Current economic pressures should not detract from investing in your staff.
We all know that things are tough right now. Inflation has driven up the cost of business, meaning it costs more for everything, from consumables to tools and equipment, to training, utilities and of course our employees. Additionally, lease and mortgage rates have also increased, driving up overhead for many service centres.
Combine that with an ongoing labour shortage by which many shops are currently short of skilled technicians and it creates a high-pressure situation.
Quality work environment
One thing we need to be aware of is maintaining a good quality working environment, despite all of these external pressures. It can be easy to see these increased costs and then try and compensate by increasing car counts and booking in more R/Os. The trouble is, if you are already short on licensed technicians that can cause more problems than it solves.
Overworking your staff is likely to cause them to burn out or quit – and we know how hard it is to find people today.
A better way is to take an accurate assessment of your business, how much revenue is coming in, what outgoings you have as well as taking stock of your assets and liabilities. Once you know exactly what your numbers are and how much you need to earn to ensure profitability, you can then plan the amount of work required and charge accordingly.
One area where many shops still leave money on the table concerns diagnostics. Many service centres are still not properly charging for diagnostic time. When a customer brings their vehicle in complaining of a certain issue such as squeaking or vibrating brakes, pulling to one side, a rough running engine or sluggish acceleration, all of these require diagnosis to determine the extent of the problem.
Reducing earning opportunities
All too often we see situations where the customer brings the vehicle in and the technician starts to work on the issue without an agreement on the price for services rendered. This not only reduces earning opportunities for the business, it also increases the risk of friction between the shop and the customer. This adds stress and in extreme cases will result in a permanent loss of revenue for the business and a negative impact on reputation. In today’s customer-centric environment, where people value online and social media business satisfaction ratings, many shops cannot afford to be in that situation.
This kind of stress not only causes customers to leave but employees as well and the cost of replacing both is far greater than ensuring they are happy and loyal to the business.
Automotive service repair is a vital sector for our economy, as was reinforced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the most important resource we have are our people. That’s why it’s imperative we treat them well, offer them competitive wages and benefits and ensure they feel that they are making a major contribution, not only to the business but the community and by extension the country, because the reality is, they are doing exactly that, every single day they come to work!