Small business owner stresses the importance of learning marketing, accounting and human resources.
Impact Auto Body owner Bob Schubert talks about keeping current in his rapidly changing industry, and shares tips on working with a spouse.
Name: Bob Schubert
Business: Impact Auto Body
Location: Mesa, Arizona
How and why did you decide to become a small business owner?
My dad owned a pharmacy when I was very young, so I grew up in a small business. I became interested in collision repair when I was 16 or 17, and I knew I would open my own shop someday.
You and your wife own and operate the business together—is there a trick to working with your spouse?
My wife, Debbie, handles the marketing for Impact Auto Body and works mostly from home or by making sales calls to insurance agents. I primarily manage the production and administrative end of things. It would be difficult, I think, if we worked right next to each other all day.
If there is a trick, it is being able to not let work infringe too much on our home life. Much easier said than done, I’m afraid.
What are your biggest challenges, and how do you deal with them?
Keeping up with the complexity of today’s vehicle design can be overwhelming. Ongoing training for technicians and regular equipment upgrades are necessary.
What makes Arizona a good place to do business, and what might be improved about its business climate?
Arizona tends to be friendly to small business and, because of our excellent weather, we are seeing steady population growth. The state has done a good job, since the economy collapsed several years ago, in attracting businesses from other states. In doing this, Arizona has gotten away from being overly dependent on the housing market for its economic growth. Really, they just need to maintain the current course, both on the state and local level, and Arizona will continue to improve.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry?
Vehicle design has changed radically. Ultra high-strength, lightweight metals and plastics are being utilized as structural components to help meet fuel standards. Computer and electronics are utilized in almost every part of today’s vehicles, and very complex accident prevention systems will soon be commonplace. Driverless cars are no longer just a concept—it won’t be long before these cars will be offered for sale and you see them in traffic every day.
How does being an NFIB member benefit you and your business?
Really, there is no other organization out there protecting the interests of small businesses. On a state level, the NFIB state director for Arizona, Farrell Quinlan, went down to the legislature a couple years back with members of the Automotive Service Association of Arizona and helped us kill a bill that would have had a very negative effect on almost all collision repair shops in the state. His presence, I believe, really affected the outcome of that meeting.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about starting a business?
Get educated. You don’t have to have a business degree, but in today’s ultra competitive marketplace, you better have a good knowledge of marketing, accounting and human resources before opening your doors. If you have the chance, get on-the-job training while working at a similar business. When you do get ready to go out on your own, plan carefully and have more cash on hand than you expect to need to get your business established.