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International Automotive Technicians Network
Re: Attracting New Talent
Posted to Shop Management Forum on 11/15/2015 2 Replies

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Tim, Gary, & All,

We did 6 months of serious market research before we opened out location. Most shops don't have that luxury, but I have 2 failed shops in my past and I didn't want strike 3. Here's our location stats:

Household Income: $108,276 Population: 42,274 (91.25% white/1.52% black/7.23% other) Traffic count in front of shop: 162,000+ No. of New Car Dealerships within 1.5 miles: 14 Nearest Transmission Shop: 5.5 miles

We also purchased a list of all registered vehicles in Salt Lake county and entered it into a database. We did a search query to determine where the highest concentration of 10 year old and newer vehicles were registered at. It turned out to be within about a 5 mile radius of the location we chose. Our biggest competition are the new car dealers, not other shops.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because when you have great marketing, advertising, & sales, shop management doesn't have technicians work flat rate, or if they do, they don't start trimming hours. In our shop, beating book time by a significant margin is assumed. Everybody in our shop works by the clock hour with 6 hours of overtime a week guaranteed.

We work Mon.-Fri. 8-6 with an hour off for lunch except on Tuesdays when we have our shop training session and that's paid and we supply lunch. Punctuality isn't a problem because every minute the techs loose being late, long lunches, leaving early, etc. is overtime hours and it impacts their paychecks pretty significantly.

I beg your forgiveness if I sound arrogant, or if I sound like I'm bragging, I don't mean to be. However, we put a lot of thought and work into our shop not only in the planning stages, but also in the marketing and sales systems and procedures we have for attracting customers and selling jobs.

Due to the nature of the transmission business, we don't have regular repeat customers like general repair. Our business is closer to the funeral home industry than it is to anything in the automotive world. People don't call us unless they absolutely have to. I once wrote an article in Transmission Digest back in the '90s where I drew the comparison between the funeral home business and the transmission business after we did a transmission job for a funeral home director.

I figured out how to get to the top of Bing, Google, and Yahoo and stay there without anybody's help. Our average position in the Salt Lake valley is 1.1. Our phones ring off the hook. We get so busy that I sometimes turn off our Pay-Per-Click advertising to stop the phones from ringing. Once I learned of the direct correlation between how much I spent on PPC advertising and how much our phone rang, I was able to "throttle" the business to our production capabilities, and not the other way around. (See attached article) []

In the beginning, you don't have any money because you aren't marketing/advertising/selling. Classic Chicken-and-the-Egg syndrome. I've BTDT several times. There's a ton you can do for free. Once you get the ball rolling, THEN you start to invest money while still pouring in the time. The ROI happens awfully quick. We opened this location in Oct. '08 and did only $30K for all of '08. By 2011 we had reached $1.1M.

What I'm trying to say is, we keep our techs busy all the time because the owner/manager is doing his job. It's not the other way around to where the owner/manager is sitting around waiting on the phone to ring and, in turn, the techs are standing around due to poor marketing, advertising, and sales. Am I making any sense?

When I see techs standing around in a shop, the first thing that pops into my head is that there's a problem with marketing/advertising/sales. I consider it my job to keep my techs with a steady paycheck. If they end up standing around, THAT'S ON ME, not on them. I'm the guy that's supposed to have his act together and know what he's doing. My techs KNOW what they are going to make. There's none of this up-and-down, feast-or-famine baloney. This may sound awfully harsh, but starving techs are merely evidence of sharing the shop's leadership's consequences of not investing enough time in marketing/advertising/sales. Notice I said "time" and not money.

The funny part is that when we are super jam-packed, my techs turn on the afterburners. An average week for us is a little over $21K. However, we have had plenty of $30K and $40K weeks with a record week of slightly over $50K. (only once, though) Think of this: On an average week, my techs are already at or usually above 100% efficiency. When we have above average weeks, we get a ton of extra work kicked out of the shop WITHOUT any increase in labor costs. I've never had a technician every complain because they like to stay busy. It sure beats the alternative.

I was going to tell everyone about our sales system, but this post is already way too long. I'll save it for another time. The bottom line is that I think it's the responsibility of the shop to make sure the techs have a reasonably steady paycheck. Whether they keep the shop busy, or whether they pay them by the clock hour/salary, or whatever. The tech's wife is the ultimate boss and if she isn't happy, nobody is. :-)

Larry Bloodworth
Technical Information Specialist/Technician
Tanner Transmissions
Draper, Utah, USA

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