Sales & Profits Down? Revisiting the Basics – Part 2

Last time, we talked about a few of the basic business procedures to revisit if you find your sales and profits are down, including your company leadership, staff skills, and sales procedures and tools.  Click here to read Part One of this article.  Today, we will continue looking at some more of those basics you should be revisiting.


Your Facility


Your curb appeal is the first thing your customers notice when they visit your shop.  Curb appeal encompasses how clean the lot and the vehicles parked there are, what types of vehicles they are, how congested it is, and how easy it is to get on and off the lot with minimal risk.  In addition, customers look at the colors, signage, and maintenance of the building.  Dented bay doors, partially disassembled vehicles, garbage on the lot, faded paint, dirty windows, and older vehicles may turn off potential customers.

The parking lot also serves as a kind of display, and owners are encouraged to park the makes they want to attract more of in the most highly visible areas.  Tip: Don’t repair vehicles on the lot; it looks very unprofessional and may have a devaluing effect on the vehicles being worked on inside the shop.

Lastly, evaluate daily what you have on the lot and in your bays.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Of the vehicles on my lot, what percentage are in for preventative maintenance?
  • What percentage are in for recommended repairs and maintenance?
  • What percentage are in for emergency repairs?
  • How many vehicles were towed in?

Performing this exercise will help you determine how well your team sells maintenance and brings the customers back for recommended repairs and service.

The inside of the shop should be inviting to both male and female customers, and to their children as well.  Many shops subscribe to publications that appeal to both men and women, and provide coloring books or other toys for children.  Some shops also play movies that appeal to children, while others use continuous-loop videos as a method of educating their waiting customers.

You should utilize the reception area walls and space for marketing purposes.  Also, make sure to remember to maintain the windows in the facility.  We recommend using custodial services that regularly include window cleaning.


Advertising and Marketing


Winning market share during an economic downturn takes some planning and investment.  History has shown that companies that maintain or increase their advertising investments in these times increase their sales and share of the market, both during and after the downturn.  In addition, maintaining or increasing advertising budgets may be absolutely necessary in terms of protecting your market position and facing savvy competitors.  Maintaining market share usually requires much less investment than rebuilding it later. 

Advertising through both economic booms and downturns helps keep your name in your customers’ minds.  If you maintain a strong advertising presence while your competitor cuts their budget, you’ll automatically increase your market share.  Moreover, maintaining your advertising budget and campaign will give the image of your company’s stability in an unstable business environment.  Economic downturns reward the aggressive advertiser and penalize the timid one.

A strong advertising/marketing effort enables a company to solidify its customer base, take business away from less aggressive competitors, and position itself for future growth during the recovery.  Advertising should be regarded not as an expense but as an investment to contribute to profits.  When economic conditions are good, you should advertise; when they’re bad, you must advertise!


Additional Sources of Business


In addition to routine advertising (in both healthy and uncertain economic times), you may want to consider seeking fleet business.  under the right terms, fleet sales could add substantially to your sales and profits.  For more detailed information regarding fleet business, you can refer to these two blog posts:  Building a Profitable Fleet Business – Part 1 and Building a Profitable Fleet Business – Part 2.

Other business that pays off handsomely is industry referrals from repair shops who don’t have the capabilities you do, as well as commercial referrals from businesses outside your industry.  Such referrals may be obtained by participation in a business networking group in your market area.

Many auto repair shop owners have put together “slow day plans” where they predetermine their activity during slow periods.  Included in such a plan would be having your sales staff contact any referrals you’ve accumulated.


What do Customers Want?


Remember, customers want the most value for their money, and business owners must sell the value of their staff, services, and products.  Customers enjoy having choices and options.  Understand what they want and deliver it.  Most customers appreciate a one-stop-shop, where they can get all of their repair and maintenance work done at the same place.

Lastly, customers want to feel appreciated and connected.  Take an interest in them and listen to what they say.  Customers will return to places that make them feel appreciated and will take care of their needs.


In Conclusion


Regardless of which of the basics described here you plan to implement or revisit, pay particular attention to creating a formal business plan.  It’s your roadmap to successful future development.  Get started on improving your sales and profits by revisiting the basics of your business today!

Need help setting up a formal business plan?

Not sure what steps to take in marketing your shop?

Concerned about your finances?

Enroll now in Guerrilla Shop Management, which covers these topics and so many more.  Call 800-755-0988 or click here to get started!

Written by RLO Training