By Gary Hart
With your plan in hand, it is now time to take stock of the health of your business. For the most part, the front-end of your business is cut and dry. Your customers have damaged glass and your company will repair or replace it. Unfortunately, how your business is run and how you ultimately service the customer is not that easy.
Your shop, like most in this industry, relies heavily on practices and technology that are outdated. For example, studies over the last few years indicate that radio listeners are on a decline as services such as satellite radio have come to market, yet AGRR shops still spend a great deal of advertising money on radio spots. In another example, the AGRR industry has migrated to most repair and replacement jobs being handled on a mobile basis; however, the key component of managing the job (scheduling, invoicing, etc.) still rely on a point of sale (POS) system that is tethered to a physical location. Both examples illustrate the need for business owners and managers to put their business under a microscope and eliminate the practices that are not adding real value or make immediate changes so that they do.
There are four key areas in your AGRR business: marketing, sales, customer service and technology. You must sit down and map out how each area impacts your business and make changes as necessary.
The first place to start is with marketing. When you analyze your marketing practices, take in the big picture to account and include items such as vendor relationships, in addition to the traditional media outlets. You may find that you are focusing a majority of your attention on newspaper, yellow pages or even radio but not utilizing your vendors and suppliers such as the networks, car dealerships, auto body shops and even insurance agents. Your POS system should be able to tell you where leads are being generated from. Without control of your marketing, the other areas of your business mean nothing.
Next you will want to measure the sales in your organization. Again, your POS system should be able to generate reports that can show you your top producers. For example, do you rely on internal sales people or do you use your vendor base for referrals and if you utilize internal sales people could you find a cheaper way to capture the sale if you used an outside agent? Just as we did with our marketing examination, you will want to identify the strong and weak practices in your sales process.
In the examination of your customer service practices, you will want to pay attention to key details such as job scheduling, job completion and customer satisfaction. The first two items will determine the customer satisfaction rating, which is the most important item if you expect repeat or referral business. This means it is vital that your organization do a post job follow-up with the customer. I have found that only 2 out of 10 AGRR shops do any type of customer follow-up let alone any satisfaction scoring.
The only component that can aide in the measurement of the first three areas is the technology you use, mainly your POS system. Your POS system should help your business reduce overall costs while allowing you to add value to your business. I encourage you to really give your technology the most scrutiny because it is the single most important area that can either make or break your business.
Now that you have examined the efficiency of your business, we will take this information and complete a business and marketing plan in the next two parts.
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