promote themselves 24/7/365. This doesn’t mean they spend tons of money on advertising each month, but they do interact with their community and with their clients. The goal is word-of-mouth advertising. You can increase car count by spending time with existing clients, making them lifelong clients who promote your business for you.
Advertise more: When things slow down, increase advertising and promotions. This is a huge gain for you, especially when your competition cuts back while you increase. Budget your advertising funding for the year and then plan on spending it wisely when the time is right.
Personal contact: Getting to know your existing clients costs you a little time, but it’s more effective than advertising. Explaining the invoice and the work you did for them is very effective promotion. Nothing is more valuable than interacting with your client.
Provide an exceptional experience: Make your clients want to refer your shop. Do something thoughtful that makes you better than your competition, like cleaning the windshield inside and out or backing their car into the parking space. Think outside of the box and you will come out ahead in your client’s minds.
Fix it right the first time: Of course you know this but it still needs to be said: promotion and advertising cannot overcome bad workmanship. Fix the vehicle right the first time or you are just spinning your wheels.
Tighten the financial belt: Don’t buy items that you cannot afford or need to grow the business.
We can choose to cry and whine about tough times or we can roll up our sleeves and take the challenges head on. You know my choice!
The Mobile Air Conditioning Society’s blog has been honored as the best business to business blog in the Automotive Aftermarket by the Automotive Communications Awards and the Car Care Council Women’s Board!
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.
If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be, http://bit.ly/10zvMYg for more information.
You can E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org . To locate a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Click here to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.
The 34th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Power Up will take place January 16-18 2014 at the Sheraton New Orleans.