By Andy Fiffick, Chairman and CEO MACS Worldwide, president Rad-Air Complete Car Care, Cleveland, OH
I don’t know about your shop, but pricing seems to be on our minds every hour of every day. First, what is wrong with the vehicle, what kind of diagnostic time is involved to correctly find the root of any given problem? Secondly, what do the parts cost us? How much should we mark them up? Third, how long will it actually take to install the needed parts (not book time) and what can go wrong to delay the installation? Will we need more diagnostic time once the initial repairs are made? Is our price competitive? Are we charging too little or too much? What should we charge for our time?
Year after year I see our industry struggle with charging full fare for our services. Some shop owners are downright afraid to make price changes. I hear the same line everywhere – “we just can’t raise our prices.” However, no one can provide solid evidence why we can’t. We want to be the good old shop down the street that always gives the customer a good deal. We would rather make less money than have the reputation of being pricey. The problem with this practice is that you may not be around long enough to service your clients if you can’t make enough funds to hire the best staff and keep up with technology, equipment, and training.
Our industry has three inherent problems: 1) We’re afraid of change and rejection. 2) We do not operate as professionally as we should. 3) We don’t project professionalism as well as we should. Look at how other professions operate and take note. Many operate as well-oiled machines. Our family dentist has this down pat! I get three contacts (phone, text, or e-mail messages) prior to my appointment starting two weeks out. I receive great service and am treated well. They book my next appointment before I leave the office and I get a follow up call one week later. In this case, I have to respect and admire the dentist and his business. Furthermore, I respect the profession for the same reasons. My wife has the same experience with her hair-dresser. The same could be said for our attorney, accountant and so on. All of these professions operate in a way that demand respect and we can learn from that business model.
Consider changing your business plan to be more professional. We need to be more like doctors, dentists, and attorneys. Institute a sense of pride and professionalism and price accordingly. If we act and perform more professionally, we can increase our hourly rate and the consumer would be glad to pay.
We in the automotive repair industry must stop trying to beat each other up on price and charge the client for our services according to what the fair market will bear and what our true internal costs are. We could learn a lot from doctors, lawyers, dentists, barbers, and hair stylists!
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