January is always a good time to do some soul searching.
What made 2010 good or bad for your shop? Who gets the credit and who gets the blame? Many of the factors that impact your business can be out of your control, but you don’t want history to repeat itself if your shop’s profitability did not meet your expectations.
I think many of you are coming off a pretty good 2010 and I have a good feeling that 2011 is going to be even better. It looks like the economy has dodged the double-dip recession, increases in holiday spending have given retailers and Wall Street a good vibe, unemployment seems to be easing and gas prices are once again over $3 a gallon.
Yes, $3 gas is good for your business because the national media will jump on the vehicle maintenance bandwagon and raise awareness about all the services your customers have been delaying. In addition, the national media will be discussing the need for more electric vehicles, higher CAFE standards and the predicted increase in new car sales.
All of this chatter about cars, gas and maintenance will keep our industry top of mind for the 210 million licensed drivers in the U.S.
There are also several other data points that are positive signs of good things to come:
There are still 240 million vehicles in operation.
Nearly 75% of these vehicles are six years or older.
The average age of cars continues to increase.
The Department of Transportation reports that the total number of miles driven
continues to increase over the 2009 levels.
The ranks of your new car dealership service competitors are at the lowest level ever.
Vehicle technology and complexity continue to accelerate, reducing the opportunity for the DIYer to fix his/her own car.
So, are you going to ride the wave of a good year or make some changes to your approach and turn 2011 into a great year? Great years cannot be taken for granted. When market conditions are just right (and it looks like they just might be), you need to be ready to seize on the opportunity and reap the full profits.
Since you’re the one who throws away the box, everyone involved in creating the part in the box and delivering it to you has a vested interest in your success. There are warehouse distributors, jobbers, retailers, program groups, parts manufacturers, training companies and suppliers of technical repair information who want to help.
Network among your industry contacts, leverage available resources and create a strategy to give your shop an advantage in the market. And make this a year to remember.