In may I quit my job of 9 years and purchased an auto repair shop. I was previously employed as a field mechanic for Cummins. At my shop we focus on general repair. It's been a whirlwind since I bought the place but i couldn't be happier to be here. I've included some pictures of the shop.
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.
Hi! I'm looking to open a new automotive repair shop and I could use some help assessing a specific opportunity from the experts here. To put this in perspective, I would be a new owner without prior repair shop experience, however, I understand repair work and have done almost all of my own work on my personal vehicles for nearly 30 years. The scope of work I have personally performed included transmissions swaps, suspension, brakes, ignition systems, fuel systems, computer diagnostics and so on. My formal training is in science and management and I've been in corporate positions for 20+ years. I also have experience running my own real estate rental business. I've always been interested in auto repair and I believe this business would be a very good fit for my aptitude, skills and experience. I would plan to operate as the business owner and bring in skilled staff to handle repairs and customer engagement under my leadership.
Here is the scenario I could use help with. I found a 10,000 sq. ft. building which is split up between 6 existing bays (3 front and 3 rear), office space and retail area. The section with the bays has about 5000 sq. ft. , about 1000 sq. ft. of office space and another 4,000 sq. ft. of retail area. The property has not been used for auto repair in a long time but could be converted back very quickly along with opportunity to do something interesting in the retail area. I have many potential ideas for the property. I am running into two primary challenges in evaluating the opportunity. The first is the competitive landscape and the second is how quickly I could ramp up the business along with how much business I would likely do from the location after ramp up.
The property is located on a main road with 20-40k total vehicles/day depending on the day of week. About a mile up the road, in a cluster, there are 6 name brand auto dealerships. On the same road, within just a few miles from the site, there are three tire shops, one local and two name brand, along with a Midas and another local 6 bay garage. Think of this as 5 competitors, each with 6 bays plus the new car dealers. There are a handful of smaller local shops with 1-2 bays locally as well. Also, there is a State DMV location, with inspection services in the same zone. The overall geographic area is in a town that contains a Wal-Mart, Lowes, BJ's and a Costco plus restaurants, etc.. These stores are all within 10 minutes from the potential new location. The next closest big retail areas are 30 minutes north or 40 minutes south of the target area described. The demographics of the area skew affluent and population density is moderate - this is not a big city - however people are drawn in from at least a 30 minute drive time radius due to the shopping and other resources.
I have a few ideas to differentiate my business from the rest in the area although on Google, it appears that most of the competing businesses have decent reviews overall. My shop would do all types of repairs including the heavier stuff and the bays are very tall so we could potentially accommodate trucks too.
So, my questions are:
Is this an opportunity worth considering given the competitive landscape? If I were to open a shop, how quickly should I expect business to ramp up? I am really looking for solid feedback from folks with deep experience in this industry to help me evaluate if this is a business proposition worthy of consideration at this location.
I am looking to open up my new shop within 3 months and honestly feel a little in over my head, I’ve spent days reading on here and while it’s awesome I feel I need something more formal. The main 2 things I’ve found has been the RLO training course or the Ron Ipach fast lane training program. Has anyone one taken either of these courses or have a different one to recommend?
By Joe Marconi
We all have those customers that focus on price alone. And we all struggle with our persistent attempts at converting them into believers. Believers of the concept that, while we cannot totally dismiss price, it’s the value of the product or service the customer needs to consider when making a purchase. What’s funny about these customers is that each visit tends to start with a complaint about price, even before the car is looked at. We recently had a situation that started off on the wrong foot, with price being the issue; but ended up a win for us, and for the customer.
Charlie Challenge (not his real name) arrived at our shop and asked for an estimate on replacing the timing chain for his Nissan Altima. My service advisor responded with, “Mr. Challenge, that’s a big job. How do you know your car needs a timing chain?” Charlie replied back, “Another shop checked it out and they told me it does. Can you please give me a price?” My advisor continued with, “Well, before we do anything, we need to perform a few tests to make sure you really do need a timing chain.” Charlie emphatically replied back, “And how much is that going to cost? All you guys want is my money! I asked for one thing; a price on a timing chain and you just want to make more money on something I already know I need!”
It took a lot of composure, but my advisor calmly stated all the reasons why testing is the best way to go, emphasizing the fact that if we replace the chain and it’s not the problem, the money spent would be wasted. Charlie shook his head, threw the keys on the counter and authorized the testing.
I’ve known Charlie for a long time. He’s not a bad guy. But price is always the topic of discussion. He has told me in the past that I should take a look at what other shops charge, and be more competitive with my prices. I have told Charlie that I don’t, and never will, price my services by what other shops are charging. I have also told him to look beyond price and look at the value you get. Besides, all the quality shops that I know are pretty much the same when it comes to pricing.
During the write-up process, Charlie revealed to my service advisor that the check engine light had been on, and that’s why he took his car to the other shop. The other shop replaced a valve timing solenoid, but that didn’t fix the problem. He was then told that the next step was to replace the chain.
Later that morning, the car was dispatched to a technician. A multipoint inspection was performed, along with all the tests related to the check engine light; which was a timing error. After the MPI and the tests were completed, we found a few things wrong with Charlie’s car. His Altima needed an oil change service, a battery, rear brakes, an air filter, the cabin filter had a mouse nest in it and the car needed an intake timing control sensor, not a timing chain. This engine has two intake control solenoids. One was supposedly replaced by the other shop. So, did this car have two bad sensors? Or was the wrong sensor replaced by mistake?
When my service advisor called Charlie to tell him the good news, he was silent for a moment. He was shocked that the car didn’t need a timing chain. He authorized the solenoid replacement, the oil change and replacing the mouse-infested cabin filter. He declined the other work.
I purposely did the follow-up call with Charlie a few days later. He was happy to hear from me and told me that car hadn’t run this good in years. I had to needle him a bit, “So Charlie, are we really expensive? We saved you a ton of money by doing the tests first and not just replacing the chain.” He said, “Ok Joe, I get it, I really do this time.”
During our conversation, Charlie did confess that he didn’t go to another shop, but actually went to that all-knowing, all-powerful place on the internet known as Google. It was Charlie that replaced the solenoid, not realizing there were two, and not knowing how to properly test the system either.
When I asked Charlie why he didn’t let us replace the battery, air filter and the rear brakes, he replied, “Joe, come on, I can do that work myself, and besides, you guys are expensive.”
Sometimes you win the battle, but it’s hard to win the war with some customers.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on October 1st, 2019
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By Andrew Cutler
This is a rant, pure and simple, but I hope that it can serve as a cautionary tale for others. Unifirst came in with a proposal as the "AAA preferred uniform vendor". As we are a AAA approved shop we qualified for special pricing, almost 30% less than what we were paying at that time. We gave them our business and it has been a cluster since. It took almost 6 months for them to deliver, and when they did the sizes were all over the map. About half of my employees (and myself) had to have size changes. They embroidered all our dark shirts with dark logos and had to re-do them which took months. They actually embroidered them wrong TWICE before they got it right. My tech's shirts came back with with huge oil and rust stains after their first washing and have never been clean since. The towels are usually oily and sometimes have metal shavings in them. They routinely mis-deliver and fail to deliver uniforms, leaving techs short for the week. I've had the service manager, plant manager, and regional manager all in my office to tell me that this would all be corrected, to no avail. We have a new service starting in December and I anticipate threats to sue on the three year agreement they require. I've been cataloging, photographing and corresponding with them over the past 8 months and I am confident that we can prove that they are unable to provide anything close to the level of service they promised. I have learned, yet again, that you get what you pay for. Don't let Unifirst in the door.
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The House measure, the first significant federal legislation aimed at speeding self-driving cars to market, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year. The cap would rise over three years to 100,000 vehicles annually.
Representative Doris Matsui said the bill “puts us on a path towards innovation which, up until recently, seemed unimaginable.”
By Elon Block
In case you hadn't heard, here's something you need to be aware of...
AAA is making some changes, in the way they are doing business.
Within the last few years, AAA has decided to build their own company-owned facilities.
Here is a link, with an example of search results, drivers will see when they type in a zip code:
Pay special attention to the search results marked (AAA Owned Facility).
The facilities are impressive and are gaining traction:
As you can see, their slogan is, "Auto Repair From A Name You Trust".
This is genius marketing, on their part...
Because customers equate the AAA logo, as a shop they can trust.
The other major change they've made is...
The new requirements for the AAA certification renewal.
Many shop owners did not read the fine print or notice the changes to the agreement.
In other words, the fine print requires certified shops to give AAA access to the shop's customer database.
The biggest concern is if you give them access to your customer database and then, they open a AAA Owned Facility, in your backyard...
They now have a built-in customer base they can market to.
What that means to you is...
This a major conflict of interest because now, they have all of your customers' information, which they can use to actively market and essentially steal your customers.
So, this is something to be considered, in deciding to continue to be affiliated, as a AAA certified shop.
By Joe Marconi
AAA has a long history, and has been a partner to the auto repair and service industry, especially with Approved Auto Repair (AAR) certification for the independent auto repair shops. But, in recent years the AAA has caused a lot of friction among shop owners, resulting in many shop dropping their affiliation with the AAA. For a number of reasons, I too have decided not to renew my AAR contract with the AAA.
Let me be clear, AAA is regional, so the northeast may have a slightly different program from the southwest. But, we need to remember, that the AAA in the eyes of the consumer is one brand and they do cross channels with their concepts and objectives.
AAA has competing shops in some areas in the country, and in some regions wants a backdoor access to the shop's customer information through the shop's business management system. This is a step in the wrong direction.
Whether you are an AAR shop or not, you need to be informed on this important issue.
Below are a links to a few recent articles in Ratchet and Wrench, one written by Mitch Schneider.
I strongly urge you to read them.