Years ago, Wally Clayson of Wally Clayson-Master Mechanic in Toronto, Ont. , told me that while he was an okay mechanic, he found he could make more money with a pencil in his hand than a wrench.
It is a realization than every successful owner has come to at one point or another. Even those who continue to work in the bays understand that they must carve out some time to work on their business, not just in it.
Yes, excellent repair execution is important, but that is expected by customers. To truly succeed requires more.
Here are some tips to make sure your time spent away from the bays is put to good use.
This may not come naturally to someone used to reasoning with underhood technology, but it is critical to the success of your business that you meet with others in business, and not just automotive. You never know where the next idea, or the next customer, may come from.
2. Join a solid banner program
As we say at Indie Garage: Being Independent Does Not Mean Being Alone.
There are many levels of banner programs in the Canadian aftermarket. And hough there are unmistakeable benefits to a recognized identity, particularly in attracting new customers, being able to have access to marketing resources, training, and warranty that might not be possible to craft on your own is important regardless of signage considerations. Corporate clients in particular value that larger network, and the confidence of that homogenous warranty handling can offer.
3. Make Learning A Priority
You do not need a business background to succeed, though it helps. There are many roads to success, but one sure road to failure is a refusal to learn from mistakes or from other’s success. It is a wonderful time we live in where answers to almost any question can be found by typing a question into a search engine. And, if you don’t like the answer, there are pages of other answers to choose from. Webinars and other online resources can be very useful. Of course networks will offer many of these, but don’t be afraid to spend a few bucks on a training course you feel you need to improve your skills in.
And talk to other small businesses and you’ll learn so much from them. Don’t know how? Review points 1 and 2.
4. Learn about Digital Marketing
Like the weather, everybody talks about digital marketing, but few know how to employ it. There’s more than just social media and more to social media than FaceBook Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), keyword advertising, etc. are all key elements to a successful strategy. Customers increasingly look to their smart phone, not the phone directly, to tell them where services of all kinds are. And recognize that the building of even a simple website is just the beginning. You should also remember to think about what all this costs. It’s amazing how many underestimate the costs of digital marketing, but thankfully there are resources within the digital marketing world to assist, as well as the aforementioned banner program where information can be exchanged.
5. Think About Your Positioning
What do you offer within your marketplace that either sets you apart from the others, or makes you at the very least a confident choice for customers? Try to define it in terms more specifically than “Quality Service a the Right Price.” The services you offer should be consistent with this. If you focus on Japanese makes, ensure you have the best training and equipment for those customers. It could be that you’re a part of the community and work that angle strongly by sponsoring sports teams, running charity drives, etc. What a good positioning statement does—whether you promote it or not—is help you decide on many issues. If a proposed move is inconsistent with your positioning, you probably want to think twice before saying yes. If you’re not sure what defines your business, ask your customers. They will tell you why they come to you and that will define your positioning.
You may spend more time on two or three of these than on others—there’s no right balance—but your should not ignore any of them, and you should try to spend time where it’s needed, not where it’s easy for you to succeed.