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Business Operations

Three tips to improve operations at your detail shop

January 19, 2011
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Here are three tips to improve efficiencies at your detail shop, courtesy of

Dumping your dumpster

It doesn't matter where you put them or how fresh the paint is; dumpsters are an ugly nuisance. But, some shops no longer have dumpsters. Instead, they have in their shop several of the large wheeled plastic trash containers which have become the norm in residential areas.

No more emptying the trash, no more eyesore out back, no more nasty trash cans in the shop, no more trash running over into the parking lot, and no more worry about being the free trash receptacle for the neighborhood.

And in some cases, the cost can be significantly less. Call your hauler right now and have them make the swap tomorrow.

Yet another great use for e-mail

Part of the morning routine at some shops is firing off brief thank you e-mails to everyone who picked up their car the day before. When you do so, it is important that you avoid a form letter format. Instead, mention something in reference to their visit that makes it obvious that it is a personal thank you.

Benefits include solidifying the use of email communications with your shop in the customer's mind, and giving them a simple way to quickly respond to you with any feedback. Plus, marketing ideas like this will not put a dent in your budget.

What does your customer area look like?

Most shop owners underestimate the importance of their customer lounge or waiting area, and most shop waiting areas reflect that. In general, they tend to be dated, sparse, cluttered and tacky.

Drop by several of the local higher end car dealers and check out their waiting areas. If you want to do business at that level, then duplicate what you see. For less than the cost of many scanners you can have a first class waiting area that will pay for itself.

Also, if your waiting area has not been fully updated within the last five years, it is due.

Tom and Deb Ham are the owners of Automotive Management Network, an online forum to exchange information about the management of all types of vehicle service facilities, independent auto repair shops, car and truck dealers, franchises, fleets, body shops and more. More information can be found at

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