I have a conference with the shop owners on Saturday for me to go over our ideas for increasing the shop business. And seeing as how diverse Oppo is, this is the perfect place to ask for ideas.
So first you need some backstory.
The shop has been in business for maybe 10-15 years. The previous owner had it for about 10 years and it did quite well. It has always been a one-man shop. Aka: one guy did the office work and the smogs. Before the owner sold it the shop was doing about 20 smogs a day on average. We are open Monday - Friday, 8-5, and Saturdays 8-2. So 20 a day for one guy is pretty good.
But then he moved out of state and couldn’t sell it, so instead hired a new technician to manage it. And then I think he went through two more guys. And then he finally landed on one final guy who was actually going to buy it after working for him for a year.
Well, that guy ended up getting a citation from the BAR, and he was unable to land financing. The new owners suspect he initiated a plan to devalue the shop.
But the new owners took over and hired someone else, and I just replaced them because he wouldn’t do anything they asked him. They wanted to get a Sprinter van to park near DMV and advertise. They wanted to start being able to do registration renewals. Didn’t do that. They wanted to get the shop licensed to do repairs, and brake and lamp inspections. He did none of it.
So they brought me in. They also brought me in with the stated goal of getting the shop out of a hole. And my head hurts from all the times I keep hitting the wall with it. The numbers here are SHIIIIIIT.
Like 250-350 a month.
And I know a big part of it is the previous techs all sucked. I’ve gotten complaints about all of them. And the last guy was a master idiot. He would find reasons, most of them bullshit, to turn cars away. He wouldn’t test them like we’re supposed to, he would just say go get it fixed.
The other issue is the price. The new owners got in their head that no one else in town was smogging older cars so they raised the prices on them, by TWENTY DOLLARS. I have since corrected course, several times. At first, I settled on $10 more for 96-99, and $20 more for 95 and older. My logic is they do take longer. But, people don’t always say something, but I can tell they are very put off by the big increases in prices. There are already much cheaper shops in town, but the main smog shop charges the same for every car, and that price is the same as my 2000 and newer price.
We’re not interested in a price war, the owners and I all want to make money. But I am trying to find that balance. So I adjusted the prices again to $5 for more for cars 96-99, and $10 more for 95 and older.
The only other idea I have of trying to get people in here, or at least talking about the shop when they leave is making the waiting area as nice as possible. I want to get a coffee bar and have good coffee, not Keurig. I want to get a small fridge and fill it with free sodas and waters. And I also want to add charging outlets and provide the cables.
So what do you guys think? Should I send out flyers to old customers telling them the shop is under new management, with new prices, new waiting area, free refreshments, and with helpful and friendly staff (yes, I apparently can be helpful and friendly)? I have just hit a wall. I’ve never done anything like this, so this is all new to me. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Edit: I forgot to mention another problem I have is the shop hours. The previous stoner/idiot talked the owners into joining some business marketing group which was a MASSIVE waste of time and money. But he would go to a meeting every Thursday morning, so he wouldn’t open until 9:00 AM on Thursday. And I think it’s because of that I have been sitting around every morning until around 10:00 before people show up.
I also want to expand the hours Monday through Friday to 6:00 PM. Every shop in town is open until at least 5:30, so closing at 5 is also killing us. I thought about opening later at 8:30, but I don’t know, everyone else opens at 8, so I may lose a few smogs that way.
I would expand Saturday’s, but I would kill myself I had to stay later than 2 on Saturdays.
God damn it, another detail:
I started an appointment system online. I asked a fellow Opponaught who doesn’t post. I jokingly, and seriously, asked how I get millenials in. He said take appointments online, and make it easy. I resisted appointments at first because as a one-man shop I felt it would be shitty to make who had been waiting wait longer because someone else made an appointment. But then I devised an online appointment system that allows me to get ALL of the customers information so I can prepare a work order BEFORE they come in, thus saving me a crap ton of time.
My logic continued: Once I started gettting busy enough then I could justify hiring another tech who could handle just appointments. But for now, I’m not busy enough to worry about it but I can advertise that I am the ONLY local shop who takes appointments. I thought this would be a bigger deal since EVERYONE asks if they can make an appointment for smogs.