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Nine Tips for Increasing Shop Performance

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This year, Dennis Raftopoulos’ MAACO shop in North Brunswick, N.J., took home the organization’s Regional Cup Award for stellar performance and operations that have led to an increase in overall car count and sales. This is the third year that the shop has received the honor.

Here’s how Raftopoulos has been able to turn his one-time mediocre shop into an award-winning facility:When Raftopoulos took over the shop in 2009, it was making $600,000 a year and saw 15–16 cars per week. Each year since then, the revenue and cars per week have increased. This year, the shop was just shy of $2.6 million and sees between 25–26 cars per week.

1. Set Clear Goals

When Raftopoulos stepped in as the new owner, he knew he had to make some changes. He started by creating goals for himself and the shop workers as a benchmark for turning around the shop’s success. Raftopoulos decided that in order to get where he wanted to be, he would have to increase revenue by at least $250,000 and bring in an average of an additional 1–2 cars per week each year.

2. Communicate

Without your staff backing you, setting goals won’t get you very far, Raftopoulos says. He kept his staff in the know from day one and clearly outlined what the goals were and what was expected of them. Every week, the team has a meeting in the morning. Raftopoulos lets the staff know if they’re on track to meet their goals or if they’re behind—which he says rarely happens.  

3. Invest in the Customer Experience

One of the first things that Raftopoulos did to bring more customers in was to invest in new equipment and update the office and waiting area. Raftopoulos made an investment of close to $40,000 in new equipment and sprucing up the place, which included painting the facility, ripping out the carpets and installing tiling to make the environment more welcoming to his customers.

4. Reach Out

Raftopoulos didn’t wait for customers to come to him—he went after them. From the start, he’s been making phone calls to car dealers, taxi companies and local vendors to offer his shop’s assistance. He offers deals to help these companies save money on work they need done. Once every two months, Raftopoulos goes out into the community and speaks with local business owners of all kinds to make connections. That way, whenever a business needs work done, Raftopoulos’ MAACO will be top-of-mind.

5. Get Involved in the Community

Besides what the MAACO parent brand does on its own, Raftopoulos doesn’t do any type of special advertising for his shop. When he first began, he did billboards and newspaper ads. When he stopped doing them, he said there was no decrease in the amount of people that were coming to his shop.

Now, instead of paying for ad placements, he spreads the word by being active in the community. MAACO New Brunswick throws a golf outing for the police department each year, participates in church giveaways and sponsors a number of different teams, including a local cheerleading team. The shop also donates to the Children’s Foundation and gives out company gift cards to raffle off at events.

6. Treat Your Customers like Friends and Family

Although it may be unconventional, Raftopoulos swears a hug goes a long way.  Smiling and greeting every customer that walks in the door in a warm and welcoming manner is one of the things that he says has made the biggest difference. Raftopoulos says that the only employees who speak directly with the customers are himself and his manager. The reason for this is that they know exactly how to interact with the customers and how to best relay information. Plus, he wants all of his staff’s focus on doing the best repairs possible.

7. Quality Repairs, Every Time

In order to increase car count, vehicles need to be moving in and out of the shop at a consistent pace. Raftopoulos wants to be clear that doesn’t mean his staff rushes through jobs. Every job that goes through the shop has a quality repair checklist that follows it. Before it enters a new department, everything off of the list in the current department needs to be checked. Before the car is released to the customer, Raftopoulos or the manager needs to sign off on the work.

By ensuring quality repairs, the shop has positive word-of-mouth and glowing reviews from Yelp and Google.

8. Be Transparent

Raftopoulos also gets referrals from taking his customers through every step of the process. He explains that many customers have never been in a situation like this or have no idea what they’re doing. That’s why he makes sure to thoroughly explain the process and break everything down for them—from the insurance process to what is happening with his or her vehicle.

9. Show Your Staff Appreciation

For a job well-done, Raftopoulos likes to throw spontaneous dinner parties or events to say thank you to his staff for meeting the goals that he’s set for them.  It’s his way of saying “I appreciate what you’ve done, and let’s do it again for next week.”

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