Problem Solving Final Project Paper Essay

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FFIn the greater Baton Rouge area, there are 270 automotive and collision repair businesses. Within three miles from Fishers Automotive, where my husband Paul works, there are 40 shops that are providing some of the same services as Fishers. Of those 40, 26 perform collision repair. Before I started school, I worked at Fishers with Paul. I was a body technician and helped with some of the office duties. Paul is still currently the head painter. The owner, Vic Fisher, has recently seen a decline in business on the collision side. If the business is to remain open, which will allow Paul to keep his job and provide for his family, the staff at Fishers needs to figure out what they can do to bring in more business.

The questions that need to be answered are: How is Fishers Automotive going to get a competitive edge on its competition in the greater Baton Rouge area? Is there an untapped source of revenue that can single it out from the other shops? Is there a service currently not being provided in Baton Rouge? Answering these questions may very well be the solution that they are looking for.

The building that Fishers Automotive is in was designed to be a warehouse and is not suitable for what they are using it for. It is really run down, old looking, and in need of remodeling. One of the first places that they need to remodel is the office area. By doing that, Fishers will be able to showcase some of the different services they provide. It will then look more professional and appealing to the customers coming in. Second, they need to address the production area. The production area needs to be reconstructed to enhance productivity, increase the work flow, and visually evoke a feeling of professionalism to incoming customers. Customers will then be able to see that Fishers is a specialty shop and not just the normal collision and automotive repair business. One of the disadvantages of this type of renovation will be the inconvenience to the staff as well as the customers during business hours. Another disadvantage will be the cost involved for the necessary upgrades.

Vic and Paul have already spoken with insurance companies and have discovered that there is no place in Baton Rouge that they, the insurance companies, can send boats and recreational vehicles (RV) for repairs. These companies have had to ship these vehicles out-of-state for repairs. Needless to say, it is costing these insurance companies a substantial amount of money to go out-of-state to do these repairs. So, if Fishers can provide these types of services, it will have the advantage over its competitors in that approach. The disadvantages of this method would be the purchasing a specialized paint booth big enough to facilitate boats and RVs. Also, they do not have the qualified staff to handle the labor intense work load. Vic will need to hire more specialized employees to make up for that work load.

A new marketing strategy would be another approach to getting a competitive advantage over Fishers competitors. One way Vic can do this would be to come up with a new name and logo for Fishers Automotive. Vic will also need to replace the old sign with a bold and modern sign with the new name and logo. By changing the name and logo, customers will have a better idea of the overall services the shop will provide. Also, Vic can begin to advertise in more car magazines such as News on Wheels and the Advocate newspaper. The use of internet media, such as creating a new website and creating a facebook page, can be beneficial to promoting the new name.

Fishers can further the name and reputation through local and national car shows such as Cruzing the Coast in Biloxi, World of Wheels in New Orleans, and Sema in Las Vegas. Some other ways can be to solicit larger, well known companies to sponsor its booths at these various car shows. Connecting with companies such as Coca-Cola, Monster (energy drink), and BASF (a chemical company that produces a high quality automotive paint) would be an advantage. Fishers can also have a custom painted trailer with advertising on it for delivering and transporting cars that have been restored. The trouble with this type of advertising will be finding well known businesses willing to sponsor them and the cost of the ads.

The other concept that Fishers can use is the retail and accessory market. Some of the different ways that it can use this market would be by selling different types of products, for example, t-shirts and hats. Fishers can design some one-of-a-kind aftermarket kits for bumpers or hoods, or it can design its own custom wheel with the new logo. The possibilities for the retail market can be almost endless. The drawbacks to this type of market would be the product inventory, the shipping process, and the product liability. With inventory, someone will be faced with inventory control and taxes. Shipping would require someone responsible for boxing, labeling, and delivery. As for product liability, the company may have to increase the amount of insurance should a product fail and end up in a lawsuit. Choosing a combination of providing new services for boats and RVs, introducing a new image, and implementing a new marketing strategy will work best for Fishers to get the competitive edge over its competition. Providing the new services to boats and RVs will generate a higher profit because insurance companies have no set labor rate cost, so Fishers will be able to mandate what it feels is fair to working on these larger vehicles.

Challenges that Vic will face with providing these new services will be the increased cost in payroll, the cost of the supplies and equipment, and the cost of energy to run the larger paint booth. These costs may put a hindrance on Fishers at first, but once the reputation of the work is recognized then it will be easier to cover these extra costs. Introducing a new image will help the company be visually appealing to customers coming in, along with helping the productivity of the shop. Introducing a new image will include changing the name of Fishers and remodeling the office and production areas. Changing the name of Fishers will help bring in customers, once customer are in the remodeling of the office area will allow Vic to showcase vehicles that have already been restored. Customer will then get an idea of how well of a job Fishers provides. The remodeling of the production areas will help productivity run quicker and more smoothly. Disadvantages to this remodeling will cause chaos, disorganization, may be inconvenient to staff and cliental, and the cost will be substantial. Setting a budget is a major necessity to making sure not to overdue these renovations.

The new marketing strategy will include the following: a new website showcasing the new name, logo, and services, a Facebook page, attending local and national car shows, placing ads in local newspapers and magazines, along with an enclosed car trailer with the new logo and name. The difficulty with this strategy is the cost and finding a company to design the website and setting aside time to update the Facebook page. Another burden on Vic will be finding companies to sponsor Fishers at the various car shows it will attend. Deciding what magazine to place an ad with and how much it will cost to keep that ad running for a period of time will too be a drawback. Also, the disadvantage of having to find and purchase an enclosed car trailer big enough for transporting two or more vehicles will take up a lot of time. In the end, word-of-mouth referrals will be very important to continuing to build an extensive customer base. Implementing the new services will consist of purchasing and installing a paint booth that will house the larger vehicles.

The next step will be to contact insurance companies, such as Geico, Progressive, State Farm, and Allstate, and contact previous cliental to inform them that Fishers now provides services to boats and RVs. Fishers Automotive should be called VF Motorsports. Vic can do all the demolition in the office area himself. The Overhead Door Co. can be hired to install the bay door that will allow the vehicles to get in that Vic wants to showcase. Next, Vic can hire a company called Precision Flooring to replace the old flooring with new carpet. Vic can proceed to hire an independent painter to patch up holes left from demolition, paint the walls, and replace the ceiling tiles. Finally, Vic will need to give the production area a much needed cleaning, throw away old parts that cant be reused, he can purchase storage cabinets to help organize equipment, and placed white walls around the perimeter of the shop to help brighten the work bays.

Vic can hire Webovations Studios to design and run his website. Vic can create the company Facebook page himself. Negotiations for sponsorship need to be started as soon as possible with companies such as Coca-Cola and BASF to help cover the cost of upcoming car shows. Vic can place ads in The Advocate newspaper, 225 magazine, and News on Wheels magazine for public advertisement. Researching online can lead Vic to finding an enclosed trailer for a descent price. Though careful planning and brainstorming has gone into every idea, it is still unknown how the industry will react to all the changes Vic will make.

These processes above may take months or even years to see any type of return. The positive aspects of these processes may lead to higher profits, increased productivity, and attract a greater cliental. The negative aspects of these processes may lead to depletion of funds, loss in efficiency, and consolidation of the company. Vics company has been established for over thirteen years with a wide and loyal customer base across the Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. With this established customer base, Vic can be assured that all these changes will bring about success for the new Fishers.

References:

Baton Rouge, La (2012) [maps] www.maps.google.com
Reference USA (n.d.) retrieved4/7/2012from
Crocker, Paul. Personal interview. 7 April 2012, 21 April 2012. Fisher, Victor. Personal interview. 21 April 2012. 5 April 2012

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