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Monday, November 11, 2019
Most auto repair shop owners don’t start a business to get rich. They want to be their own boss, to work in a place where employees are respected, and treat their customers like people and not like cash machines.
Every owner, however, reaches a point where the financial value of their business becomes important. You might be trying to decide whether to open a second and third shop. You might also be hoping to sell your shop and retire someday. In these cases, the financial value of your business is an important consideration.
It takes more than strong revenue to make a shop valuable. Surprisingly, it also takes more than strong profits. Here are three factors that help to determine an auto repair shop’s financial value.
Maybe your business has never missed a pay cycle. Maybe it’s been providing you with enough to keep your family happy and send the kids to college. Unfortunately, your potential buyers weren’t around for all of that, and those aren’t the criteria they use to evaluate how much profit they’ll make when they buy your business.
What they want is to see the accounting books – and they want those books to show a consistent trend of profitability, after all expenses are considered. That means they want books based on accrual accounting, not cash accounting. Without a few years of well-kept books, the buyer is taking on a heightened profitability risk – and taking that risk means they can’t offer you as much money for your business.
A Business That Runs Without You
What would happen if you took a few weeks off? Many shop owners have taken very few vacations over the years because they’re terrified of the answer to this question. They simply don’t have the processes in place to allow the business to function for weeks or months without their presence.
In most cases, however, when you’re retiring, you don’t sell yourself with the business. If the business can’t make a profit in your absence, that means it has no value without you. Even if you intend to work for the new owner for a year or two to ease the transition, that’s not always a reality. Sometimes, unexpected health issues or other factors force a retirement. You want to make sure that these unforeseen circumstances don’t wipe out the value of your business.
This means that your business needs processes in place to produce a strong profit even when you aren’t there. Employees need to have the knowledge, and to be empowered, to make good decisions without being able to reach you first. Businesses that can “run themselves” are far more valuable than businesses that require hiring new management to be profitable.
A Competitive Differentiator
The highest profit auto repair shops have customers who are willing to pay extra for that shop’s services. There are many reasons that might be the case. The location might be convenient. It might seem well-run, and inspire confidence even among new customers. Your shop might be considered a cornerstone of the community. You might be the only shop around with technicians who are proficient working on certain makes or models of cars.
If your shop doesn’t have a competitive differentiator, the profit that you’re making is likely to be whittled down over time by other nearby shops. If the differentiator is you, that’s also not good. Remember, you’re not generally trying to sell yourself with the company.
If you don’t know what your differentiator is, it’s a great opportunity to improve your shop and your profit margin! Competitive advantages tend to build on themselves, leading to higher profits, more satisfied customers, and more confident, purpose-driven employees.
Figure out why customers come to your shop. See if you can find trends among their answers. Finally, focus on those things, always working to make them better, and tell your employees these are the reasons that customers come back to see them over and over again. Don’t forget to advertise your superiority in these areas!
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your business generate more business, email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com or call us at 855-294-6397.
Monday, October 28, 2019
Maybe you’re growing and you’re out of space. Maybe you’re trying to get a more noticeable location closer to the main thoroughfare. Maybe the rent is just getting too high. Whatever the reason, auto repair shops do move locations from time to time.
An address change is an opportunity to eliminate the biggest frustrations you’ve experienced with your current location. Ideally, you’ll face some trade-offs but be much better off.
Unfortunately, it’s also a tremendous amount of work. There are major logistical issues, new contracts, local, state and federal government paperwork. On top of all of that, you’ve got customers old and new to alert to the address change, along with how to get there.
Amidst all of this chaos, it’s easy to forget that it’s extremely important that the move be reflected on the Internet. Ideally these changes will be made as near as possible to the actual move, and all of these online changes will happen within a day or two of each other.
The first place is obviously your own website. Make sure your web provider has a notification up a few months before the move, alerting anyone visiting that your location will be changing. If you have a specific relocation date, put that on the front of your website as well. You’ll want to take a similar approach to Facebook – be sure to let your followers know about your new location early and often.
If you’re lucky enough to only be listed in the few web indexes that people actually use – mainly Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp – that means making sure all of these are updated on the day before or day of the relocation.
If you signed up for one of those providers offering to list you on 100 directories years ago, then there’s a major amount of work to be done – all of those directories don’t provide a lot of value if you aren’t listed, but if you are already listed, you want to make sure it always stays accurate. Google really doesn’t like it when one business has multiple addresses floating around the web, unless you actually have multiple locations.
You’ll want to make sure that Apple Maps is also updated, so people using Apple phones can find your new location. You can do that here.
There are a few other places where a change might be beneficial, such as MapQuest or Foursquare (which is what Bing Maps uses). But if you take care of the major changes, you’ll be 80% of the way to a successful online address change.
Once the dust settles on the move, make sure to send something to your former and current customers letting them know about your new location! It’s a great reason to contact your customers, and they might be interested in stopping by to see your new location. This face-to-face contact is a valuable opportunity to rebuild a relationship with a customer you haven’t seen in a while.
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your business bring in new customers (especially if a move is in your near future) give us a call at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.
Monday, October 21, 2019
We’re the best choice for managing your online web presence if you’re an independent repair shop (okay, we’re a little biased :)). We aren’t the only company who can help, however – there are other companies with the auto repair marketing knowledge to do a good job of representing you online.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of companies who don’t have that knowledge. And they blow up your phone or email every day. Some of them are just selling overpriced websites; they can’t write automotive content and know nothing about how to make auto repair shops search well.
Unfortunately, most of them are even worse than that.
Our customers frequently send us emails they’ve received about their website underperforming and ask, “are these legitimate problems?” Most of these emails fall into the “scam” category. Here’s how to spot a scam.
Red Flags that a scammer is emailing you.
Scammers operate by sending out millions of emails to any email address they can find, hoping to catch a business owner desperate for more business. In order to work, every word in the email has to be relevant to anyone, in any state, in any industry. That means that the email is extremely vague. Here are some signs you can just toss the email directly into the trash.
Here’s an example of a scammer email. Click the image below to make it larger.
Red Flags that a hacker is trying to trick you and hijack your computer.
Cyberfraud emails try to trick you into giving a hacker access to your data or your financial information. They might reference some website problem or other technical support issue, but they probably aren’t trying to get you to call them. Cyberfraud emails look very similar to a scammer email, with a few additional red flags.
Avoid clicking on anything in these emails! Delete them immediately. Many of these emails try to lock you out of your PC and encrypt your data. They will then try to extort you for hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to get it back.
Here’s an example of a cyberfraud email. Click the image below to make it larger.
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help you earn more business, call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.
Sunday, October 13, 2019
The economy is still strong, but it won’t stay that way forever; some experts are predicting a downturn in as little as a year. Click here to learn how to come out of a rough patch in the economy better off than ever.
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Some repair shop owners start out with big goals. For many, however, the goal of owning a shop instead of working at someone else’s isn’t a world-changing one. Some owners don’t enjoy working for someone else or think they could do a better job themselves. Other people just enjoy building things from scratch instead of following someone else’s directions.
In the early days of any business, the best goal is the one that gives you the motivation to get out of bed every morning and work longer than everyone else. It’s extremely hard to start a business. One of the hardest parts of owning a business is having to do a bunch of work you don’t want to do – taxes, financials, and complying with HR laws take up more time than anyone wants.
But once you get to a point where you have a steady flow of customers and keeping the business running doesn’t take every bit of energy you have, it’s a good idea to consider what the big picture goal of your shop is.
Of course, your day-to-day goals will be similar to those of other shops. You want to provide great vehicle service and customer service. You want to provide a good living for your employees that allows them to enjoy their jobs and their families. You want to make a profit, and build a management structure that allows you to step out of the shop (at least) a few times a year for vacation and other obligations.
But beyond auto repair, why does your shop exist? Do you want to keep it small, and use the company as a vehicle to contribute to your community? Do you want to continue to grow it, and use that growth to provide growth opportunities for the employees who have been with you since the early days? Do you want to use your company profits to support a social or religious cause that means a lot to you and your employees?
Most people don’t just go to work to pay their bills. They want co-workers they like, work they enjoy, and the opportunity to grow. They want to contribute to their workplaces, but they also want their workplaces to contribute to them, and to causes they care about. Having a business that supports a purpose beyond its own profitability will motivate you to succeed. It should also motivate your current staff members and attract the staff who are focused on the needs of others rather than themselves.
It can also attract customers. According to a study by Clutch, 68% of people value businesses that contribute to their local community. Customers want to know that their money is going to someone who cares about them and their community. It’s a major reason people support independent businesses, and a core part of “Shop Small” marketing.
Does your business have a stated purpose beyond profitability? How will its growth lead to better outcomes for your employees, your community, and to the causes you care about most? If you haven’t stated this explicitly, you might be surprised how much of a positive effect it might have on your business!
To learn how Repair Shop Websites can bring more business to your shop, call us at 855-667-8877 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.