“It Has to Happen Right Now, Today”: Tekmetric Co-CEO Sunil Patel Talks Mindset and Growing Your Auto Repair Business on the LIFT Your Shop Podcast

Building a successful auto repair business isn’t easy and doesn’t happen overnight, but one decision can make all the difference: committing to changing your mindset.

Building a successful auto repair business isn’t easy and doesn’t happen overnight, but one decision can make all the difference: commiting to changing your mindset.

“If you are interested in picking up a new hobby like boating, you’ll do everything you can to learn more and more and more. Why can’t you do that with your auto repair shop? Is it because it’s boring? Is it because it’s not the same? It doesn’t excite you as much as your hobby would? If you take a second and stop to think, you’ll realize you can have any hobby in the world if you focus on your repair shop and get it to where it needs to be. There is no waiting for the right person to walk through the door. There is no waiting for the right technician. It has to happen right now, today.”

Tekmetric Co-CEO and Co-Founder Sunil Patel recently joined Kelsey Outram on the LIFT Your Shop Podcast to talk tech, mentorship, and transforming your auto repair business. From medical school to law enforcement, Sunil tried his hand at a variety of fields over the years, but eventually all roads led him to founding Tekmetric with Prasanth Chilukuri in 2016. Tekmetric quickly became the preferred shop management system in the auto repair industry. And if you ask Sunil why, he’ll say it’s all about mindset.

If you’re a shop owner who has been feeling stuck, here are six steps you can take to shift gears.

1. Define Your Goals

“When you really set your mind to something, it subconsciously changes how you behave as a human, as a person. And you hone in on what you’re trying to accomplish and you accomplish that task.”

Here are some examples of goals you might hear people talk about in the auto repair industry:

  • “I want to make one million dollars in revenue this year.”
  • “I would like to add another bay to the shop by the end of the year.”
  • “I want to open another location in 2023.”

What do these goals all have in common? They are specific, achievable, and easy to track. In the same way that it’s difficult to plan a vacation without having a travel destination in mind, it’s difficult to achieve a goal if you never set one in the first place. Knowing where you want to go is the first step toward figuring out a roadmap to get there.

2. Accept That Change is Part of the Process

“Forget about the technology and software and all that for a moment, and ask yourself this: Are you happy with where you are today running your shop? And if the answer is no, then dig deeper.”

Whether your shop is looking to switch parts suppliers or invest in a new shop management system, change can be intimidating. Many shops experience growing pains, but keeping an open mind is essential to driving your business forward.

3. Be Willing to Ask for Help

“We are just the shop management system or the tool that a repair shop uses to process the information in the repair shop. But success has to do with more than a tool. You have to have a breakthrough. You have to realize that there is something happening in my repair shop that I need help fixing. You have to be willing to ask for help…Really observe and listen to all the voices saying there’s a better way to run an auto repair shop.”

Tradeshows and conferences offer great networking opportunities, but you may not always be able to attend. If you’re looking to connect with other repair shop owners and build relationships within the industry, Sunil recommends joining Facebook groups and listening to automotive industry podcasts.

4. Connect With a Mentor

“A lot goes into running an auto repair shop. It’s not just about knowing the fundamentals of running a business, but it’s the way people interact, the way you propagate information, the way you receive information, and what you do with that information. It’s the way organization or structure is designed. There’s a lot of little nuances in dealing with people that you’re not going to get just by trial and error…I think having a mentor is really important for anything you do in life. I’m getting coaching today in running Tekmetric.”

Mentors are human and chances are they’ve made some mistakes. A good mentor will ensure you don’t make the same mistakes they did.

Tek Tip: Looking for a book recommendation? Sunil recommends “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni.

5. Be a Team Player

“There’s a lot of trust that goes into running a team. At Tekmetric, we don’t want to lose sight of those team dynamics as we grow and develop as a company. More than anything, we want to make sure everyone is operating with a common goal and everybody’s in sync…If even one team or one area falls out, then the whole machine breaks apart. The goal is to try and get this machine to spin at a faster rate, slowly and incrementally by making small adjustments. We want to elevate everybody while achieving our goals together.”

Tekmetric recently accepted a Silver Stevie Award® at The 20th Annual American Business Awards® for Achievement in Growth. We’ve grown tremendously over the past year, and although we consistently release new features and integrations (like our first-of-its-kind OEC RepairLink integration), our team player mindset has always stayed the same.

Tek Tip: Make sure your partners are team players, too. Check out our blog post about how to make sure your partnerships are a two-way street.

6. Leverage Technology

“We have a new generation of car drivers on the road that don’t want to come in and speak to somebody or pick up a phone call. They want the convenience of technology on their cell phone to look and see what’s wrong with their vehicle, approve and decline jobs, pay for the repair, and then just come and collect the vehicle.”

Shops that leverage technology have more scalability. Tekmetric offers auto repair shops a frictionless shop management experience with improved efficiency and workflow. Having the freedom to step away from the shop and trust that everything is under control empowers shop owners to focus less on micromanaging and more on leadership. Tekmetric puts you in the driver’s seat.

In the words of Sunil:

“You have to be intentional and ready to make the change. Trust in the process. If you focus on mindset first, the business practices and success will eventually follow.”

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go With Tekmetric!

Back when Sunil owned an auto repair shop, he made more than 750k in his first year alone. The next year, he doubled his revenue, and the year after that, he tripled it. But in the early 2000’s, auto repair shops were running on a very disjointed process. Sunil started Tekmetric with Prasanth to fill in the gaps and inefficiencies with estimates and repair orders.

We’ve seen firsthand how using a robust shop management system can boost key metrics like Car Count and ARO. Ready to drive your shop forward? Give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.

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