Generally, there are 3 types of partnerships. Mutually beneficial, lopsided, or mutually harmful. A mutually beneficial partnership is the only one worth pursuing.
Smart partnerships can change your business for the better. They can streamline processes, reduce costs, boost profits, bring your auto repair shop to a wider audience, and help you grow by leaps and bounds. On the other hand, not all partnerships are worth pursuing.
If your partnership is not a two-way street, you may be getting taken advantage of.
Generally, there are three types of partnership situations:
- Mutually beneficial: everybody wins
- Lopsided: One partner wins, the other loses
- Mutually harmful: Both partners are worse off
A mutually beneficial partnership is the only one worth pursuing and keeping. But sometimes it can be challenging to know exactly what kind of arrangement you might find yourself in with any given partnership. The best way to mitigate any risk of entering or staying in a harmful partnership is to consider all sides of the arrangement and assess the partnership as a whole.
To assess all aspects of your current partnerships, or to determine whether or not a partnership you’re considering will be mutually beneficial, Tekmetric has put together an Auto Repair Partnership Accountability Self Assessment.
Here's how to use this assessment:
The assessment questions are in bold text below. They are thought-provoking questions you may want to ask yourself about the partnership.
Below the questions, we included typical answers or responses you may have. Remember, some questions are more open-ended than others, so the answers might not always be a clear “yes” or “no”.
The "Guidance" section provides helpful tips and deeper thoughts to help you think through certain aspects of your partnership.
We hope these guiding questions help you grow your business and enter strong, sustainable relationships with accountable and trustworthy partners.
Partnership Self Assessment
1. What type of partnership are you assessing?
- Shop Management System Vendor
- Parts Supplier Program
- Marketing Partner
- Another shop
- Investors / Finance
- Legal Partner
- Technology Partner
Guidance: Assess the scope of your partnership. Some partnerships are limited, focusing on a very specific aspect of a product or service. Others, such as a merger or acquisition, can dramatically change your business.
Tek-Tip: Date before you marry.
If a partnership has the potential to be a major game-changer, take the time to enter it properly, form a stable foundation, and build it up from there. If you start on the same page with mutual trust, you can grow at a pace that is healthy for everyone.
If you don’t see the partnership growing beyond a limited scope, you may want to reassess the relationship and ask yourself whether or not it is worth it.
2. Is the partnership essential? If so, what makes it essential? Does it improve a process, help sell to customers, decrease workload, cut costs, bring needed financing, etc.?
Yes or No
Guidance: If the partnership is essential to your business, it’s that much more important to make sure it’s mutually beneficial. Otherwise, you may find yourself dependent on a partnership that may not always be there for you and need to pursue other options.
If the partnership isn’t essential, consider why you would keep the partnership or enter it in the first place.
If the partnership hinders your ability to do something essential, reevaluate how you can either adjust the relationship, end it, or replace it.
3. On a scale of 1 to 10, to what extent do you trust your potential partner? Does the partnership help address a weakness or enhance a strength?
1 = No Trust 10 = Full Trust
Guidance: You really should be able to mark a 10 without hesitation if at all possible. There’s no such thing as partial trust. Either your partner is committed to your success or they are not a good fit.
4. Does the partnership help address a weakness or enhance a strength?
Areas of strengths or weaknesses may include: Organization, speed, outreach, sales, cash flow, accounting, human resources, management, measurement, data analysis, process, network, assets, brand image, technical ability, ethics, revenue, lead generation, morale, product diversity, risk, etc.
Guidance: If the partnership helps you make up for a weakness or further bolsters a strength, then the partnership may be beneficial.
Tek-Tip: Keep an eye on your metrics!
Partnerships should grow your ARO, Car Count, GP$ and other essential bottom line statistics.
5. Are you free to choose your preferred tools and software under the partnership?
Yes or No
It’s important to not be limited by a partnership. If your partner is forcing you to use a specific tool that you don’t want to use or to buy something that you don’t need, the partnership may be parasitic and to the detriment of your business.
Tek-Tip: Negotiate, if needed.
You don’t have to accept a partnership offer at face value. If you’re offered something that looks good save for a limiting aspect or two, try asking for a compromise. A good partner will usually accommodate you.
6. How well does your partner communicate?
Consider all options below.
My partner is:
- Proactive (reaches out to me before I have to call them)
- Responsive when there is a problem or issue
- Inquisitive and asks questions that clarify or help get to the bottom of a challenge
- Thoughtful and honors my time
- Flexible and willing to communicate on my preferred channels or adapt to my schedule.
Guidance: Communication is key to a healthy, mutually beneficial partnership. Clear, open communication builds trust, keeps projects on task, ensures completion of goals, and maximizes everybody’s strengths.
Tek-Tip: Set up a good process and cadence for communication.
Getting on the same page when it comes to when and how different stakeholders communicate can help unify all members of the partnership so that they can act as one single team.
Consider setting up:
- Regular standing meetings
- Preferred communication channels tailored to specific needs and goals
- Project management systems and processes
7. Do you and your potential partner have shared goals related to customer success, innovation, growth, margins, etc.?
Think about your shared goals. It would be even better if you jot them down.
Guidance: You can only measure a goal if it is clearly outlined. For instance, "Increase customers per month by 30% in the next 12 months".
Tek-Tip: Use SMART goals.
Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. (For more info, read Peter Druck’s "The Practice of Management").
8. Is your contract overly restrictive or overly lax?
What limitations are placed on your business due to the contract?
What parts of the contract seem too abstract, open-ended, or loose to protect you?
Guidance: Have your mentor, accountant, and/or lawyer look over the contract.
Tek-Tip: Get assurances.
An accountant or other financial partner should be able to look you in the eye and say they are confident that the partnership will make you money.
A legal partner should be able to look you in the eye and say that they would be confident defending from your side of the contract in court. Get their blessings before signing.
9. All things considered, do you feel like this partnership is mutually beneficial or benefits one partner more than the other?
Consider the following.
This partnership is:
- Mutually beneficial
- Disadvantageous for my business
- Disadvantageous for my partner
Guidance: Your partnership should be mutually beneficial. If this assessment has called into question whether the partnership may be disadvantageous or hurt either you or your partner, it may be time for a serious conversation about altering or ending the relationship.
Be wise with your partnership choices. We’re always looking for ways to both help our partners and discover new capabilities through partnerships with other companies. Our partnerships have led us to offer shop owners more through integrations with marketing companies, parts suppliers, labor guides, and other trustworthy auto repair solutions.
To see some of our partners and integrations, check out our Integrations Page.
Are you looking for a shop management system partner? We’d love to work with you towards a mutually beneficial relationship with your auto repair shop business.