For the second instalment of Andy Savva’s look into garage finance, he emphasises the importance of making the time and effort to understand which KPIs are most likely to influence the success of your business.
Andy Savva is a former multiple independent garage owner who boasts over 30 years’ experience in the automotive repair sector. In every issue of PMM he’ll be sharing his advice with workshop owners who want to improve their business’ bottom line, but simply don’t know how to go about it.
Our numbers come from all the costs and all the revenue associated with operating our garage business. Whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not, to be successful in our business, or any other business, understanding the numbers is a good place to start. My experience tells me most of us refuse to take the time or make the effort to really understand what the numbers represent and which KPIs have the biggest impact on our garages.
So, what do we need to know? 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. You almost have to be emotionally involved with the numbers to be successful today. Of course, our businesses are all about repairing vehicles and most garage owners’ or managers’ expertise is in this area. However it’s your responsibility, not your accountant or bookkeeper’s, to monitor and manage your numbers. Having the ability to reflect on the health and strength of your business at any given time is crucial for your success. For most garage owners, each day is simply a matter of one foot in and one foot out and focusing on the daily dose of crisis management and damage control. I know, as like you, I have been through it many times.
The problem with not knowing your figures is simple: good numbers are critical for good decision making and bad numbers will lead to bad decision making. You can only get out of financial reporting what you put in. Your accountant will only advise you on the information you provide. Everything about your garage will depend on the quality of that information and the accuracy of those numbers. The numbers are yours and the business is yours, so make sure your reporting and analysis are timely and as accurate as possible.
Your numbers and accounting are only useful if they are used as a means to an end, a catalyst to change your behaviour, your processes, your attitude, in order to change the direction of your business towards better financial performance in the future. Remember this: all financial data is historical, it’s already happened, so spending time to gather and analyse it is crucial to drawing the benefits of this process. I urge you to monitor your KPIs daily, weekly and monthly and everything else will take care of itself.
It wasn’t really very complicated for me, even in my early days, as I realised how crucial to my success it was to stay on top of my day-to-day data capture. I made sure it was complete and relevant to what I was trying to measure, whether this was the productivity and utilisation of my technicians, or my labour and recovery rate, or even knowing that every hour’s labour we sold gave us approximately another £18 profit on parts.
Take a moment to think about the financial reporting that you currently have and which KPIs you use. Are they comprehensive enough? Are they providing you or your bookkeeper with the information that’s needed? Where do the numbers come from? Are they accurate and, more importantly, do they help you plan for the future or merely represent something that occurred in the distant past? Think about how much time you spend learning and understanding and what they are trying to tell you. Determine whether or not your financial professional is helping you to understand these numbers more clearly than you do. Start the journey right now and I can assure you, your garage business will benefit.