Judging by the frequent gasps from members of the audience during Rachael Sheldrick’s presentation at Wire & Gas 2018, a number of delegates were having several ‘aha’ moments as the lady known as Workshop Whisperer led them through ways of collaborating with non-competitive businesses and using social media to get new customers through the door.
Rachael took to the stage immediately after an inspirational big-picture keynote delivered by Redarc Electronics MD Anthony Kittel, who has sweated his way from struggling in a tin shed to controlling a multi-million dollar company that is growing rapidly each year.
Delegates’ minds were opened to a world of endless possibility by Anthony’s revealing Redarc story, before Rachael stepped in to share some simple, practical and proven tips that would help them embark on that success trajectory.
Her presentation centred on identifying other businesses used by a workshop’s customer base, such as hairdressers, banks, dentists, convenience stores and, most significantly, gyms.
“For some reason, gym partnerships seem to do well for auto repairers,” said Rachael.
“I suppose there’s a link between fitness for humans and fitness for cars.”
She then advised that once a shortlist of potential partners has been established, it’s important to check them out to ensure they deliver a level of customer service that reflects yours before approaching them for referrals.
Another important point was to remember that these partnerships are a two-way street. Your workshop has to help its partners as much as they help it.
Once the partnerships are underway and known to be working, Rachael suggests doing a joint ‘like, comment and share’ competition with them on social media to capture the details of potentially thousands of entrants, then following them all up with a special offer to attract them into your businesses.
Rachael revealed a couple of easy-to-implement social media tips such as simply including a smiling person in the images you share.
The reasons for this are two-fold: Facebook is programmed to reward photos of smiling faces with greater visibility, and humans are genetically programmed to respond positively to smiling faces.
Who is the Workshop Whisperer?
SightGlass News interviewed Rachael Sheldrick to find out how she went from workshop owner to Workshop Whisperer.
All of her roles since leaving uni involved sales, starting with the launch of Foxtel where she went on to mentor the sales teams. Her next position was at GE Money selling high-interest loans and credit cards, leading to her creating a sales training program the company rolled out nationwide.
Rachael’s next step was to start her own personal training business, which coincided with her husband Glen establishing his first mobile mechanic business.
In addition to doing the bookkeeping for both businesses, she applied the same marketing methods to both.
“I had no automotive specific experience, which is why when we moved into a workshop that it never occurred to me that I had to do things the automotive way,” she said. “I knew best business practice was what worked.”
The real game-changer was realising that these practices were amplified ”because other industries move at a faster pace with technology and change than the automotive aftermarket”.
“By bringing strategies across from other industries and adapting them, that’s where you grow faster and become more efficient.”
How the Workshop Whisperer began
Seven years ago, Rachael and Glen bought their most recent auto repair business, in a really run-down state.
Less than 12 months later, things had started to turn around, which was noticed by other workshop owners who started asking Rachael and Glen what they were doing in order to make such a difference in such a short space of time.
Rachael would talk to these workshop owners and asked herself the question: “Why isn’t there specific help in the business coaching arena for auto repair business owners?”
She started distilling all her amassed knowledge and experience to create the first two modules of an online program based on the successful strategies she and Glen had used, then put it out to the market.
“It took three months and three launches to get my first online clients, and I built the rest of the program and went from there. That was in 2014.”
Navigating a male-dominated industry
“Being female makes me a disruptor, for sure,” quips Rachael when asked about working in a male-dominated industry. “But I have had almost no resistance because I am female – at least not to my face.”
She also points to the growing prevalence of husband/wife teams running workshops, which means “you can really exploit the female-friendly aspects of a business”.
“With millenials, there are more female drivers than male. Females also make most of the financial purchasing decisions in the household,” adds Rachael.
“I have my skill set, my experience and being a workshop owner is my point of difference. What I help workshop owners with is tried and tested.”