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Look for opportunities

June 03, 2009
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Here are three tips to minimize routine problems at your detail shop, courtesy of

All busy means is busy

Contrary to the gut instinct of many shop owners, busy does not mean higher profits. Far too many shops spend a lot of effort trading dollars around while retaining very few for themselves.

When it gets very busy, it can become easy to spend money that otherwise would not be spent. It also becomes more difficult to stay focused on maintaining a solid gross profit in all areas.

Remember the most profitable thing a shop owner can do -- both when things are slow and when things are busy -- is closely manage the money.

It still isn’t done?

Why does that issue never get handled? Why is it always on the back burner? Maybe it's not that important and should be scratched from your to do list.

But what about the important issues which still do not get addressed? Odds are that no one has set a specific deadline. How can you hit a non-existent target?

If you assign deadlines to your most important projects, it becomes more likely they will get done. Just make sure you don’t set too many deadlines too quickly. Be reasonable about how many you set and how soon you set them. Then hold yourself accountable to the deadlines you have set.

Closing shops = Opportunity

Are you closely monitoring which shops in your area are closing? Each has a certain amount of resources which could be valuable. Obviously there is equipment, inventory, and the building. What could be of far greater value are the customers in the database.

These customers will need to go somewhere and it may as well be to you. In some situations, you may want to take over the entire operation. When shops are closing, the early bird usually gets the worm. Monitor for possible closings in your area and be the first to contact them. The potential to help your shop may be just the boost you are looking for.

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