In today’s technological climate, all of the world’s information is at your fingertips. While that is an invaluable resource to have, the fact of the matter is, you have ALL of the world’s information to sift through, as well. While we live in the information age, we still have the need for instruction and guidance on what information to focus on, and what to ignore. Enter ProRevTech; a company dedicated to helping tradespeople hang their own shingle, and become successful entrepreneurs.
Starting a business is no easy affair. Sure, you may be well versed in the subject matter that pertains to your automotive passion or trade, but what about all the other facets of starting, building, and growing a business? Just because you may be a killer engine builder or cylinder head porter, doesn’t necessarily mean that you know anything at all about running a business.
Being in an industry that is not only tricky to operate a business in, but is subject to quite a bit of governmental regulation and control, even the most adept entrepreneur can find themselves in a pitfall of red tape and costly decisions, which can stop you cold before you ever really start.
However, with the programs offered by ProRevTech, you are getting a helping hand walking you through a multitude of matters – some of which you may have never even considered before. These programs have been created specifically for the automotive service industry by Dr. Jeffrey Wm. Laham, with input from some of the biggest names in the automotive aftermarket.
Calling ProRevTech’s courses a shortcut would be a disservice to them, but they do pack a huge amount of very specialized knowledge into a manual containing slightly more than 100 pages in each course. Imagine condensing an MBA, along with a doctorate in psychology, sociology, and research methodology into 100 pages, specifically directed at starting and growing a successful automotive business. That’s ProRevTech.
About The Author
Before we dive into the courses themselves, we need to understand the source. In this case, that would be Dr. Jeffrey Wm. Laham, Ph.D. Dr. Laham has three Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Southern California (Fight On, Trojans!) in Counseling Psychology, Research Methodology and Design, and Clinical Sociology.
Quite the heady resume right off the bat, and not one you’d necessarily expect in the automotive industry. However, before he was Doctor Laham, he was just 15-year-old Jeffrey – a southern California native that came from a line of automotive entrepreneurs and engineers – who started a paint and body business out of a small garage in Torrance, California. Proceeds from that automotive business paid his substantial tuition at USC and allowed him to buy his first home in Venice Beach, California at only 24 years-old.
While applying to graduate school, Jeffrey became a Vocational Rehab Counseling intern for the VA. While there, he started developing his automotive entrepreneurship techniques. He helped vets not only get jobs with their skills, but actually start their own businesses, working for themselves, and being successful at it.
That was followed by earning the USC Alumni Association’s “Outstanding Graduate Student” award, along with the recognition of being the first to graduate from his class. That all combined to give him a unique set of skills and expertise, leading him to consult for, and coach, a number of executives at some of the largest corporations in the world. With such a diverse set of qualifications along with work and life experience, Dr. Laham is uniquely qualified to create exactly this kind of system.
However, these programs aren’t solely the thoughts and experiences of Dr. Laham. Some huge names in the automotive performance world, such as Ed Iskenderian, Louie Senator, John Athan, and Nick Arias, Jr. all contributed to the coursework contained in the ProRevTech Program.
An Innovative Approach
If you’ve never started a business before, even if you’ve researched it, you have no idea how many things there are to consider. Having started a business before, and using something similar in concept – though nowhere near as in-depth or well-presented as the ProRevTech courses – your author can say from personal experience, what a benefit something like these courses are.
At the point in which you are looking to utilize something like ProRevTech’s guides, you are undoubtedly full of confidence in yourself. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be considering opening your own business. However, one thing to consider is that self-confidence in your skills and abilities within your trade, might blind you to the fact of how little you know about business itself.
Confidence is a good thing, but if it leads you to charge headlong into the unknown, it can turn into a mess you were unprepared to deal with – both financially and emotionally – which can spell massive headaches, or, in the worst case scenario, the end of your endeavor before it ever really gets off the ground.
The ProRevTech courses outline all of the things to be considered at each step of the process. Far more than just a how-to manual, the ProRevTech coursework forces you to ask questions you may have never thought to ask, and provides guidance based on psychological, sociological, and economic principles that would require specialization in all of those fields to come up with, let alone properly apply to your new business.
Armed with the skills you have acquired – whether through an apprenticeship, trade school, or just life experience, the ProRevTech course will make sure that you are fully prepared, and have every advantage going for you when it comes time for you to actually hang your own shingle out, and start your own business.
Currently, ProRevTech has four available courses for four types of automotive service businesses: General Automotive Service and Repair, Custom Engine Building and Rebuilding, Automotive Machine Shop, and 30-Minute Tune-Up. All four courses have some overlap, where the information is the same (for say shop location considerations), but have enough unique content in each to justify separate courses.
For this article, we will be using the Custom Engine Building and Rebuilding and Automotive Machine Shop courses as references. If the descriptions seem intentionally vague at points, it’s because they are. There is a lot of proprietary, valuable information in these courses, and it can be tricky trying to tell you about it without giving it away. These courses go so far beyond what we are able to list here, that this is almost a disservice to the amazing amount of information contained to try and summarize it.
While each course has unique content based on the particulars of each service, the courses are all laid out in a similar format. The first area that the courses dive into is Operations. As the name implies, this section outlines a comprehensive list of aspects of day-to-day operation of the business.
This area is especially valuable for someone who has never run a business before, as it provides sample charts and guidance on things you might not have considered too deeply, like how to implement a warranty policy and handle warranty claims, among other things.
The next section covers start-up costs. This section contains lists of what it takes to start a business. It covers both what is generally required, and a cost range of what you can expect to pay for those products and services. This also includes a worksheet to determine your working capital needs (and goes over what working capital is, for those unfamiliar with the term).
The courses then move into the “Market and Location” sections. The information contained in these pages is one of the sections where all of Dr. Laham’s degrees come to light, and the topics discussed are something you’d expect to find in a post-graduate psychology and sociology course. These pages provide an exceptional guide for you to work from when determining a location for your business. The topics addressed are far more than foot traffic and street visibility, with comprehensive breakdowns of a variety of factors which need to be considered when looking at an available location.
From there, the course dives into “Advertising and Promotion.” These are areas that, unless you’ve gone to school for marketing, and have lots of experience in the industry, can be a very costly area of trial and error for a startup business. Luckily, Dr. Laham and team lend you the lessons learned from their vast pool of experience, helping bypass many of the missteps of a startup can face. For someone with no experience in advertising or marketing, this area can be incredibly valuable.
The Fun Stuff
The next section is one in which anyone who is thinking of starting their own shop probably feels like they have down already, and that is the equipment and facility. This section requires you to check your ego, and be open to the lessons being provided. Of course if you are opening a new shop, you’re going to want to run out and fill the shop with as many brand new machines as you can fit – and get a line of credit to afford.
The equipment required is probably the area you are most familiar with already, which can in turn lead to overconfidence in your decision making. Any tradesperson appreciates their tools, and sees them as a reflection of themselves. Sometimes it takes an impartial third party to help restore some objectivity to the decision-making process.
Oftentimes, as the most highly visible part of the shop’s identity, shiny new equipment and a flashy facility get misprioritized on the order of importance to a new company. Dr. Laham lives in the real world, and is focused on making you successful. As such, he reins in any thoughts of putting yourself into a million dollars of debt for tools and equipment right off the bat, instead providing a grounded, realistic approach on how to outfit your business, and how to separate out needs from wants.
In addition to the big ticket items, the ProRevTech course walks you through the sundry items which may not even be on your radar, but could cause a headache – either in a blown budget or simply the inconvenience of not having them when the need arises. When you own your own business, time is money, and an hour lost to run to pick up a needed item can cost you a lot more than just an hour of wages.
Another area where the average startup struggles with is inventory. How much to keep, how to manage it, what you should have on hand, and how to create and maintain relationships with your suppliers are all covered by Dr. Laham, along with list of actual suppliers – some you may be familiar with and some you may not have heard of before.
Cutting Through the Red Tape
The next section of the course deals with aspects of the business which are absolutely crucial to the operation of the business, but aren’t usually the parts that business owners like. These subjects are the dreaded “red tape.”
When it comes to employees, there are a ton of things that need to be taken into account – far more than just their salaries. How do you plan to recruit prospective employees? How do you actually interview and hire people? How do you manage employees? Dr. Laham covers all those topics in the “Personnel and Regulations” section of the course, along with the federal regulations that affect both you as the owner and your employees.
The course then moves into insurance for the business. This is often misunderstood, and there are a number of different types of insurance available to cover your business. It’s not as easy as just saying “I’ll take full-coverage” to a broker. You need to be informed on what is available, and what you want covered. Being under-insured or flat out uninsured after an incident can be a fast-track to a lost business.
Moving into the next topic, the course outlines the different ways you can organize your new business, legally, along with each method’s benefits and drawbacks along with an explanation of the multitude of personal, professional, and tax liabilities for each option.
Speaking of taxes, welcome to the probably least-liked subject (but the most important to keep you out of hot water with the local, county, state, and federal governments) – Licensure and Taxation. While the exact licenses you’ll need will vary by city and state, Dr. Laham does a great job covering the required permits, and gets you pointed in the right direction to find the exact needs for your particular location.
When it comes to the taxes themselves, the ProRevTech course lays out all the required taxes on a Federal level, along with diving into the state requirements as well. As a business owner, these can be quite comprehensive (and overwhelming), but with the foreknowledge of what you’re getting into, at least you won’t be blindsided by the number of hands that wind up in your pocket, come tax time.
The second-to-final section is one that most new business owners need – unless you have a business degree already – and that’s the Financial Management section. While this isn’t an end-all-be-all part of the course, it is an incredibly helpful section, distilling the key points of years of business courses into one manageable section of this course which the beginning entrepreneur should find invaluable to their startup efforts.
Wrapping up the course is a section on Professional and Business Consultants. No one can do everything themselves, and it’s a smart business owner who leans on his advisors. As Dr. Laham points out, when you’re sick you consult a doctor. Using that logic, when you are ready to move forward with a new business, why wouldn’t you consult a business professional? In the final section, Dr. Laham outlines a number of the consultant resources available to you, and how the process works.
While the initial investment might seem a little on the steep side, for what might appear at first glance to be just a “how-to” book. In the grand scheme, the cost is a small percentage of your starting capital, and the information contained in the ProRevTech courses covers all the bases, to ensure your start-up runs as smoothly as possible.
There are a lot of lessons contained in the text that are costly – both in time, money, and frustration – to learn on your own. In the end, how much is the roadmap to a successful business worth to you?