For professional service providers, the bottom line is key. But many independent repair shop owners don't know how to monitor the numbers that make up their bottom lines. Now, Federated Auto Parts has launched a new training initiative to help these shop owners make better sense of the business end of their operations, and to improve profits and enhance customer satisfaction.
The Federated Profit Improvement Seminar Program, which was developed in association with Affinia and the Essential Actions Design Group, includes two hours of field training, workbooks and an interactive CD that allows shop owners to track statistical data and develop profit plans specific to their business.
"This new training program is an example of the tools Federated provides its customers to help them succeed in today's competitive marketplace," says Affinia's Mike Allen. "Our goal is to help the service provider customers see that making small changes in how they do business everyday can make a big difference to their bottom line."
Barrie Buck, owner of two Meineke Car Centers in Lynchburg, Va., is one of several local shop owners participating in the training program's test phase. Buck, who has been in business for more than 23 years, says this is the first time he can remember attending a seminar that specifically addressed business management techniques.
"One of the big problems I've had through the years is just being able to tell from day to day, or week to week, if I'm making a profit," Buck says. "Now that I've taken the class, I understand how to look at my numbers and use them to measure what my shop is doing."
Buck says he uses the CD given to him by Federated to track labor and parts costs and revenue. And, by using one of the spreadsheets loaded onto the CD, he can "plug in numbers" to see how they will affect his shop's profitability. "For example, you can see what will happen if you change your labor rate by a dollar. The spreadsheets allow you to project profit, and see how the numbers interact with each other."
In addition to teaching shop owners how to measure profitability, the seminar advises them on the importance of measuring productivity. Specifically, it tells shop owners to let technicians know they are being watched, which in turn makes the technicians more conscious of their work habits.
"Once they know they are being watched and understand how their productivity affects the bottom line, technicians tend to become more productive," says Buck.
Although Buck has only been using the Federated tools for six months, he says he's seen big changes.
"I'm working on my year-end statement right now, so I don't have the actual figures from the accountants yet. But we're in a whole lot better shape than we were six months ago, let's put it that way," he says.
The Federated training program is currently being conducted through test groups with a planned expanded roll out later in the year. For more information about the program, visit the company's Web site.