When it comes time to repair their car, many people choose to take their vehicle straight to the dealership they bought it from. In fact, dealerships across the United States wrote over 316 million repair orders in 2017. However, millions of auto repair shops across the nation are smaller, independently-owned small businesses that help contribute directly to the local economy. If you’re a small business owner looking to compete more with the larger shops in your area, here are a few tips to put you ahead and get your auto repair shop on the map.
Know Your Competition
The auto industry can be challenging enough as it is, but depending on where your business is located, your competition might be even more intense than you’d initially expect. Different areas of the country have different laws regarding business competition, and ignoring them can end up being a serious mistake that gets you into legal trouble before you even get started. When starting up your business, check with local legislation to get to know laws about competing businesses. This will help protect you from other businesses’ interests, while also putting your priorities in order.
Dress For Success (And Comfort)
A first impression can make a world of difference, so when you’re setting up your auto repair business, keep in mind the first impression your appearance is leaving on your customers. That being said, comfort is key in this profession. A t-shirt is perfectly fine while you’re getting to work on cars. T-shirts are technically a 117 year old type of clothing, and it’s not hard to understand why; they’re designed for comfort and they’re easy to clean. However, if you’re going to a business meeting, don’t wear the same clothes you wear while working on a car.
Plan Ahead For Seasonal Changes
While you might not necessarily be thinking about issues associated with winter weather driving in the middle of July, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have all your supplies in the shop ready and available year-round. You never know what sort of damage someone will come into your shop with – it’s possible someone’s just now bringing in their vehicle for long-overdue repairs. Keep stock of the different types of seasonal equipment and supplies you’ve got on hand, especially winter-related supplies. There are two main types of ice melting chemicals, exothermic and endothermic; it’s best to stock up on both just in case.
Communication Is Key
It’s easy to think that an auto repair business is primarily about the quality of repairs and work you’re able to provide, but that isn’t entirely the case. For customers who don’t know as much about auto repair or vehicle maintenance, the main thing they’ll notice is the attention you pay to your customers. The more personalized you can make the experience and the better you can make your communication, the more likely it is your customers will come back for future repairs when needed. Send customers reminders that they’re due for vehicle maintenance, and keep them informed when you’re working on their car. There also a variety of methods to send your customers digital documents following their maintenance or inspections; the practice of P2P file sharing first became popular with the invention of Napster in 1999, and many customers now prefer to receive paperwork digitally. This extra bit of care and attention to detail will keep your customers coming back again and again, and will help build up brand loyalty.
Running any small business is a real challenge, but independently-owned and operated auto repair companies face a different set of circumstances that can make it even more difficult. Use these tips to help manage your business and give your auto repair shop the best chance of success.