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As we go into the “slow” period of the year, you may be wondering what changes that you can make to end the year on a positive note. With all the things that are still out there affecting our business—like oil deliveries, filter supply, and labor shortages—and the remaining threat of COVID, there needs to be some light at the end of the tunnel. I will go over a few changes that you can make during this period to impact your customer service and your bottom line.

Utilize your workforce availability intelligently. We all know that as we slow down, hours dwindle down as well. As hard as it is to find quality full-time employees in today's job climate, look to supplement with a part time workforce. One of the many challenges that we face is burn out from the speeds of our services and pressure from.

Having a few part-time employees who can work a few days each week will allow you to give your main team a day off here and there. How many of you are paying overtime to these employees now because of staffing issues? Part-timers will rid you of that time and a half that is pulling down your profits. And who knows? You might find your next great manager or service advisor!

Use your extra time to improve the appearance of your stores. Making upgrades or refreshing your image is a little hard to do when you are pushing through the busy months. Get estimates on painting, asphalt work, and more. Just as you are slowing down in this industry, those slow down as well. You can find a great deal during this time. It is this time of the year that I do things like building remodeling, painting, and adding new equipment to my stores. You do not want a lot of people getting in your way or clogging up a bay when you are busy.

Prepare for the greatest week of the year: Thanksgiving week! Now, if you are a good operator, you know that this is not any normal week. You must prepare for these one weeks in advance, sometimes as early as late October. 

During this time, your car counts increase dramatically due to the high number of holiday drivers. This will continue to be the case as people still avoid air travel and such as a means of transportation to see family. Order a little heavy on your oil, filters, and customer amenities. Another shop will be doing the same thing, so waiting until the last minute is not a good thing. Oh, and remember that part-time employee thing? Those technicians will come in quite handy for these busy days. Most of you should be running at full staff each day leading up to it. Make the changes and reap the rewards.

And now we get to that pesky problem of supply shortages. Some of you may have already made a first mistake and that was leaving your current distributor for another. The new one will have the same issues. A better thing to do is to build new contacts. 

Work with new vendors to source your products and keep your business going. Many will get their people to order from parts houses like AutoZone, and that’s not a bad thing. Many of those businesses have rebate programs based on your purchases. Many times, you can negotiate better pricing because you are ordering in bulk. 

Another avenue to check out is sourcing secondary distributors. You may find that this new one carries products that your current source does not. Many of them even do uniforms, if that is an area that you may be looking for soon.

I know that there are many more things that you do out there that are not included in this list of ideas. Identifying and opening new locations, conventions, and vacations are other things that commonly happen during these next few months. No matter what you decide to do during this time, make sure that you are making positive impacts on your business. When you ramp back up next spring you want to be ready to add to that bottom line. Think about all those part time employees that can now work a few more days or the way that your store will pop in the spring sunshine. 

The choice is yours. Just make it a good one!


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