Auto Shop Coaching Blog

Adapting to the Times Around Us

The Times They Are A-Changin'Bob Dylan

The demands of the automotive repair industry have been difficult for as long as I can remember. Put profitability, marketing, and customer experience aside, and you’re left with the core of our business — automotive repair. Any technician can tell you that the premature assumption of a repair being easy-to-do, can quickly ruin your day and even your week. Add fatigue, age, and temperature among other things, of both the technician and vehicle, and it doesn’t take someone from outside our four walls too long to recognize it takes the right person to work in this industry. Add to those changes with procedures, technology, and advancements in the world, and you’re in for one hell of a ride.

I’m sure at some point in time when cars started taking over dirt paths in place of horses, someone pondered the end of the familiar clickety clacking sound of hoofs on the ground being replaced by engine and tire noises. Every generation has seen (and heard) changes like these happen as time evolves our world, whether we like it or not. From those times, onto automatic transmissions, power windows, fuel injection, TPMS, Electronic Vehicles, and things we haven’t seen or thought of yet.

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What’s Coming Up on the Horizon?

Why am I mentioning all these advancements today? If it weren’t for constant education and training, looking forward and not backward, and getting comfortable with change, those who fought progress got left behind. Today’s world isn’t any different, and as a matter of fact, the changes are coming at a faster pace. Technological advancements now come in leaps and bounds. What’s coming up on the horizon you ask?

Offer Convenience and Trust

Recognize that customers these days are paying for two items — convenience and trust. If you solely present problems (“I can’t get the part for 4 days” or “I can’t take you in for 3 weeks”) and not solutions, customers may be inclined to look elsewhere. Pertaining to convenience, do you offer an opportunity to get a part shipped in faster at a price to meet their timeline, do you offer rental cars or a shuttle service? What else is convenient? Being able to service their car from bumper-to-bumper without the need to visit another shop for work that we can’t do. TPMS has now been law for 15 years, hybrids have been around for almost two decades, and EVs this year account for 5% of vehicle sales. Is your sales staff pushing off these vehicles based on symptoms, or are they saying “sure, bring it on in!”

Modernize Your Auto Repair Services

At ATI’s recent Big Company Meeting, fellow executive coach Mike Bennett stated, “If you’re not in the mobile repair game in the next 7 years, you’re not going to make it.” This is a reference to an already-booming sector of the auto repair market that has taken off in the past few years. This has been a service offered mostly in emergency form for both vehicles and tractor trailers but now has made a shift to include standard (non-emergency) repairs. Ford just put into motion a one billion contribution into their dealer structure to be able to get this moving. Other manufacturers such as Tesla have already had their systems in place. In fact, Ford is doing TSB & Recall repairs at customers’ homes as well. This is in addition to on-site maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations.

The Importance of Mobile Services

Some shops are currently contemplating expanding their footprint through additional locations, or into a larger facility. I would advise including this mobile service dynamic in that thought process. No higher level of convenience can be extended besides doing repairs where the customer’s vehicle sits. Sure, there are limitations on what type of work you can do given weather conditions, the amount of equipment you can carry, and other logistics, but since we’ve been talking about changing with the times, this is the next trend coming your way.

The phrase “Are you so tired of losing, you’re willing to change, or are you so resistant to change you’re willing to lose?” fits very well in conforming to the times around us. Remember — customers that hear “no” will find someone that says “yes.”

Non-ATI Members: Want to learn more about how to grow with the times and improve your business? Start with a shop owner event at www.atievent.com. We offer virtual and in-person events, fee-based and free, for both auto repair and collision repair shop owners. Find one near you today!

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Koole Bolina is a Performance Coach at ATI and has been in the automotive industry since 1998. Starting with a personal interest in automotive repairs, he continues to be part of car clubs, drag racing and keeping up with industry trends. Koole loves to positively influence those who want to do better, be better. If the industry we happen to do business in is the automotive field, that makes it all the better.