We are spending a lot of time discussing within the industry this challenging time with COVID-19. Fear is running rampant. The industry is spending a lot of time on what we need to do and what we need not do. These discussions recently reignited a thought I've had for some time. The industry has struggled with it for many years, but it is more apparent than ever today. We are fighting with The Enemy Within.
I field many phone calls from repair shops of all kinds and sizes; A significant worry is the competition. "The Outside Enemy," what I call your competition. Every shop looks for the edge, that "something" that nobody else has or is doing. And if they find that "it," they want to keep it top-secret. The thing that makes them different, to stand out from the rest of the shops in town. If the truth is known, none of us are all that different, and there are very few top-secret things that you can do that no one else has already tried or will be trying. These shops are so concerned about The Outside Enemy; that they are blind to the damaging effect caused by The Enemy Within.
Just what is The Enemy Within, you ask? This Enemy is with you every single day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week! It is you. To find this Enemy, look in the mirror, and you will find that he or she is staring you right in the eyes. It's also your employees, your vendors, and yes, even your customers. Primarily it is you. Being conservative, I would say 90% of all the shop owners we come across are the most significant detriment to their own business. These shop owners are focused on the wrong thing, they are burnt out or complacent, or a combination of all. And they are focused on fixing cars, not running a business. They don't know the numbers of their own business; in fact, many of them are losing tens of thousands of dollars and don't even realize it. They have the wrong employees working for them. In many cases, they may know this but decide not to act on it because dealing with employees is difficult. These same shop owners set no expectations and hold no one accountable, including themselves.
These shop owners beat their vendors up for price and buy cheap components because they think they are saving their customers money. In the long run, these shop owners cost themselves more time and money. These shop owners advertise low prices instead of value and fail to attract a great customer who will pay a fair price, want outstanding service, and a great warranty. But they're worried about the competition which unfortunately is also doing the same thing they are in 99% of the cases, want to be different from your competition? Pay attention to your business!
More than one shop owner has told me they won't send their employees to training. Why? They are afraid their employees will share one of their secrets, find another job, or open a shop, and become their competitor. Hearing this, I have a tough time, not laughing. It helps me understand why they're not successful. These shop owners don't train their employees to be better, and they don't want them to grow as professionals. The owners don't treat their employees as professionals or even humans. These are the owners that don't implement new ideas because they are so focused on fixing the car. Or because change is difficult and scares them. I get it. They are good at fixing things, and that's where they are the most comfortable. Then they got this entrepreneurial seizure, acquired a repair shop and have not had a paycheck for the last 20 years; these owners spend tens of thousands of dollars on technical training and technical equipment. They don't even have an adequate phone system or shop management system that allows us to track the numbers; to keep the Score that would tell us if they can afford the equipment which was just purchased. I hate to break this to you, but if you would understand your business thoroughly, and I mean, Understand The Numbers of Your Business. If you hire the correct staff, set expectations, and hold yourself and your team accountable. If you would take a paycheck just like your employees, and worry about fixing your business rather than worrying about what everybody else in the automotive repair industry is doing, you would be more successful. I'm always amazed when shops that are barely surviving have an owner who advises other repair shops. Let's fix The Enemy Within ourselves first!
Let's change your attitude about business, and let's find your passion again—this same passion you had when you opened your shop. Let's stop making this an automotive repair shop that we own as a hobby and make it a for-profit business. Stop advertising prices and begin selling value. At every get-together, I hear people complain about price shoppers, and yet as shop owners, they turn around and price shop their own suppliers. In turn, the suppliers then provide us with lower quality parts that cause more comebacks, their warranty rate increases, which ends up costing them more money. In turn, they get mad at the parts suppliers. When you buy quality parts, mark them up correctly, provide a great warranty, and stop worrying about the repair cost, the rest will fall into place. Most of your customers don't come to you because of the price; they come to you because they trust you and have an excellent reputation. Every day, shop owners damage our reputations by trying to compete on price. And then get angry at their customers because they make cost an issue.
Make sure your staff is productive, helpful, and passionate about this industry. Those of you who have attended my classes know that I talk about attitude—a lot. I genuinely believe each day that I decide the kind of day I'm going to have, good or bad—it is my choice. It doesn't matter what is going on in the world or my life. It is all about my attitude. Be intentional, make a choice every morning, get passionate about your business, and find the good things that are happening around you every day. Worry first about fixing The Enemy Within you and then within your employees before worrying about the other shops in town.
In 2018, there were 276.1 million registered vehicles in the United States. This number tells me there are plenty of cars for every repair shop. The owner and manager's job is to find the right customers. These are the customers who want your level of service, your quality of repairs, and your auto repair philosophy. The Enemy Within is costing you far more than your competition is. Spend your time, effort, and yes, money on fixing The Enemy Within. The External Enemy will take care of itself.
All of us at ESI hope you and your family are safe. We are here to help you in any way we can. This pandemic will pass, and we will be busier than ever. Now is the time to get your house in order. There are quality employees out there looking for jobs right now. Start replacing your weakest links, correct the deficiencies in your business, and advertise like crazy. We are going to be busy again soon.
With a lifetime of hands-on, real-world auto repair shop experience of teaching and coaching in the business, each member of our team at ESi Educational Seminars Institute is here to serve you. Whether you are looking for social media marketing help or a business coach in the automotive industry with the knowledge and experience to help you rekindle your passion, turn to the experts at ESi. We pride ourselves in helping you gain control of your business and require no contract for our services. Call us at 866-526-3039 or schedule an appointment today, and we will help reconnect you with your why, your passion, and help you turn a profit.