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    • By Joe Marconi
      A few years ago, some friends and I were having dinner at a local restaurant. There were six of us enjoying the food and having a great time. A few minutes after our waiter served us our coffee and dessert, the owner of the restaurant walked over to us, introduced himself and said, “I have people waiting for this table; how much longer do you think you’ll be?” Shocked by his comment, I hesitated for a second, looked up at him and said, “No worries, we’re done.” With just a few simple words, the owner of the restaurant wiped out the pleasant experience we were all having.
      As we were finishing up, we couldn’t help noticing the stares from our waiter and the owner. Their eyes were laser-focused on us. They made it obvious that they wanted our table. We didn’t say anything to our waiter, or the owner. But we told each other, “We’ll think twice about coming back to this restaurant.” None of us ever did go back to that restaurant. And I heard similar complaints from other friends about that restaurant. About a year later, that restaurant closed its doors for the last time.
      As a business owner, I fully understand what each table means in terms of profit. The tables at a restaurant are no different than the service bays in our business. The more people you can process through the restaurant, the more profitable the restaurant is. The more cars we can process through our service bays, the more profitable we are.
      While I don’t fault the owner of the restaurant for recognizing the need to be profitable, I do fault the owner for not understanding a basic rule in achieving success in business. And that is: You build a business one customer at a time and by developing strong, long-term relationships with those customers. And to maintain that success, a business must continuously cultivate those relationships.
      The owner of this restaurant didn’t get it. All of us had dined at his establishment before. The owner didn’t see us as an opportunity to strengthen the relationships. He saw the opposite. By asking for our table, he put the emphasis on his next sale and eliminated any chance of us returning again. Losing customers, and not understanding why, is the kiss of death for any small business.
      What the owner determined important was profit per table, per person. The process to get people fed and done became the primary objective, when it should have been ensuring its customers were enjoying a nice meal and having a great time. It was a mistake that eventually led to his failure. Never think that customer quantity ever outweighs the quality of the customer experience. Making a memorable experience is the essence of great customer service.
      If we dig a little deeper, we find another mistake made by the restaurant owner: believing that the customer experience was over when the meal was over. The meal was prepared, it was served and we consumed it. Then, at some point during the end of that process, we became an obstacle to his next sale. He failed to comprehend that the sale is not over when the meal is over, and that everything that occurs right up to the moment when a customer drives away from his parking lot will have an influence on whether that customer will return in the future.
      The lesson for us is simple: Never lose sight of the importance of creating a customer. Establish a culture in your company that cultivates long-term relationships. Build a process that always strives for world-class customer service during the entire customer experience—and especially at car delivery.
      Never think that when the technician completes the repair, your job is done. The customer experience continues right up until the time the customer is picking up their car. The time you spend with the customer after the repair is done is as important as making the sale.
      Value each customer. Work on those relationships. Don’t worry about short term profit gain. Remember: building long-term relationships, builds long-term profit.
      By the way, that restaurant has recently opened up again. My friends and I went there for dinner last Friday night. We noticed that the new owner was walking around greeting everyone. He eventually made his way to our table, introduced himself and said, “Can I get anyone anything? It’s great to see you here tonight and hope to see you again soon. Thank you.”
      Now, you tell me: Do you think we’ll go back?
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on February 1st, 2019


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    • By Gonzo
      LET’S MAKE A DEAL           You know everyone wants a deal, something  cheaper, something “thrown in” to sweeten the pot.   Money (as always) is always the driving force, and I don’t think that will ever change.  A deal is  a deal, but if you can’t make a deal… well, then,  deal with it.            One bright morning, a mid-90’s Subaru showed  up at the shop on the back of a wrecker. It’s one  of my regular customer’s young teenager’s car.   The phone rang, it was the dad,  Oh, and did he have a story  to tell… a real whopper of a story.              “My son told me he was driving along when the car bumped the curb and flattened two tires.  I haven’t seen the car, but my son said there wasn’t any real damage. So, I don’t think it should take you very long to get it back on the road.  Do what you can, and call me with the estimate.”           I only saw the driver’s side of the car when the tow truck pulled up.  The tow driver came in and tells me, “Wherever you put this, you won’t be able to move it again.  You’ll have to drag it or put it on “dollies”, it’s pretty messed up.  If I were you, I’d stick it directly on the lift.”          Ok, ya got me, no real damage aye?  But, the tow driver tells me differently… now I’ve got to go look for myself.          No real damage?  Hmmm, let’s see…the whole passenger side of the car looks like someone tried to peel the sheet metal off with a can opener.  Underneath the car was even worse.  The upper and lower passenger side control arms are bent. The wheel, spindle, and tire are sitting on the oil pan area.  The sway bar looks like a pretzel, both rims on the passenger side are beyond reuse, the tires are torn apart and shards of rubber are peeling off of the steel belts, and the transmission has been ripped off its mounts.             Yea, you’re right……he just bumped the curb……..yea sure he did.  Looks more like he rode the edge of the curb like a bucking bronco for a long-long way.  My guess is somebody was trying to drift around corners or slide it sideways with the emergency brake on, and probably took out every bus stop, park bench, and light pole for a block or two.            Ok, the tow driver gets a “thumbs up” on this one; let’s put it on the lift.            I told the customer what I had found and the estimate for the repair, and as always I let him know about any “hidden” problems that might be lurking under all this stuff.  He was not a shocked as I thought he would be even after I gave him the price for all the work that needed done, but definitely concerned.  He kept hinting around as to what I thought might have caused the problem.             From the conversation on the phone he was hoping I would say something like… mechanical failure, slick road conditions, defective part, or something like that.  The farthest thing in his mind was that the kid might be the problem.  I told him what I thought had happened, he didn’t want to believe it, but he was going to check into to it.  In the mean time, order the parts and start getting it ready to get back on the road.           Several days later all the parts showed up, and I could get a better idea of the damage with parts that weren’t bent like a pretzel. It wasn’t long before I found a few more flaws in the little “Scooby-do”, nothing major but the kind of thing that should be replaced.  The extra parts were just a few brackets that were bent, but I knew dad’s pocket book was getting tight.  His main concern now was how much I was willing to chew off the original bill to help him out, and to my surprise he confirmed my suspicions as to what caused the accident.           Oh yea, the kid was trying to drift the Subaru. (DAH! Now how do ya drift a front wheel drive car… ah, slide with the e-brake???)           Now I can do a lot of things, and lower repair costs in order to save the customer money is one of them.   Money, or not, I think there is a lesson to be learned here.  I thought it was appropriate to make a small request to good old dad.  If he wanted a cut on the price of the job, then let’s make a deal.   “You bring the little ridge runner to the shop dressed for work. He can earn his keep and save you a few bucks in the process.   Maybe even take a different approach to driving in the future,” I told the dad.    My customer was a little taken back by my deal to save him some money, but it sounded like a good idea. Now his only job was to get the lad down to the shop ready to fulfill his part of the bargain.   Work stopped until I heard back from him. In the mean time, the car is stuck on the lift with no wheels and only half a suspension.  With a service bay tied up, it’s starting to cost me money.  2 days go by, then 4 more, another week and still no answer.           Finally on a Monday morning when I reached the point where I wasn’t going to wait any longer… the dad calls, “Just fix it, and call me when it’s ready.  My son doesn’t want to do it, and I’m not having much luck in getting him to your shop to help at all.  So I guess I’ll have to deal with the cost of the repair instead.”   A little different deal than I expected.  Well, a deal is a deal.  I’ll handle my end of the bargain, and old dad has decided on how to handle his.    There’s an old saying that comes to mind, it goes like this;    “If you want to save a dollar … do the job yourself, but if you have to pay someone else to do it… don’t ask for cheap work, unless you’re willing to share the cost in some way.”     After another day of getting everything back into place the car was ready for the road again. Sure there are few battle scars still showing, but mechanically the car is in great shape.            That only leaves one more deal that’s not quite finished.             …  … the father needs to deal with the son. . . . 
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    • By Ron Ipach
      Dear Shop Owner, 
      Ron Ipach (a.k.a. Captain Car Count) would like to finally share with you his proven 4-step process that he's secretly been teaching to his private auto repair shop clients for the past 21 years, that’ll practically guarantee 2018 to be a blow-out success for you.
      It’s January and that means the new year has kicked off in a big way. Even though we're only a few weeks in, hopefully you’re well on your way to having another fantastic year.
      Now, as an Auto Repair Shop Owner, it’s time to start thinking about how to make 2018 an EVEN BETTER year than last. (Heck, let’s go ahead and plan on making it your best year ever! Right?)
      Ipach, often referred to as the industry's expert when it comes to Car Count, is now accepting registrants to...  

      NEW WEBINAR ANNOUNCEMENT
      MAKE 2018 YOUR BEST YEAR EVER:
       

       
      1. Magnetically attract more (and even better!) customers to your shop
      2. Easily sell your services at higher prices than your competitors
      3. Increase your take-home pay by 30%, 50%, or more
      4. Find, hire, and keep that elusive tech you’ve been searching for

       
       
    • By Ron Ipach
      Hey Shop Owners,
      It’s December and that means the year is almost over. Even though we only have about four weeks left, I hope you’re well on your way to having another fantastic year.
      Now… it’s time to start thinking about how to make 2018 an EVEN BETTER year. (Heck, let’s go ahead and plan on making it your best year ever! Right?)
      I’d like to invite you to a very special LIVE webinar where I’m going to reveal to you for the very first time, my proven 4-step process that I’ve secretly been teaching to my private auto repair shop clients for the past 21 years, that’ll practically guarantee 2018 to be a blow-out success for you.
      With these four steps, you’ll be able to…
      Magnetically attract more (and even better!) customers to your shop Easily sell your services at higher prices than your competitors Increase your take-home pay by 30%, 50%, or more Find, hire, and keep that elusive tech you’ve been searching for Put the fun back into running your shop! Interested? Great.
      There is zero cost to attend this live training and you won’t even have to leave the shop. All you need to do is set aside about 45 minutes of your day to join me right here online.
      Next week, I’ll be hosting this webinar twice. Once during the day. Once in the evening. That way, you’re sure to be able to find the time to join me.
       
      For the dates, times, and registration details, CLICK HERE.
       
      I hope you’ll join me,
      Ron Ipach, President Of Repair Shop Coach

       
    • By Gonzo
      There’s an App for that     
               Technology has a way of surprising us all by surpassing itself over and over again.  One day you’re dialing a rotary phone wired to a land line, and the next we’re communicating between micro wave towers and satellites.  We now have the capability to talk to anyone anywhere on the planet with a small hand held device just as long as you’ve got a signal. But, talking isn’t enough for our modern world.  We want the ability to connect with everyone and every sort of business or hobby we can think of through our magic little smart phone for any reason and at any time we’d like.
      It could be for local or world news, maybe to keep in touch with friends across the country, or how to do something you’ve never done before.  Book a hotel room, find a new job, check the weather, the possibilities are endless.  The technology in our hands is by far more technically advanced than what was used for the Apollo space missions. Think about it, we sent men to the moon with less technology than what you have in your pocket right now. Looking at it in those terms makes me realize the depth and scope of this new technology, it’s truly amazing.
               If it wasn’t for museums hardly anyone born lately would have any idea how life was before transistors. Something else to consider is that anyone born a decade ago has never known a world without a smart phone.  People born just a few decades earlier have never known a world without the internet.  Another decade more and those people have no concept as to how the world made it from day to day without a home computer. Going even further back before the home computer, a computer to those folks was this huge machine inside a climate controlled building with these big reals of magnetic tape spinning randomly around or large stacks of punch cards that zipped through a machine at lightning speeds.  Going back to the 30’s and 40’s, a small screen 2 way conversation wrist watches was only in the newspaper comic strips and something that might resemble a computer was only found on a sci-fi movie down at the Bijou.
               Now, we not only communicate, but we can source information about anything you can think of right at our finger tips. Need to know the yardage at the golf course, there’s an app.  Want to know the ingredients of a chocolate cake, yep, there’s an app for it.  Can’t figure out how to fix your car, you got it… there’s an app for that too.  Wait a minute… Did I say fix your car with an app?  I thought car repair was some sort of highly skilled trade that took years to learn the proper techniques and even longer to be proficient at it? That’s right, the very same.
               Anyone with a smart phone can be an expert in any field they would like to be an expert in, and it doesn’t take much to make a “You Tube” video on any subject, especially on how to fix your car, and with a little extra effort you too can make an App on car repair as well.  Some are developed, produced, and edited to a high standard and at a professional level.  Others, well I’m not sure any thought was put into the content, background, or the poor grammar they used.
       Years before the internet a mechanic learned their trade by being in the trade, now we’ve got what are commonly referred to as “You Tube Mechanics”.  These are the guys who couldn’t repair much of anything without consulting a You Tube video or going to their favorite App and more than likely never considered going to a trade school or opening a repair manual to find reliable information. Even though the general rule of thumb in the business these days is not to follow a traditional apprentice program but to learn as you go doesn’t mean you won’t learn something from today’s method of watching videos or viewing Apps, it’s just how much knowledge is lost or passed up by not following in the footsteps of our seasoned master mechanics and learning the trade from their well callused hands.  
               I’ve got to admit, there are a lot of great Apps out there for the mechanic to have on their smart phone.  For example, OEM1stop or NATSF where all the manufacturers’ websites are listed. You can find an App for calculating the cylinder volume on an air cooled Volkswagen, or the alignment specifications for just about every car out there, to what type of headlamp fits a certain car.  It’s endless. Whatever information you need, chances are there’s an app or some sort of site for it.  But, with all this helpful wisdom an App can’t fix the car for you.  You still need somebody to get in there and make the repairs accurately.
               It used to be (years ago) a car would come into the shop that a friend of a friend spent the weekend under the hood trying to solve their friends car woes. Then, along came the internet and the smart phone which brought a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips.  But, in the end, the car still has to limp into a repair shop for a mechanic to get it back on the road.  Take this typical internet repair that happens on any typical day at any typical repair shop in any typical town in the country.
               The car comes in on the hook and before it’s even on the ground the mechanic notices parts dangling out from the bottom of the car. The repair order only states that it stopped on the customer while driving and that he had attempted to look at the problem himself.  Upon further investigation the dangling parts and the condition of the motor showed signs of someone trying to remove the timing belt.  The plastic cover had a crack from the top to the bottom and it just so happens to be one of those covers that secured various hoses and wires away from moving parts.  It was clear that somebody had tried to take it apart without knowing all that needs to be known on how to remove it. A few words were mumbled by the mechanic that we don’t need to repeat and a call was made to the owner. (On a smart phone of course)
               The conversation started and ended with how he watched a video and downloaded an App that showed the timing marks.  The App had some great information on it, but the video lacked the complete step by step procedures. The kind of steps that a seasoned mechanic would do without thinking about. You know, checking for hidden bolts, or how you should always give a light tug before reaching for the prybar and damaging something. Things like, cleaning the surfaces before starting so that you’re less likely to miss a bolt or fastener or have a tool slip on the greasy surfaces, to name a few. But, the app didn’t mention any of that. Now the customer isn’t here just for a timing belt, but a new timing belt cover, a harmonic balancer that was mauled into a useless pile of metal because he didn’t have the correct removal tool, and to replace all the missing special timing belt cover bolts the owner let fall into his gravel driveway never to be found again. Not to mention, nothing has yet been properly diagnosed.
               Maybe what the automotive field needs is an App that shows a consumer how to dial their smart phone and contact a professional mechanic before they attempt a DIY repair at home, in a gravel driveway, with off shore-poorly made tools, and no proper safety equipment.  All the while, trying to balance their cell phone on the edge of the fender watching a You Tube video from a source with no credentials showing their expertise or experience.
               Yea, there ought-a be an App for that.
                

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