Sometimes the key to success is talking to fellow shop owners.
As a shop owner, you know that maintaining a profitable business is the key to success. You can’t run a shop unless you’re continually turning a profit. There are many ways to build a profitable business, but one you may not have thought of is networking. Networking with those in your field is important as the more professional contacts you have the more knowledge is at your disposal. Amber Stout-Nebozuk, future owner of Fuerst Automotive, and Bob Stout, her father and current owner of the shop, know this firsthand. Keep reading to find out the 5 ways networking has directly increased profits for Fuerst Automotive!
- New Ideas
Sometimes there are portions of your business that are dragging you down – and you might not even know it! When you talk with other industry professionals, they can share what they cut down on to save money in their own shops. Maybe you’re paying too much for parts or you’re subscribed to more services than you need. In Bob’s case, he knew his POS system was becoming too expensive and outdated. So, he reached out to his network. Bob says, “We found a great solution when I reached out to a fellow shop owner, we still use his recommendation.” By cutting back in areas that you may not realize are draining your bank account is an easy way to increase your take home pay.
As Amber puts it, “Networking has provided us with some money-saving solutions. By talking with other shops about issues or struggles we’ve faced, we’ve been able to discover new products or services that have helped us cut costs.”
- Identify Marketing Mistakes
How you market your business is one of the most integral parts of keeping your shop afloat. If you’re not getting new customers in your doors, you won’t be staying open for much longer. Bob says, “We’ve made changes to the way we do marketing after having discussions with other shop owners. We realized what was working and what was not.” Fellow owners can give you new ideas to revamp your marketing and help you connect with your community. Once you have a solid marketing plan, more customers will be coming in your doors which drives your profits up.
- Sharing Your Shop
When you build a vast network in your industry, word of your shop can travel farther than you’d ever expect. As Amber says, “Networking also provides amazing opportunities to gather new customers and employees. Word of mouth can be a powerful tool!” For example, one of your fellow shop owners’ regular customers could be relocating near you. On their recommendation, the client could start seeing you now. Another example could be a tourist passing through town asks another local business owner for a mechanic recommendation because they’re experiencing car trouble. By forming connections with people not just in your community, but all across the nation you can find business in unexpected places. The more business you get the more profit you draw in.
One of the easiest ways they expand their network is by being a DRIVE client. DRIVE is the leading management training and software company in North America. Bob says, “DRIVE has introduced us to so many great shops across the US. It’s been really helpful to meet other shop owners outside of our own region.” DRIVE offers workshops in various subjects from finance to marketing and more. Amber notes this is one of her favorite ways to meet other owners. She says, “I’ve really enjoyed participating in the DRIVE workshops from the beginning of my shop owner journey. I always find it interesting to dive into topics that we all deal with, regardless of geographic or demographic locations, and discover the experiences and perspectives of others.”
- Charge Your Worth
It can be difficult to know how much you should be charging for the services you offer. You want to be accessible to customers, competitive with other shops, and keeping profits up all at the same time. By speaking with other shop owners, whether it be in your own community or in a similar sized city, you can gauge where your prices fall. Bob says, “Through networking we’ve learned how to charge a price for our services that is fair for us as well as for our customers.” When you start to charge what your work is worth clients know they’re paying for top quality service.
- Helping Hand
Being in the auto industry comes with its’ own unique set of challenges. It can be difficult to overcome them alone, or to even know where to start. When you have a large network you also have a large group of people you can turn to in a time of need. Either someone has been in the same situation you are currently in or they can offer solutions you wouldn’t have thought of. Amber says, “With our network, we’re able to brainstorm money- and time-saving solutions to commonly experienced problems that arise in our industry far better when done together than when we try to go at it alone. When talking with other shops and even other businesses outside of the auto industry, we get a chance to see other perspectives.” If your network has easy fixes to your problems, you can quickly go back to making money and growing your business.
There are many ways to increase your profits and the best way to find them is through networking with other shop owners. When fellow shop owners share the knowledge they’ve collected, everyone in the industry benefits. Amber says, “I’ve met so many great people that have offered up so much advice and congratulations. It makes me feel like I made the right decision in switching careers. The shop owners that I’ve met truly care about their businesses, their employees, and their customers and that’s extremely encouraging.” So, get to networking and see your business grow!
Both Bob and Amber will be at the annual DRIVE EXPO this year. The DRIVE EXPO is a four-day industry event that will offer hands-on management training sessions, presentations by industry leaders, software demonstrations, exhibitions, and various networking opportunities exclusively tailored to today’s shop owners. So, register today and join hundreds of other shop owners in THE networking event of the year to see a direct increase in your profits!
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Prepared by Chase Clough