Summer is here, which means soaring gas prices and as a result, the slow season for many auto repair businesses. Although your shop may be empty, it is important to use this time wisely. There are many things to be done during the slow months to help you take advantage of your busier times of year. What you do during the summer can help you plan ahead and make necessary improvements, especially if you’re in an area of the country with harsh winters and are busy making accident-related repairs during the colder months.
Take the time to follow this body shop and auto repair business plan now so you can cash in later. Here are the steps:
Know Your Numbers
You will have very profitable months and other times when business is very slow, so you need to learn your numbers and plan accordingly. Calculate your bottom line – how much you need to make to keep your business up and running. This includes your rent, employee salaries, insurance and other fees. If you need assistance in budgeting and notating, there are tons of free resources to use. Check out the Business Budget Smart Sheet to assist you in keeping daily and monthly costs.
After you have started figuring out your numbers, analyze how many cars you are able to fix in one day, as body shops are limited by the amount of staff and available days for repair. Once you know your numbers, you can plan on ways to maximize steady work depending on how many repairs you are able to logistically make.
Create a Seasonal Calendar
This task can be hard for new auto repair owners, but should be elementary for anyone who has ran the business for over one year. To plan for slow season, know when the slow times will occur. These can happen for a few days around certain holidays, a week if a local fair comes to town, or a few months during the summer. Once you know when your business is bound to slow down, you can create strategies to bring in more sales and work on your business during that time.
Implement Marketing Strategies
Many body shop owners make the mistake of increasing marketing during busy months as the extra cash provides an opportunity to invest in advertising. However, that is the wrong strategy. You are limited by the available bays and employees, and could end up turning clients away or asking for long wait times. Instead of attracting new clients when you are already busy, save the profits from the busy months to invest in auto repair marketing strategies during the slow months.
When advertising, consider what marketing strategies you can offer to encourage clients to visit your shop. You can offer slow season discounts on car repairs and maintenance, such as a free car wash with an oil change or a free $20 gas card with a repair job over $250. Consider what special services you can offer in addition to regular ones; options may include window tinting, car detailing and roof rack installations. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your auto repair marketing.
When times are slow, enlist your staff in making improvements to your business that you would not otherwise have time for. Cleaning and organizing will make the busy months go by more smoothly. Take inventory of your equipment to check if anything is outdated or broken and needs to be replaced. Survey your entire business to see if anything needs improvements that you can make when times are slow. Perhaps your driveway needs to be repaved or your waiting area needs to be redone.
Research a Small Business Loan
If you take the steps listed above and discover that equipment needs to be replaced, you need to launch a marketing campaign, or you need more cash flow, use this slow time to research your small business loan options. Alternative lenders like IOU Financial offer loans for these types of situations and offer fast turnaround times. You can have your cash in hand and implement your auto repair business plan before summer is over, positioning yourself well to get ahead of the competition and make the most of your next busy season.
Contact us to learn more about using a loan to get ahead this summer.