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24 Things You Can Do To Build a $1 Million Dollar Auto Repair Shop in 3 Years

24 Things You Can Do To Build a $1 Million Dollar Auto Repair Shop in 3 Years

Posted by Jovan Medina Caro on 19th Jan 2015

For many of us, making the transition from employee to business owner was a great idea. The idea of no longer taking orders and making our own decisions was one of the things to look forward to and being able to have a say in everything that went on was a picturesque idea. Unfortunately, opening a business is tough and no one wants to be another casualty in the failing auto repair shop industry which is why we have compiled a list of the 24 things you can do to build a $1 Million Dollar Auto Repair Shop in 3 Years. These tips and tricks aren’t top secret but they seem to have worked for forbes top 500 companies and we’re hoping they work for you as well.

24 Things You Can Do To Build a $1 Million Dollar Auto Repair Shop in 3 Years

1.Realize the Problem may Begin with you

Your business is an extension of your life and reflects you in almost every way. The core of your business mirrors your beliefs, motivations, worldviews not to mention strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re experiencing a problem in your life, unless you try and get everything in order, chances are this problem will manifest itself in your auto repair shop. A disorganized person unless they try and organize their life will have a disorganized business 9 times out of 10.

2.It’s not always a Marketing Problem

Getting more people to visit your auto repair shop is probably the hardest thing to do. If you don’t have enough clients, business owners will hire someone to be in charge of marketing and that decision can end up going either way.

No one cares about your business as much as you do which is why it is important to surround yourself with people with a strong work ethic and a sense of responsibility. If you hire someone to be in charge of marketing that isn’t passionate about it or is just seeing this opportunity as a job, it isn’t just a marketing problem.

3.Accept Personal Growth


reinvent yourself

A business is a learning experience where ideas, concepts and people are studied on a daily basis. Your aim is to use your role as business owner as an opportunity to grow personally as well as professionally. If you grow as a person it will bring about happiness and self-fulfillment, something that money will not. Aim to learn and grow and that combined with hard work and a little luck will bring the success you yearn for.

4.Don’t Get Distracted by Stories

We’ve all heard success stories about guys starting out their businesses out of their garage and now have multimillion dollar companies or the guys that have accumulated a fortune because of a big idea. You’ll watch videos where they interview business founders with big ideas that were bought by big companies and a lot of us work so hard on trying to come up with the next big thing that we neglect the little things that will get us to the finish line. A big idea may be a shortcut to success but not everyone will come up with the next big thing so our best bet is to remember slow and steady wins the race.

5.Solve day-to-day Challenges

There is nothing better than the end result of solving a problem successfully which is why one of the best tips we can give you is to take things one day at a time. An auto repair shop just starting to define its target market shouldn’t worry about looking for a place to possibly open a second shop. You should always think ahead but don’t neglect daily issues to try and jump to the bigger problems.

6.Be Efficient with your Time


get more done

Good results are a product of effort multiplied by traction (the progress of a company and the momentum it gains as the business grows).

If you have just opened up a shop you don’t have much traction due to your short amount of time in the industry. Just remember though, there is a learning curve involved so don’t worry about not yet knowing which actions create the most value and just focus on being as efficient as you can with daily activities.

7.There are Always Sacrifices to be Made

Business owners compared to employees have one big difference and that is, time spent on the business. Employees complete their shift and go home to worry about other problems they may have. Business owners on the other hand think about the shop 24/7 which is why there are sacrifices that need to be made.

Learn to pick the battles you want to fight and you will find that you’ll be less stressed. We’re not saying stop hanging out with your friends and avoid your family but we are saying that business takes up more time than you originally thought and in order to be successful you need to prioritize.

All activities require either time or money (or both) which is why it is important to eliminate the things that you can do without in order to help your business. If you were prepared to let go of some friendships and hobbies to chase your dream you know how important time is.

8.Be Honest with Yourself

Lately all we see and hear is stories of entrepreneurs living lavish lifestyles and working 5 hours a day from home. We’re here to tell you that even though you see these self-proclaimed entrepreneurs at Starbucks every morning, not all of them own an actual business.

Starting a business is fun because it allows you to put all of your ideas into one project but it is far from easy. Don’t be a hipster because as you may have found out, owning a business isn’t really as glamorous as these people make it out to be.

9.Cash Flow is King

Businesses require nearly all of our hard earned savings which is why it is important to remember that no matter how large or how small, every sale is important. Many people have their back against the wall when they open up a business and this creates fear that if balanced with determination can be a great motivator. Being comfortable can lead to sloppy thinking and wastefulness, something you can’t have in a business.

10.Learn to Live with Being in the Red Zone the first Year

We use our hard earned dollars to invest in our business which is why the first year or so (maybe 2) you are considered to be in the red zone. If you’ve been around for longer than 3 years it’s ok if you’re not making a fortune but at least you have profit coming in.

The first few years are all about recon, targeting your niche market and above all, auto repair shop marketing. So the more you learn about your target audience, the better your odds of being successful in the first year.

11.You do NOT Work Here

As a business owner problems are created on a daily basis and in order to save money we have to do many things ourselves to get things done. This is a good way to learn about all the different areas of your auto repair shop (marketing, customer service, production, etc) and how things work. Being that it is your shop it’s easy to slip into the mindset of “I must get all this work done” and that is a big mistake. As a founder of a business it’s important to have a different focus. Example: don’t do things that you’re paying someone to do. If someone isn’t picking up the slack and is poor at customer service, perhaps they aren’t fit to work for you. It may be hard to get good help but that is no excuse to settle for less.

12.Remember you are Building the Business

Whether you’re selling an oil change or a wheel balancer remember that with every sale you’re really selling your business. You want customers to not hesitate next time they need an auto body shop and always come to you which is why you should make every customer experience a memorable one. (see our previous article, 5 Ways to Exceed Customer Expectations at your Auto Repair Shop)

13.Learn to be a CEO

If you’re like most business owners you have big projections that are optimistic and sometimes inaccurate, which that’s perfectly fine. As a leader and CEO your job is not to be right 100% of the time but instead to train yourself to be a strategist and learn from your mistakes. It takes time but create a vision and make a plan that will slowly bring it to reality. When successful, measure the results and repeat.

14.Be Prepared to be “Stuck at Work” for long Periods of Time

Juggling other important aspects of your life while maintaining a business is probably the hardest thing anyone can do. Since the business takes up so much time in your head it’s difficult to be 100% with your partner, friends and even the world around you.

Switching to “normal mode” at the end of the day is difficult and the inbox full of unread emails and projects to be completed don’t help but something important to keep in mind is family and career should not be mixed and tuning out of work mode for a few hours is pivotal to keep the balance in your life.

15.Build a Strong Team


build a strong team

As entrepreneurs we are sometimes known to be a little stubborn and prefer to work alone. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that but until you manage to upload your intelligence into a self-sustaining orbiting satellite with high speed internet, you will be dependent on other members of the human race. If you want to do something great, build a cohort around your ideas and you will find that it will prove to be beneficial to meet your end goals.

16.Consider Wages vs. Profit

Profit and wages seem to be one in the same for auto repair shops in the first year so don’t worry if your “salary” is lowered in order to cover expenses. In fact, paying your bills sometimes means using other incomes and personal savings just to get by but if it becomes a habit you will rob your business of the money it needs to grow.

Give yourself just enough to survive and invest more in the business because the end result will be your business prospering faster.

17.Learn How to Spend Money

Spending money well is an art that many take for granted and keeping a low profile can go a long way in helping boost your auto body shop into becoming what you want it to be, successful. Many businesses fail because founders spend money in a way that makes them look good while their business is struggling.

The same goes for the money you invest in your business. You don’t need to spend $2000 on your logo nor do you need a $5000 website. You can outsource the creation of your logo on Odesk for less than $100 and there are excellent Wordpress themes you can purchase for $99.

18.Don’t Dwell on Business Cards

If I had a dollar for every auto shop owner that spent their first earnings on designing and printing out business cards, I’d be giving Mark Zuckerberg a run for his money. Business cards are important but many auto shop owners just use them to satisfy their own ego trips. Remember you are on a tight budget in the early days so every dollar counts.

19.Data is as Important as Money

data is important

If money is king, data is the queen. Begin to measure as much data as possible and in no time you will see that patterns emerge. Install website analytics and create a database of customers with names, emails and basic information.

Track as much information as you can, because even if you don’t use it all now, it will provide you with valuable context for future growth.

20.Always Reinvest

As your business grows it is only logical that your expenses will grow as well. New jobs will be created and your shop will offer new services and products which creates more expenses. Your priority the first few years is to grow your business and make a decent living doing what you love, not growing your personal bank account.

21.Take Everything with a Grain of Salt

Every day you will come across someone that will say “why don’t you do this?” or “why don’t you do this differently?” (Including myself). An important factor to keep in mind is everyone has different viewpoints which might even conflict with your own.

Good advice is an ambiguous concept because what works for one industry doesn’t always work for all businesses. Also, remember some people are here to help while others only appear to have good intentions.

The best way to identify bad advice is the person from who it’s coming from. Does the person providing the advice lead the life you want? Take advice from individuals who have a similar definition of success as you do and have produced results you want to produce.

22.Learn for the Greats

Every industry has its important historical figures both past and present that have made it easier for others to learn concepts and tricks of the trade to running a successful business. We may be auto shop owners but we are also businessmen and should be learning from the greats.

Success is about focus and perseverance and no one has shown us more about these two concepts than the late Steve Jobs. If you have a favorite success story or personality, chances are there are articles, papers and books out there that underline their steps in becoming successful.

23.Hire Positive People that are Passionate

Job interviews aren’t always effective means to getting to know someone on a personal level and just because someone doesn’t have an answer as to how to deal with a difficult customer doesn’t mean that person isn’t effective at customer service.

Detecting values such as acceptance, patience and trust is more important than knowledge in a particular field. After all, it’s harder to teach an old dog new tricks. Auto repair knowledge can be learned but finding a person that is responsible and passionate doesn’t happen every day.

24.Avoid Time Wasters

If you’re around other entrepreneurs you know that there are the types that are 100% dedicated to their work but then you have the types that are always free to have coffee with you. These are the types of people that you need to avoid as much as possible because they want to lead you away from your goals.

Networking and exchange of ideas are great but dwelling on a single idea and not doing anything about it is unproductive and should be avoided. Talking to a fellow auto repair shop owner about maybe doing business together and investing long periods of time during the day on it is unproductive and before you know it, half your day is gone with no value created. 

Is there an extra step we missed that is pivotal to quickly be on the road to success?