My favourite part of running this business is knowing people leave here happy, so they want to come back for all of their automotive services. I’m glad what I put my heart and soul into is successful.
The current generation of customers is very tech-savvy. When they come into the shop, many of them have already researched their car problem. Even if they’re wrong about what the problem is, they need to know the person behind the counter is knowledgeable about repairs.
Also, convenience is everything. I offer a courtesy car if I can. Having some way to ensure they’re not inconvenienced by losing their car for the day gets us that much closer to landing the sale.
Another convenience-minded service is ‘MyMidas,’ where our customers let us file, compile and store their vehicle repair history records for all work completed at Midas shops and then they have the opportunity to enter records for services performed elsewhere, too. They can use their MyMidas accounts to access current offers and promotions, auto safety tips and even a widget for finding the best gas prices nearby. And they can log in to request an estimate or appointment with us.
This area has changed a lot over the past five years. It used to be very industrial, with a lot of car dealerships and shops, but now every building across the street from us is brand new, including high-rise apartment buildings. As a result, this location gives us a lot of exposure to potential customers.
I have about 16 parking spots, but when we’re busy, that doesn’t seem like a lot. My shop is 4,200 square feet, with seven bays, which is about average for a Midas franchise; some have only five, but others have eight. It depends how expensive land is where you are, but the size of the shop also depends on your reception area. While all Midas shops have adequate seating for waiting customers, my reception space is pretty tiny compared to those at some other franchises. It does give my customers enough room to sit and watch TV.
While I’m not running the front counter anymore, my customers know I’m still around. I can focus more on doing paperwork—and working on my business, rather than in it—during business hours. And I can finally take vacations now and then!
The most challenging part of this business is dealing with changing sales trends throughout the year. We tend to swing from being extremely busy to a bit slower and that can be tricky to deal with. It is always our goal to minimize the peaks and valleys as much as possible, to make things easier on our staff, to ensure a more stable income and to allow better projections.
To ensure we don’t end up with massive dips in sales, the best model for us to follow is like that of a dentist’s office—that is to say, we encourage our customers to book their next appointments when they are already in for their current service. For the most part, they are very open to the idea. This has helped us achieve fewer peaks and valleys.
Outside those efforts, the business is somewhat seasonal in nature. We’re typically busiest in July and August. There’s also a spike in October and November before a slower period from December to March.
This being Vancouver, with its temperate climate, we don’t get the same massive spike in snow tire installation work the way franchises elsewhere in Canada do every year. The city did get a lot of snow this past winter, but that doesn’t mean our customers were ready to change to snow tires.
Fortunately, this past January—when I assumed business would be slower while I got married—our sales increased 20 per cent over last year. I’m not sure why! Hopefully, it is a matter of everyone’s hard work and dedication paying off.