Sharing experiences, ideas and challenges can deliver huge benefits.
Recently, I read an article about independent shop owners stepping up to help a fellow shop owner who suffered a heart attack. I am proud to say that this group of extraordinary shop owners are part of our association and have been for many years.
When you think about association membership, you don’t often think about the relationships that grow from meeting other shop owners. I have heard many times how friendships have developed and how, as a result, they feel like a big family.
We all have something in common: We are small businesses that rely on giving superior customer service, keeping abreast of changing technologies, regulations and government agencies, attracting the brightest and smartest technicians, as well as offering benefits and training to all staff and aiming to provide a balance in our home life.
Membership in an association can help you with all of these challenges that you have today. The value of membership often outweighs the cost to join, in many instances the cost is less than half of a shop’s hourly labour rate on a monthly basis.
Associations can offer substantial savings on group programs, access to training classes, health & safety compliance and most importantly helping you meet the challenges of our evolving industry. In many instances members save more than the cost of membership with just one program such as savings on credit card processing.
Today, as a service provider, time is valuable and you may need to turn to your association for answers to your problems, such as when a vehicle is in the shop for repair and you are not able to access the information to repair it.
Associations can help by knowing where to go to get the answers and how to find them quickly so you don’t have your customers’ vehicles tying up your bays.
A good example is a recent call from a shop that had a Chevy Volt in the bay and was not able to access the information to do the repair. The shop owner was frustrated and called the association for help. The association was able to connect him to an instructor who specializes in Electric Cars and explain where to register a service information request on the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS).
Saving precious time
The problem is that waiting for information to repair a vehicle can take days and your bays are tied up with the customers’ vehicles. This is critical as you can’t charge your customer for time lost.
As independents, you just want to be able to repair customers’ cars and in a timely fashion. And often, shops don’t know where to go to get the information.
In April, I attended a three-day technical training class in Toronto and was told by shop owners that they don’t have time to have to fill in forms for “service information requests.” Instead they have “workarounds” to get the repair information faster and get the vehicle fixed and out of the bay.
As vehicle technology advances, it becomes ever more critical to access the right information in the right way. This is where being part of an association and sharing information with fellow businesses can be a huge advantage.