In sports, it’s been said that winning a championship is easier than defending one. If you’ve successfully launched an automobile repair shop, you can probably relate to this challenge. Finding your feet in the startup world – in any industry – is difficult, but it can still be much easier than finding ways to grow and remain competitive. Here are five tips to help you grow your business to that elusive next level.
Expand your services
Many auto shops start small, as family-run businesses or founded by individual mechanics who have grown tired of working for somebody else and want to be their own boss. If this is your sort of setup, you’ll eventually push against the limits of services which fall within the scope of your expertise. So if you want to grow, learning new skills or hiring people with a different skillset is a good way to go.
You should also be prepared to invest in any new equipment necessary to offer these additional services. Custom paint jobs, for instance, would require a precision paint sprayer, stencils, the appropriate personal protective equipment and compressed air filters to maintain aerosol purity and system safety.
You may have conducted extensive market research when you started your business, or just the minimum necessary to succeed in the local market. Either way, as your repair shop begins to thrive, you may find it worth revisiting the market study in order to expand your reach. If your clients have mostly been individual owners, you can gain a significant revenue boost by negotiating with a company to provide service to their entire fleet, for example.
Become a specialist
Another way to grow your repair shop is through cornering a niche. For example, some vehicle owners have a passion for vintage cars and classic models. The expertise needed to repair and maintain these rare automobiles is hard to find, and parts can be difficult to source from the right distributors. In some cases, they may even need to be reverse-engineered.
If you are able to corner a niche, you’ll become the go-to shop for servicing the needs of that specialised segment of the market. Even if there are only a handful of local enthusiasts, they’ll always be coming back to you for their repair needs.
Increase your online presence
Many first-time owners don’t go to an independent mechanic for some time, for a simple reason: the dealership still covers their repair needs under warranty. But when the warranty expires, they’re going to start searching for a reliable mechanic, and most of the time that research will be done online.
Investing the effort to promote yourself online will boost your relevance to search inquiries, and can land you a coveted spot on the first page of search results. However, this doesn’t happen overnight, so start now by writing and publishing relevant content on your website.
At the same time, don’t forget to continue building a strong rapport with your local community. Though many customers will find you through online resources, a significant number of owners still strongly believe in the power of word-of-mouth referrals. If you have a great relationship with locals, they will spread the word about you to their friends, family and co-workers who are in need of a good mechanic.
Taking your repair shop from successful startup to a long-term established business in your local scene is tough work, but with the right strategy your persistence will definitely pay off.