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  1. It's been a while since I made a blog entry so I've decided that I am going to start to add entries around using AutoShopOwner and things that may be of interest. For this entry, I'd like to showcase our Activity tab in the main menu and try to describe how you can use it and some of our other views to bring up the content that you want to see vs viewing everything. Today we have a few ways of seeings what's new from your last visit and content in general.

     

    UNREAD CONTENT

    You can click the Unread Content  link towards the top right and that'll give you all your "unread" content since your last visit. It's also available under Activity Streams (next section). Some people love this feature on forums and it's handy for frequent visitors, but can be a very long list if you haven't been here in a while.

     

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    At any given time you can "Mark site read" and it'll show everything as being read.

     

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    You can even mark topics and full forums as read (stops topic titles from being bold because bold means unread)

     

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    ACTIVITY STREAMS

    Click on the Activity section from the main menu and you'll see a link for All Activity, My Activity Streams, and Search. This is where you can really tailor your view of content that you want to see. Start with one of our default streams or give a shot at creating your own stream to show only what YOU want to see!

     

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    FLUID FORUM VIEW

    If creating your own Activity Stream isn't for you and you like to just go to the main page of the forum and see what's going on, then Fluid View may be for you. You can toggle between Fluid and Traditional views easily by clicking on the layout button. You can also customize which forums will show topics by clicking on the "Showing topics from all forums" link.

     

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    Hopefully this explains some of the ways we have available for our members to get to the content they want to see and stay updated. If all else fails, just use the search box at the top of the page!

     

  2. As an old school tech I always went for the WHY it failed. If you replaced it and didn't see the reason that it failed, you didn't fix anything ! 

    Be it your tech or you the business owner it is still the same. If you don't see the WHY it will never get fixed. 

    I see everybody talk about what he or she is doing and not focusing on what they should be doing.

    Some say it's free... Have you ever went to a Casino and heard the word free? NO they say "we will comp you". What they are really saying is , I am going to give you this to get a whole lot of what's in your pocket! They didn't build those huge buildings on winners. When you walk in and the carpet on the floor would make you nauseous if you stared at it, that is for a reason. So you look at eye level at all the pretty lights and machines.

    Marketing is a Science ! Being a Business Owner is a Science ! Dealing with Customers is a Science!

    DISCOUNTING 

    A 19.95 oil ad is a discount. Free is a down right give a way. I never run an ad like that, WHY ? Because I can market customers in by other ways and yes it evolves oil but at the same time not making your shop a discount shop. 

    I am telling you that in the upcoming year the manufactures are getting very aggressive in retaining there customers for there service departments. There is no reason you can get aggressive with your service business as well. You can have that one ,two year old vehicle in your shop as well by doing the right thing.  

    You have a tighter area of marketing than they do. If you focus on your area and do the right kind of marketing and managing your business, you will also thrive. You can do the same effective marketing with your budget to gain new and keep the customers you have coming back to your business time and time again. Yes you can have the videos, the campaigns etc just like a huge service department but you scale it to what you can handle.  

    Here is a good quote I heard that makes good sense 

    Everyone on Earth is walking around life wearing an invisible sign that says, "Make me feel important." And your job is to understand the size of the font of this invisible sign and how brightly it's lit. So it's our job to read that sign and to deliver the experience that that person needs. 

    GIVE THEM YOUR STORY and GIVE THEM THE WHY THEY SHOULD BE YOUR CUSTOMER !!

  3. By Bob Cooper

    If you what to sell more service, drive up employee morale and productivity, and see higher profits, then this is one article you may want to read. I realize that I just made a pretty substantial claim, but I sense that by the time you finish this article, you will agree... 

    Rudi Rudloff, who is now an Elite Coach, approached me a number of years ago when he was one of our coaching clients here in San Diego. He said that since his shop was only open Monday through Friday, his plan was to have all of his employees come in on a Saturday so that they could spend the entire day together. His objective was to not only learn from his employees, but to allow them all to learn from one another as well. He ran one of the top shops in America and I always admired the way that he thought, but I told him that I felt this was a particularly great idea. He then asked if I had any additional thoughts, and I suggested we invite a few of his customers as well. He liked my recommendation, so here’s what happened…

    His five techs showed up, along with his two advisors, his lot attendant and his secretary. Shortly after that, the five customers that he invited showed up. The shop was immaculate in every way, he hosted a breakfast, and arranged all of the chairs in a nice big circle. 

    Rudi and I started the session by asking the customers questions about their expectations. Not only were all of his employees taking a lot of notes, but for all of his employees to be able to hear the customer expectations directly from their customers made the entire meeting a huge win in itself. After spending about an hour and a half with the customers, Rudi thanked them for attending and walked them to the door. 

    We then spent the entire day analyzing every single part of the business, from the time a potential customer makes that first call, all the way through the customer follow-up calls. What I found to be the best part about the entire meeting was that every single employee was exposed to every single part of the customer and vehicle process, and what they all learned, was priceless.

    The technicians were able to better understand what advisors have to go through each and every day, and the recommendations they provided regarding how to make the advisor’s job that much easier were all well received.  Additionally, breaking down and analyzing what the technicians go through with each and every vehicle enabled the advisors to provide the techs with their recommendations, while at the same time this process gave the advisors a much deeper appreciation for what a technician goes through every day. 

    The day ended mid-afternoon, and the results from the meeting were no surprise. Over the course of the ensuing weeks their car counts went up substantially, they sold more service, and there was an increase in employee morale, productivity and profits. As a matter of fact, Rudi held his annual shop meetings each and every year until he finally sold his business. 

    Giving each and every employee the opportunity to see and understand the big picture worked for Rudi, and I am confident it will work for you as well.

    Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com.

  4. Car Count Daily | Episode 14

    Click Here To Subscribe For DAILY Car Count Daily Tips Straight To Your Inbox

     

    Car Count Daily | Episode 14

    Click Here To Subscribe For DAILY Car Count Daily Tips Straight To Your Inbox

    TRANSCRIPTION:

    Hey Shop Owners. Captain Car Count here, sometimes known as Ron Ipach. Welcome to yet another edition of Car Count Daily. Now, on a previous episode, I talked about the number one group of people that you should be marketing to. Now this is the low hanging fruit. The people that know, love and trust you, and people that are willing to give you more money, more often. As you might have guessed, it's your current clients. These are the people you should be spending your money, time and effort to get back to your shop, so they come in more often. But as I suspected, I knew I was going to get a lot of push back because I typically do from shop owners. Because, look, you do a great job for your customers, you do exactly what they want you to do, and provide a phenomenal repair and you maintain their car, so, of course they're going to come back to you, right? That's the argument I get all the time, and I'm here to tell you, no, that's not enough. Okay?

    I'm going to take the viewpoint of a customer here. Now I get your business, okay, I know all you do to do a great job and maintain the vehicles and fix the cars, and all the busted knuckles and the bloodied hands and all the stuff you go through to do a great job for your customers. But the customers don't see that, you see that. If I'm Joe Customer here, and I'm bringing my car to your shop and it's broken, I am paying you to fix it. So, when you bring it back to me fixed, you've done the job I'm paying you for. Okay? I paid you to do that job. I don't know how difficult it was. I don't know how awesome you were at doing it. I paid you for a service and I got the service.

    So, that's what Joe Customer thinks, or Jane Customer, is it's ... You're doing what I paid you to do. So, of course, you should do it right. Of course, it should be fixed. Of course, it should be maintained 'cause that's what we're exchanging the dollars for. I'm giving you money, you just give me what I asked for. So, the fact that you did a great job means absolutely nothing to me because I don't know about the bloodied knuckles and how difficult it was to do that repair, or how well trained you needed to be to do that repair because I paid you for that.

    Okay, now don't get mad at me. I'm just taking the viewpoint of your customers. So, doing a great job, and simply just saying you did a great job is enough to bring them back, I'm going to argue with you all day long because if they're just paying you for that, you're providing a service and that's it.

    Write this down, and you might want to remember this at all times, it's not what you do, when it comes to repairing the cars, it's what else you do when it comes to repairing the cars. Okay? I'm paying you to fix my car. What else are you doing to develop a relationship with me? What else are you doing to ensure that I'm going to come back to you versus going to the next shop down the street. Because, again, Joe Customer here, all I want is my car fixed and maintained. I'm paying for that service. So, no matter how difficult it is, I'm going to assume if it was real tough, it's going to cost me more money. Okay?

    It's what else are you doing. What else ... Why are you inviting me back to your shop? Why do you want me to come back to your shop? What offers are you going to give me? What incentives? Why should I come back to you versus going anywhere else? Now, keep that in mind when it comes to your marketing.

    Understand the most important person you can have in your shop, as a customer, is one that's already been. It's that repeat business that will build your business. Simply doing a good job isn't good enough anymore. It's a matter of what else you're doing. Impress me, give me outstanding customer service. Market to me, let me know that you care to have me back in your shop, and I will come back to you. That's why it's the most important group of people that you want to market to.

    Keep that in mind and you will blow your car counts through the roof. I guarantee it.

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    Recent Entries

    Business has been very slow here in Philadelphia, i need to get my office person to start doing what i had him doing when he first started but can not find any of my sop's for him. been with me 5 years and have gotten to friendly.
    the last advisor stuff i found is from Elite 2003. any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Wayne



  5. A shop owner friend called me the other today to complain about one of his technicians. He went on and on about his bad attitude, he comes in late, is always miserable, and brings down the morale of the shop. So I asked him, “Why do you keep him?” He replied, “He’s my best producer”

    How many times have we heard this story? How many times have you said those exact words? As a shop owner you need to come to terms with the fact that a toxic employee will bring down the entire shop. Making excuses or giving this employee a pass because he’s a great producer is not a valid argument.

    Eventually, the entire shop will spiral downward. Morale will deteriorate to a point where employees will shut down. In addition, the other employees will begin to question your judgment of people and “your” integrity. You will lose your credibility as owner of the company. When that happens, expect good people to leave.

    A bad apple will destroy the bunch, and never leave the bushel unless you physically remove it. Once removed, morale will go up and so will production. And don’t be surprised when your other employees come to you and say, “Hey boss, what took you so long?”






    Source: Got a bad apple in your Repair Shop? Remove it!
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    The Digital Shop® takes shape in Schools
    Lindsay, our trainer extraordinaire went back to school. Not as a student but being a professor for two days at the Career and Technology Center Fort Osage. Based on the initiative of SmartFlow users in and around Kansas City, MO, Bill Lieb, and Bryan Compton – teachers of the Automotive Classes at CTC – AutoVitals provided equipment and training for the next generation automotive technicians.
    It has been an honor to support this initiative. The technician shortage and hesitance for new technology by older generation techs make it a necessity to have young technicians equipped with the knowledge about the tools available and how to use them. SmartFlow can not only guide these students to the digital frontier, but also learn about productivity and efficiency that is typically missing in everyday curriculum.
    As you can see in the pictures below, the students and Lindsay had a lot of fun with the lab portion of the training. Each group performed digital inspections on their vehicles, and expanded on the importance of documentation and pictures. Four classes in two days showed high school students the opportunity in this industry, both present and future. Professor Lindsay had a blast!
    Are you a School interested in taking your Automotive Program to the next level, or know of one? Please use our contact-us form to reach out!
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  7. Thousands of Shops Can Be Wrong

    • Over 100 of the most used service categories
    • Hundreds of pre-built jobs, service descriptions & labor notes
    • The most accurate reporting possible
    • More effective appointment scheduling
    • More accurate estimates


    Your shop needs a powerful management system to produce the level of efficiency and accuracy necessary for growth. To achieve this the old manual way, you need considerable time and patience when learning how to prepare it for use. With Jump Start, all that and more is solved!

    How to Get Jump Start:

    Follow these instructions...


    *Available for Manager SE/ShopKey SE users only*




     

  8. Does your shop run on the Scott Systems MaxxTraxx Shop Management System?

    Their latest release, available now, includes two new myCARFAX Shop Tools. Participating shops can now signup customers for myCARFAX in one-click!

    myCARFAX is new no-cost customer retention tool that helps keep your customers coming back for their future preventative maintenance services. Consumers who use myCARFAX get their vehicles serviced 20% more frequently than non-users - getting you more service business! myCARFAX will remind the customer about their next oil change, tire rotation, and state inspections - always telling them to go back to YOUR shop.

    To take advantage, from the server station, select "Setups" dropdown menu, then choose "Carfax Setup". Check the box next to "myCARFAX Shop Loyalty Services", and press OK. Once you've accepted the Terms and Conditions, the myCARFAX Customer Signup button will appear in two windows: the vehicle page of any repair order, as well as the Pay screens. Click the myCARFAX Customer Signup button in either screen, and you'll be able to instantly enroll the customer and their vehicle. When complete, the button will turn green to let you know.

     

    Additionally, the CARFAX Service History report has been updated to allow you to print a hard copy, better inform customers of any open, un-fixed recalls, and make better service recommendations faster. Simply look at the "Last Reported Maintenance Items" section at the top to quickly find out when the last oil change, tire rotation, and 14 other preventative maintenance services were completed on the vehicle. It's formatted in a customer-friendly format that can help you build trust with your customers! The CARFAX Service History button is available on the Repair Order screen, as well as the vehicle record.

    Many other myCARFAX Partners are in the process of integrating these features - look for more announcements soon!

  9. Welcome back…Time to start some of the heavy lifting. The fact of the matter is that if your plan is not written, it will probably not succeed. Let's talk about the preparation. Get a pad of paper and start developing a plan. Equally important as a written plan, is having time based deadlines. No deadlines, No progress. It's that simple.

     

    Whether you have an inspection program that has gone by the wayside, or if your shop never has had such a program, it is imperative that you implement one and stick to it forever. Here are just a few reasons it is so important.

    • You owe it to your clients to keep them aware of the condition of their vehicle. They depend on you and trust you to let them know exactly what's going on with their vehicle.
    • You owe it to your family & employees to make your shop better and grow your business.
    • If you don't do it, some other shop will, or already does this.
    • You must take charge of your business and lead.
    • This will take your business to the next level. A 20% increase is huge to any organization and everyone in the organization

     

    Time to get everyone aboard. Have a company meeting and let your staff know that you want to take the shop to the next level. Let them know that you want their help with designing an inspection form. This gets your team to buy into the plan. This is a key element to success. Set the time for a follow-up meeting and let them know you look forward to getting input from each one of them. Get with your service advisor for input on how the inspection form will be routed & utilized. Ask your office manager for ideas on tracking the forms and possibly how you could compile the information into a summary. Also, how you could best track the ARO information as this new program emerges.

     

    Continue to speak to your entire staff about this new program and why it is important to them individually. People instinctively think in terms of "What's in it for me?". You win their hearts and their minds and best efforts will follow.

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    The world of diagnostic scan tools can be a challenge to understand what you should have in your shop. These tools can be purchased from a long list of automotive suppliers including parts houses, mobile tool dealers, online tool companies, and many more. Not only are there multiple places to purchase this diagnostic equipment but there are also multiple brand names of aftermarket scan tools. The all-in-one scan tool concept historically speaking has been the only answer for aftermarket repair shops as generally these tools will communicate to a broad range of makes from USA, Asian, & European. The down side to ALL aftermarket scan tools is the hit and miss or limited software content outside of the Engine & Transmission. This makes it extremely challenging to finish the repairs on ignition lock repairs, air bag replacements, Instrument panel replacements, etc... There are also times where in the Engine side a throttle body replacement is needed and the idle air relearn is simply not in your aftermarket scan tool, especially on European models.

     

    Steps you should take so that you don't get caught making a bad purchase decision?

     

    1) Don't let the Marketing efforts of a company be the reason you purchase, look at the total package from Tool to Support.

    2) Talk to more than one shop about what they use and why, reason is every shops capabilities are different.

    3) Don't look at only the price, sure everyone doesn't want to overpay but service after the sale is everything.

    4) Repair info in scan tools is typically basic and becomes out dated quickly. Also aftermarket companies that offer repair information can be confusing and also generic. This can sometimes lead to issues when the information provided doesn't match the tool you are using.

     

    Analyzing your current scan tool offering and what is a good first line of attack?

    1) A High quality general purpose to specialty aftermarket scan tool - Must be quick, easy, and dependable in most situations.

    2) A OE Scan Tool based by car count to justify the expense. We usually start with the Big 3 USA Automakers, Big 3 Asian, then European.

    3) A J2534 device and a computer built for automotive shops. This would be a rugged Laptop with a partitioned hard drive for multiple car makes and no virus protection plus enough power to be quick and reliable for years to come. Remember this computer is for automotive repair not an ebay or Amazon machine.

     

    Who should I align myself with to help my shop be the best it can be in the Diagnostic arena?

     

    1) Just like when a customer is looking for a shop to work on their car when a shop is looking for a supplier to purchase their diagnostic scan tools they should be looking for someone who really understands the tools and their capabilities. Also the supplier needs to have aggresively good technical support so that the shop can get full benefit of the scan tool.

    2) Look for a supplier that offers the best aftermarket scan tools and also factory oe scan tools. We will never see an all-in-one scan tool be able to do every function, relearn, & reinitialization so having a factory OE scan tool bridges this gap for the shop.

    3) Shops need to understand that even manufacturers of tools don't understand how to repair cars. Their engineers are challenged to do one thing typically and that is to write code inside of a tool to populate and poll data plus actuate any components that are available. This is far from understanding how to repair the car, so aligning yourself with a supplier who does understand how is instrumental in getting the most out of your tools.

     

    This is just a broad overview of what to look for... Questions and comments welcomed and encouraged!

     

    Thanks

     

    OEST

  11. This article is from my business partner, Terry Keller, who owns Keller Bros. Auto Repair in Littleton, CO. For more information about Terry, you can check out his free ebook on our website, "Is My Story Your Story?" Click here to get it!

     

    Benchmarking

     

    Most of us shop owners understand the process of comparing our numbers to a set of benchmarks or standards. I remember way back over 35 years ago, I had monthly meetings with my accountant where he showed me my shop’s financials with the percentages and ratios, and then told me where they should be. It was always a frustrating experience – not just because my numbers were off, but because I didn’t know how to fix most of them and neither did he.

     

    A decade later, as my experimentation nudged some of my numbers to higher levels, I ended up believing it was impossible to improve them above a certain point. Looking back now, that level of performance was mediocre at best…and by today’s standards wouldn’t allow me to stay in business for more than a couple of months! As uncontrollable overhead continues to go up, we shop owners must have our pencil very sharp and keep our production and profits at the right levels.

     

    So What Are the Right Levels?

     

    This is EXACTLY the age-old problem that every business owner has faced since products, services and money first started changing hands thousands of years ago. Who is to say where sales, profitability and production levels SHOULD BE? How much is enough? How much is too much? Can you try for too much?

     

    If you set your prices high enough to make a good profit but don’t work hard to control your expenses, can you price yourself above the market and out of business? The answer is YES! What if you don’t charge enough to make a reasonable profit…how long can you do that? How long will your family put up with not getting regular paychecks? What if your employees can’t produce an adequate quality or quantity of work? How is that working for you?

     

    Needless to say this stuff is way past important. With the lingering bad economy and higher inflation just around the corner, it is vital to know exactly where your numbers are and where they need to be.

     

    But there’s something even more important than understanding some set of so-called benchmarks put forth by some so-called industry guru. It’s this: do you BELIEVE THEM? Do you believe they are real? Have you seen first-hand evidence that they are really being achieved AND SUSTAINED by other shops just like yours?

     

    Stay tuned for next time, when Terry covers what your shop SHOULD be comparing numbers to and who you can TRUST! In the mean time, if you have any questions, leave a comment below or contact us at [email protected].



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