Let’s start off with a note to your clients… and let’s end with a note to you.
Did you know that September 1st is National Mechanic Appreciation Day? You didn’t? Well don’t feel bad. I just made it up.
That said, on the 1st of September why not call your mechanic to tell him or her how much you appreciate them? Our trade can certainly use the “boost” after the terrible pandemic we have all lived through.
On a more serious note, do you actually have a mechanic? Having a relationship with your local shop is akin to having a lawyer on retainer.
If you have a problem, they know you and your vehicle. You are one of the shop’s customers and that means a lot when it comes to good service.
I always say, “The side of the road is not the best place to meet people.” And the back of a tow truck is even worse.
The shop they’ll drag you to doesn’t know you or your car’s history. They have to play catch up, wasting costly repair time.
A good shop
So how do you find a good shop? Ask your friends, neighbours, or the place where you buy gas.
Check with colleagues at work. Good shops have a reputation that gets around.
When you find a good shop, make an appointment for something minor (an oil change, for example). How did they greet you? Did they ask the right questions? Did they explain the work? Was the car ready on time?
If you’re waiting for your car, ask others in the waiting area what they think of the service. Once you’re sure these are your people, stay.
Traditionally, independent shops work harder for their customers than large chains do. They offer options, and they explain repairs.
Today, many independents have contracts with national suppliers, and they can offer outstanding warranties.
For example, our shop was a NAPA AUTOPRO location. We offered a 1 year/20,000 km warranty on repairs. The association also gives independent shops access to the latest technical data and equipment.
The EVs are coming!
Talking about independents, I predict that we have about five years before the push to electric vehicles (EVs) starts to affect the marketplace.
As a shop owner, you’ll also have to factor in the need for new equipment, as well as the training we’ll all have to take.
Critics argue that we will never need to develop the knowledge to repair EVs, and that we should plan to rely on dealerships to carry the load.
They say independents should concentrate on hard parts like tires, brakes, shocks, etc. You know… the traditional cherry-picking goods.
Then there’s the challenge of dealing with telematics between clients’ vehicles and the dealership, which gives dealers the advantage.
Add to the mix the fact that “right to repair” hasn’t been the goldmine we all envisioned, and it’s clear that our industry is in for a challenge.
What can you do? Be prepared. Start taking the courses that are being offered at local colleges.
Start budgeting for the equipment and the training you’ll need. And make sure to advertise the fact that you are equipped and trained to care for these new vehicles and advanced technologies.
Foolish expense? Well, what does it cost you to get that client to visit you in the first place? Be wise and take a moment to plan for the inevitable future.
Dave Redinger is a retired mechanic with over 45 years’ experience. He now works as a consultant and legal advisor on mechanical matters offering advice to garage owners and lawyers. You can reach him at automotiveexpert.ca