You must increase value. It’s your job as CEO. More importantly, it’s your job as CIO, Chief Inspiration Officer, to demonstrate to the staff that it can be done and then show them how.
There are multiple meanings to the phrase “increase the value.” What I’m referring to is both what’s it worth from an IRS perspective AND what someone will actually pay for it.
An expert accountant can discuss the obvious ways to demonstrate an increase in value:
- Three tax returns showing a pattern of increasing sales, net profit and assets with, if possible, some decrease in cost of goods sold, expenses and/or liabilities.
- Customer job tickets showing a steady increase in some combination of average sale, repeat business from clusters of customers who belong to the same family or group of friends, or online reviews by customers on your Google+, Facebook or articles you and your staff have written on the company blog/website.
- Steady employment history with a mix of senior, middle and new technicians joining your firm, succeeding and then retiring. This can be shown even in small firms of just a few employees where the employees are comfortable and feel rewarded for their efforts.
A Practical Way
Are you proud of your shop? What looks good and what needs improvement? Consider:
- Your building
- Your sign
- Customer entrance and waiting room
- Your front counter where job tickets are written, keys accepted and payments received
- Your bathrooms
- Your shop
- Your inventory
What needs the most improvement? Fix that first. Work to make your shop glisten. You want your customers to be proud to tell their friends who works on the car! Grow your shop value by focusing on increasing the value each and every customer experiences every time they visit.
Be Active In Your Community
You and your employees have kids and grandkids. There are neighborhood kids living near the shop. Support the kids’ and community activities in sports, neighborhood groups, 4-H, school bands, and community gardens with contributions and by going to local events. Get your business name out there on scoreboards and at community events. Show you care. Reward employees who get involved!
Have employees rotate answering the phone and waiting on customers. Avoid being the only one giving estimates and delivering cars. If you’re indispensible then you become irreplaceable.
Customers know your business and reputation. Don’t make it about you. Customers know exactly what they can depend upon from your business – fix that transmission quickly, at a fair price and stand behind your work. Man or woman, young or old, regardless of race or religion, any customer can be sure they are respected, the work is done and done right the first time at a fair price. That is being simply professional and demonstrating expertise and reliability.
Every single visit to your business needs to impress today’s customer of your professional abilities and ethics.
Oh, by the way, if you don’t grow value, the survival chances and transferability options of your years of effort are low. So get on with it!
How, you ask, HOW can value be increased? Satisfy customers. Make them happy ― deliriously happy. They take their car to you broken and pay you to fix it. You can’t build a business alone and then sell it. You’re building a team of employees to operate a “customer satisfaction machine.” The building, equipment and even the customers are less valuable than the trained team that operates that business and fulfills customers’ needs. That system has to operate with or without you. Make it a proven system you can sell.
Don’t Wait Until Tomorrow – Adapt Today!
Now describe that business. What do those employees do? What should they do to best fulfill your customers’ needs today and next year? Give staff advanced training, mentoring and coaching. Design systems that support staff’s creativity to “steer” your business, instead of just operating it. A big part of their creativity is their ability to notice market changes and adapt to those changes today and every day.
Write down your success recipe for satisfying customers. Build a customer fulfillment process with the help of your staff. Make it a shop that repairs broken transmissions – fixing cars right the first time and at a reasonable price. Scale it. Sell it. What is your recipe, your formula for success?
Obviously not every shop is going to become a major enterprise with lots of locations. There’s a place for shops large and small. Regardless of size or number of employees, figure out your shop’s future for the sake of your employees, your family and yourself.
The tools of 100 years ago are still used but not much. Computers and automation are going to be tools of growing importance from today going forward. Bring a young person into your firm to help imagine what your firm could become. You yourself can’t do it. Your job now is to inspire, train, mentor and coach ― to build your company into a viable entity for the next 10 to 20 years. It’s time for you to plan a graceful way to step aside and let others take over.
There are giant changes happening in the automotive world. Electric and self-driving vehicles are coming. A 100+ years ago expert horse breeders and buggy builders had to make difficult choices about how they were going to adapt to a changing world. Be among the first to adapt and change, not the last. You may partner with another shop with an innovative owner. Together you might design new products and services to use your expert skills, tools and customer base to solve customers’ evolving needs. Technology is driving change. Ride it as a surfer on a wave and plan your Smart Exit!
John Anderson shares key areas of opportunity in every successful business exit strategy in this six-part series of articles written especially for the members of the Automatic Transmission Rebuilder’s Association (ATRA), and published monthly in the ATRA Trade magazine. The Smart Exit™ Series for Business Owners leads up to a half-day Smart Exit™ Workshop at the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders' Association annual international event - Powertrain EXPO in Las Vegas October 19-22.