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Mechanic advisor (DLC plug in ) ?

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    • Article: Breaker-Breaker--- back in the day of the CB... things were a bit different

      Breaker, Breaker…                                 In my many years of repairing cars I’ve helped out a  countless number of other shops with their electrical  problems.  Some shops I would see a few times a month,  and others only once in awhile. This was years before the  internet was around, and cell phones were only a fad and way to expensive to have.  So, most everything was  done by a land line or over the CB radio.         Back in the mid 80’s and 90’s I had one shop that I talked with nearly every day.  Great guys, but not so great as mechanics.  The owners name was Joe.  His shop was small and seemed to be a place for wayward towed vehicles and obscure customers looking for dirt cheap repairs.  His main business was his tow service, and the repair shop seemed to be there just to fill in the gaps on those slow days.     One afternoon I got a call from Joe about a car his crew had given up on.  They threw the parts cannon at it, but couldn’t get this car to come back to life.  Joe was with tows, and needed the mechanics he had to drive the other tow trucks. This particular car had been in his shop for quite some time and I don't think the customer was too happy about it.  So, to speed things up a bit, he dropped it off at my shop.         “I’ll be on the road all day.  I've got to get back out there.  I've got tows lined up all day.  If you get it going, could ya run it back to my shop,” Joe said, as he made a dash for his tow truck.       “No problem Joe, I’ll get right on it,” I said, just as he drove off.       The car was an 80’s GM. I could see all kinds of shiny new components under the hood, and could tell they put a lot of effort into swapping parts to find out what was going on.   The symptom was; if you flipped the key to the crank position it would immediately start, but die just as quickly.           The parts they changed were the predictable parts cannon fodder that the typical parts slapper would try.  Tune-up parts, an IAC, TPS, MAP, ECM, etc… etc… all of which might, could, should’ve, probably, maybe, and of course, eventually with enough darts thrown at it, could have hit the target and fixed it.  But it didn’t.   I wasn’t about to go that route.  Time for some real diagnostics and not just shoot from the hip.  Why not start with the basics- fuel, air, and fire.          Spark was good, timing looked good, and the intake had a good air pull.  I gave it a shot of carb. cleaner, and as long as I kept spraying… it kept running.  Ok, time to check the fuel pressure.  Interesting... there was pressure.  Hmmm, now what to do? The next obvious thing (to me) was to check fuel volume.           I disconnected a fuel line and gave the key a flick into start.  The fuel shot out into the drainage bucket, but then trickled to a stop. I did it a second time.  Not as much fuel made it out this time, but the scenario was basically the same.  It was always a quick burst followed by a trickle.  Maybe I should look at that gas gauge. Well, wouldn’t ya know it, the gauge is ready E. It had just enough in the tank to pressurize the fuel lines but not enough to keep it going.       Might as well grab a gas can, and put some in the tank.  I’ll try it again… vroom, vroom, vroom, alright! It’s running great!  Looks to me as if the entire problem was that it was out of gas.  However, with all the new parts they installed, I couldn’t be sure if this was the 'only' problem or an after affect of having the car in the shop so long while trying to solve another problem.  It could have been any one of the other components (within reason) they changed that really 'did' need to be changed.           Later that day I drove the car back to Joe’s shop.  He wasn’t there, but his dispatcher was in the office sorting out tow tickets and monitoring the CB with the volume up full blast.  In the background you could hear the CB chatter from all the area’s tow companies.         About then I heard Joe’s voice over the CB, “Did Gonzo call yet? Need to check in on him, we need to get that car back to the owner.”       “He just walked in Joe, over,” the dispatcher told him.       “So what was wrong with it,” Joe asked between the squelch of the CB radio and all the other chatter from the other tow companies.       The dispatcher turned to me and pointed at the mic.  So, I told him . The dispatcher, with a stunned look on his face, said, “I can’t tell him that.  He is going to be so pissed.”       “I don’t think you should either.  At least not until he gets back,” I said, while breaking into an ear to ear smile.       The CB comes back to life with Joe’s voice again; “So what did he find out, over,” Joe's frustration was showing through as his voice barked out of the CB speaker.  The dispatcher said to me, " Old Joe sounds pretty pissed."      I don’t know whether it was the way his day was going or how much time and money he's spent on this car.  Either way, he’s not going to like this answer.        “Go ahead… tell him,” I said to the dispatcher, still sitting there hold the mic button, “He wants the answer, so let him have it.”       “Alright, Joe, are ya ready for this, over?" the dispatcher said, then waited for a response from Joe.   "Yea, go ahead, over."   "It was out of gas.”       A dead silence came over the CB. No chatter, nothing, not another sound for what seemed to be an eternity.  Then, all hell broke loose.  Tow drivers from all over the city were razing poor Joe.  The CB was full of laughter and goof ball comments, but not a word from Joe. Poor Joe, you asked for it, and now you got it.        “Tell Joe to stop by the shop, he can settle up with me then,” I said, while trying to hold back the laughter.       As I walked out the door, the CB chatter could be heard all the way to the parking lot, and the comments were still flying.  It was one of the funniest moments I’ve ever had for doing nothing more than putting gas in a car.         When Joe came up to pay the bill I told him I had a little something for him.  I handed him a little tiny gas can on a key chain.  I figured it might be a good reminder for him to always check the basics before loading up the parts cannon again.            After all these years I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten about it, and I’ll bet he doesn’t tell too many people where he got that little gas can key chain from… but now, it wouldn't be so much on the CB, but over the internet. 
      View full article

      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 3 replies
      • 100 views
    • [BAD NEWS] Think Your Customers actually TRUST You?

      Yes, I was shocked - and you will be too! The most current report from AAA reveals critical information that YOU need to know. 
      Hope this helps!
      Matthew Lee
      "The Car Count Fixer"
      Grow your Car Count, Income and Profits!

      By JustTheBest, in Marketing, Advertising, & Promoting

        
      • 0 replies
      • 183 views
    • Article: Zombie Cars - they're coming (updated older story)

      Zombie Cars   “Brains, Brains, we need Brains!”   Zombie cars?  What’s a zombie car?   Way back, when we used points and  condensers and later the basic  electronic ignition systems, cars didn’t  need brains (ECM – Electronic Control  Module), but that all changed in the  mid 70’s on some imports and pretty  much on everything else by the time  the 80’s came around.  Some of these  brains were only cursory, and didn’t  actually control the car, but merely  watched for emission issues, while others played a major role in the actual ignition spark or fuel delivery systems.     Most of the engines in those early years, still used the same basic type of distributor setups (with a few exceptions) as their earlier counterparts that used the old tried and true points and condenser type of ignition systems.  During those cross-over years it was rather easy to slap a different distributor in it, or change the existing points distributor over to electronic ignition (which worked quite well by the way).  These days...it’s not that easy.  These computer systems have become so entangled into the engine functions and nearly every other system that it’s impossible to bypass the fuel or ignition systems as we did years ago. However, there are still a lot of people out there that have hung onto some of the cars from that era.  Most likely they've been kept parked alongside the garage as a future project or hung onto for some sentimental reason.  Some (very few) are in great shape, others… well, they look like zombies already.     What makes them zombies?  The brain… the brain… they need brains!  Just this past week I had several of these faded paint monstrosities lined up in the parking lot. (They never come alone… always in a pack.) For starters an old dilapidated 1986 Dodge pickup with a slant six.  This old rusted, tilting to one side relic had been at another shop for a tune-up, but as the story was told to me by the owner, the other shop tried to start it when a fuel line ruptured and caught the old truck on fire. Luckily, they managed to get it out, but the damage was already done.  The main harness from the firewall to the distributor, coil, charging system, blower motor, oil sending unit, temp. sender, and the starter wiring were completely melted into an unrecognizable mass of plastic and copper.  It was my job to bring this dilapidated hulk back to life. However, the original spark control computer had melted as well, and was unusable. Worse yet, the brain was discontinued eons ago with no replacement parts anywhere to be found.  This zombie needs a brain, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to get one. At this point the only solution was to do away with the electronic brain and try to refit the old slant six with a much simpler ignition system from a decade earlier if at all possible.  A lobotomy if you will. (Dr. Frankenstein would be envious.)   Then there was this 2002 Mustang that moaned and groaned while dragging one foot into the shop.  It needed a new BCM (Body Control Module).  Call the dealer, call the parts warehouse, call everybody!  Anybody!  Is there a brain for this car?  Nope, discontinued.  Seems this particular BCM was a rather rare brain out there in zombie land, and at the time, nobody was setup to rebuild them.  It seemed this car was destined to wander the city streets with the rest of the zombie mobiles. At the same time this was going on, in comes a 1982 Ford Bronco with the original Variable Venture carburetor still on it. Ok, not a brain, but just as bad.  It qualifies as a zombie for sure.  Trying to find a suitable replacement these days is a challenge. Ten or twenty years ago this would have been no problem to find a carb. kit (if you dared) or the Holley conversion kit for it, but not today.     This trend of bringing back the dead looks like it’s only going to turn into the next zombie apocalypses.  As these electronic systems get more and more complex the likely hood of your family truckster turning into a zombie is just a matter of time as each new model comes out.  In some ways, I believe the manufacturers have thought this out long before there was a potential of these cars becoming zombies.      In my youth it was nothing for me and a few friends to grab an old car out of a junk yard and raise it from the dead.  Ya just had to throw a few shots of gas down the carburetor, add a few wires and a fresh battery and fire it up.  The rust would fly, the engine would clatter, the smoke would billow out from under the hood,  as the exhaust roared out of every crack in the manifold.  Those days are long gone now.  They may have engineered a longer lasting engine, better paint, and for the part, the interior can hold up to the ravages of time, however, the electronics, are their weakness.      Although, these zombie mobiles seem to be coming out of hiding more often than ever before. Reviving some of these early electronic zombies may happen, but on the other hand, it may be a futile effort. The truth of the matter is… these resurrections are not as easy to do as it was so many years ago. There are countless problems that have to be overcome to bring some of these rusted heaps back among the living, especially if you’re in an area that requires emission testing.  Just trying to bypass some of those early electronic brains when a replacement part can’t be found can be a real challenge. The good news is that there are a lot of guys out there tearing these brains apart and rebuilding them.  But even then, there are some zombie cars that will never make it and eventually die from the lack of a brain, while others wander aimlessly from shop to shop still searching for their elusive electronic gray matter.    Even after you manage to find a brain for these living dead vehicles it’s likely something else is going to go wrong.  After all, being cast aside for so long, all the hoses, belts, and gaskets have dried up.  Something will more likely fall off just like you would expect from any other zombie wandering around.  And, you know, just as soon as the latest zombie joins the living something will undoubtedly come tumbling to the shop floor.  Whether it’s coolant, oil, a belt, or perhaps no#2 connecting rod,  something is not going to stay in place.  Just like in every zombie movie I’ve ever watched,.one of them will always have an arm or leg falling off.  It sure seems that these zombie cars follow right along with that same affliction.       It’s safe to say, these relics of the early electronic era of the automotive world are in some respects the car equivalent of a zombie: half dead, half alive…and in search of a brain they may never find.  So don’t be surprised if you’re at the next traffic light when an old faded-rusty-dented car with a shattered windshield, screeching brakes, with plumes of dense low hanging smoke creeping along with it, don't be alarmed, it’s just another car beginning its transformation into a "ZOMBIE CAR".    
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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 5 replies
      • 129 views
    • Article: Building a Marketing Plan Around Your Customers

      Roughly a month ago, I went to lunch with a good friend of mine. He works for the YMCA, so we discussed what the YMCA does to attract new members. A few years ago, my friend and his team realized that while they were good at attracting new members each year, they had little to no retention. It was a constant battle to bring in new members to fill the void of lost members. The YMCA realized that it’s easier and less expensive to keep existing members, than to go out and find new ones. They created a new marketing strategy with a focus on keeping existing members. The plan was simple: create an amazing experience for their members and offer new programs to these existing members. The plan worked. Member retention improved. What worked for the YMCA will also work for your business. Before you spend a dime on advertising, you need to understand one crucial component of your business; the customer experience. Without a great customer experience that gives your existing customers a compelling reason to return, you’re simply wasting your money on advertising. Advertising is often aimed at new-customer acquisition. There is nothing wrong with this. Every business loses clientele each year for a number of reasons, and we need to get our name out to our community about who we are and what we do in order to attract new consumers. But, to rely on new customer acquisition alone without a plan to keep existing customers is not a strategy for long-term, sustained growth. Every marketing plan starts with looking at your entire operation and how it relates to the customer experience. Are you doing all you can to create an amazing experience that builds solid relationships? If not, you will be in the same position the YMCA was: using advertising to fill the void of lost customers. While there are many aspects of the customer experience, let’s focus today on the four essential areas: The customer write-up, the sales process, the car delivery and the follow-up. Each of these touch points must be executed with one thing in mind: create an experience so amazing that the customer will have a compelling reason to return your shop again. Customer write-up starts the process. It’s where you begin the relationship or continue to preserve it. It must be performed as if you are welcoming a guest into your home. The sales process must communicate value and benefits to the customer. This gives the customer peace of mind, reduces anxiety and buyer’s remorse. The car delivery is your chance to leave a lasting positive impression of you and your company. It should not be a transaction, but instead the opportunity to resell the job, you and your company. The car delivery should not be rushed. Take the time to review the invoice, ask the customer if they have any questions. Let every customer know how important they are and how much you value his or her confidence and trust in you and your company. The follow-up continues the customer experience. This is where you reach out to the customer with a phone call, email, or thank-you card. It helps with customer retention by making another positive impression in the mind of the customer. Getting back to car delivery: Make sure you review all future service recommendations and let the customer know that they will receive a service reminder. But don’t rely on a postcard or email alone to bring back customers. Think about this: If you had a bad experience at a restaurant, no offer or ad is going to get you back there—only an amazing experience will. The same holds true for your business. By the way, an amazing customer experience is created by the people in your company. Sure, you need to have a clean, well kept facility with nice amenities. But it’s the people in your company that make the difference. Billion dollar stadiums don’t win championships—it’s the quality of the players on the field that win championships. Everyone in your company is part of your marketing plan. A simple smile and hello from a technician when a customer walks past the bays can do more for your business than any ad can. Let me leave you with this thought: Customers will not remember the mass airflow sensor you installed or the exhaust leak you repaired. But they will remember their experience. A positive experience is lasting in the mind of the consumer. It’s the most powerful marketing tool you have—and it’s virtually free.   This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on September 1st, 2018
      View full article

      By Joe Marconi, in AutoShopOwner Articles

        
      • 0 replies
      • 90 views
    • This Weird Hack helps you get Customers to Say "YES" to your quotes!

      What if I could show you a weird hack that will help you get more customers to say "YES" to your quote. Interested? The best part is you can start to use this hack TODAY! Watch this short video: Don't forget to tell me what you liked most about this weird hack! I read every comment!

      Hope this helps!

      Matthew Lee
      "The Car Count Fixer"  

      By JustTheBest, in Marketing, Advertising, & Promoting

        
      • 0 replies
      • 303 views
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