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12 Days of Christmas at an Automotive Repair Shop You know the song, so just sing along with me in the holiday spirit. On the 1st day of Christmas a customer sent to me: A cartridge for my grease gun. On the 2nd day Christmas a customer sent to me: 2 Latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun. On the 3rd day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 3 Wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun. On the 4th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 4 Wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun. On the 5th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 5 Piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun. On the 6th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 6 Brand new sockets, 5 piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun. On the 7th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 7 Dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun. On the 8th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 8 Engines leaking, 7 dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun. On the 9th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 9 Coils a-sparking, 8 engines leaking, 7 dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun. On the 10th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 10 Headlights blinking, 9 coils a-sparking, 8 engines leaking, 7 dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun. On the 11th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 11 Gears a-grinding, 10 headlights blinking, 9 coils a-sparking, 8 engines leaking, 7 dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun. On the 12th day of Christmas a customer sent to me: 12 Trannys slipping, 11 gears a-grinding, 10 headlights blinking, 9 coils a-sparking, 8 engines leaking, 7 dash lights flashing, 6 brand new sockets, 5 piston rings, 4 wire straps, 3 wrench ends, 2 latex gloves, and a cartridge for my grease gun. Speaking on behalf of the entire automotive repair industry, Thank you to all our customers for their patronage. We appreciate it. Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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Auto Care Association Supports Supreme Court Decision Allowing States to Collect Online Sales Tax POSTED BY AUTO CARE NEWS ON JUNE 21, 2018 The Auto Care Association applauds today’s decision by the Supreme Court to permit states to collect sales tax on purchases of products made over the Internet. The 5-4 decision means that online sellers will now be on a level playing field with brick and mortar retailers regarding charging sales tax. The Auto Care Association had filed an amicus brief with other retail groups urging the Supreme Court to hear the case based on the price advantage that the current system provided on-line sellers. The decision overturns a previous Supreme Court decision that required companies to have a physical presence in the state where the purchaser resided in order to charge sales tax.
“This is an important decision for many of Auto Care’s retail members and we are pleased that the Supreme Court saw the unfairness in the current system and determined to make everyone play by the same rules,” said Aaron Lowe, senior vice president, regulatory and government affairs, Auto Care Association. “We hope that implementation of the sales tax will be done uniformly across state lines to ensure a fair and efficient system of tax collection.
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By Bob Cooper If you speak with most shop owners they’ll tell you that they think their shop is worth x amount of money. Ask them how they came up with that number, and they’ll tell you it’s based on what they heard another shop sold for, or it’s predicated on their annual sales. But if you really want to know what your shop is worth, first of all, forget everything you’ve heard about “goodwill” and the fact that you have thousands of names in your database. That’s icing on the cake, but it’s not something a buyer can take to the bank. And although there is some value associated with some franchise names, there are two things that are most important to a buyer: the “tangible assets” and the “income history.”
Tangible assets are things like real estate, cash in the bank, secured receivables, inventory and equipment. To put it another way, these are the assets that buyers could turn into cash if they had to. When you’re establishing the value of your inventory and equipment, bear in mind that the actual appraised value may very well be far less than what you originally paid. So tangible assets are always number one.
In regard to “income history”, we all know that past performance is no guarantee of future performance, yet the substantiated income history of a company is what buyers can use to forecast earnings. And don’t forget: The amount of money the “company” made does not include any income you’ve drawn out of the company as a salary. The company’s income is the amount remaining after all expenses, including your salary, have been considered.
So imagine you’re looking to buy a shop, and let’s say the tangible assets are worth $400,000. In addition, let’s say the shop has a history of generating $100,000 in annual income after all expenses, and let’s say the owner has been drawing a salary of $80,000. So if you were to buy that shop, how much would you be willing to invest? Well, only you can answer that question, but I hope you take these 6 points into consideration:
1. If you were to liquidate after you purchased, how much could you sell the assets for? I call this the “street value” of assets.
2. How long has the company been in business, how long have the key employees been with the business, and what’s the probability that these key employees will stay on once you buy?
3. What is the probability of the company continuing to earn the same $100,000 in annual profits, and for how long?
4. In regard to the $80,000 salary the owner was taking, would you be willing to do what he or she does for the company for the same amount? Or will you be able to hire someone to do that job for the same or less?
5. If you were to invest the same amount of money in any other business or investment vehicle, would you receive a better return?
6. What are the terms of the purchase price? You may be better off to pay a higher price in return for a lower down payment, good financing rates and a non-compete.
So, how do you establish the value of your business? Not by the icing (goodwill and number of names in your database), but by looking at it through the eyes of both a banker and a buyer. 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 online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com, or calling 800-204-3548.
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Article: Some Days You're The Oil, Some Days You're The Filter - - - just another day at the old repair shopSome Days You’re The Oil, Some Days You’re The Filter In the auto repair business hardly a day goes by that something doesn’t try to upset the apple cart. It might be the new lube guy who spilled 30 gallons of oil on the floor, or that lost set of customer keys. No matter what it is, something or someone is bound and determined to make your day different than the next. From time to time it helps to go with the flow. You know, just let things slip on by and not take things so seriously, because no matter what, there’s always another hectic situation just around the corner to test your stress level. Think of it this way, you could be the oil or you could be the filter. You either let things slide through the day, or you’re trapped with the rest of the grit and grime. Speaking of oil, take the day of the oil SNAFU. I have several customers who have their own preferences as to which brand of oil they would like to have in their car. Now, of course, I strictly adhere to the appropriate type and weight, but as far as brands of oils I’m up for any name on the bottle. (Although I do have a few brands I consider taboo.) Funny thing is, I never seem to get through to some of these folks the importance of a quality oil filter. I believe this should be a higher concern than the brand of oil. This particular day was a rather chaotic day with more than one issue on the rise. Being the well-seasoned shop owner, I was more than up for the task of getting each and every job in and out the door with the skill of a professional. In comes two of my old time regulars with their precious chosen brand of oil they have hand picked off the shelf. Oh yes, I mean hand-picked. These guys remind of the careful shopper at the grocery store who goes through the produce isle finding that perfect melon or apple. I can picture these two guys at the parts store picking up each bottle and examining it in detail before selecting that very bottle for their car. A bit eccentric, yes, but at their age it’s something technology hasn’t taken away from them. It still allows them to feel they can contribute to their car’s well-being, even though they can’t physically work on their own cars anymore. Needless to say these cherished oil cans are treated like gold when they enter the realm of the service bay… or at least that’s the normal way we handled it for our golden years customers. Today, well, it was a bit different. We have our new lube tech, Clifford in charge of the oil service bay. He’s doing a great job, and even managed to up-sell a few seriously overlooked problems on a few customer cars. I have high hopes for this youngster, and encourage him to study for his ASE tests and further his education in the automotive field. This afternoon we already had 4 oil changes lined up for him. Two were the normal, ‘getrdone’ oil changes and two were our regular old timers with their hand selected oil. Clifford has these oil change scenarios down pat. Everything from looking up the actual amount and type of oil required, to verifying what oil they brought, if there is an adequate amount, as well as saving the empties to show the customer when all was said and done. As the cars were shuffled in and out of the service bay, somehow between the front office, the service bay, and back to the front lobby, the wrong box of oil was sent with the wrong car, or at least it was assumed. (No one knows for sure) Luckily, the oil weight, amount, and type were exactly the same from car to car. The only thing that was different was the one thing the owners of these cars had the most pride and input about, and that was the ‘brand’ of oil. Mind you, for some of these regulars who bring their hand-picked-hand-selected oil, they’re quite serious about it. You just don’t calm the situation down by telling them you’ll replace the oil with the brand they originally wanted. Oh heavens no! That’s sacrilegious! That would mean a complete engine tear down (while they watched over you like a hawk) with the interior of the motor completely hand wiped to remove any traces of this foreign oil. I wouldn’t doubt it if they would have gone as far as having the molecular structure of the oil checked and verified that none of the competitor’s brand of oil was left to contaminate their engine. By now, our new lube tech, Clifford has been dragged from the service bay and was about to receive a third degree interrogation while trying to explain his side of this debacle to the older gentlemen. I took it upon myself to advert the possible cardiac arrest in the front lobby and save Clifford from a fate worse than a stuck on oil filter. As usual, there is one thing that separates the counter guy, the lube rack guy, and the owner… the person who makes the final decision on how to dissolve a situation, that’s me, the owner. At the front counter the two old gentlemen were busy sorting through the bottles in each box while holding each of them up to the light for a closer inspection. The conversation went from who did what, to who didn’t do what, and why their brand was better than the other guys brand. Each of them now were trying to play “oil detective” and locate the slippery individual who screwed this all up. As things go with this typical bunch of grandpas, they were soon talking about vacations and grandkids. In fact the two old guys were starting to wonder which oil was theirs in first place. I stepped in between my two elderly customers and their precious boxes of empty oil bottles. Without saying a word I ever so graciously reached for the oil bottles that each of them were holding and placed them back into their respective boxes. Then, with the moves of a Las Vegas magician, I switched box A with customer B and box B with customer A. Then cheerfully said, “There ya go, just a little mix up. It’s all good, you’re all set.” and walked away without another word. I just looked at my counter guy and gave him a wink. He knew what to do, as I guided the bewildered lube tech back to the service bay. I don’t think I’ll ever find out who mixed up what oil with what car, or if there ever was a mix up at all, but you can be sure Clifford won’t forget about this. One minute he’s changing oil, the next he’s got two old guys shaking empty oil bottles at him. Sure made for an interesting day. Sometimes, ya just never know what’s going to happen when ya unscrew that drain plug… some days you’re the oil, some days you’re the filter.
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By Joe Marconi
Here's a tip I have posted before, but it's worth repeating.
One job that goes unnoticed most of the year is the job of the part's driver. You get part deliveries all day long, every day, all year long. Many times, these part's drivers take all the abuse due to wrong parts, the parts took too long to be delivered, on and on and on. Those drivers may not say anything, but they take it to heart.
So, here's what you are going to do. Buy small gifts, such as small boxes of candy or chocolate. Nothing expensive. During the holidays, give all the drivers one of these small gifts and say "Thank you, I appreciated what you do."
Two things will happen. First, the driver will be stunned and will not know what to say, and they will be very thankful that you thought of them.
The second thing that will happen is this: The very next time those part drivers have three delivers to make at three different shops, what shop do you think they will want to go to first? Yes...Yours!
By Joe Marconi
A few weeks back I had a problem with my refrigerator. I got a referral and called an appliance repair company. I called three times and each time I called this is what happened: "C and E appliance, please hold." I was put on hold three times for about 5 minutes. After being put on hold each time, a women would say, "What's the problem?" No engagement, no sign of interest for me the customer, no signs of caring. I gave the women a brief description of the problem and each time she told me someone would call me back. Well, no one did.
So, I called for the 4th time, and as the person answered the phone I said, "DO NOT PUT ME ON HOLD." There was silence, so I continued. I explained to her that she has spoken to me three times, I left messages three times and three times you told me that someone would call me back. She replied, "You are talking to the wrong person, if you have any complaints, write a letter to my boss, after all he won't listen to me anyway." I hung up the phone and called another company.
The lesson and takeaway here is simple: Who's answering your phone? The wrong people on the phone in your shop can kill your business. Have meetings with your people. Make sure you review your phone skills policy. If you don't have one, create one. Empower your people to people to handle issues. And make sure you log every phone call. If you feel you have a problem, start recording phone calls.
Your phone is your lifeline to future business. So, please ask yourself....Who's answering your phone?
By Joe Marconi
Shop production is a hot topic these days. High production results in higher sales and profits. But there seems to be so many obstacles to overcome to achieve high production levels.
I was discussing production with a few shop owners, and one shop owner mentioned that he recently hired a shop foreman; an “A” tech in his early 50’s. The foreman uses his knowledge and skills to organize the work flow. For younger techs, it’s even more important that they know how to work and keep productive.
What are your thoughts? Does anyone else have a foreman or similar position? And how does this role affect production?
By Joe Marconi
July 4th is this Wednesday. And as a shop owner, it means that sales may suffer. But, there is more to life than sales. Celebrate July 4th; commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence! Speak with your employees about their plans for the holiday. This will send a message that you care about them as people, and that it’s not always about business.
With the right attitude, you will build morale and you will make up those sales. And let’s face it; we all need a little time off now and then.