By Bob Greenwood
September is traditionally an “evaluation” type month getting ready for the Fall/Winter season; however, it doesn’t have to be an unproductive month of the year.
Consider planning for this fall and winter now but this time sit down and clearly document your plan. Two items that are basically always overlooked when planning, and rarely documented in the files of an average shop are equipment requirements and personnel development. First, make a detailed list of your current equipment on the floor. Compare their capability to today’s potential equipment available. Do the newer lines of equipment dramatically exceed your current equipment’s capabilities?
If they do, “Management” may be actually creating additional inefficiency costs within the shop, which comes right off the shop’s bottom line. Does your current equipment exceed the current servicing requirement capabilities of your current clientele’s fleet of vehicles? If not, client relationships will be jeopardized as the shop “fumbles” for repair solutions. Perception is reality to the client, and the perception may be that your shop has lost its “touch” and therefore the client may think that they should return to the dealer to resolve their modern vehicle problem.
Once equipment has been identified for upgrading, complete a “due diligence” on brands and obtain written bottom-line quotes. Choose the brand make desired to best fit in with your shop and don’t forget to ensure proper training of equipment is included. Sit down with the shop’s accountant and plan the financial aspect in order to achieve the replacement required.
The accountant can work out the exact costs to the shop of whether to lease or buy and the consequences or benefits to the business of the financial decision.
Second, review and list all individual staff capabilities and desired level of talent needed from each to achieve productive results for themselves and the company. Don’t forget to include “Management” in the review process. Highlight the staff members that requires one-on-one “coaching” and plan for the time and approach needed to achieve a positive result. Coaching may also involve a discussion of an “attitude adjustment” that is required or an “appearance” improvement to project a professional image. To repeat, perception is reality to the client.
Review technical and management courses available this fall and winter; schedule and commit now to the courses to be attended. Accept that in many cases travel is going to be involved to obtain the right educational course. That is one of today’s realities.
Complement all staff individually where they are doing well. Remind the staff of the “culture” level desired within the shop and how important it is to conduct each day as a “team”, focused together, to obtain not only the right amount of billed hours each day, weekly and monthly, but also positive client results with their experience in the shop through the next season.
A happy clientele means financial security for all.
To accomplish the above items in detail will require a substantial amount of time and if done during the month of September, you will be able to look back and conclude September was a very productive month indeed.