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Repair Shop Advice

3 Things To Consider If Your Repair Shop Has Too Much Business

August 20, 2020

The economic impact of COVID-19 varies tremendously from region to region.  Some shops have faced such steep revenue declines that they’ve already been forced to close their doors.  But many of our customers are telling us a very different story: they can’t keep up with all the work.

Several factors are leading to the torrent of requests.  Before the pandemic, many people delayed major repairs because they didn’t want to be without their vehicle for a week.  That’s less of a problem in the “safer-at-home” era.  Others couldn’t afford big repairs, despite the clear need.  The stimulus check provided them with enough money to get problems fixed, delaying a car payment.  Some states postponed inspections penalties, but have recently put them back in place. That’s led to several months of inspections flooding shops all at once.  Whatever the reason, many shops are struggling to keep up.

When you’re working long days just to get the cars out the door, the last thing you want to do is stop and think about strategy while the requests pile up.  But focusing on these three things will pay off even in the short run.

Focus on Your Priority Work

Not all jobs benefit your shop equally – some are more profitable than others.  The most profitable work is different from shop to shop, depending on your technicians’ expertise, your equipment and your shop configuration.

Make sure your marketing is more narrowly focused when you’re overbooked.  For instance, if you make any Facebook posts, make sure they aren’t focused on lower-profit services.  Make sure your website’s home page is promoting your most profitable services towards the top of the site.  And if you subscribe to any services that send out reminder postcards or have coupons on your website, it’s a good time to put those on hold.

Pulling back on lower-profit services serves two goals.  First, it may reduce the amount of work that you have coming into your shop – and when you’re booking people several days or weeks out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Second, it ensures that the business that is coming your way is profitable.  After all, if you’re having to work overtime to handle all the work you’re getting, you may as well get paid for it.  And when your calendar does slow down, you’ll be happy to resume those postcard mailings and coupons and get that business in the door.

Think Efficiency

Write down the steps your employees take for each customer, from the time the customer drives into your lot until you hand them their keys back.  For each step, ask if there’s anything you can do to speed it up.  A little creativity can create a lot of time – just take a look at the fast-food industry

In central North Carolina, Chick-Fil-A has always been busy, but their business is up dramatically during COVID-19.  To address this, they’ve completely reconfigured their parking lots, making one way entrances and exits.  This has allowed them to create two lanes for drive-through, even though there’s only one menu and speaker.  That’s not a problem, because you don’t order at the speaker.

Employees are stationed outside with tablets and card readers to show customers the menu and take orders.  They ask for your order when there are ten cars ahead of you, rather than five.  This gives them more time to prepare your order, which means nobody waits at the window for their order to be prepared.  They even have runners stationed at the order delivery window, allowing them to provide food for up to three cars at once.  All of this allows them to serve twice as many people per minute as other fast-food restaurants with the same size building.

Don’t Ruin Relationships.

Customers know when you really value their business – it’s one of the things that keeps people coming to independent shops instead of franchises or dealerships.  But there are times when you really would prefer not to have another person calling you and asking for a time slot that you don’t have tomorrow.

You can’t let your phone service suffer, even when it’s costing you time and money.  Even when you’re busy, it’s important to answer the phone, and make the person on the other end think that they’re the only thing you’re focused on while you’re talking to them.  Apologize, and explain that you’re so busy that you’re booked out for several days – and tell them it’s uncommon for you to be so busy.

If you seem as rushed as you actually feel, they’ll notice.  Later on, when you need that business, they’ll be calling someone else for their maintenance and repairs.

And if you don’t have too much business, call Repair Shop Websites to learn how we can get more you more business at 855-294-6397 or email us at