How excuses can identify opportunities to improve business

Just say no to excuses in your service and repair business

The automotive service and repair business is all about solving problems. In the case of vehicle maintenance, it’s about preventing problems. Shop owners have created a business around their ability to solve vehicle problems and their expertise in maintaining vehicles. When vehicles no longer break down or require maintenance, there will be no need for shops or technicians. While automotive technology continues to impact service reliability and repair frequency, no one’s job is at risk any time soon.

Bill Haas

In fact, there is a huge demand for talent in our industry. That is a topic for the future.

Because people recognized and appreciated your talent, you were able to turn your passion into a business. Word spread of your technical capability, mechanical abilities and never- surrender pursuit of solving the problems that others could not. The most difficult car problem is the challenge you most desire.

You find way to correct those problems – sometimes at your own expense. You will spend evenings or weekends with a car problem rather than your family. You will invest in service information resources or parts as testing devices to finally bring the problem to a conclusion. You eventually will enjoy the gratification of your accomplishment. What I never see you do is make an excuse for why the problem could not be corrected.

Which makes me wonder why shop owners like you are so quick to make excuses for everything else. When it comes to the business side of business, there is an excuse for every shortcoming. Owners have an excuse for failing to have realistic expectations, meeting goals or enjoying the success of a profitable business.

Here are some examples of the excuses shop owners use. When parts profit is low, it’s said, “You can’t sell that part for more than the dealer’s list price.” Another common excuse for low parts profit is, “We sold a lot of tires and batteries.” When production is low, you hear, “It’s just that time of year. Everyone is slow.”

I could go on but these excuses will be sufficient for me to make my point. Every time I hear an excuse from a shop owner, I recognize it as call for help. The excuses identify opportunities to improve an aspect of the business.

The parts profit is not low because parts cannot be sold for more than the dealer’s list price. You are selling parts for the dealer’s list price because you lack the confidence and sales skills to convey the value of your service. Parts profit is not low because you sold tires and batteries. It’s the result of you not having a profit strategy to deliver the desired profit based on the mix of services you offer.

When production is low, it has nothing to do with the time of the year. Automotive service and repair is not a seasonal business. Vehicle maintenance schedules are based on time and mileage and those intervals occur throughout the year. Productivity is low because the marketing failed to communicate the value of returning for future services or attract first-time guests to the store.

The next time you hear yourself making an excuse, pause and take a moment to realize the opportunity you just identified. Think about what placed you in the position to make the excuse. Next, think about what needs to be different so you can stop making the excuse, and work on making the correction needed to eliminate the excuse.

If you lack the knowledge, tools or focus to solve the problems identified by the excuses, get help. The industry is full of people willing to help you overcome the challenges in your business.

Make your business a No Excuse Zone.