Well-run businesses understand that great ideas can come from anywhere; from the top on down and even from customers.
When a challenge presents itself, it's good to have options. So keeping a keen ear to what others perceive as important is vital.
Independent tire dealers and auto repair shops generally have a drive to push the envelope and think outside the box to address business challenges. Independent small businesses inherently have many challenges.
So, it comes as no surprise when large national networks pick up and run with an idea first spawned by an independent shop owner.
Case in point is NAPA AutoCare Centers, with about 16,000 member shops in its network in the U.S., which decided to adopt an apprenticeship program designed by one of its members and make it a nationwide program.
The apprenticeship program was created by Pete McNeil, owner of McNeil's Auto Care, a NAPA AutoCare center in Sandy, Utah, and his master technician, Jake Sorensen, to address the problem of finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians.
Finding a good technician always seems to be front of mind among tire dealers. Too often, employees leave a shop as soon as they are trained, because they don't see being an automotive technician as a career, or they don't want to put in the time and effort it takes to be successful.
Messrs. McNeil and Sorensen decided to address the issue by building a program to grow their own technicians.
Their program has trained three new techs successfully.
Now, NAPA has adopted the program format and is offering an apprenticeship program through its AutoCare network so other shops can groom their own technicians.
Or consider another case from a few years ago. David Harrison, a partner in Rental Concepts, an RNR franchise group with stores in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri, launched a Mother's Day car and tire giveaway to deserving single mothers, in honor of his own mother.
Customers were asked to submit nominations of mothers who could use a new car and a new set of tires. The giveaway event received local media coverage.
The RNR Tire Express & Custom Wheels corporate office liked the idea, and the goodwill it generated, and decided to expand the Mother's Day giveaway across its network of more than 260 franchised locations in the U.S.
These examples show that marketing groups and franchises that allow shop owners a little independence, can benefit from independent thinking and some novel ideas to meet the challenges of the automotive aftermarket.
Remember, good ideas are everywhere, you just have to be open to them and ready to act.