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Repair Shop Advice

Archive for September, 2022

Annual Planning for Your Auto Repair Shop

September 28th, 2022

As we get ready to crossover into the fourth quarter, we turn to a time when many organizations start their annual planning process. There are lots of different ways to do this and it’s truly up to you to determine what process will work best for your auto repair shop. You don’t have to do it at this time of year either. What is important though is that you take the time to do it at least annually.

If you are a small business owner who is working in the business consistently it can be really difficult to rise up 15,000 feet and look at the business from that viewpoint. You are free to decide that you want to move forward with the same mix of services, products, vendors, etc. But that should be a conscious decision and not a default decision to just rinse and repeat because you didn’t make the time to plan or strategize.

How do you do it well and what should be considered? Here’s a list of steps and some of the things you want to pay attention to, the full list will depend on what type of shop you are now and what you aspire to be.

Calendar - October 2022

Schedule Time

This sounds obvious, but if you don’t do it, it’s not likely to happen. Choose a day or two on the calendar and block off the time specifically for strategic planning. Be sure that whoever you want to participate in the discussions can be available as well. Give yourself time to get input from customers and/or other team members, if you want their feedback. You may not want it and that’s okay. Just be sure that you and anybody else that will be involved has time to get any numbers and data, as well as to conduct necessary conversations, before the meeting.

Beige Business SWOT Analysis Graph

Choose a Process or Format

A simple SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis can be a great way to start your planning process. Just be sure your strengths and weaknesses are internally focused and that your opportunities and threats are externally focused. After you conduct your SWOT you can use that information to create your plan for next year.

The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is also a great tool. You can get the benefits of it without having to fully embrace every aspect of it. You can establish a 10-year target, 3-year picture and then 1-year plan. Or if you feel like 10 years is too far out, you can just cut that and build a 3-year picture and 1-year plan.

If you have time you can combine a SWOT with EOS tools to develop a very comprehensive plan. There are several others out there that may work best for you and your shop. The key thing is just that, find one that will work best for you.

Goal Board

Determine What You Will Focus On

You could spend a bunch of time on too many things and really not make any progress. You want to look at as much as you can that you will be able to act on. Some significant pieces to consider:

Goals – You should consider long-term and short-term goals. This is how you measure success. Where do you want the shop to be in 10 years, 5 years, 1 year? Even if you don’t want to utilize the EOS tools, you should establish these goals to help inform your choices on everything else.

Services – Should you continue to offer all the services you do now? Are there services that you should add to more broadly serve the market? Are there services that you should cut because the demand is not really there or you can’t provide them in a profitable way?

Products – Depending on what type of shop you run this may or may not apply to you. Of the “products” that you sell, which ones are most profitable and which ones provide you with very little benefit? Is there something else you could add to the mix that would be more profitable or open up the opportunity for profitable jobs?

Vendors – That’s a natural lead in to vendors. Who is giving you great service? Who isn’t? Do you have alternatives that would cost less or serve you much better?

Pricing – With inflation the way it is most auto repair shops have increased their prices. You should be looking at annual increases at least. What service prices do you need to increase because of your costs? What service prices should you increase because of the value it provides to customers? Especially now, you need to give your pricing a thorough look.

Efficiency/Workflow – Are things moving as efficiently as possible at your shop? Are you down a couple people and now your processes don’t work the way they used to? Is this hurting your profit margins or the customer experience? Is it negatively affecting employees? Determine what adjustments need to be made.

Marketing – Are the things you are currently doing to bring new customers into the door working? Do you need to increase your efforts? Change them up to attract a different type of customer? Are your efforts to bring customers back working? Are you planning to increase your capacity or do you want significant growth?

Customer Service – Without customers you have no business. How has customer feedback been recently? How have your reviews been looking? Are you serving customers well and making them a priority? Or are they being made to feel like they are a complication in the life of the shop?

These are just some of the areas you can examine. You should choose the ones that stand to have the biggest impact on your shop. Depending on the availability of resources at your shop you might pick five to 20 initiatives to accomplish over the next year.

The suggestions here should at least help you get a good start on your planning process. Your annual planning should go hand in hand with your budget planning. Many of the initiatives you choose will have dollar figures attached.

If you have questions, would like additional information on annual planning or are interested in how we can help you attract new customers, please call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.

Fitzgerald’s is Maiden’s Go-To Shop for all things Car and Truck Repair

September 26th, 2022

Maiden, NC area vehicle owners – Fitzgerald’s Automotive is the place to go for all of your car repair needs. All repairs are carried out by their certified, expert technicians, and they have years of experience. They do everything from oil changes to a complete engine overhauls. They use high-tech diagnostic equipment to guarantee your vehicle is repaired correctly the first time. Additionally, they only use the highest quality replacement parts, filters, oils, and components. Call the shop at (704) 775-0996 for an appointment. You can also visit them at 6910 E NC Highway today for Maiden’s best auto repair services.

Bad Passwords and 8 Other Cyber Security Errors to Avoid

September 8th, 2022

Have you heard a story about a large company suffering a cyber attack and thought to yourself, “I’m glad that we are too small to worry about that”? Well, I’m sorry to tell you that you absolutely do need to worry about cyber attacks on your auto repair shop.

Now that cyber attackers have gotten what they could from large companies they are targeting smaller businesses. They can much more easily get what they want from hitting 100 small companies with no security measures in place than they can from trying to hit a larger company with more mature security practices.

What does this mean for your auto repair shop? You are much more likely to get targeted. The good news is that by implementing basic security policies and by practicing caution you can greatly reduce the chances that any attack will be effective.

Avoid these slip-ups to protect your business and your finances:

bad password

1. Using weak passwords

Don’t use passwords that you use elsewhere. Use one password one time. Don’t pick a password that someone might guess. Create passwords that include capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. If you violate these recommendations with any of your current passwords, please change them now, or at least tonight.

2. Storing passwords where they can be found

Be extremely careful about storing your passwords in your web browser or your personal device. If you do that, be sure that you lock your device (computers and phones) when you are not actively using it. Do not write passwords down and leave them in plain view.

A much better plan is to use a password manager. Bitwarden, LastPass, Dashlane and Keeper all offer free versions that are recommended. The paid versions include features that are even more important for business owners.

3. Posting answers to those “15 Things You Should Know About Me” threads on Facebook

Cyber attackers absolutely use those types of posts to get information about you that they can then use to try to figure out your passwords. Think about it, what types of things does your bank ask you to be sure it’s you…first pet name, mother’s maiden name, street you grew up on…

4. Leaving your computer unlocked when you step away from it

You may not realize it, but it would be pretty easy for somebody to pull all of the data they need to ruin your business off your shop’s main computer while you stepped away to check on a car or go to the bathroom. With all the people that come in and out of your shop during a regular day it wouldn’t be that hard for somebody who was neither a customer nor a vendor to wait for a time when your shop was busy, walk into it when you are distracted, and walk out of it with access to all of your accounts. Lock your computer every time you step away from it.

5. Clicking on links in suspicious emails

If you get an email that seems suspicious, don’t click on any links in it. If it seems to be from somebody you know or somebody that appears to be a potential customer, call them to verify. Think before you click!

6. Opening attachments in suspicious emails

Tell me if you’ve heard this before… if you get an email that seems suspicious, don’t click on any attachments. Many file types can hold malware, including PDFs and Microsoft Office documents.

7. Fulfilling requests from suspicious emails

We can all now laugh about the emails that we used to get from the Prince of Nigeria who needed our bank account info so he could wire us a million dollars. But there are similar modern schemes that are going around that are much trickier. If you know the sender, call them to verify the request. If you don’t know the sender, you should probably just delete the email. If something seems too good to be true it almost definitely is.

8. Throwing away documents that may have important information on them

You may take for granted that when you put paper in the garbage it ends up in a dumpster or recycling bin. But how often are you throwing paper in the trash that may have sensitive information on it, like that password you didn’t want to forget or a customer’s credit card number? All such paper should be shredded. In fact, it may be the best policy to shred all paper waste.

9. Not educating your team about these important security measures

While it’s very important for you to know these things as the business owner, your cyber security is only as strong as your weakest link. Be sure to share all these things with your employees. Make sure they understand the key points and how important they are. Tell them that if they see something they think might be suspicious they need to report it as soon as possible.

Treat all nine of these things as if your business depends on them…because it does.