Editor’s Viewpoint PMM October 2017.
If you run your own garage, the chances are you’ve built your business from the ground up, slowly establishing a favourable reputation for yourself in the local area. It’s likely that you trained as a technician first and foremost, so your skills lie under the bonnet, as opposed to behind a desk. As your customer-base has grown, you might have had to expand your premises, hire new staff and branch out into different service offerings. In doing so, you’ve had to learn the intricacies of managing a business as you go along – and you might not have even stopped to think about it.
The question is: are you really managing your business?
“There are some instances where the calculator is mightier than the impact wrench.”
In his column this month, Andy Savva makes a very interesting point, stating, “I believe you cannot manage a garage from underneath a vehicle in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. You have to adapt to managing the business to stop the business from managing you.”
The point Andy is making is that, amid the barrage of challenges facing the independent sector, you can’t simply rely on your pedigree as a technician to keep your garage afloat. Instead, the typical garage owner’s focus should now be shifting towards such matters as sourcing new work, managing staff, keeping up with payroll, accounts, parts ordering and returns, tax and VAT, insurance, training, and customer service. This argument may be hard for many to stomach – after all, you’re a technician at heart.
In my opinion, there’s a balance to be struck between time ‘on the tools’ and time on the computer analysing the numbers. Speaking as a garage customer, there’s something to be said for seeing the manager of a workshop getting his hands dirty and mucking in with the rest to get the job done. It certainly inspires customer confidence and loyalty. However, there are some instances where the calculator is mightier than the impact wrench.
For instance, PMM recently paid a visit to a garage owner in Northamptonshire (see page 37 for the full story), whose commercial awareness and ability to make astute business decisions has resulted in impressive growth and profitability. This success was forged, in part, thanks to an efficient Garage Management System, which allowed the owner to manage the day-to-day operations of the workshop in forensic detail, while also providing powerful analysis of the business’ vital numbers.
I can almost hear the traditionalists among the readership protesting about this. Who needs a computer programme to run a workshop? It’s not rocket science! Correct, it’s not rocket science. But it is a juggling act. Whether you go down the route of investing in a high-tech Garage Management System, or simply decide to spend a bit more time number crunching, the chances are you will notice aspects of your operation where there are inefficiencies, where extra training is needed, or where there is untapped potential.