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....
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
By Joe Marconi
The other day, a customer asked my service advisor, if he would price match a set of tires. This customer got an online quote from the internet; a local TIre Store know for discouting tires.
My rule, I don't price match. My prices are competive and fair.
Would you price match just to get the job, and sacrifice profit? Remember, no one really knows the true cost of any service or repair until the car is in the shop. So, internet quotes are not set in stone.
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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.
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
The controversy is heating up as we move closer and closer to self-driving cars. Below is a link to an article in Body Shop Business Magazine.
By Joe Marconi
The AAA is growing a chain of repair shops in the mid-Atlantic states. AAA started in 2011, and now have 11 repair shops which they use to sell insurance, increase membership and perform automotive repairs. AAA plans on opening up more facilities in the next few years. AAA has different clubs across the country and each have different strategies.
As an AAA Approved repair shop in New York, you can only imagine that there are questions I would like to have answered.
Below is a link to an article in Tire Business Magazine.
What are your thoughts on this?