By Joe Marconi
NEWS BREAK: Workers at a Mavis Discount Tire shop falsified records to make it look as if they completed brake work on a limousine before it crashed and killed 20 in Schoharie, New York, last year, when in actuality the work was never performed, according to the shop's former manager.
Below is a link to the article:
By Joe Marconi
Due to COVID-19, many repair shops experienced a severe economic downturn, some with a drop in sales over 50%. Without a strong cash reserve and/or SBA funding help, many shops would have gone under.
My 40 years as a shop owner has taught me to always have a cash reserve. However, never would I have ever imagined a downturn like the one with COVID-19.
So, how do we plan for the next financial crisis. And, it will happen. Perhaps not as bad as the the virus crisis, but it will happen.
Here are a few things to consider: Have a separate, and hard to access, cash reserve bank account that has least two months of expenses. Also, secure a line of credit for at least one to two months of expenses. Also, know your numbers, keep payroll in line, and make sure your prices are fair to you too, not just your customers. Keep in good standing with all your vendors and keep your credit score high!
The bottom line here, is truly the bottom line. To weather the next financial downturn, you need a strong balance sheet and net profit to the bottom line.
What other strategies are you considering or implementing?
By Joe Marconi
As part of our debt reduction, I revamped all of our usual marketing and advertising and put those dollars into customer service and social media. For example, we ramped up our shuttle pickup and delivery service, extended our hours of service, made sure we spend a lot of time with each customer and made sure we called as many customers as possible. We also stepped up our meet and greet process and made sure will followed up with customer after the repair. Lastly, we increased our social media posts and increases ads and boosting. This has made a huge impact on our customer and already starting to pay dividends.
What changes have you made to your marketing strategy since the Virus Crisis hit?
Has the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impacted your auto shop business? If it hasn't yet, it has the potential to do so soon. Please share what you are currently doing, how your business is impacted, what plans you have in place, etc.
Some things to consider:
Do you have a plan in place should you or one of your employees become ill? With school, event, and business closures, how will this affect your shop? Are you sending anything to your customers in terms of sharing your plans around keeping your customer and employees healthy and doing your part in your community? Many small and large businesses have been sending email communications to their customers. Are you marketing to your customers in terms of not delaying car repair, should there be a need to temporarily close? Are your parts suppliers sharing their plans, should the pandemic affect supply chains? Are you stocking up on business and shop necessities? Please share your experience in this topic and stay healthy!
In the media:
The coronavirus and its growing tally of sick and dead victims around the world have been roiling financial markets, prompting countless hand-washing reminders and ruining more than a few vacations, and that’s before anyone knows exactly how widespread the effect will be on the automotive industry, including your local repair shop. Source
“By mid-March, the shortage of supplies will be felt and members are projecting they’ll experience disruption through May or June,” even if operations in China soon get back to normal, said Stacey Miller, senior director of communications at the Auto Care Association, a trade group representing 150,000 auto aftermarket and service businesses. Source
By Joe Marconi
I know none of us wants to hear this, but there will be a next crisis of some sort. I have lived through many downturns in my 40 years in business, the COVID-19 was the worst. But, out of every crisis comes lessons to be learned. So create your Crisis Plan today.
Start by understanding your numbers and knowing your breakeven. Then add to your breakeven a percentage of profit you want to earn. Equally important is creating a cash reserve in a dedicated bank account that will be used only in a severe emergency. Set your financial goals and stick to them!
Often overlook is your staff. Assemble the best team around you. This is a crucial part to ensure your future business sucess.
Lower your debt, get your credit rating up and maintain a good standing with all vendors. Lastly, talk to your bank about a line of credit that can remain inactive until you need to use it.
What other key things can we all share to help us through the next crisis?
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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: