Aftermarket magazine’s anniversary

Published:  14 September, 2017

It’s 25 years since Aftermarket was first published. Here we look back at the history of the magazine, and the sector

The automotive sector has changed a great deal since Aftermarket started in 1992. Most of the vehicles that would have been coming through the doors of the average garage 25 years ago are long gone, and some of the companies that made those cars have also gone too.

In 1992, the Rover Metro was still very much in production. Due to the legislative environment of the time, most of the Metros being seen in the aftermarket would have still been under the Austin marque. Rover finally went under in 2005, and the Metro has gone from being one of the most common cars on the road to being a rarer sight than a Morris Minor. Other cars and brands have come and gone during the period All these changes had an impact on the aftermarket as specialists in particular brands would need to re-focus their businesses to reflect the new reality.

Most of the other mainstream manufacturers of the time are still with us. Many of the vehicle names from brands like Nissan and VW still around too, like the Micra, Golf and Polo. The actual cars are quite different though.


Diesel decades
Over the years the magazine covered the changing face of the car parc, and the shift in the innards too. In 1992, diesel cars were still relatively unusual in the UK, but within a decade they had become as popular as petrol engine vehicles. Aftermarket tracked the rise of diesel, and helped readers get to grips with the technology. Many technical articles over the years were dedicated to explaining how to understand and fix problems in diesel engine vehicles. Over the last few years the magazine has been tracking its travails too following Dieselgate. Today we cover the ever-increasing complexity of diesel engine vehicles as much as we look at what might ultimately replace them.


Part of the process
Then there’s the advance of vehicle electronics. This was a growing area in the early 1990s, and it’s a growing area now. The progress from single ECUs on the more advanced vehicles to the situation today where even the most basic cars are fully equipped with a host of systems has been dizzying. The magazine has been on hand to provide advice and expert opinion from a range of sources.

The make up of parts has changed too, mostly for the better.  Until 1999, asbestos was commonly used as friction material in clutches, automatic transmission and brake linings, and gaskets. The use of asbestos in these parts was banned from 1999. There was an exception for pre-1973 vehicles, which allowed these vehicles to continue to be fitted with brake shoes containing asbestos right up until 2004.


BER
Of course, probably the biggest change came through the 2002 Block Exemption Regulation (BER) that allowed independents to work on new cars without invalidating the warranty. This came into force in October 2003. Aftermarket was fully behind the campaign to get this change made for the benefit of consumers and the industry alike. Once in law, the magazine continued to back efforts by the industry to make sure businesses and motorists were able to exercise their rights freely. The Right to Repair campaign and similar activities received strong support from the magazine through the 00s and beyond as a result.

These are just a few of the broad trends. Every year would have seen a thousand stories told about the sector. Aftermarket was the messenger bringing them to the readers.


The founder of the feast
Aftermarket was founded by Bob Sockl in 1992. Let’s examine how it all began...

Sometimes a decision can be made by someone else that affects you in an extraordinary way. Losing your job can be a springboard to do something wonderful with your life. Of course it doesn't feel like that at the time, but why let that get in the way of a good story? After all, Aftermarket magazine owes its existence to a redundancy. Bob had worked his way up the media ladder over the years. By the early 1990s  he was in a senior role at publishing company Morgan Grampian. As publishing director on a number of titles covering the automotive sector, he had what appeared to be a good seat at the metaphorical table. Big job, big company, and hopefully big money. Sounds great doesn't it? Sadly nothing lasts forever, and with the UK economy tanking as the 1990s began, no one was immune from the threat of redundancy.

Some readers may shudder when they remember the recession Britain experienced at the start of that decade. Many people found themselves suddenly out of work in what was a bleak and at times particularly nasty economic period. Sadly publishing directors were no exception: "I got made redundant from Morgan Grampian where I had been in charge of Transport Week and Auto Trade."


New title
Bob, not being the sort to take things lying down, dusted himself off and examined his options: "I looked at the situation, and knowing the people I knew from my time at Morgan Grampian I thought I could put together a team, and start a new title.

"We quickly put together an aftermarket-knowledgeable team, and we created a replacement for the old Auto Trade magazine, where I had been publishing director. We created the new magazine. When it was first launched in 1992, it was called Garage and Bodyshop Products (GBP). That name lasted about 18 months, and then we decided to change it to Aftermarket. While the name did shift, the concept was solid: "The magazine was very quickly established in the market with the highest audited circulation of all the sector publications, over 30,000 copies a month."


Great relationships
While a few things changed, many of the elements that made Aftermarket a success were there from the beginning: "We had a lot of support from top aftermarket suppliers, people like Luk/Schaeffler, people like Ferodo and Mintex on the braking side, We had a great relationship with NGK which still goes on between the company and the magazine.

The team behind the title was vital to the success of Aftermarket over the years: "We had a very good team that worked well together. We were respected for the knowledge we had of the market we were serving. Over the years, there was an average of 11 people on the title. On the editorial side there was generally four permanent staff, and some contributors as there are now.
Sales wise we had three people, then accounts and yours truly who stuck his nose into every division there was.

"We were able to act as a sounding board for what people wanted to do, as the market changed we changed with it. I think the strength of any publication is its knowledge of the industry it is serving. This can be used as a source of information for new companies coming in. They can look at what's available in the market already, they can listen to conversations and this enables them to come up with a strategy.

"Publishers are very often the holders of bulk information. You don't have to find a consultant – you can find someone who's been in the industry for some considerable time at a magazine and ask them. The publishing business is a broad spectrum information source, and you can get a lot of information from publications covering any sector.”


Strength
While the title adapted with the times, it did not fundamentally change according to Bob:"Part of the strength of the brand was it didn't change in any great way. It was designed to be the number one information source in the industry. That's what we set out to create and that's what it became. We knew what we were talking about.” While the Aftermarket ethos remained stable, publishing changed dramatically as the 1990s became the 2000s and the internet rose to prominence:

"I think the one thing that is worth commenting on is the general change in business-to-business publishing, because we were very much a magazine with a website. Meanwhile, people were beginning to spend more and more of their marketing budget online which meant that the magazines in the marketplace weren't picking up the revenues they had been, so they had a change of direction. That meant we were working online too, hence the launch of aftermarketnetwork.com, now aftermarketonline.net."

There was more to Aftermarket than just a magazine though: "We also had the great benefit of course of also having a wide knowledge of the exhibitions business.

We were working with the SMMT as sales and marketing consultant for the Automotive Trade Show. It was rather like Automechanika, although without the German spelling."

Ultimately, the time came in 2015 when Bob retired and the magazine was sold to DFA Media. Looking back on what he created and the many years overseeing his magazine, Bob observed: "We were around for a great number of years. It became an established title. We clearly had a pretty successful formula which was consistent and we were good at what we did. We achieved our ambition, which was to become the number one book in the marketplace."


Wisdom
Aftermarket is very proud to work with a number of expert contributors who have shared their wisdom with the readership over the years.

One such contributor is business guru Neil Pattemore: "25 years ago, I was running a European diagnostics business that was one of the advertisers who supported the first edition of Aftermarket, in what was then a bound product card format magazine”.

“Over the intervening years, the magazine has grown to be one of the most respected sector publications and more recently, as an aftermarket business expert with a deep involvement in aftermarket related legislation, I have become a regular contributor. My direct involvement was to help readers understand and address the changing aftermarket sector as vehicle technology became ever more complicated, allied to increasing demands that not only focused on repairing vehicles, but also in how to run their businesses in an increasingly competitive and legislatively influenced environment. This was further supported by the creation of 'Top Technician' that recognises the best technicians in the country. "In the next 25 years, these challenges are likely to become even more important and therefore Aftermarket remains an important source of news, product information and business support – so maybe nothing has changed!"


A new chapter
In 2015 Aftermarket was bought by business-to-business publishers DFA Media, and a new chapter in the history of the magazine was opened. Commenting on the decision to buy the title, publishing director Ian Atkinson said: “It was an opportunity too good to pass up on. We were aware of the reputation the magazine and the owners who launched Aftermarket had built up over the previous 25 years. “We relished the opportunity to take on this mantle and work in such an important and thriving sector of British industry.”
    

According to Ian, the company is very pleased to be able to include Aftermarket in its stable of publications: “As well as having areas of crossover with our other titles, for example compressed air within our magazine Hydraulics and Pneumatics,  it is also fantastic to branch out into new areas.”


Watch this space
On plans for the magazine going forward, Ian observed: “I’m tempted to say ‘watch this space!’  Firstly, it will to continue to be the leading source of information for the automotive aftermarket sector but also to develop new, faster and better ways of regularly communicating with our readers. Also, going forward we see Aftermarket as a vehicle to help garages with hands on practical help in a greater way through workshops for example. Some form of ‘live’ version of Aftermarket is an obvious goal
as well.”
 

Related Articles

  • Head for the Brexit 

    We've been talking about Brexit for a while now. At least once in every issue there will be a story about the process of leaving the European Union, and the potential impact on the automotive sector.  
        
    While progress is hard to gauge, with every issue there is some new angle. It's difficult to keep up, so that handy phrase "as we went to press" gets used a lot. Using it yet again, as we went to press for the October issue, a deal with the EU seemed more likely. Reports were surfacing of Germany and the UK dropping certain demands that would enable an agreement. A positive development then.
        
    Have we been giving a balanced view through the process though, and are we asking the right people what they think? Maybe, and maybe not.

    Positive aspects
    David Dawson, co-owner at Preston's Car Doctor contacted Aftermarket to express frustration regarding the coverage of Brexit in the magazine. He had this to say:  
        
    "You’re becoming as biased as the BBC. this is Project Fear all over again. Try balancing your reporting with some positive aspects and opportunities that Brexit may provide us with. BAE Systems has won a £20bn contract to build frigates that will form the backbone of the Australian navy, beating off rival proposals from Italian and Spanish groups for the biggest naval defense deal of the past decade.
        
    "I know it’s not automotive news but there will be many opportunities like this for the automotive industry outside of the EU post Brexit. The Germans French and Italians will still want to sell cars to the UK. It just annoys me that the media constantly go on about how bad it will be when we leave the single market. There will be many opportunities and upsides out of the EU even on WTO tariffs."
        
    David added: "I read Aftermarket magazine, both online and the printed version and have done for many years. However in recent times many of your articles paint a dim picture for the industry outside the EU would be nice to read something positive for
    a change."
        
    Now, as a publication we stand by our reporting, and will cover positive and negative views on key issues as they arise. We do listen to our readers though, and David's argument did make us think. It also raised another issue – one of representation.
        
    Having heard from David in the north of England, we thought we might take views from other businesses around the UK, to see what they think the impact of Brexit will be on their business.

    Access
    Turning our attentions south, we asked Kevin Pearce from 2018 Top Garage winners Cedar Garage in Worthing his views on whether Brexit will have a positive or negative impact on the aftermarket. "I think it could go either way," mused Kevin. "I don't see any positives it can necessarily bring. On the negative side, I think we could struggle to get hold of technical data and manufacturer-specific information." According to Kevin, UK consumer buying choices have built up a car parc that could swing things 'our' way: "Considering the number of vehicles we actually import, especially the German stuff, we should actually be in a very strong position to dictate terms. If they want to continue to sell cars to us, whoever is negotiating for the UK should be able to dictate terms on that. Going forward, in terms of telematics we need to make sure the aftermarket stays on the right side of the manufacturers to make sure we continue to get access."
        
    Cedar Garage recently opened a German marques-only outlet, so we wondered if he thought Brexit might have a specific impact on the business's ongoing endeavours: "If it does, not for a long time," replied Kevin. "I think generally it will all come down to how well the negotiations go. We have good access to all the data we need for the German brands. So long as Brexit does not get in the way of that, I can't see how it could cause a problem.
        
    "Obviously a lot of the parts that we buy come from Europe. Hopefully the prices won't increase too much. At the end of the day, we import so much, that if these people then do not want to sell to us, they are surely going to be the ones that lose out."
        
    We went onto ask if Cedar Garage's customers had displayed any noticeable Brexit jitters: "So far it does not look like that at all. We have not seen anything like that. All of our customers are carrying on as normal. If any of them say, ‘I can't afford this or that’ I don't think it affects our trade that much. Maybe if it was car sales, but definitely not in terms of the repair market."
        
    While garages on the south coast might be closer to the continent than most of the other businesses in the market, it's not like Cedar Garage customers are likely to head over the channel to France for their car servicing is it? Shaking his head, Kevin replied: "Of course not." As far as Kevin was concerned, the market is changing and this should mean the supposed consumer confidence hit that might result from Brexit could be over-stated: "What we are finding is that people are looking more and more for a professional service, and are prepared to pay for that. People are becoming more conscious of what goes into a car and are prepared to pay. They would rather pay a professional to pay to repair their car, rather than someone they met down the pub who does it in the car park."

    Uncertainty
    How you feel about the relative opportunities and threats of Brexit can largely depend on where you are sitting. For businesses in Northern Ireland however, Brexit has its own special issues. Starting with the more general concerns,  Colm Higgins from CH Autoservices  in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland said: "I think the biggest issue for most garages, with the position we are in, particularly the go-ahead guys who are into diagnostics, is access to data. This is the issue we would want to address first and foremost. We rely on the access to manufacturer data that is assured through European regulations like Euro 5, so obviously we are concerned. With Brexit nobody really knows what is going to happen.
        
    "Some of the manufacturers, like Mercedes-Benz, had a very good scheme where you could lease a diagnostic tool, but they removed that recently, and I think it is tied to Brexit.
        
    "Obviously the price of parts and access to parts, is something to be concerned about as well. MOTs too, as well as emissions. Are we going to establish our own standards? Are we going to be governed by European rules? Or are they going to be similar to the European rules? Is it a chance for the UK to make its own emissions standards. If so will they be similar, or less?  
        
    Colm continued: "Also, what affect will it have on the car parc? What cars will we be working on? Are we going to see a change in consumer activity as well? What the good guys seem to do is look at what people are buying and how the market is going and see the trends. Obviously electric vehicles is something we have invested in here. Is that going to be impacted by that? Is it going to be more or less. It is important to get an idea of where things are going to go. The biggest problem is that nobody knows.
        
    "Almost everybody has a German or French car in the UK, or at least a European car. What is going to  happen? Are they going to be taxed more? In the second hand car market we are still seeing the effects of years of uncertainty over diesel."
        
    "The key thing for any business is to be ahead of the curve or at least be aware of where it is going before it gets there. For any business you would be absolutely crazy to  bury your head in the sand. It gives you a very good reason to read the latest industry news so you know what is going on."
        
    One problem that most businesses in the UK don't have to worry about is a land border with the EU. For businesses in Northern Ireland  that is a real concern. Will Northern Ireland motorists head for the Republic for servicing and repairs if prices rise as a result of Brexit?
        
    "There is already a lot of that happening in Northern Ireland" said Colm. "We are about an hour's drive from the border. Some of my customers in trade sales, they sell a lot of cars to the south because the Pound is weak. We can make the most of that depending on the situation, as we can buy stuff from down there and sell it up here, or vice versa. I am optimistic, and we can make the most of that kind of situation. Because we are so close to the border,
    we can be flexible. Northern Ireland is unique that way, and more flexible if we have to adapt. If Brexit becomes
    a complete nightmare there are options in terms of suppliers."
        
    Then there's the threat of a hard border: "That's a big issue," opined Colm, "and a complete minefield. We have enjoyed this border-free situation for a long time now, and no one wants to go back to having a hard border. The flexibility would be gone. No one wants to go back to the old days here."
        
    Despite these concerns, Colm remained confident: "Anyone who is in the higher end of this business is ready to adapt to change. In the next few years you won't see an engine or a piston as it is all going to electric motors. It is change or get out really. Brexit is another factor in the motor trade, albeit one that is going to affect your life in a big way."

    Double meaning
    Next, we looked to Scotland, where the issue of exiting a bloc has a double meaning. Pier Garage is based in Ardrishaig, Mid Argyll. Owner Kris Gordon's first concern, like his counterparts in other parts of the UK, is access to data: "My biggest concern is definitely access to information. You can't get all the information from all car manufacturers. Even with the situation we have at the moment, we still struggle. With someone like Ford, they make it quite difficult to get it, and they do charge you for everything, so whether it works worse or better is my
    main concern.
        
    "I voted to leave at the time, for other reasons. There was so much stuff being put out there that you didn't know who to believe. You just had to pick a side and go with it I think. Nobody knew what chaos would happen as a result of it all. I suppose if you had thought about it, it was obvious what was going to happen. Now we are in a situation where nothing has been answered. It is worrying, because it has been a hard enough few years since the banking crisis in 2008, and now it looks like it is all going to get worse. We will have to ride it out and see what happens."
        
    Kris believes Brexit could be leading Scotland into a period of greater uncertainty than the rest of the UK: "I think it will cause a lot of distraction rather than getting people focused on getting the economy in a better place. Political parties will be thinking 'do we have to have another independence referendum and then rejoin the EU?'  Again, I voted for an independent Scotland, but now it has been decided, everyone has made their choice and is getting on with it. Despite this, the SNP is still focused on a second referendum, rather than just accepting the result and getting on with things. If we have another referendum and it goes the other way, where will it end? It could go back and forth, and the same with Brexit, there is always going to be someone who is unhappy. I think they need to accept it and do the best they can."

    Your views
    We found a mixture of views from business owners on both sides of the argument. Do these views on Brexit chime with your own? Or do you have an opinion not expressed here? We would love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via alex@aftermarket.co.uk to tell us what you think.

  • part TWO: Succeeding with succession 

    Businesses change hands for all manner of reasons, but crucially for family businesses, change has the potential to damage family harmony as well as destroy the future wealth of all concerned. But what happens should no family members want to take on the business and the business has to be sold?
        
    In this instance David Emanuel, Partner at law firm VWV and head of its Family Business team, says the family should take advice on the options. He advises seeking recommendations and says to “think hard about engaging people who work principally on a success fee percentage commission-only basis – the overall cost may be higher, although you may be insulating yourself from costs if a deal doesn’t go ahead – but there can be a conflict of interest for people remunerated only if a deal goes ahead.”
        
    One step that will ease the process is to undertake some financial and legal due diligence as if the seller were a buyer, to identify any gaps or issues that may affect price or saleability.

    Seeking a valuation
    Businesses will generally be valued on one of three bases – the value of net assets plus a valuation of goodwill; a multiple of earnings; or discounted future cash flow.
        
    Nick Smith, a family business consultant with the Family Business Consultancy, sees some families seeking the next generation pay the full market value for their interest, and other situations where shares are just handed over.
        
    “In between the extremes,” says Nick, “there are a raft of approaches and solutions including discounted prices and stage payments. There are also more complicated solutions such as freezer share mechanisms, where no sale takes place but the senior generation lock in the current value of their shares to be left to the wider family and the next generation family members actually working in the business receive the benefit of any growth in value during their time in charge.”
        
    What of an arm's length sale? Here David says: “The family will ideally want to be paid in cash, in full, at completion, rather than risk the possibility of deferred consideration not getting paid because the business gets into difficulties under its new owners, or a dispute arises over what should be paid.” However, he says that may not be possible, and there may be many good reasons why the retiring shareholders keep an equity stake or agree to be paid over time or agree that some of what they get paid is subject to future performance. Even so, he suggests starting with the idea of the ‘clean break’ and working back from there if you have to.
        
    It’s important to remember that in a succession situation, where one generation is passing the business to the next, and the retirees are expecting a payment of value to cover their retirement ambitions, deferred payment risks may be looked at differently depending on the circumstances – families will be more trusting.
     
    Tax planning and family succession
    As might be expected, tax planning is important and should always form part of the decision-making process but it should never be the main driver. That said, no-one wants to hand over, by way of inheritance tax, 40% of the value of what they have worked for.
        
    Both Nick and David consider tax planning key. Says Smith, “the most important point is what is right for the family members and the business itself.” He believes the UK offers a fairly benign tax-planning environment for family business succession so that most family businesses can be passed on free of inheritance and capital gains tax to other family members. However, the risk of paying a bit of tax pales into insignificance if passing on the family business to the next generation means passing on a working lifetime of misery and a failing business. David points out that if Entrepreneur’s Relief is available, the effective rate of Capital Gains Tax is just 10%.

    In summary
    Family businesses are peculiar entities, caught by both the need to compete in the marketplace and the need to keep familial factions onside. Whatever course is taken to secure the future of the business, one thing is certain – everyone needs to keep the lines of communication open.


  • Customer care in the garage business 

    Customer care is vital to the survival of most companies. Without customers we do not exist. This is extremely important in the independent repair sector as we are the
    service providers.
      
    In the face of ever-growing competition, it is very important for us to portray the image of a professional efficient business that cares about its customers. If you deal with customers and you represent your garage, it is vital that you look after all of your customers, all of the time.

    Positive relationships
    Without positive relationships with our customers no business can survive in today’s competitive marketplace. Just consider the number of customers you have had up until now, imagine what things would be like if they all disappeared overnight!
    Customer care has changed immensely over the years. Customers have become less tolerant and more demanding. It is a huge challenge for us to meet these demands. However, the answers are within us all.

    We all know that customers who are happy with the service we provide are more likely to purchase again and recommend us to others. You may even know that customers that are very impressed with our service rather than just satisfied are willing to pay higher prices for our service. You will certainly have awareness of the fact that when you treat customers in the correct way and display a positive and pleasant attitude, you will usually receive the same back from them.

    The best form of advertising
    Businesses that have developed an excellent level of customer service will usually find themselves in a situation where customers become advocates for their business. In many cases this becomes their best form of advertising. The alternative is a situation where customers feel they must let people know of their negative experience and are quick to do it. The implications of this can be extremely damaging and many businesses struggle to overcome the negative label.

    The basics of customer service are actually very simple. We know that being polite, smiling and making the customer feel good about themselves and their service/repair purchase is at the core of creating a good customer experience. However, tthese days that is no longer enough. Customers have become much more discerning, they have a much greater awareness of what is going on in the world, what they should expect from a garage and that it is very simple for them to take their business elsewhere when their high standards are not being met.

    Customer care breakdown   
    Customer care includes the following elements:

  • Skills, bills and jaw-aches  

    I knew starting a business would never prove easy but we don’t get anywhere in life without taking a risk or two. Having been in the industry for a few years now I have learnt that the two main attributes a successful car repair workshop needs is the skill to diagnose and repair and the ability to communicate with their customers.
        
    Modern car repair facilities have seen a dramatic change in recent years with the huge advancements in computer-related faults. The main tool of repair has seen the demise of the hammer and the growth of the diagnostics fault reader. I am a hands-on mechanic and much prefer older vehicles where I don’t need to locate the OBD port before the bonnet release, but I have to move with the times if I am to succeed as a business and that is why I am looking at hybrid servicing and trying to tap into that market. It is tough for me to admit that as I love working on classics and I will still have a part of the workshop for the golden oldies but it is hard to ignore the impact hybrid and electric vehicles are starting to have on the repair market.

    Communication
    The car repair industry has a pretty bad reputation – lets be honest. My female friends and family dread having to buy a car or go to a garage. Communication for me is so important, as with any business it is crucial that you are able to talk to customers and listen to their concerns without belittling them. The issue with car repairs is that it is a complicated process that is difficult to explain in layman’s terms and which can alienate an individual if they don’t understand. There is also the problem of distrust. If a customer doesn’t understand the problem and how you are able to fix it you risk confusion and doubt. There are so many horror stories of people being fleeced and conned as they don’t understand how a car works that every customer feels like you are going to do the same, it takes a long time to earn a good reputation and just one bad experience to send your business crashing down.

    I always like to explain as simply as possible with the work I am doing, I keep the broken part so that I can show the customer what I have replaced and what their hard earned cash has been spent on, I also take pictures and probably over explain everything. It is important for my business that I gain a good reputation as word of mouth is my main advertisement. As busy as a car workshop is always make time to have a friendly chat with your customers, especially if they have a trade, you never know when you might need a plumber!

    So, this month has been busy, productive, stressful and hot (I am writing this in July) but the world of car repair stands still for no-one.

  • Do you have a business or a profitable job? 

    It’s a favourite of mine, and one we ask of all garage owners that join the Auto iQ business development programme...
      
    “Do you have a business or a profitable job?” Not sure which one you’ve got? Carry on reading.
        
    That question is a doozie and is often met with a few seconds of silence followed by a mixed range of answers whilst the questionee arranges their thoughts. The question is designed to be thought-provoking and entice the garage owner to work through the differences between the options.

    Different sides of the coin
    What’s the difference between a profitable job and a business? It’s a fine line with a BIG difference.
        
    Quite simply if you have a profitable job the income from your work (where you spend your hours in the day) reduces when you’re not doing that work. You might be able to get away from the business for a week or two but longer than that will have you sweating, you’ll wonder if your techs are efficient without you in the building, concerned that your numbers are going south.
        
    A business on the other hand will run without you being there for a significant length of time. Which one do you have?
        
    I can feel the tension elevating as some of you may be rising from you chair ready to give me a good talking-to. Hang fire though and hear me out. In no way am I saying that having a profitable job is wrong. Quite to the contrary. If that’s what you set out to achieve then who am I to say any different? Here’s the deal though. Most garage owners don’t embark on this amazing journey to be ‘self employed,’ they do it to build a bigger and better future for their families. They did it to have more time with their loved ones, the funds to allow this and probably have early retirement thrown in with the business providing the income. Can a profitable job do this or do you need a business that’ll run without you? I think you know the answer.

    What’s the difference?
    So you’ve decided that a business is preferable to a profitable job. But is there really that much of a difference? Let’s take a look. It often comes down to nothing more than a state of mind that separates these different sides of the same coin.
        
    Let’s compare the owner with a profitable job and the business owner. At first glance I’d challenge you to notice the difference. They’ll both have a business that they’re proud of and rightly so, they’ve worked hard to build it. More often than not they’re both skilled technicians, have the respect of their team as well as their customers. Then how can it be that one earns significantly more than the next. One word, focus.
        
    Our owner with the profitable job will be very focused. He’s focused on his own ability to fix the vehicles in his workshop often working shoulder to shoulder with the technicians. The technicians respect him because of his technical ability and work hard alongside him. All admirable qualities.
        
    Our business owner also has a laser-like focus, his target is a little different though. His gaze is firmly fixed on a vision of the business he’s building and knows that long term success requires not only focus but patience. He’s acutely aware of the one thing that will bring freedom and the time with his family (the reason he started this venture) is the team he builds and trains.
        
    This isn’t to say that he doesn’t roll up his sleeves and lead from the front when required, it’s just that his daily focus is on the strategic functions of the business that drive success, rather than the day-to-day tasks that so many owners get caught up in. There’s a huge benefit to this as well. You get to keep the skin on your knuckles.

    Dominant thoughts
    It’s a proven fact that we all move through our day in the direction of most dominant thoughts. What does your typical business owner ponder?. Now I can’t read minds (how cool would that be?) but I do know that these are the questions that need to be answered:


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