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As long as people rely on cars as their main form of transportation, there will be opportunities for success in the auto repair business. By following some important steps, you can run a successful auto repair business that provides a steady income.
Decide whether you will open your own auto repair business or whether you will purchase an established business. By purchasing an existing auto repair shop, you will immediately have an appropriate location and equipment, and the experienced employees may choose to stay. If you start from scratch, you will need to find a high-traffic location, purchase or lease the necessary equipment, and hire a new staff of mechanics and other employees.
State your ethical standards up front. Many customers are leery of auto repair businesses because they have a reputation of making people pay for unnecessary repairs or charging for work that is never performed. Have a statement of ethics printed, and hang it in a prominent place in the customer reception area. The ethics should be centered around being honest with customers, pledging never to overcharge them, and striving for their full satisfaction.
Offer a guarantee. When a customer is paying for an expensive car repair, she wants some assurance that the vehicle will work properly or that you will take care of the issue if it does not. Offering a guarantee based on a certain period of time or mileage will show that you stand behind all work performed at your auto repair business.
Treat employees well to eliminate high turnover. An auto repair business that has a constant turnover of mechanics will have difficulty maintaining its quality. This can give it a bad reputation and keep it from being successful. When you find good, reliable mechanics, pay them fairly and give competitive benefits to keep them from moving on to another job. Customers who build up trust with a particular mechanic will be glad to see him there the next time their car needs repairs.
Resolve customer complaints promptly. Although there will always be some unreasonable customers, most will be willing to come to a compromise if you are willing to work with them. Discuss the problem without judging them or making them defensive, and ask them what they feel an equitable solution would be. If you agree that it's fair, you've got a resolution. If not, be prepared to give an alternative solution.
Reward regular customers. Repeat customers are key to running a successful auto repair business. Not only do they provide income themselves, they also are likely to refer others to your business. Send out periodic offers for a free or discounted oil change, a discount on their next repair or some other goodwill gesture. While it may cost you in the short term, it will pay off in the long term by reinforcing customer loyalty.
Joining a professional organization like the Automotive Service Association (ASA) demonstrates your commitment to quality and excellence.
There will always be some customers who cannot be pleased. If a customer has an unreasonable complaint and insists on a totally unrealistic solution, you will have to refuse. Even though they may spread bad word of mouth about your business, it shouldn't hurt your success if the majority of your customers are satisfied and you have a good reputation.