As an auto recon or repair business owner, you’re probably wondering how your business will fare through the coronavirus pandemic. With a large majority of Americans confined to their homes, many businesses and industries have taken a hit. The longer-term effects that this crisis will have on the economy is still uncertain, but many are predicting a turndown. It might take a little more creativity to keep up revenue and profit margin for your auto repair or recon shop during this time, but it’s not impossible. Keep reading for some creative tips to keep bringing in revenue during the pandemic.
We wanted to hear straight from the field on how our partners and customers were managing. Dustin Karshens, owner of Texas Dent Works and long-time partner of Mobile Tech RX, had some great tips. He shared with us some things he’s been doing to keep business afloat. His PDR business operating out of Austin, TX, has been allowed to continue working as of now. Below, we share some of the successful measures he’s taken to keep up revenue, which you can consider implementing, too.
Is Your Business Essential?
Before we talk about how to keep up revenue, you need to know if your you can continue operating your business during the pandemic. In most states, only essential businesses are allowed to remain open. If you’re not sure whether or not you are considered essential in your area, you need to find out.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published this memo to help define what is critical to the American workforce. “Auto supply”, “auto repair”, and “automotive parts” are considered essential services in some cities under shelter-in-place orders. If you think you fall under one of these categories, you may be allowed to stay open. However, it’s best to double-check with your local authority and get clarity before you make a decision. Contact your city or state’s agency of commerce to be certain of where you fall.
Consider Strategic Partnerships
If you can continue operating your business during this time, think about how you can partner with other businesses in ways that are mutually beneficial. As an example, Dustin successfully reached out to the service departments of local dealerships suggesting they offer a package deal to their customers. Any customer who brings their car to the dealership for service is now being offered a free oil change and a discount on any dent repair work. Dustin also says you can offer a revenue split if needed. With this partnership in place, Dustin is funneling more work to his business from dealership customers.
While you don’t want to devalue your work, offering discounts can be a great way to maintain your revenue stream while the economy is slow. Some dealerships are temporarily cutting back on auto recon work, if not stopping it completely. You could counter this by offering a temporary COVID-19 discount.
In Dustin’s experience, offering a discount is worth it if it means you can keep working. That’s because it maintains cash flow in the short-term and in the long-term, it leaves you less vulnerable for another vendor coming in and taking your work.
Regardless of who is receiving the discount, Dustin’s tip is to write up the vehicle at full price and then add the discount to the invoice. That way, the customer can see the price they would normally pay and what the work is valued at. This also reaffirms that it is a temporary price drop and not the new standard.
Increase Your Marketing Efforts
Whether your shop is open or closed right now, you can likely dedicate more time to the administrative side of your business. While marketing can seem like an easy area to cut costs, investing in an effective marketing strategy can reap big rewards. We created a round-up of marketing tips for auto recon during COVID-19, which details why promoting your business now could be a smart move.
Dustin encourages any Mobile Tech RX users to take advantage of the feature which allows you to export your client list with contact information. He uses this list to quickly send a mass marketing email to his customer base.
If allowable in your area, a contactless mobile service for quarantined customers could be a good way of maintaining cash flow. But before you start, it’s crucial to have a business plan in place first. Make it a priority to keep both yourself and your customers safe.
In Dustin’s case, his PDR customers will leave the keys in the car outside their homes and pay over the phone with credit cards. In this way, Dustin is decreasing the risk of spreading the virus.
If you decide to go mobile, be prepared for questions. You should also have a game plan for how you are doing as much as possible to limit the spread of COVID-19. This will put your customers’ minds at ease. If you don’t have a business response plan for COVID-19 yet, we wrote a guide for you here.
If you aren’t able to work now, you can should planning ahead to improve business once the pandemic is over. Think about offering gift cards for future service. (Facebook has made it easy to set up a digital gift card through Square or Kabbage.) You could also think about taking deposits and scheduling services for later in the year. If needed, you can incentivize customers who buy now with a discount.
Audit Your Expenses
Once you have a plan to keep up revenue, it’s also wise to think about your expenses. If you want to know your profit and profit margin for your auto recon or repair shop, you need to consider both. If you’re doing all you can to bring in money, make sure you’re doing all you can to limit the money going out. Read our article on financial planning in times of uncertainty. Forecast your revenue, audit your expenses, and decide if there are costs that you can cut back on.
There are also a number of financial resources available to you, which we’ve rounded up here.
For more information on how to protect your auto recon business, visit our COVID-19 Resources Page. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to support you and your business.