When I opened a multi-brand car repair garage several years ago, I did so because I had knowledge and experience in automotive repair as well as confidence in my ability to interact well with customers. Armed with these skills, of course, I expected my garage to be a profitable venture and yield a good return on investment.
Quickly, I realised that operating a garage requires knowledge of many other areas such as managing the team, ensuring smooth flow of operations, understanding financials, ensuring regulatory compliances and taxation, handling dispute resolution, and interacting with external agencies such as insurers, corporate customers and spares suppliers.
Over the years, working with many garage owners, it’s become evident to me that most garage owners start out in a similar way and are faced with similar challenges until they eventually figure it out. This process of figuring out all the nuances of running a profitable workshop is time consuming and can place a massive burden on the business and the founder’s finances. Like any other business, running a workshop can be chaotic and strenuous (physically, emotionally and financially) unless the right systems and processes are established.
Broadly, the challenges in operating a workshop can be classified into People & Process. Effective People and efficient Processes have a direct impact on Profit.
Herein, against each section, I’ve listed a set of questions a Garage Owner or Operator should ask themselves.
If the answer to a large number (>60%) of these questions is a definitive “No”, it is clear that your workshop business needs an upgrade. In such a case, I’d strongly recommend a good Garage Management System (GMS). Many of the challenges listed herein can be appropriately addressed by deployment of the right technology.
Fundamentally, it is important that customers have a good service experience at your garage. Use of technology such as GMS automatically enforces a simple Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) covering all stages of the repair life cycle and ensures a consistent experience for the customer every time.A good GMS provides capabilities to address the following areas. Depending on the nature, size and stage of your business, you should be able to pick and choose specific features of the GMS initially and add-on the rest as your business matures. This way, you can focus on what you do best–car repair!
From our experience, we’ve established that a GMS can have a substantial positive impact on your business. Post successful deployment of the GMS, it is reasonable to expect higher car inflow, higher revenue, better cash flow, and good margins. Additionally, customers will perceive you as a modern, capable and trustworthy repairer.
Following is a comprehensive list of benefits you can expect with the right GMS:
1. Motivated and productive team, since they are well equipped with the right tools and information to service your customers.
2. Satisfied customers, attributed to higher digital engagement at all stages of the repair and transparency in all dealings.
3. Lower Turnaround Time (TaT), due to quicker estimation, timely approvals from customers, right procurement, streamlined repair execution, higher technician productivity, quick and error free invoicing.
4. Higher customer inflow, generated due to satisfied customers, word-of-mouth publicity, timely service reminders, and promotion/loyalty schemes.
5. Right size inventory, stocked to meet needs based on historical demand. This leads to reduced leakages, loss, damaged, obsolescent parts and better utilisation of your capital.
6. Timely regulatory compliances, enabled by digital record of purchases, sales and inventory. Hence, the tax filing process also becomes hassle free.
7. Higher profit and a sustainable business, generated by higher revenue, better cash flow and good margins!
In summary, with a GMS, you’ll be able to reduce or eliminate paperwork in routine activities such as writing job cards, repair updates, billing, inventory, technician tracking, customer follow-ups, compliances etc. Most importantly, you’ll have more quality personal time to spend with your family, friends and doing the things you love! You will fall in love with your Garage again. I Guarantee it!