Turn Excess Resources into Revenues
Recently I’ve noticed quite a number of shops with very few vehicles on their lots to be repaired. People are driving less these days and consequently having fewer accidents. Others are not using the repair money to do the repairs. With shops having fewer jobs, many have an over-capacity of space, personnel and equipment. Might there be a way to turn these excess resources into revenue?
Consultant Jay Abrahams’s first book, Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2001) addressed this issue from a marketing point of view, but his new book, The Sticking Point Solution: 9 Ways to Move Your Business from Stagnation to Stunning Growth During Tough Economic Times (Vanguard Press, 2009) takes a more broad-based look at ways to cut costs and boost profits. I was particularly struck with his many examples of one business doing a joint venture to take advantage of another business’s excess space, time, equipment, expertise or personnel.
PAINT MORE JOBS
The most obvious application for a body shop joint venture is collecting additional revenue for the use of the spray booth. I worked for a short time selling small spray booths for industrial applications. It’s surprising how many small products require painting and yet the costs for installing even a small spray booth include all of the usual environmental protection inspections and permits. If an enterprising shop owner looks at new business licenses in the local area, there is a chance that there will be a manufacturer or remanufacturer of toys, bikes, furniture, appliances or other products that may require painting. To save booth installation costs, a shop would most likely be able to negotiate spray booth time on weekends or perhaps even evenings. I’ve seen shops already painting filing cabinets, horse trailers, RVs and boats. Certainly this is a resource that can readily be a source of other than vehicle repair income.
MORE WELDING WORK
Another resource most shops have in abundance is welding equipment with high-power compressors and related equipment. Companies specializing in small item repairs like bicycles, motor scooters and more may find access to welding equipment during off-hours to be exactly what they need. It might also be possible to job out the services of certified shop welders to do the welding (same goes for the painters, with those new joint venture painting relationships I just mentioned). You have already covered the cost of certification and so can pass on that saving along with the equipment use.
FILL YOUR SPACE
Not all shops have abundant space, but I have seen many with spacious waiting areas and conference rooms. One shop owner made his space available for a voting location on Election Day. If there is ample space to have a meeting room, there are any number of evening activities that might be hosted there. In my area I even see Sunday morning church services held in storefronts and other unlikely buildings. If outside space is abundant, it may also be possible to host a small swap meet or other outside gathering. Idle space can be a good source of revenue.
CREATE BETTER DRIVERS
Some states no longer provide driver training in high school. This has opened the door to a multitude of private driving schools in these states. While a limited amount of information on collision prevention is provided by most state motor vehicle departments, some driving schools may be willing to do a joint venture with a collision repair facility to offer one day a month of collision prevention at the shop. Accident prevention videos are generally available from both state and federal agencies. A shop is also in a unique position to show actual damaged vehicles and to discuss the real effects of various impacts.
Shop personnel can be made available to present the information if a driving school instructor is not conversant with collision details. Financial arrangements can vary all the way from sharing a fee the driving school charges driving students to offering the program as a supplement to the school’s program and paying a commission to the school for the referrals. It could even be useful to provide the program as a community service activity.
Tom Franklin, author of Strategies for Greater Body Shop Growth, has been a sales and marketing consultant for more than 40 years.