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Growing Your Business

Carm Capriotto, AAP - It’s time to do a SWOT


This could be the best team exercise you’ve ever done; unless you’ve done some team building exercises on an obstacle course, or at a horse ranch.

For the small business person, a SWOT exercise is like creating a strategic plan. A strategic plan you say? That is for the big world of corporate America. But I say no. EVERY company needs a strategic plan. It is really about short and long-range goals, and what we will need to do more of, less of, and new things to keep us competitive and relevant in the marketplace.

SWOT is a deep review of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. There are 23,600,000 results in Google for SWOT. Does that kind of response, from mother Google, make this an important tactic in your business? I say yes.

This exercise could be one of the greatest gifts you give your business this year. I’ll explain how big results come from doing a SWOT on your business.

  • This is not an exercise you do by yourself.
  • This is a team exercise; everyone who works for the business. (Assemble that team.)
  • As the owner of the business, you should not lead the exercise. Your people will contribute more if you are sitting in the back of the room and not saying a word.
  • If not you, then who leads the exercise? Find a friend or fellow businessman who can be the SWOT leader and write down on the white board or flip chart the contributions from your team. It is best that your SWOT leader understands business in general or even your business. It could be your accountant, a mentor, an advisor, or even a fellow shop owner.
  • The leader asks the team to define their Strengths and then their Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. In some cases, you may have a strength that is also a weakness and a weakness that can be an opportunity. Once your team narrows down what they know to be the company’s strengths, it gets easier from there.
  • The facilitator goes through each section and may even challenge your team to help crystalize the point being made. Your facilitator makes it fun and will keep the energy in the room at a high level.

If you have ever wanted your team’s perspective on your company, the marketplace, and the industry, this is the best exercise you can do. You will learn a lot about your team, your company and the road ahead.

I recommend doing this on a flip chart, one page for each element of SWOT. (If you do it on a white board take pictures of the results). Why use a flip chart? I want you to post them in your office and create a ‘war room.’ You’ve now got a perfect picture staring you in the eye on what you need to build upon: your strengths, what you need to sustain and constantly improve; your weaknesses, or what you need to fix; the exciting new potential opportunities that could push your business into new markets; and, your threats, things that could derail your business if you don’t prepare. Talk about a strategic plan, and it came from YOUR people! It’s simple, easy, and engaging and should be done on a yearly basis.

When your team feels that their input matters and they are part of the business, magic happens. And when you are ready to implement the improvements and changes that flowed from the SWOT, they’ll be on board ready to participate because they own a piece of the rock.
Carm Capriotto, AAP
Host, Remarkable Results Radio Podcast
The Aftermarkets Audio Book Library
A related post: The Extreme Value in Doing a SWOT On Your Business
Also find a link to a SWOT overview on the above link.



Repeat Business Starts with a Great Customer Experience

Whether it’s time to write an ad for Facebook or creating an offer on Google and sending out a post card, marketing is an important part of your job in regards to driving traffic and awareness to your business.

If you promote, ‘Great Dependable Service’ and you aren’t at the top of your game, hold the marketing effort. Don’t promote your business; fix it first.

You don’t need transactions, you need customers for life. Your growth goal should be to find long-term relationship customers, not one-time customers. The customer won’t stick around if you don’t deliver ‘Great Dependable Service’, consistently.

Many service professionals say their biggest growth factor for new business is customer referrals. Ask yourself if your customer experience and service quality will get you a referral. If not, it is time to fix it.

Customers for life, come from the heart of your business culture; where the team knows the why of the business. They appreciate each other and have fun at work. A great culture and caring team will do what is right for the customer, always. A great customer experience starts internally, and never rule out proper training at all levels of the company.

However, you’ll need more than a great culture to win over customers, it is just a start. Well documented systems/processes, clean customer lobby, and rest rooms are essentials for winning the heart and perception of the customer.

Do you have customer service standards? Is the work completed the same day? Is an oil change only forty-five minutes? Are your safety inspections completed in 30 minutes? Do you have pick-up and delivery service? Rental cars or loaners? A good quality control program? A sure way to communicate with your customers such as email or text?

Whatever you market about your business you must meet those expectations and more. Never market what you cannot deliver, and always aspire to be just a little better than the shop down the road. Be like Disney. Looking the customer in the eye and smiling is a customer service foundation at Disney.

Start your list of improvements so you stand out as a great service company and then tell the world.


Carm Capriotto, AAP

Host, Remarkable Results Radio Podcast

Listen to your aftermarket colleagues share great ideas on great service and culture. Go to the TAG Cloud click on ‘Customer Service’ and ‘Business Culture’.



Is Your Customer Service Exceptional? Need to Lead in Your Market?

Jasper Engines & Transmissions is sponsoring the Town Hall Academy, hosted by Carm Capriotto of Remarkable Results Radio; a program to help automotive aftermarket professionals improve their business – one lesson at a time. One great aspect of Town Hall Academy allows service professionals to learn from their industry colleagues in a round table forum. There are new ideas and perspectives shared from aftermarket professionals who have a passion for the topic of discussion. The following topic, with respect to providing exceptional customer service, has been provided by Carm himself. Please read and 'click' on the link for access to the podcast... enjoy!

Carm Capriotto for JASPER (Blog 1 of 6)

Finding differentiation is easy if you commit to doing something better than anyone in your market. It is just good business to have a strong business culture (code of conduct), documented processes, great systems, strong customer relationships, quality workmanship and controls, a training culture, cleanliness and the biggest of them all customer service.

Have you ever felt the extra special treatment at a luxury hotel when you’ve asked the hotel concierge for help with something? Haven’t you always felt like a dignitary; as if you were the most important customer at the hotel?

Conceptually, luxury hotel level concierge service is the basis of this discussion with your industry colleagues; shop owners Bruce Howes, Jeremy O’Neal and Dave Kusa. Together, this panel remarks not only the value of top level customer service and what it means to your business but what they are doing to go above and beyond the standard.

“True Concierge Service is not a company policy. It is a code of conduct that everyone in your company adopts.” When customers experience a higher level of customer service, exceptional treatment and follow through, they remember it more than the service you performed.

In this enlightening Town Hall Academy, you will hear about business culture, quality controls, cleanliness, loaner cars, and creating a more loyal customer. The discussion continues with ‘one free thing’, a token gift, and how deep should a concierge level of service go.

We are always so time challenged to attend or participate in great seminars, so dig into these Academy sessions. Set aside your own time to engage with your industry colleges as they pay it forward. Go here to listen or watch the lesson. Enjoy it like a documentary, learn like a seminar.

Carm Capriotto
Connecting people that care about building a stronger aftermarket.
Town Hall Academy LIVE every Friday at 12 Noon EST

Grow Your Business with JASPER Co-op Funds

In today's world, if someone offers something for free, it's only natural to be somewhat skeptical, right? JASPER Co-op funds aren't exactly free, as they are earned through your previous year's net sales. If you're not using your JASPER Co-op funds, you're missing out, it's a great deal. These funds may be used for current year advertising with the intent of growing your business selling JASPER Products. Henry Ford is attributed to saying, "I know at least half of my advertising budget works... I just don't know which half." JASPER's Co-op Program will potentially pay for up to half of a co-branded advertising invoice, provided you have the available Co-op funds.

Why advertise JASPER products? It's really quite simple, JASPER offers you and your customers a premium product with excellent availability backed by an outstanding warranty. Your business benefits through the sale of JASPER products, which adds profit and additional satisfied customers for your business. We are talking about advertising that actively promotes your sale of JASPER products. It's more than just placing the JASPER logo in your ad, it's about delivering a sales message that connects with customers who are in need of your services and our products.

How can your Co-op funds be utilized effectively? For guidelines, examples and downloads, click here, or return to our homepage and click on Installer & Fleet Resources, then Co-Op Advertising. What type of advertising constitutes 50% reimbursement? Items purchased from the Randd/JASPER catalog, for example, are automatically approved for 50% Co-op reimbursement using your available Co-op funds. Print, radio and television commercial ad invoices will be reimbursed for up to 50% of invoiced cost, using your available Co-op funds, depending on how JASPER is branded (size and message). The easiest way to guarantee maximum reimbursement is to select one of our Ready-Made Ads. If there are any questions regarding the percentage of reimbursement for a custom ad, just e-mail your proof to and she will let you know up front. It's just that easy!

To access your available Co-op funds, visit myjasperaccount at and get started. We want your business to be successful and JASPER's Co-op Advertising is just one way we can help.


Customer Profile – Lee's Under Car Services

The Customer Profile for this blog post focuses on Lee’s Under Car Services of Independence, Missouri. Lee’s is a full-service automotive and truck repair facility, and a JASPER Preferred Installer. Owners Lee and Julie Wilson believe customers should have a reliable place to have their vehicle repaired at a fair price, with quality work. The Wilson’s have been in business for 18 years. Lee started his automotive career as a dealership technician. Wanting more from his chosen career path, he decided to open his own place for car and truck repair. Lee’s Under Car Services has steadily grown since since its inception in 1996. What started as a small two-bay garage with no office, Lee’s now has three service bays with a clean customer waiting room, a parts storage area, and office space for its three employees. Two of Lee’s technicians are ASE-Certified in various areas, including A/C, Suspension, Diagnostics, Engine and Transmission Builders and Automotive Electrical. Lee’s does not believe in fear-selling, or overselling unneeded parts. Instead, he advises customers of the problems found on their vehicle, then he informs them, much like a doctor would, what measures must be taken to ensure proper repair and safety, without selling unnecessary items. Lee’s Under Car Services has been an installer of JASPER remanufactured products since 1996. "Doing the job right the first time saves everyone money," says Wilson. He also promotes a "show the customer" approach by showing them pictures of JASPER’s remanufacturing facilities. "I’ve been to JASPER three times now, and I have taken a lot of pictures of the facility, as well as the units," Wilson added. "The images are uploaded to my office computer and I show them to potential customers so they can see JASPER’s commitment to quality." Lee’s Under Car Services utilizes the business philosophy that cars cannot be fixed without the necessary tools and skills." "Sometimes without the right tool you can get the repair done, but how long is it going to take?" said Wilson. "Time is money so I believe in spending money on the tools to do the job right." "The customer is your advertisement," Lee said. "If a customer is happy they tell everyone. If they aren’t happy, they tell everyone. I believe in personal and honest customer relationships, just like JASPER. "That is what separates JASPER from other companies," he added. "The others want to come in and sell their product based on price; not value. The trust one builds with their customer far outweighs a ‘bargain of the day.’" In the future, Lee would like to find a larger building with two additional bays, and hire the necessary personnel to operate them. But for now, he is holding on to his dream of building his own "perfect shop".

Elite Sales Seminars/New Shop Owner Website

Elite has just launched an all-new website for shop owners.  One of the main features of this new website is the Auto Shop Idea Center – a library of complimentary tips and ideas that will help you overcome challenging sales objections, and increase your shop’s sales, customer satisfaction and customer retention. The Idea Center also offers marketing and shop management tips designed to help shop owners build more successful businesses. Elite will be adding new content to the Auto Shop Idea Center every week to provide shop owners with a consistent flow of new business building information, so if you find these tips helpful, you may want to check back regularly for new complimentary ideas.  Check it out at: Elite’s new website also provides the opportunity to enroll directly in any of the upcoming JASPER-sponsored High Impact sales seminars, and because you are a valued JASPER customer, you are entitled to an exclusive $100 discount. Here is the latest upcoming JASPER-sponsored seminar: High Impact Sales Seminar - October 24th, Dublin, CA We hope that between the Auto Shop Idea Center and these industry acclaimed seminars, you are able to take your shop’s sales to a new level!

Drew Technologies CarDAQ-Plus J2534 Reprogramming Devices Available to JASPER Customers

CarDAQ- Plus
The CarDAQ-Plus is capable of reprogramming most J2534 compliant vehicles from around the world.

Jasper Engines & Transmissions is pleased to offer Drew Technologies CarDAQ-Plus J2534 Reprogramming Devices to our JASPER customers for rent or purchase.

The CarDAQ-Plus is a fully-featured vehicle interface, capable of reprogramming most J2534 compliant vehicles from manufacturers around the world. It is the most validated and accepted J2534 device in the world and has been on the market longer than any other J2534 device.

“Vehicle reprogramming is a vital service needed for independent repair shops to correctly diagnose and fix several driveability concerns,” said Brad Boeglin, JASPER New Product Development Group Leader. “Drew Technologies has an extensive background with today’s OEM makes, and the CarDAQ family is the most validated J2534 tool on the market.”

The CarDAQ-Plus offers a wide range of capabilities independent repair shops can use to grow their business and retain customers, including:
• Module programming
• Diagnostic functions
• Key programming
• Data monitoring

“Independent repair shops can use the CarDAQ-Plus and purchase the OEM software to reprogram most J2534 compliant vehicles,” said Boeglin. “Technicians can also use the CarDAQ-Plus for Security Key systems/programming on Ford, GM and Toyota vehicles.”

JASPER customers can take advantage of free rental of the Car-DAQ-Plus J2534 Reprogramming device with the purchase of a JASPER transmission. JASPER customers can also purchase the CarDAQ-Plus at a discounted price and can use available Co-op funds for up to 50% off the cost of the unit.

For pricing and availability on the Drew Technologies CarDAQ-Plus J2534 Reprogramming device, JASPER customers can login to, select Marketing and Co-op Advertising, then click JET2534 Reprogrammer. Customers that do not have an account can contact their JASPER Factory Representative.

Customer Profile - Red's Garage

Red's Garage Red’s Garage in Port Chester, New York, is one of the Tri-State area’s complete full service auto and truck repair facilities. Located at 25 Midland Avenue, near the New York-Connecticut line, Red’s Garage started as a one bay shop in 1944 by Anthony "Red" Zaccagnino. Red’s nephew, and current owner, Joe Sandarciero lived in the house behind the shop and began learning the business at age 15. In 1976, at the age of 18, Joe purchased Red’s Garage and in 1981 moved the business to its current location on Midland Avenue. At that time, Red’s was a three bay gas station. In 1998, 12,000 square feet was added to the building to accommodate their growing truck repair business. Seven years later, Joe’s son, Joe Jr., joined the Red’s Garage staff as sales manager handling the sales of snow & ice equipment, trailers, truck equipment and accessories as well as starting and managing their three e-commerce websites (, and In 2011, Red’s Garage expanded again to include a new showroom and parts department. This recent addition brought the total workspace area to 19,000 square feet with 15 bays. Their services range from general automotive to medium and heavy-duty truck repair. Red’s Garage is also a snow plow dealer for Western, Boss, SnowDogg, and spreader dealers for SnowEx, Torwel and Downeaster. They also sell a full line of truck accessories and are an authorized Rhino Lining dealer. Red’s Garage employs 15 full-time technicians, two shop foremen, two office managers, one parts manager and a sales manager. Ten of their technicians are ASE Certified, including brakes and hybrid Certification. Red’s Garage pays for their technicians’ additional training to advance their automotive knowledge, so important with today’s modern vehicles. For the past 14 years, Red’s Garage has been an installer of JASPER quality remanufactured products. Red’s uses JASPER because of our warranty and product reliability. "JASPER gives the customer peace of mind that if something were to go wrong, JASPER will stand behind their product," says Joe, Jr.. "With JASPER products, we know we are getting a quality product. The customer is not only buying an engine or transmission, they are buying a company, and with a company like JASPER you know you’re getting quality." Honesty and integrity are the two cornerstones behind Red’s Garage and their business philosophy. They remain the best way to retain their customer base. "Our customers are what keeps our shop going," says Joe, Jr.. Our work environment is family oriented, and we treat our customers like family."

Customer Profile - J.D. Automotive & Truck

From Dover, New Jersey, this Customer Profile focuses on J.D. Automotive & Truck, a full-service automotive and truck repair facility.
Shop owner Jim Dodd is the "J.D." in the business name. Jim started his automotive career in a one-bay garage, working nights and weekends. Business was so good, there was up to a one month wait for customers to get an appointment. So in 1994, Jim opened J.D. Automotive at 331 Richards Avenue. He started with three service bays and added two more within two years. Their latest expansion came in 2003. It gave J.D. Automotive & Truck a total of seven service bays and 3,000 square feet of space. The building includes a customer waiting area, a conference/training room and 1,000 square feet of parts inventory. Of the seven employees at J.D. Automotive & Truck, six are ASE-Certified Technicians, including four Master Technicians. The company pays for technical training, and Jim makes it mandatory for his technicians to attend training on a quarterly basis to keep up with the ever-changing automotive landscape.
Today, J.D. Automotive & Truck provides complete service and repair on cars, trucks and recreational vehicles, from oil changes to computer programming. They have the capability to service and repair hydraulic systems and provide custom fabrication and service.
Since the company’s start in 1994, J.D. Automotive & Truck has been an installer of JASPER remanufactured products. "What originally steered me to JASPER was the updating of original equipment and the improvement of common failures," said Jim. "JASPER is the best product in the market and the best warranty available." Often referred to as a dealership alternative, J.D. Automotive & Truck provides customer follow-up after work is completed on their vehicle. This method of customer retention ensures the business provides the best service possible for future maintenance. "We are the only Tri-County shop to receive 100% customer satisfaction for three consecutive years," said Jim. "We want to be the best in the industry, not the biggest."

Customer Profile - Ewing Automotive

In 2006, JASPER’s Drive Line Newsletter highlighted Ewing Automotive in Snellville, Georgia.
Ewing Automotive was founded in 1976 by NHRA and IHRA Pro Stock Drag Racing legend, Billy Ewing. What started as a home-based business for the first 14 years, Ewing opened his first location in Snellville in 1990. The company expanded in small increments over the years, with an emphasis on retaining their current customer base. A BIG expansion took place this year. "We opened up another shop (in 2012) to work on cars and heavy-duty trucks," says Ewing. "Our workload was growing too much for one shop to handle, and we had customers coming to see us from long distances. So, we went to our customers." 2012 was the right time for Ewing Automotive to open a second location on five acres of land along Highway 78 in Monroe, Georgia. This new facility, approximately 20 miles east of Snellville, has eight service bays in 5,500 square feet of work space, including two truck bays and an alignment bay. Ewing included a spacious front waiting room for customers, along with a kitchen and a master office. A mezzanine above the office is used for parts. Ewing’s Monroe location has six employees, including four ASE-Certified technicians in varying disciplines ranging from Master Technician to Durability Expert, Differentials and Transmissions. Ewing supports his technicians attending seminars and other classes to stay on top of advancements in automotive technology. "Each technician is required to have 20 hours of training every year," says Ewing. Just like in Snellville, Ewing says his Monroe location will do more in-house repair than a dealership. "By doing this, we can save the customer money and time," he said. "We can repair more jobs quicker, and more efficiently, because of our skills and equipment and the drive to make it work. We’ll do jobs other shops turn down." Ewing Automotive has been an installer of JASPER remanufactured products since 1999. "Good people make a good product and JASPER is both," says Ewing. "JASPER stands behind their product, which allows me to stand behind the job I did for my customer." For Billy Ewing, his future plans include passing down the business to the next generation. "Our shop is a family business," said Billy. "That pulls us all together." Ewing Automotive’s business philosophy remains ‘Quality work at a fair price.’ "The customer is the most important thing to us," he said. "Our customer base extends 36 years, and that means a lot. We take care of our customers to build a relationship and to make them feel like a person, not a number."