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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is Your Business Ready for 2009?

Is Your Business Ready for 2009?

by Mike Olson, Director of WTI Business Management Solutions

After 40 years in this industry, most spent in the Aftermarket repair segment, I have come to learn a few things about repair shop owners. One is most do not measure their business on a monthly basis. By this I mean most owners cannot tell you their car count, repair order average, hours sold per repair order, and so on. By now, some of you are saying, "he’s crazy, I always do" . . . if so, you are in the minority. In our Management Training Classes and our Performance Groups we find owners who are really trying to get to a point where they can manage their business on a daily basis. In addition, here are a few tips to help make 2009 successful:

Focus on Your Business

When you truly work on your business rather than in it, the profitability comes easier. When an owner works in the business as either a technician or a service advisor, their time is so consumed he or she has none or very little time to do those things that make the business grow.

Prepare for the Worst

2009 promises to be one of the most challenging years ever for both business owners as well as the general population. There are a record number of service centers and new car dealers going out of business. Loans for businesses and private citizens are extremely difficult. Some say credit card companies are going to tighten their limits. Fuel prices are up and down. In short, everyone is afraid to spend their money.

Make a Plan

Having said that, what is an owner to do? The simple answers are to have a plan and monitor your business very carefully. If you do not know how, learn.

To Increase Sales, Increase Communication

There are some basic actions owners can do to increase their sales. One is to communicate with your customer base. You should communicate with your customers at least four times a year:

  • Service reminders
  • Thank you cards
  • Holiday cards

    And one of the most successful . . .

  • Sending reminders about previously declined repairs
When you do all the work to give customers recommended repairs and they do not authorize them, do not give up. Send out reminders about those needed repairs. Businesses that do this have extremely good results. The other thing I would do is start a referral program for my customers to bring in their friends.

Recognize the Value of Specialized Skills

Before you do anything, be sure you and your staff are trained in proper selling techniques. Customers spend a lot of money on service and repairs and they need to feel special. A highly trained service consultant will bring in more sales than someone with technical knowledge. And the person in the front office selling service must be a people person.

In 2009 the WTI will be offering several classes for Service Advisors and Owners. If there is a workshop subject or location you would like to see, please send me an email. If we can, we will sure try to provide this training in your area. Also, if you are interested in joining a Performance Group, let me know. Without your success, we have none ourselves.

Best Regards,

Mike Olson

The WORLDPAC Training Institute (WTI) Business Management Solutions are taught by experienced professional instructors and designed explicitly for the independent shop.

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1 comment:

Angi said...


Good advice for 2009, particularly in reference to "prepare for the worst." For months, I've been reading news reports that say economic downturns are good for auto repair businesses. While I concede this is true to a small extent, I have to question why the story keeps being repeated. I believe most shops are staying flat or experiencing minimal declines -- not enjoying record revenues or growth.

We're in the midst of an economic crisis that no one knows the depths of, and no one knows quite how to respond -- except by cutting back. While our industry may be faring better than others at the moment, we have no way of knowing how long these "good times" will last or how bad it will get before it turns around.

For now, savvy shops should be welcoming any quality clients they can, focusing on customer relations and concentrating on running lean, efficient businesses.

Star Auto Authority

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