Auto repair shop management will always be a challenge. There are any number of factors that help to keep a shop functioning smoothly and financially in the black. Many managers have found that joining an automotive peer management group is a way to both help and be helped by people who share the same challenges.
What is an automotive peer management group? Also known as an auto repair shop 20 group, these groups connect 20 owners and managers from different competitive markets, creating a new resource for all of those members to go to for advice and support. The members of these groups come from geographically distant markets. They cannot be closer than 60 miles apart in order to ensure that their members remain colleagues in the same field instead of competitors.
Within a good automotive 20 group no topic is off the table: pay plans, sales, marketing, and even financials. While many owners are hesitant to disclose how profitable their shops are to anyone also making money in the business, this lack of transparency can lead to less profitability overall. This is because many owners don’t really know what they are capable of doing or what a reasonable performance benchmark even is. Knowing what is possible and what others in your field are achieving can lead you to make changes in your shop that will blow away benchmarks you previously considered impressive. Imagine competing in a track event, but never being allowed tsee what others in your category are doing. That’s what it’s like being an owner or manager with no idea of the larger picture.
Not only is knowing what other shops are doing in terms of profit and performance inspirational, being a part of a good 20 group allows you access to their ideas and experience. By forming relationships with other people in the business, an owner can hear their stories and strive for success while avoiding the pitfalls others have fallen into on the way there.
Another reason to look into becoming a member of a 20 group is that it provides a kind of accountability to a demographic that doesn’t have much of that – the self-employed. We all perform better when we have an audience that is watching.
Finally, a group of this size will have members with different strengths and weaknesses. One owner may be a real resource on marketing and another may have employee management skills in spades. Part of the challenge of managing an auto shop is that you can’t just be good with cars. You have to be good with people, both your customers and your employees, good with organization, good with computers and finance – all of that. It’s a tall order, even if cars and software weren’t constantly changing and you weren’t dealing with a fluctuating employee pool.
The Automotive Management Network already has a page listing automotive 20 groups for our readers’ benefit. If learning from others who have experience in managing auto shops sounds like a better way of handling problems, take a minute and go through the options we have listed for you there.