Happy New Year! And happy resolution season. May all your eat-better-exercise-more goals come true. But, while you’re signing up for that gym membership and generally improving yourself, don’t forget about the business side of things. Even the most successful shops could benefit from a good hard look at what needs to be improved over the next year. Exploring what’s going wrong and working on that can make a huge difference in the overall health of your shop.
Start 2016 off right by:
First Taking an Honest Assessment
To decide where you need to concentrate your efforts, you’ll need to really examine what’s going well and what just isn’t. What have customers complained about? What issues have employees brought up? You should also look at your numbers. How do your dollar amounts compare to the previous year? Are you meeting your goals?
The next step here is to get more granular and look for correlations. If the number of jobs coming through is lower than you’d like, is it related to customer dissatisfaction with timing? Often, you’ll find a theme to complaints both internally and externally. Assess those carefully and see if you can narrow down your pain points to one or two things. Would hiring more techs solve an employee job satisfaction problem and also help you get more jobs in sooner? There may not be a simple two-birds-with-one-stone scenario like this, but the key is to zero in on a couple tangible things you can improves.
Then Making a Plan to Solve the Problem
Seems logical, right? Of course, finding the solution will very likely take more work than identifying the problem did. The good news is that there’s a good chance other shops have the same challenges that you do. Do some research online or ask around for advice. You might find that people will be surprisingly willing to offer support and ideas. Shop owners tend to love to talk, well, shop.
As a starting point, here are some common collision repair shop problems and ideas to address them:
Time. As in, there’s not enough of it. For your customers or your techs. One solution is blueprinting. When you map out the entire job from the start, you’ll be better able to schedule each stage of the repair. That improves overall wait time for the customer and eases frustration internally, too.
Getting the right tools for the job can help here, as well. A multi-point measuring system can help the blueprinting process go quickly, for instance. For more ideas about how to trim the time, see our blog “Cycle Time Savers: 3 Body Shop Repair Tools You Need.”
Technicians’ Skills. Are jobs taking up too much time because only one person has the required skills? Or are repairs not up to par? It might be time to put together an auto tech training plan. Collision repair training sessions can help your team keep up with industry changes, brush up on their skills and more. Proper training can help you work toward any safety goals you might have, as well.
Overall Sales. This one’s pretty broad, but there are a lot of things you can do to up your income this year. For example, you could re-examine (or establish) a marketing plan to increase awareness. Or maybe emphasizing customer service is the answer. (Word of mouth travels far.) It might even be time to look at expansion if you predict that demand will support that move.
Other goals to think about include:
- Trimming expenses to improve your bottom line
- Jump-starting a green initiative
- Addressing a weak link in your repair process (is painting always holding up the team, for example?)
- Better tracking parts to improve time management
What you concentrate on truly depends on your shop. Whatever you opt to focus on, don’t let your resolve fade in the coming months. Things like this tend to have a lot of momentum in the beginning. Stick with it to make some real changes. Don't let your good intentions languish with that unused gym membership.
If you’re looking to give your auto tech training a boost this year, download our free checklist to make sure you cover all your bases.