Independent garages are busy. But are they profitable?

There’s a difference between a garage’s ramps being busy due to sheer luck, and being busy because the owner has a plan. And that difference is profitability and stress.

Left to luck, there’s a lack of business control; the work ebbs and flows like the tide and you take the jobs that come in.

With a growth and investment strategy, you target the profitable work and secure it weeks in advance. As an owner, that’s less stressful. You’re running the business; it’s not running you.

So what’s the most cost-effective way to get to do this?

Jim Lang from Garage Services Online says, without doubt, being online is the answer.

“People look for garage services in exactly the same way they would find a plumber or restaurant. When they need something, they reach for their smartphones and look online. It’s instinctive; it’s a habit that’s engrained in all of us.

“The secret is to not only make sure you’re at the top of the search results, but to ensure your website is built to respond to the keywords customers are looking for – those keywords are the profitable jobs you want to attract such as ‘car servicing’, ‘MOT’ or ‘diagnostics’.

“If you’ve recently invested in new diagnostics kit, you want that kit to be well used. That’ll give you a quicker return on investment, you’ll make profit from it sooner, and that profit is essential to further investment and growth – or higher wages.”

Carl Regan, owner of Arnold Garage in Nottingham, got in touch with Garage Services Online after investing in new premises. He knew the garage needed to recoup that money as soon as possible.

Following the launch of the new website, customers using the garage for the first time increased by over 20 per cent. He now also gets an average of four to five website-generated enquiries every day, directly to his phone.

Jim continued: “Because Carl had always been busy, he’d never really seen the point of investing in a proper website; it wasn’t like he was desperate for the work. But he came to realise he was limiting the amount of new customers he could attract, as well as having no strategy to pull in the most profitable jobs – the ones that were going to cover his investment quickly.

“His garage is currently operating at four times its original work capacity and shows no signs of slowing down. Now that’s a growth strategy that’s worth taking note of.”