Last week, I received a letter from a former shop owner. It was a compelling note, and it was requesting some information about the industry. His story was a disturbing one, and it ultimately resulted in him selling his business. The disturbing part about the note is that all the unfortunate things about our industry had happened to him. I guess you might say it was his version of the perfect storm.
The situation involved all the usual collision subjects: steering, labor rate suppression, various unreasonable mandates, duplication of systems, reduced parts margins, business partner issues, etc. Did I miss any? The unfortunate thing for this owner is that he faced all of these issues in a short period of time.
I give him credit; he looked at each with a very business savvy point of view. He looked at franchising, developing an MSO, becoming part of a group, partnering with a consolidator and closing. Ultimately, he decided to sell. That decision seemed like the best solution for him in his situation.
I regularly visit with shop owners and hear them say, “There is no solution, I have no choice.” That is just not the case. There are choices on how to battle specific problems or business conditions that are causing less than desirable results. Yes, these choices are available in our industry, too. The important thing is to approach them from a business point of view. Don’t let your emotions enter into the process. If you feel you can’t be objective, get an opinion from a knowledgeable third party who has nothing to gain from the outcome. They’re out there, and your fellow shop owners can help you pick a good one.
Having the freedom to choose what solution works best for you is what we get in our free enterprise system. Selling, staying and fighting, growing, joining a group, taking on a franchise or going the DRP or non-DRP route are just some of your choices. The important thing is you have a choice. It’s your business. You know it best, and you can take it in the direction you want to go in.
It’s only when we truly cannot decide that we have no choices.