THA 051: First Moves When Opening a New Shop


Your Learning Curve Never Sounded So Good!

Helping automotive aftermarket professionals improve; one lesson at a time.

Learn from your industry peers in a round-table forum. Get new ideas, perspectives, trends, insights, best practices and expertise from aftermarket professionals.

Watch like a DOCUMENTARY … Learn like a SEMINAR.

The Academy Panel:

  • Pete Rudloff is a national automotive instructor/advisor, nationally published technical writer and owner of Pete’s Garage Inc. in Newark, DE. Pete has a passion for training and created the Delaware training Group to bring technicians together in an environment that fosters learning. Pete’s Garage has a reputation as a friend to the general auto repair shops with local shops calling themselves customers. Pete’s Garage is known for fixing difficult to fix cars and has grown more into a diagnostic destination than a maintenance shop.  Pete’s previous episodes HERE.
  • Bambi Crozier, wife and co-owner with Neil Crozier, of Car Clinic in Lowell, AR (Northwest Arkansas), has a passion for the hardworking shop owner. Her vision to Change the Face of Automotive Care motivates and inspires every aspect of her daily operation. She entered the industry in 2012 as an entrepreneur shortly after moving back to Arkansas. She spent more than 11 years at AT&T in client relation roles and has a talent for looking at her business and the auto industry through the lens of a client. She moderates an online Facebook group called “Auto Shop Owners Group”. Bambi’s previous episodes HERE.
  • Tom Ham, with the help of his wife Deb, is the creator and owner of Automotive Management Network an 12,000 plus member website dedicated to the exchange of vehicle service management information. Tom got his start in the auto service industry pumping gas in the late 60’s. Tom and his wife operate Auto Centric, an import specialty shop in Grand Rapids. Tom and Deb have five children including two sons and a daughter who served in the Iraq War as U.S. Marines.  He writes extensively on industry topics.  Tom’s previous episodes HERE.
  • Rick White has been working in the automotive, software & coaching industries for greater than thirty years and is currently an AMI-approved training instructor.  He owned and managed several successful automotive repair shops.  Currently, Rick is President and Lead Coach for 180BIZ, an auto repair shop training and business coaching company proudly serving the independent auto and truck repair owner since 2006.Rick has been acknowledged as an industry expert and has been featured in many automotive trade publications. Rick has been training and speaking at industry events across the country including AAPEX, Vision and for AASP PA just to name a few. Find all of Ricks contributions to the podcast HERE.

Talking Points:

  • You need to know your why. (Must read. Start with Why. Simon Sinek)  (SP)
    • Are you unemployable?
    • Do you have a written plan, written goals, and a vision that explains why you are doing this?
    • The best mechanic in town does not necessarily make a great business owner.
  • A great way to start is to buy an existing shop.
  • To run a successful business, it is like having a second family. (Rick White)
  • Rick White: To be successful you need to be hungry, have the energy and be resourceful.
  • What does success look like to you? It is individual. Many do not know what success means to them. Which is why defining what success looks like to you is important.
  • Location, Location, Location is important. Very important.
  • Tom Ham: You are better off on in a two-bay location in the center of town than a five-bay location at the outskirts of the town.
    • Demographics are also very important. What is the income of your marketplace?
    • Find a document on the AMN to help you score a location. Download it here.
  • Financial: (much of this is tough for new business people to know and understand)
    • Rule #1. You never have enough money. Invest carefully where there is always an ROI (Return On Investment)
    • Make money. Need to make money to sustain.
    • If you wait for marketing and work to come in you’ll need money in the bank to sustain startup months of zero or negative profits.
    • You need a spending plan. (Just like a budget)
      • You can adjust but need to have a plan and your odds of being successful go way up.
      • List your intake, list your outflow. Subtract them. There is your profit.
    • You need a debt retirement plan to be sure you have a plan to pay off the money you owe. Debt kills.
    • Profit and Loss statement. (P & L)
      • You need to know what is coming in and what is gowning out.
    • Cash Flow is as important as a P & L.
      • This shows where your money is tied up and how it flows into and out of the busienss.
  • Mentor(s)
    • You need a mentor. You may need even two.
    • Many in the industry are willing to help.
    • Understand what a mentor does.
    • It will help you see what is around the next corner.
    • You need to take their experiences and blend them into your vision and talents.
    • Be careful on your choice.
      • No everyone who wants to help will bring you what you want.
      • They must have the right mindset, positive thinking and they have what you need so you can model what they are doing so you can get there quickly.
      • If your Why’s align that is a good sign you may have found the right mentor.
    • A good mentor shares their experience and helps you relate to your relationship and you decide.
    • You’ve got to be able to have fun at work.
      • You must create the right attitude and business culture to sustain a great place to work. Be excited.
  • Business coaches and consultants can help in a very big way.
  • A peer group, in person, and on social media can help.
    • The in-person peer group brings eye-to-eye value.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or say you don’t know something.
  • Independent shop owners are not each other’s competition. It is out there but not independents.
    • The competition is the customer.
    • How good we depend on how we hold a relationship and can solve their problems.
  • Finding customers is not a shotgun approach. Spraying for customers will not help you focus.
  • You’ll need to have a marketing budget. You could spend 3 – 5 % of sales but not immediately. But retaining and growing customers is a hard cost.
    • Rick White takes 8 -10% of sales and subtracts rent as a shops advertising budget.
  • Join community groups. Get involved in your community as the expert is vehicle safety. You are in the transportation business.
    • Car groups.
    • Rotary type groups.
    • People need to get to know you.
    • Speak about car care at schools or the chamber.
  • If you bought an existing shop you’ll need to promote to the existing customers.  Be prepared that you may lose some based on the change of ownership but some may be the wrong type of client.
  • Work hard on getting referrals from your customers.
  • Rich White: The business owner has four primary responsibilities to his business
    • Create and protect your brand. How does it feel to do business with you? Consistent.
    • Generate awareness of your business. People need to know about you.
    • Grow your staff. It is core to your success.
    • Set the pace of the business. The CEO responsibilities.
  • Continuing education is an important discipline to running your business
    • Technical training.
    • Service training.
    • CEO training.
    • Know your key numbers. Stay in the range of industry averages.
    • You cannot rely on your current education level or training level. You must be a perpetual student.
    • Learn from your mistakes. Try not to repeat them.
  • Never model your business after the boss you previously had unless they are a superstar operator and leader.
  • You can never undercut the competition as a strategy to start or grow your business.
  • Know your daily breakeven number. Break even is where profits are equal to cost.
    • Take all your monthly expenses plus a cushion and divide by your gross profit. That number is your break even for the month. Take that number and divide it by the number of days you are open. You can even divide it by the hours you are open to realize the sales you need to do, just to break even.
  • You will hit the wall.
    • It happens to everyone.
    • Expect it. It will happen. You must be prepared for the wall so it doesn’t break you.
    • The Last Lecture: Randy Pausch 18,905,787 views.
  • You must network. It is not about the meeting but the people you meet during the breaks.
  • The management software is the hub of your business where all other spokes are connected to.
    • AMN is in the middle of an SMS (Shop Management System)
  • Rick White: 3 D Planning:
    • Plan for the dest.ination.
    • Plan for detours
    • Plan for disasters.

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About the author, Carm Capriotto, AAP

Carm is the founder and host of the Remarkable Results Radio Podcast and the pioneer of automotive aftermarket podcasts. Carm calls on his years of experience in the aftermarket to bring engaging stories from his guests.

Listen to raw, unfiltered, honest, and sincere stories that include insights, trends, best practices, and expertise. Each interview brings an opportunity to learn one new thing through the stories of personal achievement. Many podcast guests tell their story of transformation from working in their business to working on it.

As host of over 1,000 episodes, Carm uses his enthusiasm and passion for the aftermarket especially the service sector to take his listeners on a journey showcasing successful service professionals’ paths to Remarkable Results. He also enjoys interviews with aftermarket industry thought leaders who bring their industry perspectives to his listener.

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