Are We Having Fun Yet?Posted 7/9/2004
By Geralynn Kottschade, AAM, Chairman
Do you ever get up in the morning, start your routine and feel like you are Bill Murray in the movie "Groundhog Day?" You get into your vehicle, drive the same route to work and start your day. Most likely - as you enter your business - that is precisely where the routine of the day comes to an abrupt end. If your workdays are anything like mine, each one seems to bring a unique set of challenges.
Do you remember when all we did was fix cars? We had maybe one to two vendors, we knew who was paying the bill, and the vehicles were pretty simple. In addition, we knew who our competitors were - and how they worked - and our competitors usually paid the same price for parts that we did. We really did not have to deal with discount competitors.
Then what happened?
The '80s came along, vehicle designs changed and with that came new equipment requirements. A new customer emerged - the "McDonald's customer" - who wants it cheap, fast and right! As an industry, we started attending classes in search of teachers who would show us how to handle the new customer, the new employee and the new challenges we now faced.
Our expectations of our vendors, bankers and employees changed as well. Our business grew; we installed computers in the office and out in the shop. As we became better and more efficient, we needed more work to feed the monster we had built. We divest, the whole time enduring a bottom line that is getting smaller and smaller.
We decide to take action. As we start to read business journals and talk to our banker and accountant to get their advice on how to survive in changing times, we realize we are not alone. Other businesses also are not as strong as they were in the past. Welcome to the new millennium.
Today, as we document each call we make, each approval we get, or note every check we write for each training class, we realize we are now an "entrepreneur." We are no longer a repair facility, we are a business owner. Fellow business owners, let's help each other - that is one of the major reasons ASA exists. As we tackle our "new" career, let's all remember to attend the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) and the Congress of Automotive Repair and Service (CARS). These annual events, combined with Automotive Management Institute (AMI) courses presented at those events and throughout the year, will help us become better business owners in the 21st century.
Most of all, remember to renew your ASA membership. As a member, you have access to a nationwide network of shop owners who understand your problems and what you are going through. And that, perhaps, is the best benefit of all.
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