The 8 biggest challenges facing workshop owners

The 8 biggest challenges facing workshop owners

What are the biggest challenges facing anyone running an automotive business today? We asked our Members. Here’s what they had to say.

Time factors, staffing issues and technological barriers are among the biggest challenges facing workshop owners today.

That’s according to a major new survey of 1500 Capricorn Members, State of the Nation 2020.

From a list, Members were asked to name their top five challenges to running an automotive workshop. Here’s what they said their biggest challenges were — and a few ideas to help Members tackle them.

Having a good work-life balance

Having a good work-life balance topped the list, with 46% of Members saying it was a challenge they faced running an automotive business. We also found 52% of Members consider having a good work-life balance a top marker of success — so there’s clearly some work to be done.

We have six great tips from experts here, for any workshop owner wanting a better work-life balance.

Finding time to take a holiday

On a related topic, 46% of Members also said they struggled to find time to take a holiday.

Capricorn Member Luke Drummond, of Victor Motors Mechanical Services in Victor Harbour, South Australia, said it was important to ensure members of your team were capable of running your workshop in your absence.

“I just make a date and go and let the boys know when they’re going to step up,” he said. “The work turnover isn’t as great as when the wife and I are here, but it still ticks over and keeps our customers happy.”

Finding good staff

State of the Nation found 36% of Members struggled to find qualified staff. This number leapt to 59% for larger workshops.

Member Glenn Matthew, co-owner of Autoclinic in Heidelberg, Victoria, said the trade had changed and was “just not as attractive as it used to be”.

What can be done about it? Mr Matthew explores some ideas here. [Link to: /biggest-challenge-facing-big-workshops-staffing-and-apprentices/]

Keeping up with changing technology

Twenty-nine per cent of Members said changing technology was among the biggest challenges they faced. Perhaps this is no surprise: it can be a costly investment, especially for a smaller workshop.

Yet getting the right technology in place, and using it well, unlocks the door to improved workshop efficiency and increased profitability. [Link to: /technology-costing-workshop-profits/]

Balancing the different parts of their role

Balancing the different parts of their role was proving a challenge for 29% of Members, who feel pulled in different directions throughout the working day.

Geoff Mutton, General Manager of The Automotive Technician, said the key was for workshop owners to delegate responsibility and trust their team to get on with the job.

“You need to have a lead person out the back and a lead person out the front,” he said. “If you’re just starting out as a one-man show, then as you grow the business, you’ve got to delegate responsibilities, and let other people take on other roles.”

Financial worries

Not surprisingly, money matters are a factor for some Members, with 28% saying financial concerns were a challenge.

Automotive business coach, Workshop Whisperer Rachael Sheldrick said workshop owners could be their own biggest barrier to success.

“You have to overcome your challenges with financial literacy, through seeking help from a good accountant and coach,” Ms Sheldrick said.

Read more about her eight indicators of workshop success here.

Accessing technical information and diagnostics

A quarter of Members find it a challenge to access the technical info and diagnostics they need.

Matt Cobb, owner of Cobb’s Exhaust and 4x4 Centre in Gunnedah, New South Wales, said he relies on Capricorn Service Data. He said other workshops in his area didn’t have the platform, so it also gave him a competitive advantage.

Capricorn Members get FREE access to a lot of technological information through Capricorn Service Data. It gives you instant access to a comprehensive range of online service information covering thousands of vehicles, including manufacturers’ service schedules, service illustrations, repair times and an estimate calculator.

Powered by Autodata, with its global database of 34,000 vehicles from more than 60 manufacturers, it includes 96% of cars on the road in Australia and 87% in New Zealand.

For information about other kinds of technology to invest in, read our article on essential workshop tech, here.

Dealing with price-sensitive customers

Customers are putting the squeeze on profits in several ways, including supplying their own parts and using price-comparison websites. So, it’s no surprise 24% of Members say price-sensitive customers are a big challenge to running their businesses.

Read more about three ways customers are squeezing profit margins and what workshops can do about it, here.

You can access the full State of the Nation Report 2020 here.

This article was published 08/12/2020 and the content is current as at the date of publication.