Written by Craig Baills, SafeTstop Partner, Toowoomba
It’s no secret that our industry is moving faster than ever into the future, and along with this comes many challenges, experiences and outcomes that we as business owners and mechanics had never in our dreams imagined.
Now more than ever, there is pressure to expand and develop our training, be affiliated with a plethora of industry groups, deliver higher service levels and customer experiences and adapt to an ever developing car parque to be more relevant and vastly more experienced moving forward. The fact is, if we don’t do this we will expire as a business in the automotive independent repairers’ sector sooner rather than later.
As with any game, we need a plan. A plan to move forward, to be successful and to be damned brilliant in our field. To be sustainable, relevant and sort after in a fast emerging throwaway society, we must plan our game. The previous paragraph has some daunting facts in it, but we, as an industry need to adapt and turn the tables on what the pressures are and dare I say it, make them the norm.
Training – the more we sweat in training, the less we bleed in combat – this is paramount to our future and industry sustainability. Anyone that doesn’t get this or want to do it is going to be left behind, it costs money, it costs time, but so does our experience, service and abilities. The more you train, the better you become, the more you charge. Anyone that doesn’t accept this, be it, workshop, supplier, RTO, booking platform or industry networks, need to catch the next bus to “get the hell out of our trade” simple!!! There are no short cuts to any place worth going
Industry Groups – We are privileged as an industry to be associated with some very proactive groups and associations that share my thoughts and vision for the future of our trade. Be it Associations, Franchises, Supplier networks and Training providers, many of these are here to promote and develop our knowledge, our industry sustainability and our future.
Unfortunately, there are some that have our industry low on their list of priorities and will damage our long term future. How do you sort the good from the bad? Simple, ask! Many avenues exist for this, we have access to Respected associations or ask your fellow workshop owners or through social media forums, you will soon find out what works and what doesn’t. Always remember that “a sales pitch does not need to become our reality”, do your homework on what any industry group is going to offer on the long term sustainability of our industry and most importantly, your business.
Customer Service – It doesn’t matter what business you own or who you work for, if you are dealing with people, you are dealing with your employer. Each, individual customer is your employer, without them your business dies. Customers come to your business because they have seen your marketing, been referred to you by a friend or needed a mechanic out of urgency. How you deal with each customer, treat their cars, deliver your service often sets you apart from the dealer, the cheaper competition or their last mechanic. They pay your rent, your staff, keep the food on the table, they are your gold. Treat them as such.
Personally, we are involved in an awesome trade, knowledge, relationships, the people and the cars create awesome opportunities for anyone that wants to be involved in it. As a long term mechanic and business owner I truly believe that our knowledge base and skill set is one of the most difficult of any trade or profession, yet, historically, we are undervalued and have been seen as academically challenged and good with our hands. It’s time for this to change.
The perception that has been portrayed to the public in the past can no longer have influence on our future. We, collectively, need to step up and deliver. Deliver professionalism, quality and an accurate, learned skill set that promotes higher levels of an educated trade. It’s time to put on notice the minority in our industry that doesn’t want to deliver this, be it dodgy shops, schools, RTOs, suppliers or booking platforms that think we are mechanics of an era gone by. Our trade, Our customers, Our staff are not pawns in your game, without us you don’t exist. Our industry, Our trade, we will not tolerate dictation that controls us to deliver your outcomes, feel free to take a seat on the “get the hell out of our trade” bus if you don’t have our best interests in mind.
We are brilliant at what we do.
The past cannot be changed, but the future is within our power.