Brian Bowersock is not only the owner of one of the most successful auto repair shops in California, he’s also a coach for Elite World Wide, the host of Auto Talk Radio on San Diego’s 760 KFMB and The Auto Guy on San Diego Channel 6 News, where he does a segment every Saturday morning on auto repair and servicing. He sat down with us to share his formulas for success and the most important thing that independent shops should do today to grow their profit margins.
Kristen Stanton (KS): Thanks for talking with us today, Brian. In addition to running a very successful repair and transmission shop, you’re well known for being an excellent marketer. With all the things you can do as a shop owner to attract customers and build brand awareness, how do you know what marketing programs to include in your overall mix?
Brian Bowersock (BB): I’m willing try almost any marketing tool once – whether it be a traditional or out of the box program, or something very experimental. The key is to monitor and measure. If something works, re-do it and keep doing it. If it doesn’t, cut it. For example, we tried ads on buses. I wasn’t sure if that would work, but I thought it was interesting enough to try, and it worked.
It’s important to be willing to experiment and try new things because consumers are fickle. If I had the key to understanding human behavior all the time, I’d be a rich man! But no one can really know that, so you need to be willing to experiment.
Of course, you still need to have traditional programs in place. And by traditional, I mean anything that is mainstream today. Being on the Internet, digital marketing is mainstream today. You need a great website and it’s important to have a strong presence on other great consumer sites that attract car owners.
KS: Do you tailor your marketing programs on a seasonal level or adjust things based on how busy your shop is and how much work is coming in the door?
BB: Not really. We focus on consistent marketing throughout the year, for the entire year. We stay consistently busy and don’t experience the ups and downs throughout the year that some shops do. I do attribute this to being consistent with our marketing and keeping our brand in front of consumers, wherever they might be thinking about repair and service for the cars. We keep up the momentum – constantly!
KS: One of the biggest challenges independent shops face is maintaining and even growing their profit margins, especially in an economic environment where money is tight for a lot of consumers. What do you recommend shops do to maximize their profits while still charging their customers fair prices?
BB: The key is knowing your business. I know that sounds obvious, but the truth is – many shop owners love every aspect of working on cars, but they don’t know their numbers. To run a successful shop, you really need to dive in and do the math on your business. You can’t truly understand the ROI from marketing programs and how efficient you are without knowing these metrics.
I’m also a coach for Elite, so I get insight into how other shops are running their businesses, and I see that too many of them need to better understand their numbers – ROI from marketing programs, expenses, revenue, labor efficiencies, etc. Sure, it’s more work, but it’s really empowering to do this, then you can make the optimal decisions for your business.
KS: Thanks, Brian!