The value of our trade is determined by the sum of the marketing our customers are exposed to, says Craig Baills of Highfields Mechanical

Craig Baills, Highfields Mechanical

That’s right! Whilst we have dealerships, franchises, online platforms, corporate entities and individual businesses promoting to customers that they can do or supply the cheapest logbook service in town, our value as a professional industry will never increase.
Every time a consumer sees a billboard for a Logbook service for $99, an air conditioning re-gas for $85 or cheap as chips pink slips, then that price, subliminally, becomes the benchmark for their perception on pricing in our industry, or, it raises doubts over the quality of service or questions about whether they got ripped off at their last service that was more expensive than this cheap price.
I have had discussions over the past two months with workshop owners who have lost work because they were priced out of the game by some lowball business underselling the same job, underselling the industry, and quite likely, underselling themselves. Now I’m not talking a 10 percent difference, I’m talking 50 percent plus!
Value your time, value your business, value your staff, value your ability and most of all, value your customer. Stop working for a turnover and work for a profit and the benefit and sustainability of the trade. Christmas only comes once a year, so the sooner those in the industry who promote cheap pricing realise this and stop being Santa Claus, the better. It is ok to charge out your experience and expertise, so stop underselling it.
Add some vitality to your business and stop getting hooked up in the day to day functionality of trying to make ends meet. Don’t leave money on the table just to try and get jobs in the door. If you’re in it for the long haul, pay close attention to how you are marketing your business. Your business will benefit from correct pricing strategies, and your back pocket will as well.
It is time, we, as an industry, collectively committed to the future – the next 10 years and beyond. It is time to pull together, value add to your customers, stop under-pricing and giving consumers the perception that we are cheap.
Afterall, we are not the knuckle dragging, greasy overall wearing image of the past. We are highly skilled, trained and educated professionals that are exposed to more advancement in technology and vehicle development than we have ever been exposed to before. We are without a doubt the most highly skilled trade out there.
In my personal opinion, it is time that those that have an influence on price perception to our customers wake up to themselves and value our skill set. So, if you’re in charge of marketing for franchises, dealerships, corporate workshops, third party booking sites or even for the small independent workshop, I can tell you that those who are trying to build their shops and the value of the industry don’t appreciate you undervaluing it – it is time to change and change now!
There are many of us out there in this industry that go on with our business, quietly achieving, serving our customers and realising the value of what we do. We are always striving to achieve better outcomes for the business and the consumer, to increase the benefits to our staff and our bottom line, to develop our training, present a professional workshop and keep up to date.

But “loss leader” advertising for a $99 service is a “loss leader” for the industry, not just for those trying to get work through the door. In these cases the “point of difference” based on cheap pricing is an industry “point of destruction” and I call on you to find a different strategy which will have long term benefits for your business and for the industry.
Any strategy we can develop which values our trade and presents this value to the consumer will have long term benefits for the trade. Better pricing and better hourly rates mean better wages for techs, increased training and development and will eventually help lessen the skills shortage.
Anyone in business will know it takes a lot of hard work; blood, sweat and tears; dedication and heart to be successful. Our automotive businesses and industry are no exception to this.
We are not a commodity that can be sold to the lowest bidder. Our professionalism, education and skill set is not something that can be purchased online, the vehicles we are working on can no longer be cheaply serviced and the customers we are working with have much higher expectations.
As such, we must move forward into the future with this in mind: promote to your consumers, but don’t undersell our industry.
Here’s to the future,

Craig Baills, Highfields Mechanical
Member of Automotive Repairer Council of Australia (ARCA) Committee