It’s 2023! The old year is gone, the new year is rolling in, and if you’re like any of us, you’ve probably made some vague resolutions to improve your shop operations. Maybe you want to bump up your revenue (don’t we all?). Maybe you want to expand the biz and pick up more work.
Well, friends, we’re here to help. The first thing we did after clawing our way back to post-holiday consciousness was beg Fullbay COO Chris O’Brien to sit down with us and share some wisdom around growing the biz. Fortunately for us, he was happy to do it.
So if you’re ready to do some growing in ‘23 (or maybe just sock away some sweet, sweet cheddar), read on!
8 THINGS TO DO TO INCREASE REVENUE OR EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS
1. Start charging for DOT inspections.
In our 2022 edition of the State of Heavy-Duty Repair, just over half the shops we surveyed stated they performed inspections for free or only charged up to $100.
When you perform an inspection, you (or your techs) are taking the time to look over a vehicle and make sure it’s in proper operating condition. This is critical to the safety of the driver, the roads, and the supply chain these trucks are maintaining.
Do we really need to say it? Time is money. If you aren’t fully comfortable with charging an hourly fee to do an inspection, consider making it a canned job and charging a set rate.
2. Go mobile.
Don’t have a mobile branch yet? Maybe now’s the time to invest in one. You gain two important advantages with a mobile option, the first of which is that you are meeting customers where they are. This doesn’t necessarily restrict you to emergency work (although we’ll talk about that in a minute); it also allows you to head to a yard instead of requiring customers bring their vehicles to you and potentially clog up your bays.
“You can get more work going to someone’s property,” Chris says. He adds that once you’re on the lot, you can drum up more work by performing lot inspections. Odds are if you’re in the yard with one vehicle, the customer’s other vehicles are also there, just waiting to be looked at. Check out the lamps (a frequent “gotcha” on DOTs), the tires, the mirrors. Identify bent bumpers. Make sure these trucks are ready for action.
Conversely, if you already have a mobile operation and it’s doing well, maybe now is the time to look into getting a second (or third, or…) truck.
3. Get on emergency directories.
Yes, your mobile department can service trucks on a customer’s lot, but it can also help you reach trucks stranded by the side of the road. Joining a breakdown directory adds your shop to a list drivers will consult when they need help right away.
(Obligatory shameless plug: Fullbay has an integration with FleetNet America built right into the app.)
Chris advises charging a different fee for emergency work. You’ll also decide when you’ll offer this service—are you going to extend your hours, or even offer 24-hour service? That might mean hiring more staff or shifting to a more flexible schedule. It may take some logistical wrangling, but it can also be a powerful additional revenue source.
4. Broaden your services.
Chris encourages shop owners to look at what kind of services they don’t provide—or, alternatively, what they might be subletting. “Are you outsourcing a lot of DPF cleaning work?” he asks. If so, look into getting that dreaded DPF cleaner. If purchasing one is out of the question, see if you can lease one. Then charge for DPF cleanings.
A handful a week and you may be well on your way to a solid ROI.
But while the DPF is an easy ball to swat at, look deeper into work you haven’t taken on. Maybe you don’t want to get involved in bodywork—that’s a specialty unto itself—but if you’re been shoving electrical and glass out the door, maybe it’s time to hire a specialist and bring that work in-house.
5. Look for local work.
We talk a lot about fleet work being a cornerstone of your business. It’s basic math—why work on one truck for a customer when you can work on all of them?!
Many shops do go searching for fleets, but they make a critical mistake: “They aim for the top five carriers,” Chris tells us.
Guys, by all means, chase the UPS/FedEx dream. But there are also tons of businesses in your neighborhood that need your help and will pay for it. Often handsomely.
“Plumbing fleet(s) needs regular maintenance, too,” Chris says. What other local businesses have trucks? Furniture stores. Chimney inspectors. Tree trimmers. You can find some serious revenue with your local B2B relationships.
As a side note, while the prestige is great, giant fleets can bring their own headaches. At times they’re an actual liability—you need a LOT of insurance to work with them, which can further strain your income despite what they’re paying.
6. Fire up your marketing engine.
Oh look, it’s the first Dieselmatic plug of the year! Oh, wait, we’ve already talked about them. Second plug then. For real, though, there’s almost no better way to secure new business than by making sure people know you exist. A professional website, some Google Ads, and social media management can absolutely lead to an uptick in work and revenue.
Seriously. You can’t go wrong with marketing.
7. Offer more ways for customers to pay.
We’re not suggesting accepting coffee or chocolate for your hard work (er, unless that’s what you’re after), but giving customers various payment options gives you greater reach. Fullbay Payments allows you to take all kinds of payments, including ACH, credit cards, and more—and since the end of last year, we’ve accepted fleet checks and fleet cards.
But hey, if you want customers to render payment in coffee beans, you do you.
8. Incentivize your techs.
Money talks. If you want your people to work hard and be ready for anything, you’ve got to pay them. Yes, a warm, welcoming shop environment and available flexible hours are helpful, but at the end of the day, your techs need to be well-compensated for their work. Raise their hourly rates. Make sure they’ve got good benefits.
Forbes says happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy ones. That’s 20% more work getting done—and getting done well—and that’s more business for your shop. More business, more revenue, higher wages, happier techs?
Huh. That sounds good to us.
Well, folks, that’s a wrap. We hope you enjoyed our tips and will think about putting them to work as you grow your shop in 2023. Oh! And let’s not forget honorary tip #9—Fullbay itself! If you haven’t tried the app already, hit us up for a free walkthrough. We’re all about helping shops run more efficiently and bring in more revenue—sometimes up to 50% more!
Now that’s a great way to start off a new year.