I didn’t have a clue about how bad conditions were in the world until the dire circumstances were pounded into my head by the media. Things are bad, but I’ve seen worse.
As an industry, we should look at this time as an opportunity to make our companies run more efficiently. Thankfully, I’m not in mortgage banking or real estate. I’m glad that my business is only 20% off and not 100% off like some businesses I know. I know it is time to sharpen my pencil and adjust my business plan.
Use this slow period to refine your processes, including an estimate that includes all billable items. Use this time to stand your ground for labor rate increases we so desperately need. This is the time to make our industry better.
Please don’t fall into the trap of giving away the store to acquire the job. It is the time to think out of the box in a creative way to keep your piece of the pie without giving away the store.
Tough times are no excuse for selling a sub-quality repair. It is important not to compromise the OEM’s repair standards. This message must be broadcast loud and clear to insurers so the industry doesn’t slip back to a place it has taken us years to rise out of. Insurers will use this period to take us back 10 years if we aren’t careful.
We can never compromise the repair process or agree to whatever it takes to get the job in the shop. Use this time to teach your writers how to sell again. With DRPs, most writers have lost their sales skills, and this is a good time to hone lost skills.
If you take this time to re-think your business plan it will pay off with great future dividends. Change your attitude to remember that our industry still has it pretty good, instead of wishing for the good old days. When I went into business 30 years ago no one thought I would make it; some even told me to my face that I would fail. I refused to believe them then and I refuse to believe things are as bad as they could be. If I believed what the media portrays on the evening news, I would look for the tallest bridge and jump off. Things sound so bad that we are prone to forget that as Americans we still live better than 98% of the rest of the world. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, we should remember to stop and appreciate what we have.
Our attitudes can make or break us during hard times. Once I was struggling financially and complained all the time. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I broke both my arms in a Motocross accident. I couldn’t feed myself for 3 months and underwent a couple of surgeries to repair broken bones.
Losing use of my arms taught me a big lesson. I asked God why this was happening to me. But I could still walk and found myself thanking God for the use of my legs. Things could have been worse. I could have been paralyzed. but instead as I recovered physically, financial difficulties seemed minor.
These days I try not to complain. Instead I choose to count the many blessings I have in my life. We are husbands, wives, mothers and fathers first. Being business owners is what “we do” not who “we are” and we must always remember this. When we value the important things in life, it will clear our heads to make proper business decisions. When we are more concerned about our stuff than we are about our families, we need to adjust our priorities.
I don’t have all of the answers, nor can I provide a secret formula that will guarantee your success in these difficult times, but I can tell you that everything is relative to your frame of mind. You can choose to look for the opportunities or choose the doom and gloom—it’s up to you. My choice is to believe that I have it pretty good and I’m going to look for things to be thankful for. What will your choice be?
What a great opportunity we all have before us.