After a crazy 2008 with gas prices ranging from more than $4 per gallon to below $1.50, a presidential election, a financial meltdown, a drop in miles driven and a federal loan to the Detroit Three, we are now into 2009 with great hopes of good days ahead. These tough times make every owner take a closer look at their business operations in pursuit of the “one” problem that needs to be fixed to get profitability back on track. Well, it rarely is just one thing, but a combination of many factors that need to be examined and adjusted to set your business on the right path for future success.
So, here are 10 areas of your business to examine or re-examine as you get into 2009:
Service Offerings The mix of vehicles (and engines) on the road and the technology in them is changing rapidly. This may create new service opportunities for your shop and may also reveal services you should stop offering.
Tools and Equipment Do you have the latest tooling needed for working on and machining today’s engines? Do you need to invest in any tools so you can take advantage of new markets (e.g., sport compact sleeving, cylinder head porting, etc.)
Appearance When times are slow, clean, paint and throw out the junk. This will enhance the “customer experience,” which can pay off later.
Employees Other shops are closing, which means there are some good, qualified employees available. Evaluate your current staff and determine if they are right for your future. Are they up to date with the latest training? Do they embrace training? Give them an assessment test.
Training There is an abundance of technical and management training available online and face-to-face, but if you don’t plan ahead to commit to it and schedule it, another year will pass.
Business Systems Having the tools to analyze your business is critical for survival. There are a number of products available that are tailored to your business that will help take you to the next level.
Marketing This is the time to make sure you are effectively communicating to your customers (your new business system can help). Encourage your customers to tell a friend about your shop and get your name out in the market.
Suppliers They depend on your success, so make sure they are delivering the support you need and the service you expect. Sit down with them and communicate your needs.
Brand Offerings Installing quality product is the best way to go. Tell the customer about the brands that were used on the job and make them feel good about the money they spent. These brands are an asset that reflects positively on your business.
Attitude Remember, it’s contagious. Stay positive. Keep your employees in a positive mood. Feel good about keeping America on the road.
The businesses that can survive the tough times will be in a better position to capitalize when conditions improve.
Jeff Stankard is Group Publisher at Babcox.