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As pandemic closes doors, doors of opportunity open

As the crisis forces some shops to close, it presents opportunity for acquisitions and a wake-up call to continually improve business operations

Marathon, Fla.—Repair shops are closing across the country as they fall victim to the pandemic, David Rogers told Aftermarket Matters Weekly, who owns four Denver-area businesses including Keller Bros. Auto Repair, as well as the shop management software company, Shop4D.

Among today’s challenges are also opportunities, however.

“It’s a thinning of the herd, but it undoubtedly presents opportunities for successful shops to capitalize and grow,” he said, adding that the first low-hanging fruit is to purchase customer lists.

As an industry consultant, Rogers says he’s presently in the process of helping a California client obtain a business and its real estate.

“He’s acquiring one of his competitor’s shops, who had bought the business a few months ago without the experience of running an independent repair shop. He didn’t have his systems and processes in place when Covid-19 hit, and that was it for him — he lost the whole thing. The doors are closing on the ‘wait-and-see’ people.”

The most important advice he said he can give shop owners is that they must always be improving their businesses.

“You can’t just let things keep going to see what will happen. Whether things are going great or they seem be being going bad, you must always be focused on shop improvements and tightening it up.”

Everything from processes to financials need to be continually addressed and considered, Rogers said.

“That’s your main purpose as a business owner. If you’re not doing those things, then you’re going to get the rug pulled out from you sooner or later — whether it’s the bankers, a pandemic or any number of risks that can come along. There must be continual improvements.”

There’s a term in the consulting business called “nuggetering,” which applies to business owners who read and listen to multiple sources in order to improve their companies, Rogers explained.

“They take a little bit of info from here and there, then apply them together in an effort to hopefully make it work — that’s not the way to do it. There must be a centralized message and focused mission that you’re committed to. Shop owners have to figure out their direction, what they want to accomplish and find the right expert to help them. Don’t put everything in a bag, shake it up and pull little ‘nuggets’ out — it’s a long and protracted way to improve business.

“It’s not to say any of the nuggets are wrong, but they have to be complementary to one another. Processes must be synchronized and orchestrated as one. Some owners may be doing more harm than good without realizing it — there can be a lot of conflicting information so that it’s difficult to pick a direction to move forward.

“You better pick your horse, get on it and ride. Have a plan or risk being part of someone else’s.”

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