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What to do when you can't fix a vehicle


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I took in a 2000 Ford E-250 that had been to 2 other shops before me. I then called in an auto electrician specialist to tell me what was wrong with it. He said it needs a new engine so I put a crate motor in it. Although it now has power it still has a miss that no one can find. The specialist says there is nothing else that he can test it for or any one else. His advice is to drive it and see if the motor is tight and things will improve with time and if not, all that can be done is to start throwing parts at it.

 

If I were to take it to the dealer how should I go about this? Take it in as a shop or just an individual? Is there a chance they would give me a max that it would cost me or do they just want a blank check?

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What testing was completed?

What was initial compression and compression now?

Which cylinder is misfiring?

Fuel pressure, injector balance test, injector wiring verification?

Ignition coil resistance, spark quality, ignition waveform?

Wiring wiggle/dowel test?

Cars do not misfire for no reason, there's data missing from the equation. I'm sure everyone here will be more than happy to assist with diagnosis and I'll be more than happy to offer phone consultation if it comes to that.

 

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Sounds like the "specialist" might not be as special as he thinks he is but then again we have all mis-diagnosed a car or two if we are being honest with ourselves. Doesn't the specialist guarantee his findings and work? I would question the specialist skills especially if they told me to "throw parts at it".

I would agree with ncautoshop in that there is to much information missing to make an accurate assessment. I think you have to go back to some of the basics and start documenting the findings. When someone tells me it's been to 2 other shops or even one, I tell them to take it back because the shop is every bit as frustrated as the vehicle owner and the techs want to fix the vehicle (at least if they are any good). We steer clear of those types of jobs because the vehicle owner already feels they have spent to much and want us to feel sorry for them and give them a break. I have also found that it usually costs us to much to be a hero.

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Let me tell you now that I am an owner, not a mechanic so my knowledge is limited. I do know my way around the basic stuff. There is no question about the guys skills. He is very well know around my area. Many of the larger shops use him in GA, AL and SC. I have been using him for several years and he has always impressed me.

I will order a PCM. There has been some concerns about that. I know I have not given a lot of details on the problem because I wasn't really wanting more information on what to try. I had given up and was ready to pay the penalty to have the dealer take a shot at it. I just wanted advice on how to go about that.

 

Since I will have to wait for the PCM to get here it would be foolish of me to turn down some help. I will get a list of what has been done that I know of.

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A good "electric tech" should know how to use a scope to see the miss. If nothing else look for the misfire counts on the scanner. Typically, yes.. it could be the PCM, however.... a new motor doesn't always mean a "GOOD" motor. That's where a scope could help out to see the exact problem in the engine...or electrical side of things.

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I would still like someone to answer my original question about tanking it to the dealer or what to do if you can't fix it.

 

This may not be the right spot for this but I just called and got a list of what to tell you guys. First on the specialist, he is called in by many of the dealerships when they have electoral issues that they can't fix or don't want to. He doesn't have much confidence in them fixing it.

 

The van had no power when we got it. It HAS power now and I am told this is a different problem. Was told problem was with cam in old engine.

 

Spark intensity test on secondary ignition with no break up.

Primary ignition - no break up

Random cylinder misfire occasionally, 80% of the time on #4 vs. other cylinders. This happens at idle.

Cylinder compression on new and old engine 160 to 170.

Valve cover removed, Rocker arms appear to be traveling correctly.

Fuel pressure consistent @ 45

O2 sensor cross count operating correctly during engine miss.

Very intermittent cam shaft position sensor code PO340. Some days we don't get it at all.

Can run 3 KOER test with no codes

When #4 is missing #4 and 5 can be disconnected and #4 put on #5 with no miss.

#4 has new injector

New Coil

#4 secondary ignition cable tested for leakage from boot to other end.

Many plugs tried

Oscilloscope amplitude, frequency range perfect and wave pattern perfect with remaining injectors.

12 ohms resistance on injector

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I would still like someone to answer my original question about tanking it to the dealer or what to do if you can't fix it.

 

This may not be the right spot for this but I just called and got a list of what to tell you guys. First on the specialist, he is called in by many of the dealerships when they have electoral issues that they can't fix or don't want to. He doesn't have much confidence in them fixing it.

 

The van had no power when we got it. It HAS power now and I am told this is a different problem. Was told problem was with cam in old engine.

 

Spark intensity test on secondary ignition with no break up.

Primary ignition - no break up

Random cylinder misfire occasionally, 80% of the time on #4 vs. other cylinders. This happens at idle.

Cylinder compression on new and old engine 160 to 170.

Valve cover removed, Rocker arms appear to be traveling correctly.

Fuel pressure consistent @ 45

O2 sensor cross count operating correctly during engine miss.

Very intermittent cam shaft position sensor code PO340. Some days we don't get it at all.

Can run 3 KOER test with no codes

When #4 is missing #4 and 5 can be disconnected and #4 put on #5 with no miss.

#4 has new injector

New Coil

#4 secondary ignition cable tested for leakage from boot to other end.

Many plugs tried

Oscilloscope amplitude, frequency range perfect and wave pattern perfect with remaining injectors.

12 ohms resistance on injector

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I would still like someone to answer my original question about tanking it to the dealer or what to do if you can't fix it.

 

This may not be the right spot for this but I just called and got a list of what to tell you guys. First on the specialist, he is called in by many of the dealerships when they have electoral issues that they can't fix or don't want to. He doesn't have much confidence in them fixing it.

 

The van had no power when we got it. It HAS power now and I am told this is a different problem. Was told problem was with cam in old engine.

 

Spark intensity test on secondary ignition with no break up.

Primary ignition - no break up

Random cylinder misfire occasionally, 80% of the time on #4 vs. other cylinders. This happens at idle.

Cylinder compression on new and old engine 160 to 170.

Valve cover removed, Rocker arms appear to be traveling correctly.

Fuel pressure consistent @ 45

O2 sensor cross count operating correctly during engine miss.

Very intermittent cam shaft position sensor code PO340. Some days we don't get it at all.

Can run 3 KOER test with no codes

When #4 is missing #4 and 5 can be disconnected and #4 put on #5 with no miss.

#4 has new injector

New Coil

#4 secondary ignition cable tested for leakage from boot to other end.

Many plugs tried

Oscilloscope amplitude, frequency range perfect and wave pattern perfect with remaining injectors.

12 ohms resistance on injector

Would it be possible to get a image of his cam and crank waveform? Crosscounts are all well and good, but what's the voltage at during misfire? If compression was good on old engine - that leaves me wondering if there's something else missing.

Heck if you not interested send it my way! I'll fix it lol

 

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NCAutoshop, Just asked him and he says his scope will not do 2 channels at once. He has high expectations that replacing the PCM will fix it. There may be something else that everyone is missing but it sure runs better with the new engine than it did before. (According to the mechanics)

 

ALTauto thank you for your info. I may be able to use identifix now that I know about them but I don't have what I need at my shop to do this kind of electrical work. That's why I called a specialist. I think the specialist is coming by tomorrow for another car that just came in and then has some out of town jobs to get to. I should have the PCM in a few days.

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Woah right there...a one channel scope is not going to do the trick for most automotive work. Guess it's better than nothing. I would consider a training program for your technicians - maybe have your lead tech spend some time reviewing some of Paul danners material or some time in training classes?

 

Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk

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NCAutoshop, Just asked him and he says his scope will not do 2 channels at once. He has high expectations that replacing the PCM will fix it. There may be something else that everyone is missing but it sure runs better with the new engine than it did before. (According to the mechanics)

 

ALTauto thank you for your info. I may be able to use identifix now that I know about them but I don't have what I need at my shop to do this kind of electrical work. That's why I called a specialist. I think the specialist is coming by tomorrow for another car that just came in and then has some out of town jobs to get to. I should have the PCM in a few days.

 

1: I find it so hard to understand how he is an electrical/diagnostic specialist with a single channel scope! You need ATLEAST a two channel scope if not a four channel.

 

2. I think you may have found a lack of strength in your area. I would recommend researching in to advanced training for your technicians as well as the tooling needed to tackle jobs like these if you plan to continue doing them.

 

To answer your question, I am relentless. I have not given up on a difficult job and use it as a learning experience when it gets to that point where you are just banging your head against a wall. I talk with the customer and just say "hey, this is an extremely complex and difficult issue. If you will leave the vehicle with me, I will not charge diag time from this point forward." Stay in constant communication with them and when you do find the problem. Give them a estimate to repair. There is a point where a customer can't justify spending an unknown amount of diag time. Find a cap, somewhere between 4-6 hours is where I have typically fallen for the MOST difficult jobs I have done.

 

I am certainly not saying, don't charge for your diagnostics. PLEASE DO! I am saying when you get a job that is SO difficult it takes this amount of time. This has become a learning experience to improve your skills and keep knowledge in your shop.

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1: I find it so hard to understand how he is an electrical/diagnostic specialist with a single channel scope! You need ATLEAST a two channel scope if not a four channel.

 

Yeah, that's about the biggest red flag you could possibly find right there.

 

Both of our master techs have multi-channel scopes on their scanners. Matter of fact, one of them just turned in his brand new Snap-On for the older model, since the new model only supports 2-channels, and he wanted the old model that has 4-channels.

 

That said ... an "electrical specialist" without a multi-channel scope is like saying you're a mechanic without a set of wrenches. It's that basic of a tool.

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ALTauto thank you for your info. I may be able to use identifix now ...

I would highly, highly recommend getting Identifix, regardless of their hotline. Along with a subscription to iatn forums.

 

AllData and/or Mitchell are great programs. However, Identifix is a game changer.

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Theanswer to your original question is that it willall depends on if you already have a preexisting relationship with the dealership Ifyou don't it won't matter if you're a customer or mechanic. At the end of the day theyare in the business to make money. If thetech who gets your car is greedy n wants to stretch the ticket out....he will. If thetech isn't knowledgeable, thenhe'll cost youmoney just like you're costing the customermoney on an engine that didn'tsolve the problem. So justgo with the truth Because lying won't save you in this case. . , .

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Agree with Identifix. I've been open for 2 years know and I finally had to use them for the first time this month, and man did it help. I had a car that was kicking my a$$, I called the hotline, and we got it sorted out.

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Update, the PCM did not fix the problem. The specialist has committed to getting the scope and but that will not happen right now. Says he is getting a Pico and can't get that off the truck- will have to pay cash for it. Anyone know if that is correct?

The newest info is the Harmonic balancer. I don't know if it was Identifix or a contact at the dealer ship but it looks like some of the rubber is bulging out so I am going to replace that.

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Typically I would set all other notes aside and start over from square one. Something is being overlooked. Never assume new parts are good parts. Clear your codes, go for a drive with the new motor and PCM. . Then come back with your codes so we can help you.

 

Also what size motor? New short or long block? Are you running the correct oil for the variable valve timing? Look at your vacuum. Strong and steady, or bouncing needle?

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I agree with cdhowell. Get us some data to work with!

Don't buy any additional parts, and send your "specialist" packing. I think I would be very cautious taking on jobs that require powertrain diagnosis from here out!

 

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The van is fixed! The mechanic that put the engine in swore that he had put new plugs in it, which he did, and that he had swapped out the #4 plug with no change. I question the truth in this. The specialist (Darrell) and myself both questioned him on that and the timing marks. We didn't want to keep going over each others work. Darrell put in around 20 hours on this and finally decided to start checking what others had assured him was good. The plug was pulled and moved to # 6 and the problem followed. After close inspection the insulator is lose on the plug. I don't know if I told you guys but I had paid another shop to put the engine in for me. I split the profit on the ticket and the customer agreed to pay an extra $200 if we could get it done in 1 week. I actually had an ownership in this shop so we help each other out when we can. They don't know that it is fixed and I have been considering how to deal with this. There might be a lot of finger pointing.

I know this is not the best way to do things but this is the first time I have had a problem.

I want to thank everyone for their help and comments are still welcome.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We had a similar problem the other day on a f250. The injector ground wire was intermittently rubbing against another ground which caused the injector to fire randomly. So if you have a cyl 4 misfire cut the injector ground wire at the injector and at the PCM and run a new wire. This is a free fix for you to try, it costs you a piece of wire and half an hour. The PCM on the one we did was under the battery on the passenger side in the firewall, no need to remove it just the connector.

 

Glad to see you got it fixed. Sometimes starting back at square 1 is the only way.

Edited by alfredauto
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It's back! I called the customer 2 days after he picked it up to check on everything and he said it was running smooth and everything was great. The day after that he called me and told me the check engine light came on and it felt a little low on power. I told him to bring it back in. The next call I got was that it would have to be towed it had no power and the engine was making a loud noise. I sent someone out there and found out one of the cats had come apart and was blocking the exhaust. That was the noise he was hearing. I had it towed to an exhaust shop and fixed that at my expense. Then it had a random miss fire so I had to have it towed to my shop. The injectors have gunk in them so I am going to replace them and drop the tank to clean it along with the filter. If this fixes everything he will have to pay for the injectors.

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Man, this just keeps getting better. No disrespect, but you need to stop working on this truck and take it to a shop that is computant in auto repair. What parts are you going to throw at it next, maybe a wiring harness?

 

I'm in no way trying to disrespect you but I've been following this thread and you should have never touched this truck, even with your so called expert. 20 hours to find a bad plug and you threw an ECM at it?

 

This is one of the reasons that our industry has an imagine problem. There is nothing wrong with not being able to do all repairs. There are shops in my area that ONLY DO brakes and alignment. Brakes making noise or steering pull, they are the guys. Check engine light on or car isn't starting not their bag. The days of being a general repair shop are GONE.

 

It's bad for the customer financially and your doing them a disservice. You really should reevaluate your business modle. Stick to what you know and do it well. Look at how much this job has cost you in terms of money, time, and credibility. These are all things that once gone, you can't get back.

 

Why are you paying for the cats? The car had came I with a misfire and the truck had been driven for a long time with one. If you knew about Fords, you would know that they take forever to code for misfires and thus if are driven, they will cause cat damage. Now the flip side to this is, if you were tooled up for ford, you would have been able to run a balance test on IDS and pinpoint the misfiring cyld in about 2 minutes. Hell, you could have even looked at mode 6 pid 53 with a code reader to see what was misfiring.

 

This comes to my point of your expert. If he couldn't figure out what cyld was misfiring, and it took 20 hours to find a bad plug, he isn't an expert. I sure hope you didn't pay him 20 hours. Your tech that said he changed the plug wouldn't be doing anymore diag or repairs if he worked for me.

 

Again, I'm not trying to bash you, I just don't like seeing people take on more than they are capable of. It hurts our whole industry. Next shop that gets this customer, customers is going to be on gaurd and not want to pay for testing, because he already had and has spent $xxxx and the problem is still there.

 

I would encourage you to get your guys into training. It's fine if you want to start doing diag, but you have to have a capable tech and proper tooling.

 

 

I don't work on all car lines. I only work on what I'm tooled for and know how to fix efficiently. I'm in this business to make money, not be a superhero who can fix anything. I don't do motors, I don't rebuild transmission, and I do maybe 5-6 clutches a year and I charge very well for them.

 

Now imagine if you stick to doing brakes, Maintience, and simple services. Think of all the hours you lost with this darn truck. I'll take gravy work all day. We've all had our rear ends handed to us, I just know now when to say NO sooner.

 

There is nothing wrong with sticking with what your good at.

 

Again, please don't take any offence to what I'm saying. I'm not judging you or your shop, I just would suggest you rethink your business model. We are all here to make money, not lose it.

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SMMototors, I know this all sounds horrible and I would not go to my shop after hearing all of this. Your points are well made and I will have to figure out how to avoid this in the future. Please keep in mind that you are only hearing one side of the story but it is still bad. I am currently dealing with all the finger pointing from the shop that put the engine in and the specialist and my mechanic. I certainly don't want to be in this situation again. The cats were cut off and it only cost me 150 including the tow fee. The mechanic that said he had checked the plugs was not my mechanic. He was at the shop that I paid to put the engine in. I will not do that again. The customer is actually happy with me because I have not dumped him like the other shops did and he is still bringing me other vehicles to work on. The specialist has not charged me anything other than his first fee and has stuck with me on this. I know many of you think I should dump him but I have used him for many years on problems that my mechanic didn't feel qualified to deal with and this is the first problem I have had. He has a good attitude and is honest which goes a long way with me. However, I am considering just sending all these issues to a shop better able to deal with them.

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Man, this just keeps getting better. No disrespect, but you need to stop working on this truck and take it to a shop that is computant in auto repair. What parts are you going to throw at it next, maybe a wiring harness?

 

I'm in no way trying to disrespect you but I've been following this thread and you should have never touched this truck, even with your so called expert. 20 hours to find a bad plug and you threw an ECM at it?

 

This is one of the reasons that our industry has an imagine problem. There is nothing wrong with not being able to do all repairs. There are shops in my area that ONLY DO brakes and alignment. Brakes making noise or steering pull, they are the guys. Check engine light on or car isn't starting not their bag. The days of being a general repair shop are GONE.

 

It's bad for the customer financially and your doing them a disservice. You really should reevaluate your business modle. Stick to what you know and do it well. Look at how much this job has cost you in terms of money, time, and credibility. These are all things that once gone, you can't get back.

 

Why are you paying for the cats? The car had came I with a misfire and the truck had been driven for a long time with one. If you knew about Fords, you would know that they take forever to code for misfires and thus if are driven, they will cause cat damage. Now the flip side to this is, if you were tooled up for ford, you would have been able to run a balance test on IDS and pinpoint the misfiring cyld in about 2 minutes. Hell, you could have even looked at mode 6 pid 53 with a code reader to see what was misfiring.

 

This comes to my point of your expert. If he couldn't figure out what cyld was misfiring, and it took 20 hours to find a bad plug, he isn't an expert. I sure hope you didn't pay him 20 hours. Your tech that said he changed the plug wouldn't be doing anymore diag or repairs if he worked for me.

 

Again, I'm not trying to bash you, I just don't like seeing people take on more than they are capable of. It hurts our whole industry. Next shop that gets this customer, customers is going to be on gaurd and not want to pay for testing, because he already had and has spent $xxxx and the problem is still there.

 

I would encourage you to get your guys into training. It's fine if you want to start doing diag, but you have to have a capable tech and proper tooling.

 

 

I don't work on all car lines. I only work on what I'm tooled for and know how to fix efficiently. I'm in this business to make money, not be a superhero who can fix anything. I don't do motors, I don't rebuild transmission, and I do maybe 5-6 clutches a year and I charge very well for them.

 

Now imagine if you stick to doing brakes, Maintience, and simple services. Think of all the hours you lost with this darn truck. I'll take gravy work all day. We've all had our rear ends handed to us, I just know now when to say NO sooner.

 

There is nothing wrong with sticking with what your good at.

 

Again, please don't take any offence to what I'm saying. I'm not judging you or your shop, I just would suggest you rethink your business model. We are all here to make money, not lose it.

 

Like you are a computant speller :P, just having some fun.

 

On a serious note, you had another shop put the engine in??? I can promise that it's not worth being involved in a transaction that you are not in control of, just take this as a lesson learned and move on.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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      This discussion is part of their ongoing series on customer retention. They highlight how personalized rewards, first impressions, and community involvement can build stronger customer relationships, encouraging repeat business and long-term loyalty. These strategies significantly enhance customer satisfaction and drive business growth.
      Show Notes with Timestamps
      The introduction (00:00:03) Introduction of the podcast episode and the topic of customer loyalty programs. Jeff's background in Hawaii (00:01:03) Jeff's background in Hawaii and the discussion about his current location. Defining customer loyalty (00:04:19) Discussion on the definition of customer loyalty and how it is measured. Earning trust and loyalty (00:06:01) The importance of trust in earning customer loyalty and the significance of knowing the customer's intent. First impressions (00:12:00) The impact of the first impression on building customer loyalty and the significance of creating a welcoming environment. Last interaction and lagniappe (00:18:05) The importance of the last interaction with the customer and the concept of providing a little extra (lagniappe) to enhance the customer experience. Community involvement and charity events (00:20:34) The role of community involvement and charity events in creating customer loyalty and building relationships. These are the main topics covered in the podcast episode transcription segment, organized in chronological order with their respective timestamps. Community Involvement Charity (00:22:26) Shop owner's initiative to involve customers in community charity, raising funds and providing incentives for customers. Supporting Little League Teams (00:23:20) Discussion on sponsoring little league teams, the impact on the community, and the importance of community involvement. Seizing Opportunities (00:24:29) Encouragement to shop owners to seize opportunities, think creatively, and take advantage of moments for business growth. Solving Real Problems (00:25:44) Emphasizing the role of marketing in solving real challenges for small businesses and making their lives better. Involvement in the Community (00:27:31) Discussion on the importance of being involved in the community and creating a sense of belonging, impacting marketing positively. Connecting with Customers (00:28:36) Emphasizing the need to connect with customers in a meaningful way, beyond traditional loyalty programs, and the impact on advertising effectiveness. Fundraising Logistics (00:29:46) Exploring the logistics of fundraising, including tools, graphics, and collaboration with marketing companies for seamless integration. Using Rewards for Community Programs (00:36:29) Discussion on customers choosing to use rewards for community programs, the intrinsic value, and setting up guardrails for giving. Launching Shop Programs (00:41:39) The process of launching shop programs, integration with shop management systems, and activating accounts based on customer history. Service Advisor's Role (00:45:37) Reference to a previous episode discussing the service advisor's role in customer retention and the impact of the 1-to-1 service advisor-technician ratio. Joe's thoughtful gifting (00:46:31) Joe explains his thoughtful and considerate gifting strategies to connect with clients and nurture relationships. Partners with systems and processes (00:47:22) Joe emphasizes the importance of having partners with efficient systems and processes to ease the burden on business owners. Inexpensive customer gifts (00:48:37) Joe shares his inexpensive yet impactful gift ideas for customers, including hot chocolate mixers, cookies, and personalized items. Quality over quantity (00:51:20) Joe discusses the significance of giving high-quality, thoughtful gifts over cheap trinkets and the impact it has on customers. Building customer loyalty (00:53:17) Joe emphasizes the importance of little gestures and thoughtful gifts in building customer loyalty and creating a positive impact. Conclusion and contact information (00:54:02) The hosts express gratitude to the guests and provide their contact information for listeners to get in touch.  
      How To Get In Touch
       
      Group - Auto Repair Marketing Mastermind
      Website - shopmarketingpros.com 
      Facebook - facebook.com/shopmarketingpros 
      Get the Book - shopmarketingpros.com/book
      Instagram - @shopmarketingpros 
      Questions/Ideas - [email protected]
      Lagniappe (Books, Links, Other Podcasts, etc)
      Pit Crew Marketing
      Schindler's Garage
      Schindler's Garage - see loyalty program posts
      Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio


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