Keeping up with technology a matter of survival in auto repair business

Posted On July 25, 2019

Technological advances in the automotive industry have made today’s cars safer and more fuel efficient. Those advances also present a challenge for the people who must fix them when they break – keep pace or perish.

Our guest in a recent episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,”Cockrell’s Body Shop owner Tim Cockrell, says two of the most challenging aspects of his business are finding good employees who are young enough to grow with the business and keeping up to date with the technology.

“You’ve continuously got to be on top of your game,” Cockrell says. “It’s going to roll in your shop one day and either you’re going to say ‘I can’t fix that,’ or you’re going to attempt to fix it and potentially take a liability on it because you didn’t do it the proper way.”

Cockrell is the third-generation owner of a business that’s in its seventh decade of business. Once spread over three states with 11 shops and nearly 200 employees, it has since consolidated its operations, selling off many of those shops to friends and former co-workers, and is now based in Baldwin County.

What are the keys to that longevity? Cockrell says it’s important for a locally owned business to be active and supportive of the community it serves, it’s wise to treat your employees well, and it’s essential, particularly in the Mobile-Baldwin market, to run a clean, up-to-date shop. He estimates that his company spends about $80,000 annually on equipment updates.

“If you’re going to compete around here, there’s some great competition and the guys do it right,” he says. “We all make each other do it better, I think, and that’s to the advantage of the consumer out there.”

The industry has changed over the years, Cockrell says, both in terms of the expectations of customers and competition from national conglomerates that buy up smaller, locally owned shops. He shares how some of those changes have affected his business, common misconceptions about the relationship between shops and insurance companies, the value of patronizing locally owned businesses, and why, even though cars are safer, there is still plenty of business for body shops.

“Definitely,” he says, “cell phones and texting have increased my business.”

Join us for a riveting discussion about the state of the auto repair industry.

Categories: What's Working with Cam Marston