By Jeff Stankard
Did you ever tell a customer you couldn’t fix his vehicle? Have you told a customer, “We don’t work on that type of car.” Have you ever not recommended service because you don’t have the tools or equipment to do the job? Have you sent a vehicle to another shop or dealership?
I would expect most of you answered “yes” to some of these questions, and there is nothing wrong with that unless you label your business as a general repair shop that does all services on all makes and models. Do you? Can one really do it all? Are you expected to do it all?
Many people in the automotive industry still hold the belief that you should be able to fix everything. This may have been feasible when the Big 3 dominated the vehicle landscape decades ago, but not now. I have said to manufacturers of brake pads, mufflers, filters, etc., “You make one product and don’t offer full coverage, but you expect this small business with seven employees to be able to service every make and model on the road. Is that feasible today?”
The number of vehicle makes, models and manufacturers will continue to increase. Today, there are more than 1,000 models of automobiles produced by 83 global manufacturers. Import manufacturers have introduced more than 200 models to the U.S. market in the last 10 years. The technology on all of these vehicles will continue to advance. Can you fix them all? Are you going to buy an alignment system? Do you own $10,000 worth of scan tools? Do you have enough qualified technicians or are you the only one? Are you willing to spend the money to continually pay for technician training? Answering “no” to some of these questions can be a good thing and allow you to put together a better business plan. Which vehicles and services do you specialize in?
You need to continue to look at the repair environment and focus on the services you perform profitably and professionally. Look at your neighboring shops and see if there are specialists you can partner with to allow your customers to have complete service. At the end of the day, you need to realistically assess which services you can perform on which vehicles, to best serve your customer base and to best utilize your shop’s resources.