• November 23, 2003 at 5:00 am#62667
    Tom Ham
    Participant

    After 30 years or so, I’ve finally decided that vehicle specialization is the way to go. Whether it’s a transition of our current shop, adding to our current shop, or a second shop, it’s no easy deal, but we are making progress…slow progress. The specific plan will develop as we move ahead, but we are having fun learning BMW’s. Any and all advice is welcome, as are questions about what we have figured out so far.

    December 18, 2003 at 5:00 am#66248
    Tom Ham
    Participant

    Keep in mind that we are just starting, and we do NO other Euro cars…just BMW. So far, information has been Mitchell, iATN, and Bentley Manuals. The only unique tool (to me) that we have bought is a code reader/reminder light reset tool. Every other tool we’ve needed was already here with me or one of the techs.

    January 11, 2005 at 9:36 pm#66438
    Balcones
    Member

    Hi Tom.   What do you work on now ?   Everything ?   Im trying to do more and more Mercedes Benz and Air conditioning work.    Some days it looks like Im succeeding.   Ill have lots of MB work here.   I just have some healthy competition here in town.   I have some hope of success trying to let everyone know that we do both domestic and import Ac repair.    Its a slow process.    Im going to spend some money on my signage this year and I plan to try to impress those two items in my new signs. 

    January 12, 2005 at 1:08 pm#66439
    Tom Ham
    Participant

    Patrick Jacks wrote:
    > Hi Tom.   What do you work on now ?   Everything ?   Im trying to do more and more Mercedes Benz and Air conditioning work.    Some days it looks like Im succeeding.   Ill have lots of MB work here.   I just have some healthy competition here in town.   I have some hope of success trying to let everyone know that we do both domestic and import Ac repair.    Its a slow process.    Im going to spend some money on my signage this year and I plan to try to impress those two items in my new signs. 

    We settled on reviving our previous GM Specialist reputation. Now roughly 60% GM, 15% Ford, 15% Chrysler, 10% Asian. We have some incredible weeks when the mix includes 80-90% GM. We do almost every type of service, especially on the GM’s.

    My comment on your situation would be to explore ways to do EVERYTHING on MB, and promote the heck out of it. The a/c on all cars may be dragging down your MB reputation. If you wanted to also do the a/c thing, I’d suggest you see if you can do so at a different location…even if it is in the same building with separate entrances/customer areas. In the long run, you will likely be way ahead by going MB only, and doing everything that the other Euro shops do to attract and service MB’s.

    January 17, 2005 at 3:14 pm#66445
    Balcones
    Member

    If I could find a shop to do just ac work I would probably consider that.  However things are so expensive in Austin and land is so expensive that really isnt an option for me.  I dont think it is anyway.   Im sure the other brands I service " drag " my MB down but I dont think that I can catch the other MB shops / dealers around here.    I think I can concentrate on trying to capture as many of the MB in my target market and Ill be satisfied with that.   

    February 26, 2005 at 1:57 pm#66479
    Tom Ham
    Participant

    Patrick Jacks wrote:
    > Im sure the other brands I service " drag " my MB down but I dont think that I can catch the other MB shops / dealers around here.   

    Well, I sure don’t know the specifics of your area, but the question does come up: "Why do you do think that you can catch the other MB shops?" Each year that I’m in this industry, the belief that one or two make specialization is the way to go becomes more intense. While I’ll admit that getting there is not easy, the benefits appear to be so huge that it would be worth the effort. What about listing the reasons you do not think you can do it, and seeing if solutions can be found?

    March 7, 2006 at 2:44 am#67044
    jacbarnes
    Member

    Gentlemen, 

    If the bottomline is always profit then does’nt it stand to reason that specialization, is actually a two part problem: 1. to specialize or not, and if yes, 2. what to specialize in. 

    If we take question 1 as an economic concern, then the answer as to whether to specialize or not depends on cost control.  Costs such as, each brands specialized computer systems, specialized tools, new advertising for specialization, losing current customers not part of your specialization group, tech. training, etc.

    With that in mind, once deciding to go down the specialization path the choice of what car(s) or field(S) to specialize in should depend on the availability / accessability of the largest target market for your demographic area, taking current direct competition into effect.  Because lets face it, one of the most basic national retail marketing research results are: approximately 55 – 65% of your customer base is repeat business of customers who reside / work within an 18 mile radius of your shop.

    June 2, 2006 at 7:07 pm#67205
    Tom Ham
    Participant

    jeani barnes wrote:
    >
    > Gentlemen, 
    > If the bottomline is always profit then does’nt it stand to reason that specialization, is actually a two part problem: 1. to specialize or not, and if yes, 2. what to specialize in. 
    > If we take question 1 as an economic concern, then the answer as to whether to specialize or not depends on cost control.  Costs such as, each brands specialized computer systems, specialized tools, new advertising for specialization, losing current customers not part of your specialization group, tech. training, etc.

     

    The issue of losing current customers always comes up when this is discussed. That seems to be the most common assumption. However, I’ve read about some companies who increased all business after becoming a specialist in a certain area. Might that be possible for an auto service shop?

     

    February 8, 2008 at 4:52 pm#68649
    Norlang
    Member

    I am new to find this forum and see there has been some interesting discussions. I have read this on specialization and its allways in the back of my mind. The cost of diagnostic equipment, software etc keeps going up, specializing would definitely help curbe those expenses. Techs becoming more familair with only several makes and increasing productivity & efficiency have great benifits in profitability. As far as loosing current customers, we all are. We all have a said number of people we are loosing. Mine is about 10-12% of my data base is moved, died, replaced vehicles etc every year. So in 7-10 years its complete wash of new customers. Do we need to then create a 7 year plan to “Narrow” our scope and specialize? I have also read and heard that if you do specialize the the client circle gets much greater. But how much? Just my thoughts. I dont know if anyone still monitors this forum. But very interesting.

    February 10, 2008 at 3:20 pm#68650
    Tom Ham
    Participant

    Corey Doell wrote:

    > I am new to find this forum and see there has been some interesting discussions. I have read this on specialization and its allways in the back of my mind. The cost of diagnostic equipment, software etc keeps going up, specializing would definitely help curbe those expenses. Techs becoming more familair with only several makes and increasing productivity & efficiency have great benifits in profitability. As far as loosing current customers, we all are. We all have a said number of people we are loosing. Mine is about 10-12% of my data base is moved, died, replaced vehicles etc every year. So in 7-10 years its complete wash of new customers. Do we need to then create a 7 year plan to “Narrow” our scope and specialize? I have also read and heard that if you do specialize the the client circle gets much greater. But how much? Just my thoughts. I dont know if anyone still monitors this forum. But very interesting.

    A few thoughts.

    You mention that you, like many shops, are losing customers. So, if that is the result of doing things as we always have, it would seem like it sure can’t hurt to at least try a different way. That was our main reason for moving to specialization.

    I also like your 7 year plan comment. Such a change does not gain huge immediate results. We intitially figured 3-5 years. We are now almost two years down that road and believe that 5-7 years is more realistic. Of course one could alter that with marketing and it will be different depending on location and dozens of other factors.

    You also seem to believe that there is some truth to the idea that narrowing your focus can expand your number of customers. Most shop owners have a hard time buying that, but many businesses of all types have proven it to be true…assuming that the specialization effort is done correctly.

    We have no second thoughts about what we are doing. It is working and gives us a decent outlook for the future which we did not have before.

    September 15, 2008 at 11:48 am#69228
    rpmgeorge
    Member

    Hi Tom.

    Specializing in BMW or any other Euro car needs to be supported by Factory Scan and Technical Assistance Programs. BMW = GT1 in combination with TIS, This way You can truly attempt any Problems and TSB reflashing as necessary. If you need more info I be glad to E Mail you some Key Info on Suppliers for Parts, Software and Hardware.

    September 19, 2008 at 6:18 am#69245
    andyr
    Participant

    Hi George,I would like that info if you could please.My email is bellroadauto77@yahoo.com Thankyou

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