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Elite is proud to announce that we are partnering with BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY to help auto repair shop owners become more successful. When choosing to partner with a company we always take a careful look at their principles, at their ability to help shop owners, and at the impact they're having on the industry. BOLT ON has been able to exceed our most optimistic expectations in all of these categories, so it's truly an honor to be able to partner with them. BOLT ON and Elite will elevate the auto repair industry by making it more sophisticated, attractive to a new generation of shop owners, perpetuating ethics-based business practices, and overall creating better opportunities for success. The valuable technology and education provided by the companies will give shop owners the critical tools needed to improve car counts, AROs and customer trust. BOLT ON provides an award-winning suite of shop management products that makes shops more attractive to prospective employees and customers. Each tool helps shops operate efficiently by streamlining scheduling and updating customer information, producing more accurate reporting, strengthening customer communication through digital inspection capabilities and allowing managers to stay on top of business performance. Elite provides shop owners premium training in business practices such as recruiting courses, marketing courses, phone skills and sales training, peer group meetings and comprehensive coaching programs where every Elite coach is the past or present owner of a very successful auto repair business. “We’re proud of our partnership with BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY because of all the synergy between the two companies both in our cultures and overall goals,” says Bob Cooper, founder and President of Elite. “Our belief is that every shop owner needs both the right people and the right systems to reach their potential, and this partnership helps them achieve both objectives.” “The key to fulfilling our mission is making every resource available to our customers that will improve their business,” says Mike Risich, founder and CEO of BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY. “We’re extremely excited about our partnership with Elite because the best solution for a shop that wants to grow is not just to train management or implement new technology, but to utilize both.” About BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY
BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY equips the automotive repair and maintenance aftermarket with award-winning technology tools to improve customer communication. The company's technology instantly transmits photos, videos and text messages to communicate automotive repair details, thereby increasing customer trust, boosting sales and empowering shops to build long-term customer relationships. Along with ongoing training and support, BOLT ON's mobile and digital tools also reduce problems inherent in the service process, while increasing shop productivity, revenue, and customer satisfaction. For more information, visit www.boltontechnology.com or call 610-400-1019. About Elite Elite was founded in 1990 with two primary goals in mind: To help shop owners build more profitable, successful businesses, and to give back to an industry we love. Elite’s services help shops identify business challenges, and improve in the areas of sales, marketing, employee management, recruiting and all facets of shop management so that they may reach their full potential. Elite hires only coaches and trainers with extraordinary track records of success, who share these goals and have the same passion for making this industry a better place by improving the lives of shop owners, their employees, their customers and their communities. For more information, visit www.eliteworldwide.com or call 1-800-204-3548.
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This is an article I wrote several years ago for a trade magazine.... I think it's still true today... Love to hear your comments. Diagnostics fee or not This has been an issue since day one. Should we charge to diagnose the car or should the estimate be free. Let’s define an estimate first. What is an estimate? An estimate is a list of all the parts and labor involved in making a repair. With the possibilities of adding supplements to the original estimate if other work is deemed necessary after the initial work has started. Ok that’s an estimate, or is it…? Let’s try this again. What is an estimate? It’s a guess……. With the chance that I might get it right but more than likely the final bill will be different than what was original “estimated” at. Hmm, the two definitions are different but at the same time mean the same thing… What about the diagnostic side? Ok, how about that… that diagnostic thing. What is a diagnostic? It is the process in which a technician is able to determine the cause or failure of a piece of equipment, vehicle, or appliance. Did ya get that? … One more time … What is a diagnostic? It is the process used to determine the root cause of a given mechanical or electrical problem that has become an issue with a vehicle, appliance or piece of equipment. Sounds the same doesn’t it…. hmm, maybe we are getting to the real issue… MONEY The diagnostics may take some time, may even require a few sophisticated scanners, wiring diagrams, and tools. Time is money as we all know, of course, knowledge, expertise and experience is a commodity that should always be respected no matter what field you are in. A service charge for such “diagnostics” is essential in the continuing financial stability of a shop or for that matter… any service oriented business. Once the diagnostics has been completed an “estimate” can then be given to the customer for their approval. This should also be noted that if a “diagnostics” is preformed and the problem turns out to be “intermittent” or none exciting a fee still applies. The time has already been spent to figure out that there was nothing wrong. That brings up another touchy issue. For some reason the customer feels cheated if you charge for nothing found… now wait a minute, how was it determined that nothing was wrong… ah…the diagnostics lead to that result. Then the problem isn’t the problem anymore, it’s the time spent looking for the problem that is the problem. To ease the customer’s woes you could always give them a time table for future re-evaluations. (30 days is a good round number) Note; It wouldn’t be the first time I have diagnosed a car for a customer only to find out that their complaint is from lack of understanding of their vehicle or dare I say… their just another fruit basket behind the wheel. Now I’m not in favor of a free diagnostics (if you couldn’t tell already) and I’m not too fond of the free estimate. If there is any “man hours” that are part of any job a “man” wants paid. If that “man” is working on a commission basis, I can assure you that he is going to rush through the “estimate” in order to get to the real money end of the job. However a diagnostic is a totally different thing, I don’t think I could have made a living without charging for the time it takes to figure out some of the strange pr oblems I’ve encountered over the years. Some things were easy to diagnose, some took hours. But I believe it’s the standardization of a diagnostic charge that would make things a lot easier for the customers to understand the complexities of today’s problem evaluations. If a tech couldn’t figure out a problem in a reasonable length of time … say an hour… then it’s quite possible the shop is going to be losing money if they kept him on that job. The next best thing would be to move him off that job. Put another tech on who might be able to figure out the problem in a reasonable amount of time. Of course, the shop is already behind the 8 ball, since the first tech didn’t get the job done, but in the long run… it will get done, there will be an estimate for the customer explaining the repairs needed. I don’t know which is more of a problem, the shops out there not willing to charge for estimating… Oops I mean diagnostic time… or the customer who doesn’t feel that it’s a necessary part of the process. Then again, these are not yesterday’s cars. It’s about time there were some standards that everyone in the industry had to go by, be it from the independent side or the dealer side. Regulation or self imposed limits as to how much can be charged across the board for various levels of diagnostics. Not to say diagnosing a bad ball joint is easier than a battery drain, no, not at all. Each field in the industry would have to come up with a balanced set of standards that those involved could agree was a fair price for that type of service. If all the independent shops charge the same fees in a demographic area it would lead to a more even playing field for the customer. Maybe, we should think about using a different term rather than “independent”… we can be independent in ownership, style, quality, etc… but put the customer’s concerns up front. If I wasn’t in the business and didn’t know where to take my car I would really would like to know that I’m getting quality work done at a fair price at any shop I went to. If there was a way to put an end to the “I can get it done cheaper down the street” escapades… my drive home would be a whole lot more pleasant than in the past. . If that didn’t happen it then only comes down to a question of where to have the vehicle repaired at. Everyone has their favorite doctor, dentist, or restaurant. Which is probably based on location, atmosphere, or “ya just like that particular place”. Price is always an issue, and probably always will be. If you’re not getting the job done right at the shop of your choice… choose another one. How many times a day does your phone ring because you have some “price shopper” who is never coming to your shop because your price is higher than the last shop they called… even though they were referred by a friend to call you. Maybe we should focus on better instructional classes, more information, and true manufacturer level scanners available to the independent side of the business. Sometimes too much effort is put on the “Be nice to the customer”, or the preverbal “Customer is always right” routine. The old saying; “If the customer knew what was wrong they would have fixed it themselves” still holds true today. But I’m talking about telling them what’s wrong with the vehicle, not how to fix it. With the advent of the computer age upon us the car has become a rolling updateable, flash reprogramming software jungle of information. The cost of these specialized scanners puts them out of the range of most consumers, and a lot of small shops, which, in some ways, also places the shade tree mechanic on the endangered species list. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the same line from a customer’s after I have diagnosed a problem. “Well, I could have done that myself, I would have looked there for the problem if I had the time, and I don’t know why you’re charging me for something so simple. You should give a break on the price because it was so simple. “Hey, I’m a regular customer I should be getting a discount.” My usual answer is… “So if you knew what was wrong, why did you bring it to me to figure it out?” And, I’m not sure that other professional people you deal with such as a doctor, dentist, or the grocer…etc… is going to give you a discount just because you shop with them on a regular basis. Common sense, the largest lacking component in all of these situations… In my opinion, once common sense is removed from the conversation “stupid” takes its place. I wonder if I could estimate how many times this has happened… maybe so… but I better think about diagnosing it first…
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Article: Ouija Board Diagnostics - You're doing it wrong if your Ouija board is your go to diagnostic toolOuija Board Diagnostics I’ve often wondered why a lot of the driving public believes auto repair is something for non-thinking Neanderthals that have no ambition to do anything else in life. For all I know they think we (us mechanics that is) diagnose every problem by breaking out a Ouija board, while humming some ancient automotive chant. It could also be that a good mechanic just makes things look easy to the unaware and uniformed layman. With the right mechanic the whole thing can seem effortless, easy, and somewhat second nature when it comes to diagnosing a problem. To the armchair mechanic sitting at home watching the next new automotive reality show, it’s either – “Repairs are a no-brainer, I can do that”, or it must be some sort of Ouija board magic. Mind you, the number of individuals who still believe anyone can be a mechanic is dwindling ever so slowly. Mainly because the car itself has gone past the point of parts swapping and a shade tree mechanic’s ability to repair the modern car. It’s no secret good old dad with the typical box of tools from a discount chain store can hardly change a spark plug anymore, let alone find them. Oh sure, you can still do a pad slap at home, and you can probably toss on a set of shocks, replace a bulb or two, but diagnosing a problem, especially one that involves some form of electronics… well… that’s a whole new issue to deal with. It could be they need to master the Ouija board diagnostic scenario, or they need another round of You Tube videos. Every mechanic has undoubtedly heard the same thing from a well-seasoned You Tuber, “Oh I could have done that.” This usually leads to an even longer explanation of how you’ve done the entire repair wrong, but put the tools in their hands, and the results are pretty consistent. The car is either incorrectly put together, or they’ve lost some parts between point A and point B. Videos are great, but you still need to have some mechanical dexterity. A good example of this scenario is when I was teaching a brake shoe replacement class the other day. After explaining the type of brake system we were working on, I removed the brake shoes from the car. Next, I reinstalled the same shoes, slowing down just enough so they could see how to use the brake tools. It probably took all of 20 minutes to explain it in detail and install the shoes. All the heads were bobbing and the usual consensus was they all had this repair procedure down pat, because, as we all know, anybody can do brakes. Well, as if it was no surprise, when the students got their hands into the job all I heard was one cuss word after another and the occasional student chasing a bouncing spring or clip across the shop floor. So much for easy, aye? So, where do most of these unprofessional type mechanics and couch connoisseurs of the automotive world go for any information? Where else, the internet. The one place that doesn’t check the credentials of the person making the video, and the one place where anyone with a box of tools can be a superstar with a wrench. In their video they’re the automotive expert, camera man, sound man, director of content, and editor all at the same time. No need in researching the facts, looking up the proper methods, or any other various procedures, service bulletins, or the latest tools related to that particular job. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a video out there with a couple of guys surrounding one of those Ouija boards asking why the short fuel trim is higher on one of side than the other. Ouija board or not, there are a few draw backs to internet information, but there really are a lot of super fantastic guys and gals putting out some very helpful videos on car repair. It’s just the few home brewed videos that make me cringe. Some of these back yard magicians seem to consult their Ouija board way too often. As if they conjured up some miracle answer right on the spot. Honestly, some of these videos are about as reliable as fake news. But, then again… that’s what some people think the professional mechanic does every day. As there has always been, and there will always be, a shortage of trained technicians out there able to handle the job of repairing the modern car. I’m very sure we will never see the day when there is an overabundance of good mechanics who have to change careers because there is no room for them under the hood. It’s never going to happen. What does need to happen is the one thing consumers don’t want, and that’s cost of repairs most certainly need to rise, as well as the mechanics’ wages to keep up with all of these technical advancements. It’s not a maybe, it’s a must or the technology will run right past you. Ask any mechanic what they learned on a vehicle from 10 years ago vs. today’s cars, and you’ll find that nearly half of what they did back then isn’t applicable in today’s diagnostic procedures. To be a good technician these days takes a lot of training, a lot of time spent reading, and understanding the latest technologies. New information comes from the manufacturers’ engineering departments just as fast as the cars come off the assembly lines, and to stay on top of things you need to study. I’ve heard people tell me, “Yea, I went to an automotive tech school to be a mechanic, but I didn’t learn anything.” Seriously? I’m sure you learned a whole lot. The problem isn’t the school training, the problem is you. Training doesn’t stop with your diploma, it stops when you stop wanting to advance your knowledge in the repair industry. School is a starting point, but to be a modern mechanic means you need to stay focused on the technology, take advanced training classes in your field of choice, and not expect answers from a You Tube video or your Ouija board. There’s a lot to learn and retain. It’s not a trade where you learn one method and expect that skill to last you throughout your career. It’s an ever changing industry with ever changing technology. Learn the basics, then learn to diagnose the modern car. You can’t guess at a solution or consult that old Ouija board for the answers. It takes practice and a lot of hands on from a dedicated individual willing to get their hands dirty and diagnose an automotive problem. Then solve it correctly. Sorry, no Ouija board diagnostics allowed.
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So we all use various on-line help systems to find difficult problems...how do you invoice those costs to your customer? It seems like between monthly subscriptions for shop management software and help software costs the profits keep slipping away...help!
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Stop subsidising other industries and charge your administrative fees! For example if you do towing and you have to write out a check to pay towing fees to other providers, charge an administrative fee. Data entry, getting all details correctly and chasing down paper costs money. We charge a $25 to $35 fee depending how much time the clerk has to spend working on the case. You should have a line on your billing system so your clerk automatically ads the admin fee when they process the payout to the other service provider.
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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:
By Joe Marconi
I don’t know where you stand on this issue, but State Farm’s mandate that Collision and repair shops must use PartsTrader parts to procure parts has started a storm of controversy. The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Minnesota (AASP-MN) has filed a formal complaint with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, requesting legal action to prevent State Farm from continuing this program.
Is this a sign of what’s to come, with regard to insurance companies? Will this intrusion into our business become the norm and continue to erode our margins? Many, including the ASA of Ohio and many groups and other organizations across the country, believe so.
How do you stand on this issue?
For more information go to: http://www.partsandpeople.com/node/5782