By Joe Marconi
Sometimes I feel like I’m alone on a deserted island. I charge for diagnostic analysis. Why? Because I know what cost is to buy the tools, equipment, information systems, training and pay a technician to professionally and accurately diagnosis a check engine light, air bag, ABS or any other complicated problem. But, I feel a lot of shops are willing to give this up in hopes to get the work. In my opinion all they are doing is digging themselves in a hole.
And, I have heard all the reasons:
“If the customer gives me the job, I waive the analysis”.
“I package the analysis into the repair, so the customer does not see the diag charges”
“I will lose customers if I charge analysis”
And the best yet: “It only took me 10 minutes to diag the O2 sensor, so I can’t charge diag labor”.
Waiving the analysis is the same as a doctor waiving the x-rays and blood tests. They don’t do it, we should not either. I will also challenge those who “package” the analysis into the repair. You mean to tell me that after taking 1 hour to find a faulty mass air sensor, you will add the 1 hour to the 5 minutes it takes to install a new mass air? Come on, we all know the truth.
And let’s address the 10 minutes it took to find the failed O2 sensor. Did it really take 10 minutes? NO, it took years of training, years of experience, the investment in the right equipment and the investment in the right information systems. Why we sometimes diminish what we are truly worth is amazing. No other profession does that.
Sorry for being so tough on this topic, but business is hard enough these days and people question everything. If shops don’t realize what they are giving up, it makes it bad for all of us.
Please tell me what you think. Agree? Disagree? Or any other thoughts....
I'm Ricardo from Complete Auto Reports. You may have heard about the shop management software that we made at a shop in Linden NJ.
We've been really busy over the last year trying to refine the process at a shop through the software. We have come up with something we think that people can and will benefit from. We want to start with smaller auto repair facilities who are looking for something to transition out of paper and pen, as well as word documents and/or excel spreadsheets.
We've taken our software and made a free package that allows the following from any device with a updated and functional browser:
Take appointments from your customers Digital Vehicle Inspections - Included in every service request and sent to each customer if performed Workflow - Pending, Under Process, Awaiting Approval, Approval Completed, Work In Progress, Completed Ratings - Customers can communicate ratings directly to you Messages - You can communicate with customers through the platform Customer App - All service history available, can schedule appointments with the app, transfer vehicle records to new owners Sales Reports 100% mobile - Works on everything from your 5inch iPhone to your desktop.
You can presently upload all of your customer information: name, address, phone numbers, email.
Paid for versions offer parts ordering through PartsTech.com and Employeement modules that track employee time on jobs.
Are there members here who are interested in trying the free platform to see if it's a fit for their business? Anyone interested in the paid for versions, can also get 60 days of free use and discounted rates available from our SEMA promotions.
Our 3 plans can be broken down into these simple differences: Free: No inventory, no online parts ordering through PartsTech, only one photo/video per service request, one login, no employee management $50 per month (also have yearly options to save $): Includes online parts ordering through PartsTech and includes inventory, one login, no employee management $100 per month (also have yearly options to save $): includes everything with 5 logins to access the system. We often get asked, "What use can a bigger shop possibly get from the free plan?"
With the free plan, you can take appointments digitally from your customers and then upload a copy of their receipt from your existing system to their profile in CAR. Reducing paper waste and creating a digital record for your customer to always have. You can also use the free plan to send your customers a video or photo of the services you are performing, complete with billing the customer through the free plan at the end of the service. These are all features that you pay for with add on systems, they are all available for free with us as you learn to adapt to smarter, more efficient technology.
The data you enter is yours, we do not have any agreements presently to share it with anyone and we certainly will never be sharing any personally identifying information with anyone. Majority of the data we are interested in is to build better features to serve you better.
Should you ever decide you no longer want to use our platform, your account will be available to you for free for one year at minimum. In addition to that, we can and will provide you a complete data dump of all of your records within 72 hours of the request. These companies that make it impossible to recover YOUR data is the reason for our open policy. We want everyone to change their practices and we're leading by example.
If you decide to cancel your subscription for any reason, all of your data can and will be exported and delivered to you via a USB stick you provide or through email in the way of an Excel file(s). Additionally, you can access ALL OF YOUR information on our server for one year without any interference from anyone at CAR. Most of you may not know, but I actually own a shop and if it's one thing I can not stand behind, it's these companies getting access to all of our information for secretive reasons or keeping us from having the very data that belongs to us in the first place. You will never encounter this experience with us.
It's that time of year again folks! VisionKC is coming up right around the corner.
And that means that the annual ASOG dinner is ramping up its registration efforts!
The dinner is open for all to attend, regardless of membership to ASOG and all proceeds go to the ASOG scholarship efforts!
ASOG will bring another lucky shop owner with 3 years or less in business to VisionKC. This will be the 3rd scholarship the group has provided, but it certainly won't be the last. We look forward to providing scholarships to events all over the country, and working to ensure scholarship winners are given the tools and paths needed to succeed.
Jacob and Lacey Bunyard were last year's winners - when we met Jacob and Lacey things were tough! It wasn't just the business that was suffering, through the suffering of the business, Jacob and Lacey's family...their children were paying the true price.
Today, Jacob and Lacey, through the connections and offerings presented at VisionKC have turned the business from a significant liability into a resource which provides a good life for their family.
We've also offered scholarships to the greatest automotive show in the south east, ASTE by The Independent Garage Owners Of NC and seen tremendous growth of that shop owner as well.
We ask that you, as shop owners, and part of the automotive family join us for dinner. We ask that you support our efforts to improve this industry, even if it's one shop at a time. And most of all, we ask that you join us in continuing to bring unity to shops nationwide, to continue to share a vision of something better for this industry - a higher potential, a better life for owners who haven't been given the opportunity to see there's a better, more profitable way.
Isn't it time that we stop seeing each other as competition, but as allies?
Please join us for dinner if you are able.
Information about the dinner is available at
We now have a nice tool available to all premium and platinum members under the tools menu, where you can view labor rates entered by our members on an easy to use map, similar to our member map. This is designed to give you an idea of where you are vs the market in your area. As you zoom in, the circle averages open up to more specific areas.
If you aren't currently a subscribed premium or platinum member, you can upgrade here.
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By Joe Marconi
Each year at this time I advise shop owners to set aside time to look back at the current year and start planning for the year ahead. The more due diligence you perform, the more successful you will be. Below is a short list of things you need to do. Remember, the time you spend now, will pay off next year.
Review all your numbers, year to date - Did you hit your goals? Arrange a meeting with your accountant and review your projected sales and determine any tax implications Speak to your accountant about investing in any end-of-year equipment purchases or any other large purchases in order to save on taxes. Please do not listen to your tool truck guy or equipment reps. Sometimes having cash reserve is much more important that reducing taxes Have a meeting with your key employees; determine what you will need in the coming year and begin to create a budget Set your new goals for 2018 and beyond, both personal and business Create a Wish List, those things your would like to accomplish, both in business and personal - This will help keep you focused Consider needed future training for all employees Review all insurances: Life insurance, liability, etc. Perform a facility inspection: Identify any needed work, upgrades, OSHA concerns, etc Create an emergency crisis plan in case something happens to you or a key employee; and make sure your loved ones and family have a copy of the plan
By Joe Marconi
This is not new topic for me, but I need to revisit it again. And I will keep revisiting this topic for the sake of our industry.
For independent repair shops to "thrive" today, you must take a proactive approach with regard to business. If you only want to "survive" you can stop reading now.
Waiting for the phone to ring, or for cars to breakdown, or for a customer to drive into your shop asking for a repair or service is business suicide. The days of broken cars lining up in front of your bays are over. Sure, cars still breakdown, but you cannot thrive with a wait-and-see strategy.
Make sure you perform multipoint inspections on all cars in for any type of service. Yes, any type of service or repair. Look up vehicle history on all vehicles. Let the customer know of needed services, missed services and services due. And lastly, book the next appointment. Yes, I know....Joe's been preaching this over and over and it does not work in your shop. Fine, then let me focus on those shops that do book the next appointment. Because those are the shops that are adopting a proactive approach...and I will see those shops in the future.
By Joe Marconi
One thing I often repeat over and over again is this; "Back in the 1980's, there were three things that made repair shops successful; General Motors, Ford and Chrysler." Those cars broke down a lot, and there was an endless supply of cars that required a lot of profitable work.
Well, those days are gone. Cars today are build better, last longer (thankfully), and have ever-increasing service intervals. Consumers are also conditioned to think that their cars don't need maintenance. It wasn't that long ago when your customers were coming to you 4 to 5 times a year for service. Now, you are lucky to see those customer twice a year for their routine LOF service.
The point here? You must take a proactive approach and promote preventive maintenance. You must inform your customers of their next service and any other future service recommendation or repair. You must do all you can to get your customer to return to you. Which means providing the absolute best customer service with quality repairs.
Even the term "repair shop" needs to redefined.
Be proactive and you'll be successful!
By Joe Marconi
If there is one thing I have learned in my 36 years in business, it’s that people make the biggest difference in terms of success. No matter what equipment you have, or tools or information system. It’s the quality of your employees that will determine your success.
Think about this. If you were the coach of a football team and your goal was to win the Super Bowl, what would be your first goal? To assemble the best players possible, a team of superstar athletes. The fanciest stadium on the planet does not win games. It takes great players and a great coach. And a great coach understands that he needs to surround himself with superstars.
Your repair shop is no different. If you want to attain great success, it will be achieved not only by your work, but by the work of others around you. Your success is truly determined by the having the right people and then by bringing out the best in them.
Who likes tax deductible food? 🙋♂🙋♂ If you want to make sure you are deducting all of your business meals. Please read the entire article.