By Joe Marconi
Let's face it, all of us were affected by COVID-19. Some more than others. One of the biggest issue is the feeling of uncertainty....what we call the unknown. But, humans are no strangers to tough times. Tough times brings clarity and opportunity. It forces us to create new strategies in an effort to improve both our business and personal life.
We cannot turn back the hands of time. 2020 will be behind us in a few days. Work hard now to make 2021 a banner year. There has never been a time so important as now. Learn from the events of 2020. Create your new goals. Work on your people skills. Work on the numbers of the business.
I am sure all of us learned many lessons this past year, and one of them was to be financially prepared for a crisis. While COVID was different, the financially-stronger shops did do better.
Lastly, have a positive mindset at all times. And set the right tone as the leader of your shop. Your positive attitude will create the right culture and a pathway to better times.
What lessons have you learned and would like to share?
There are a lot of variables when we talk about shop efficiency. There is culture, environment, leadership and more. There is no single formula that can solve shop efficiency. But if there are the right guidelines, our panel today, certainly has the answers. A big thank you to Chris Monroe, Joe Marconi, and Kevin Vaught for sharing their expertise for you. So many small things done right makes for improved efficiency.
Chris Monroe is a coach who owns Monroe Tire & Service at Shelby, NC., Joe Marconi is a coach who also owns Osceola Garage at Baldwin Place, NY., and Kevin Vaught is a former multi shop owner and is an Elite Worldwide Business Development Coach
The key talking points from this episode are already done for you on the show notes page at https://remarkableresults.biz/a201
Our air compressor just gave out. I was looking around for a new one since the cost to replace the motor and pump is about $900.00. What brand air compressor would you all recommend that can put up with the heat and daily usage ?
Thanks for your help in advance.
Hi, Natalie here. You have a great selection of tools on hand that will cover every job a customer will bring into your shop. Whether it’s Mac Tools, Snap-on, OTC, or Wright, the right tool for the job is priceless.
The tools we’re talking about in this post are for finances, but the same strategy holds true. If you’re planning to do your own bookkeeping, the right tool for your financial job is also priceless. They can take what may appear to be a daunting challenge and save you a ton of time. You’ll be back to running your shop before you know it.
Stick around until the end and I’ll outline what’s in my bookkeeping toolbox. Here is an overview with some suggestions on how to choose great financial tools
Here are the top 10 categories:
1. Accounting Software
QuickBooks has been the go-to software for accounting for decades. There are online tools that may be a better option for you. The most popular choice is Xero and the numbers of small business owners that are using Xero is increasing. Compare several and pick the one that is both robust and flexible.
According to the 2015 edition of the Business News Daily’s Buyer’s Guide here are the features you should look for:
Client/Vendor Contact Management
Billing and Recurring Payments Automation
Quote and Estimate Creation
Integration with Programs Such as Point-Of-Sale Software, Credit Card
Processing, and Google Apps
2. Budgeting Tools
Creating a budget is the cornerstone of your shop’s financial success. Staying on task within your budget is equally as important. If your accounting software has this feature, you may already have the proper tool to create that budget. If your preference is a tool dedicated to this task, a recommendation is PlanGuru.
3. Payroll Management System
Payroll management can occupy so much of your time and mistakes are easy to make. Look for tools that streamline the payroll process and cut costly errors. A tool that integrates with your other tools is another feature to look for. Some tools like SurePayroll can calculate and pay payroll taxes. Simple. A couple of other tool suggestions are ZenPayroll and ADP. These combine payroll and HR functions in one.
4. Agile Billing
Speed and flexibility in your billing process means quicker cash flow back to you. With a tools like FreshBooks or Bill.com the billing process will be quicker and give your customers an easy experience. Improving the billing process will serve you and your customers better and shorten delays in receiving payments.
5. Financial Dashboard
The dashboard gives you a quick look at your shop’s financial health. See at a glance if your shop is thriving or surviving. Tools such as LivePlan or InDinero give you clear visuals and show you if you’re starting to go off course. Then you can take the actions to keep moving towards your financial destination.
6. Cash Flow Analysis
Your accounting software should have cash flow statement capability. As with the budgeting tools there are specialty tools for cash flow tracking. A couple of suggestions are Float or a simple spreadsheet. These give you patterns from the past to offer a forecast of your shop’s financial future.
7. Inventory Management
This is all about efficiency and tracking. From the purchase of parts and consumables to generating sales reports and low inventory alerts, this is a very valuable tool. A couple of cloud-based options are SOS Inventory and Scout’s top Shelf.
8. Expense Tracking
Those tiny expenses can quickly add up and may be hard to track. Using an expense report tool such as Expensify or Xpenditure makes this much easier. Track those meals, gas, and incidental expenses by scanning receipts and typing in cash expenses. Some tools have the capability to link to mobile devices helping to track these instantly..
9. Business Credit Card
A business credit card, when used properly has several benefits
Improve your shop’s credit history
Earn higher credit limits
Receive rewards and discounts
Manage employee cards (ease of tracking expenses)
Boosts employee morale due to convenience and trust
10. E-commerce Solutions
Imagine your customer paying for their oil change before the service is completed. They need a couple of quarts of oil to tie them over. It’s easy to buy them online from their trusted repair shop.
Many businesses have seen an increases in cash flow since the beginning of the pandemic by using E-commerce solutions. These are powerful and create revenue streams that you may not have thought of.
11. Three Rivers Bookkeeping
With my 5-years of experience, these are the tools I use:
Accounting software – QuickBooks
Payroll Management System – ADP
Agile Billing – bill.com
Financial Dashboard – LivePlan
I’m passionate about books and service to my clients. If you’d like to have a conversation about tools and why I selected the one’s above, contact me. I can also outline the services I provide and why adding me to your team may make perfect sense to you.
Saving you time and headaches is the value I bring to you, the Auto Repair Shop Owner.
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By Oakdle Auto Care
I am at a loss on where to find comprehensive information on rules, regulations and laws that govern Automotive Body Repair in the state of Louisiana. I have done extensive searches on the internet and made numerous phone calls in search of anyone thats knowledgeable in this area. Is there anyone on this site that can lead me in the right direction?
Thanks in advance for any information.
On June 20, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) hosted a webinar called “The Road to Great Technicians” with Chris Chesney, senior director of customer training for the CARQUEST Technical Institute.
Written by Chasidy Rae Sisk
* Attendees qualified for one credit from the Automotive Management Institute.
After ASA Vice President Tony Molla introduced the webinar’s presenter, Chesney recounted his collaboration with the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) to identify the Road to Great Technicians. They began in March 2016 when NASTF’s Spring General Meeting focused on the topic of building a road to great technicians.
Chesney was asked to explain the current state of the aftermarket training industry. He defined the current state of aftermarket training as a lack of industry standards and a structured career path, unorganized training offerings, and disjointed efforts by industry organizations. However, he also identified many good building elements.
Current problems in the industry include the inability to find new talent, graduates not performing to industry standards, an inability to afford techs and the amount of time is takes to replace a technician or advisor who leaves a company because companies do not build bench strength.
Chesney stressed, “You have to invest in those new technicians, but many shops cannot find someone who can perform out of the gate, so we need to focus on growing our own and building our bench strength to overcome this problem. We have a need now for the next several years. Reports indicate that we need 80,000 technicians each year, but only 25,000 are being produced.”
Chesney identified the aging workforce, oncoming tidal wave of technology and lack of a structured career path as reasons for the significant needs for technicians. Focusing on the influx of technology, he explored the unseemly amount of data that is transferred within modern vehicles.
“It’s not the problem of education,” he said. “It’s our problem, and we’re going to look into that.”
Chesney presented a picture of the Technician Life Cycle, which included the following seven steps: secondary shadowing, post-secondary intern, entry-level apprentice, technician, senior technician, master technician and specialist; however, he noted that this does not include possible “off ramps” on the Road to Great Technicians.
Occurring after an industry professional becomes an entry-level technician, these “off ramps” include in-service continuing education and higher education, which can offer technicians a variety of paths to pursue in their careers, ranging from master technician to shop foreman to shop owner or even becoming an engineer for an OEM.
In a January 2018 meeting, the education team at NASTF identified a subcommittee of industry experts tasked with creating a framework of education around the life cycle of a technician and other job roles within the industry. This framework is intended for curriculum providers to use in order to offer a career pathway that means something to the industry and is transferrable throughout the industry. The group began with the vision that they would prescribe degrees of competencies at every skill level, focused on the safety and reliability of the ground vehicle fleet.
This Road to Great Technicians team consists of NASTF Chair Mark Saxonberg, Toyota’s Jill Saunders, WTI’s Rob Morrell, CTI’s Chris Chesney, NACAT’s Bill Haas, of Diag.net’s Scott Brown, WTI’s Mark Warren, NASTF’s Donny Seyfer, ASE’s Trish Serratore, S/P2’s Kyle Holt, DrewTech’s Bob Augustineand Cengage’s Erin Brennan.
Exploring possible solutions to the industry’s problem, this group defined 13 solution elements, starting with new and enhanced communication with parents and influencers of peripheral students, early engagement with tactile students in middle and high school, support of STEM and development of a well-articulated career path with clear opportunities for advancement and growth that students and parents can see.
The industry also needs to get involved with vocational education content to ensure these programs provide the right skills to students.
Chesney explained, “They’re producing the wrong technicians because we aren’t involved. We have to be involved. We need to design a curriculum for schools and employers to ensure that, regardless of where technicians work, they are uniformly trained for the skill level. We have to provide people with the opportunity to grow throughout their careers.”
The team also believes that the industry needs to provide internship experience, develop programs to help in-service technicians become mentors, and ensure that testing and certification programs are uniform and tiered to provide milestones for achievement. Employers also must find ways to provide wages and benefits that are competitive with other industries attracting the same individuals.
“As technicians progress through their career, it is imperative to communicate career options to ensure they don’t leave the industry,” Chesney elaborated. “Vehicle technology has accelerated to unprecedented levels, necessitating faster and more thorough technician skill development to ensure public safety. To add further credibility and value to the process, NASTF is encouraging practical examinations similar to other safety-related skills as a means to verify requisite skill level attainment. Currently, this is not regulated and we cannot keep up with the advancing rates of technology, but we need a way to prove our skills and be prepared for what’s coming, not merely what is on the road right now.”
The current state of industry education is outcome-based and not sufficient to serve today’s technology. The future of education must be competency-based with a focus on mastery of skill and validation of a technician’s mastery and development of skills that are recognized and transferable. A competency-based education offers a variable class structure and the ability to test out of the subject matter at different levels, enabling students to finish as they are able.
The Road to Great Technicians team defined a new NASTF Technician Life Cycle that includes seven steps: apprentice technician, maintenance technician, service technician, repair technician, diagnostic technician, master technician, and specialist technician.
According to Chesney, “Each step would require a variety of requirements as far as training and experience. They would also require mastery of competencies using curriculum provided by the industry, to include mentoring, demonstrated skills and self-paced curriculum. Finally, technicians seeking to advance would prove their skills through oral and hands-on exams.”
Continuing the work they have started, the team plans to provide the industry with a white paper by the end of the year, but they encourage the industry to comment and opine. While the team will be limited in size in order to maximize effectiveness, they encourage industry professionals to join NASTF and the NASTF Education Team.
The group’s vision for the future of automotive education culminates in the idea of the Automotive Institute of Science and Technology, which would include a pathway education in a project-based environment. In ninth and 10th grades, students would sample each pathway through projects designed to highlight the different aspects and career fields before choosing a specific pathway in 11th grade to focus on in their final two years of high school. Their choices would be automotive technology as a trade, business, or engineering. While obtaining their associates degree, students would enter the discipline of their choice, working in shops to gain practical experience while simultaneously acting as mentors to younger students. Chesney concluded the webinar with a question and answer session.
Article Source: https://www.autobodynews.com/index.php/component/k2/item/15820-asa-hosts-road-to-great-technicians-webinar-with-carquest-s-chris-chesney.html
By Joe Marconi
This past Saturday, October 3, was the ASA of Pennsylvania’s Super Saturday Event. I had the chance to attend the key note breakfast meeting. Tony Molla, longtime industry veteran and Vice President of ASA (Automotive Service Association), gave the Key Note Speech. Tony projected an optimistic future, with big changes to come in the next decade. Here are a few highlights of his speech:
· The internal combustion engine will be the main power plant well into the future
· The average age of cars built today will still be on the roads 10 to 15 years from now, which means for the most part, there is a lot of potential work for the aftermarket
· The auto industry will continue to build and develop more Hybrids, electric cars, increase diesel engines and experiment with hydrogen cars. Although the internal combustion engine will dominate for the next few decades
· New technology and sophisticated electronics will increase and will be a main factor in new car models
· The need to understand the Y-Generation is important for our future success
· Training will become more important than ever, to keep pace with technology
· Customers will become more educated, which means we need to become better at understanding the needs of the consumer and learn how to market to them
· The aftermarket independent shops continue to dominate the auto service and repair landscape and is still the first choice by the motoring public
· Value and trust ranks higher in all consumer surveys over price
· Becoming involved with your local community will become a key part of your overall marketing strategy to attract the right kind of customer
· Becoming involved with Auto Part Company Programs, such NAPA Car Care and CARQUEST/Advance TECH NET should be considered. Partnering up with National Brands can be a viable way to remain competitive in the future
Tony Molla also may it a point to say that the auto aftermarket must put aside any differences it has and work together. He went on to say that we all need to get involved with the industry, attend trade shows and keep up to date with what’s going on in the auto industry.
By Joe Marconi
A good friend of mine owns a plumbing business with 10 workers. Seeing rising workers compensation he found and signed with a local insurance broker that claimed to offer super low rates on workers compensation. This was 6 years ago. I will not bore you with all the details, and will fast forward to three years ago when my friend dropped the insurance because of so many billing errors being made by the insurance company.
About a year ago, he got an email, (that's right an email) from the insurance company, not the broker, that he owed $10,000 in workers comp fees. After a year of trying to figure this out on his own, he finally brought all the paper work to his attorney.
Here's the outcome: His lawyer reviewed all the paper work and found that the contract my friend signed exempts the broker from any liability and responsibility, that the workers comp insurance company can assess and requests increased fees above and beyond the contracted dates and rates at the time of the contract, and that all arbirtration is subject to the laws of the British Islands and all litigation will be held in the home state of the insurance company, Nebraska. My friend is from NY. The bad news, he is legally responsible to pay the $10,000.
The bottom line; know what you are signing and have a lawyer review all contracts for you. We hear this story too often.
Please note; due the possible law suits, I cannot mention the insurance company by name or the name of my friend.
By Joe Marconi
Mandatory vehicle safety inspections have been debated for years. States that perform a mandatory safety inspection, cherish the opportunity to insure that motorists are driving safe vehicles. States that don't require it leave it up to auto repair shops and car owners to insure that cars are safe for the road.
On Nov. 14, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association will host the Vehicle Safety Inspection and Maintenance Forum in East Norriton, Pa.
The purpose of the forum is to discuss the importance of periodic motor vehicle inspection programs and what can be done to protect these programs, the ASA said in a release.
Does a Vehicle Inspection Program help business and is it needed?
For more information, here's a link: