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Jay Huh

Bumper sticker campaign

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OK guys, I am thinking about getting a bunch of bumper stickers. They are about $3-$4 each. Thinking about a loyalty program, where if they have our bumper sticker on their car, they get $5 off their oil change.

My thinking is that if I have enough cars out there with my bumper sticker, people will be curious enough to look me up. Cost wise.... $4 per sticker plus $5 off - 200 stickers is $1800. Worth it? I spend a little more than that on online ads a month

Another thought was license plate frame but not sure where I can get one made cheap

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I put license plate frames on all my customer's cars (with their permission) years ago.  I am not aware of any new customer coming in as a result.  I imagine bumper stickers would stand out more, but not sure how much.  We have 5 loaner cars with very obvious advertising for our shop and the fact that we have free loaner cars across the top of the rear glass.  They have all been on the road since last August.  We have not had a single customer come in because of that; and I have to believe seeing free loaner car is more of a motivator that just our info on a bumper sticker.  

Scott  

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7 minutes ago, ScottSpec said:

I put license plate frames on all my customer's cars (with their permission) years ago.  I am not aware of any new customer coming in as a result.  I imagine bumper stickers would stand out more, but not sure how much.  We have 5 loaner cars with very obvious advertising for our shop and the fact that we have free loaner cars across the top of the rear glass.  They have all been on the road since last August.  We have not had a single customer come in because of that; and I have to believe seeing free loaner car is more of a motivator that just our info on a bumper sticker.  

Scott  

Wow! You have quite an operation! Do you have a website? I'd like to check out your business if you don't mind that is

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11 minutes ago, ScottSpec said:

I put license plate frames on all my customer's cars (with their permission) years ago.  I am not aware of any new customer coming in as a result.  I imagine bumper stickers would stand out more, but not sure how much.  We have 5 loaner cars with very obvious advertising for our shop and the fact that we have free loaner cars across the top of the rear glass.  They have all been on the road since last August.  We have not had a single customer come in because of that; and I have to believe seeing free loaner car is more of a motivator that just our info on a bumper sticker.  

Scott  

Nvm, I saw it on your profile. Vovlos! nice! I like the website too. Where did you get the license plate frames made and cost?

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Just now, Jay Huh said:

Wow! You have quite an operation! Do you have a website? I'd like to check out your business if you don't mind that is

We have several websites.  Maybe a bit of an identity crisis.

 http://www.scottsautospec.com/ 

http://www.autorepairrockville.com/ 

http://volvorepairrockvillemd.com/

http://bmwrepairrockville.com/

Scott

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Just now, ScottSpec said:

O wow. so many lol. 

How does the loaner car work out? Is it a headache? I'm sure customers try and bring it back without gas. I'd like to offer loaners cars one day but the cost of it is daunting

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Just now, Jay Huh said:

Nvm, I saw it on your profile. Vovlos! nice! I like the website too. Where did you get the license plate frames made and cost?

It has been so long since we did the frames.  I have a box in the back that still has a few in it.  If I get a chance this week, I will see if there is a label on it.  Check out google https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=custom+tag+frames&* you will find many companies there.

 

Scott

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Just now, Jay Huh said:

O wow. so many lol. 

How does the loaner car work out? Is it a headache? I'm sure customers try and bring it back without gas. I'd like to offer loaners cars one day but the cost of it is daunting

So far the loaners have worked out beyond my best expectations.  Just about every customer who uses one really appreciates it.  Most bring the cars back with at least as much gas as it left with.  One customer lives a mile away from the shop but still stopped at the gas station to fill the tank that was full when she got the car.  Having them takes so much stress out of the equation.  We don't have to rush to get cars done when they have a loaner.  Customer's buy more repairs because it is more convenient for them.  Several new customers said they would not have come to us if we did not have the loaners.  

It might see odd, but the biggest challenge has been turning the cars around.  When it gets dropped off, we like to do a quick check to make sure it is full of gas and ready to go for the next customer.  It only takes a few minutes, but the busier we are, the quicker the cars are going in and out and when you are busy, you don't want to pull employees off other tasks to check over the loaners.

  

     

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2 hours ago, ScottSpec said:

So far the loaners have worked out beyond my best expectations.  Just about every customer who uses one really appreciates it.  Most bring the cars back with at least as much gas as it left with.  One customer lives a mile away from the shop but still stopped at the gas station to fill the tank that was full when she got the car.  Having them takes so much stress out of the equation.  We don't have to rush to get cars done when they have a loaner.  Customer's buy more repairs because it is more convenient for them.  Several new customers said they would not have come to us if we did not have the loaners.  

It might see odd, but the biggest challenge has been turning the cars around.  When it gets dropped off, we like to do a quick check to make sure it is full of gas and ready to go for the next customer.  It only takes a few minutes, but the busier we are, the quicker the cars are going in and out and when you are busy, you don't want to pull employees off other tasks to check over the loaners.

  

     

Did you buy the cars to serve as loaner vehicles or were they abandoned vehicles that you picked up? License plate wise, are they registered under business name?

THe idea of loaner vehicles would take my business to the next level. I can see a lot of benefits of having them but the cost associated with it would be astronomical 

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16 minutes ago, Jay Huh said:

Did you buy the cars to serve as loaner vehicles or were they abandoned vehicles that you picked up? License plate wise, are they registered under business name?

THe idea of loaner vehicles would take my business to the next level. I can see a lot of benefits of having them but the cost associated with it would be astronomical 

I have a friend that provides NEW loaner vehicles.  I told him that he should be providing well maintained used cars for his fleet.   No reason to have that "new car smell" for your customers when you are selling maintenance services.  The dealer uses new loaner cars as a sales tactic to sell more new cars.    He says that his clientele drives nice cars and he should have nice loaner cars, but he's using new Corollas as nice vs expensive cars that his clients are driving. 

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54 minutes ago, Jay Huh said:

Did you buy the cars to serve as loaner vehicles or were they abandoned vehicles that you picked up? License plate wise, are they registered under business name?

THe idea of loaner vehicles would take my business to the next level. I can see a lot of benefits of having them but the cost associated with it would be astronomical 

I buy the cars from customers. We all get those customers from time to time that want to sell their clean well maintained car because they are tired of it or it needs work and they don't want to repair it. One needed an engine, one had a cracked oil pan, one was purchased from a widow. On average I probably have 2-2500 in each car.  And if it doesn't work out, I could probably get twice that for them now. So it's hard to classify that as an expense. 

For operation expenses I am currently allocating $300 per month per car until I can see what the actual expenses are. $100 for insurance and $200 for gas, registration, and maintenance I don't think I have even come close to the $200 per month. But I'm going to keep using that figure for now. I'm sure some repairs or tires will be needed at some point.

I only buy cars that I know customers will be comfortable in. They have to be clean inside and out. The first loaner I got is  a 1999 Volvo S70 with about 70000 miles on it. The car is spotless. Most customers don't realize how old it is and can't believe the low miles.

The down side to having nice loaners is that I continually get harassed to sell them. 

The cars are registered to my shop. I have a 1,000,000 liability policy + 1,000,000 liability policy on each car, and a 1,000,000 umbrella policy. For a total of 3,000,000 in coverage.

The are shops that do the create another company to own the loaners thinking this gives them some protection from liability, but I think that is a bit of a fantasy. 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, ScottSpec said:

I buy the cars from customers. We all get those customers from time to time that want to sell their clean well maintained car because they are tired of it or it needs work and they don't want to repair it. One needed an engine, one had a cracked oil pan, one was purchased from a widow. On average I probably have 2-2500 in each car.  And if it doesn't work out, I could probably get twice that for them now. So it's hard to classify that as an expense. 

For operation expenses I am currently allocating $300 per month per car until I can see what the actual expenses are. $100 for insurance and $200 for gas, registration, and maintenance I don't think I have even come close to the $200 per month. But I'm going to keep using that figure for now. I'm sure some repairs or tires will be needed at some point.

I only buy cars that I know customers will be comfortable in. They have to be clean inside and out. The first loaner I got is  a 1999 Volvo S70 with about 70000 miles on it. The car is spotless. Most customers don't realize how old it is and can't believe the low miles.

The down side to having nice loaners is that I continually get harassed to sell them. 

The cars are registered to my shop. I have a 1,000,000 liability policy + 1,000,000 liability policy on each car, and a 1,000,000 umbrella policy. For a total of 3,000,000 in coverage.

The are shops that do the create another company to own the loaners thinking this gives them some protection from liability, but I think that is a bit of a fantasy. 

 

 

Thank you for the detailed response. I will save this for the future when I seriously consider having loaners as part of my business

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8 minutes ago, Jay Huh said:

Thank you for the detailed response. I will save this for the future when I seriously consider having loaners as part of my business

I wanted to add that adding loaner cars has dropped the stress level in my shop dramatically. Both for our customers and the employees. It's hard to measure the effect on the bottom line so far, but I know more work is being purchased because of them and the shop is more efficient.

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3 minutes ago, ScottSpec said:

I wanted to add that adding loaner cars has dropped the stress level in my shop dramatically. Both for our customers and the employees. It's hard to measure the effect on the bottom line so far, but I know more work is being purchased because of them and the shop is more efficient.

Yes I thought of that as well. I have a head gasket job going on at my shop and customer is in a rental. Stressful knowing that

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We've had a couple of rentals for a number of years. They were cars we purchased from customers and they are Toyota Corolla's. Clean, automatic, A/C. We actually charge $15 per day for the use of the car, but there are times were we wave the fees. Part of the reason for the charge is based upon our carrier that we had to charge something because of Texas Laws. If I recall it ha to do with contractual agreements that makes the renter liable and the first payer should they have a claim. We only keep liability on the cars.  It does become a bit of a challenge when we are shopping for Garage Keepers insurance as the rentals scare companies and they won't bind our coverage. We have been told by some carriers to just have them as shop vehicles and then use them as a loaner or set them up under another separate company which is something I am not interested in doing as we just try to keep things simple. 

I have considered buying new ones but even I don't even buy new cars for my personal use so I just can't seem to buy new ones for the shop. Having a good high mileage loaner/rental is actually good because it shows people that  well maintained vehicles will last a number of years. We get people wanting to purchase them also. I have sold one or two occasionally just to upgrade them, but it's something we play by ear. I remember having a 2001 Camry with 160K miles on it and the customer could not believe how well that car drove and handled. Told them that's what new struts will do for you. Sold several jobs like that. 

Xrac thanks for posting the loaner document, it's better than the ones we use which had to be vetted by our carrier.  I like how it is one document with all the vehicles listed for you to check off which vehicle is being utilized. We have separate documents for each car.  One thing we don;t do is a good job of checking the car back in because we get in a hurry. Most of the time they come back in with the proper amount of fuel but there are times when they don't. I figure the charges make up for some of it. We will probably add a few more to the fleet as they are very handy to have and it does allow us to sell more work at times. 

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Loaner cars are a big convenience to customers, no doubt. I'm afraid of the liability so I don't do it. I used to and it worked out fairly well, there's always one jerk who smokes out your loaner and burns all the gas but overall it was positive.  My insurance doesn't cover rental cars and it's fairly expensive and requires a different company structured for it if I wanted to pay so I don't do it. 

It might be a NY thing but any car owned by me I'm 100% responsible for what it does even if I'm not driving it. 

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38 minutes ago, Marksas said:

We've had a couple of rentals for a number of years. They were cars we purchased from customers and they are Toyota Corolla's. Clean, automatic, A/C. We actually charge $15 per day for the use of the car, but there are times were we wave the fees. Part of the reason for the charge is based upon our carrier that we had to charge something because of Texas Laws. If I recall it ha to do with contractual agreements that makes the renter liable and the first payer should they have a claim. We only keep liability on the cars.  It does become a bit of a challenge when we are shopping for Garage Keepers insurance as the rentals scare companies and they won't bind our coverage. We have been told by some carriers to just have them as shop vehicles and then use them as a loaner or set them up under another separate company which is something I am not interested in doing as we just try to keep things simple. 

I have considered buying new ones but even I don't even buy new cars for my personal use so I just can't seem to buy new ones for the shop. Having a good high mileage loaner/rental is actually good because it shows people that  well maintained vehicles will last a number of years. We get people wanting to purchase them also. I have sold one or two occasionally just to upgrade them, but it's something we play by ear. I remember having a 2001 Camry with 160K miles on it and the customer could not believe how well that car drove and handled. Told them that's what new struts will do for you. Sold several jobs like that. 

Xrac thanks for posting the loaner document, it's better than the ones we use which had to be vetted by our carrier.  I like how it is one document with all the vehicles listed for you to check off which vehicle is being utilized. We have separate documents for each car.  One thing we don;t do is a good job of checking the car back in because we get in a hurry. Most of the time they come back in with the proper amount of fuel but there are times when they don't. I figure the charges make up for some of it. We will probably add a few more to the fleet as they are very handy to have and it does allow us to sell more work at times. 

Marksas ,

It's interesting that you are required to charge.  My agent told me that if I charged anything to use the cars, they would be considered rentals and insurance would go from $100 per month to $300 per month.  I actually have full coverage on the cars.  I don't usually carry collision on my own cars, but I thought the cost was pretty reasonable for the loaners.  The reason insurance is affordable is because the customer's insurance is primary.  Which is why it has to be a loaner and not a rental.  

The loaner document Xrac posted is actually ours.  I'm guessing he got the link off our site.  I invested some time into the agreement to make sure it addressed all my concerns.  It's a word file, so you are welcome to download it and modify it for your use.  

We keep (4) 5 gallon gas cans full so we can top off the cars without running to the gas station for a few gallons.  But fortunately, most customers bring them back full.

I hear so many shop owners talk about setting up a separate company to own the cars thinking this will protect them from liability.  From the research I have done this may actually do more harm than good.  In fact, it is illegal to do this and would probably lead to more liability than less.  To provide any protection, you would have to prove that this company does something beyond putting a firewall between your customer and you.  And even if that firewall does stand up, the argument can always be made that your company was the one that supplied that vehicle and are in some way liable.         

 

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9 minutes ago, ScottSpec said:

Marksas ,

It's interesting that you are required to charge.  My agent told me that if I charged anything to use the cars, they would be considered rentals and insurance would go from $100 per month to $300 per month.  I actually have full coverage on the cars.  I don't usually carry collision on my own cars, but I thought the cost was pretty reasonable for the loaners.  The reason insurance is affordable is because the customer's insurance is primary.  Which is why it has to be a loaner and not a rental.  

The loaner document Xrac posted is actually ours.  I'm guessing he got the link off our site.  I invested some time into the agreement to make sure it addressed all my concerns.  It's a word file, so you are welcome to download it and modify it for your use.  

We keep (4) 5 gallon gas cans full so we can top off the cars without running to the gas station for a few gallons.  But fortunately, most customers bring them back full.

I hear so many shop owners talk about setting up a separate company to own the cars thinking this will protect them from liability.  From the research I have done this may actually do more harm than good.  In fact, it is illegal to do this and would probably lead to more liability than less.  To provide any protection, you would have to prove that this company does something beyond putting a firewall between your customer and you.  And even if that firewall does stand up, the argument can always be made that your company was the one that supplied that vehicle and are in some way liable.         

 

Scott, I wasn't trying to claim credit for your document but was just trying to help answer Jay's question.  I almost posted the same question but then found your document when checking out your website.   Sorry, I probably should have cleared that with you before posting a link.  I haven't read it through yet but I really like the look and format.  

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Just now, xrac said:

Markas, I wasn't trying to claim credit for your document but was just trying to help answer Jay's question.  I almost posted the same question but then found your document when checking out your website.   Sorry, I probably should have cleared that with you before posting a link.  I haven't read it through yet but I really like the look and format.  

xrac,

No problem.  I just wanted to fill in some of the details about it and let Markas know he could use it if he wants.  It's on my site for public consumption so I don't see any issue with sharing it without clearing it.

Scott 

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Just now, ScottSpec said:

xrac,

No problem.  I just wanted to fill in some of the details about it and let Markas know he could use it if he wants.  It's on my site for public consumption so I don't see any issue with sharing it without clearing it.

Scott 

O yea, and I'm proud of it so I wanted to pat myself on the back a little.

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1 minute ago, ScottSpec said:

O yea, and I'm proud of it so I wanted to pat myself on the back a little.

You deserve it! It is a good document. 

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Scott in your loaner agreement you have this provision:

Your acknowledge that there is a minimum of $125.00 in service or repairs required while using the loaner car.

Is this hard and fast? Do you make any exceptions for example on some diagnostics situations where you don't know where the repair is going or if it may turn out inconclusive?  Do you use the loaner for warranty work situations for either your convenience or the customer convenience?  When this occurs do you make pen and pencil alterations?

Does anyone else have a dollar limit on use of a loaner? 

 

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10 hours ago, xrac said:

Scott in your loaner agreement you have this provision:

Your acknowledge that there is a minimum of $125.00 in service or repairs required while using the loaner car.

Is this hard and fast? Do you make any exceptions for example on some diagnostics situations where you don't know where the repair is going or if it may turn out inconclusive?  Do you use the loaner for warranty work situations for either your convenience or the customer convenience?  When this occurs do you make pen and pencil alterations?

Does anyone else have a dollar limit on use of a loaner? 

 

xrac,

For me, the loaner agreement is for legal protection, and to prevent being taken advantage of.  We have loaners to make life more convenient for our customers and us and I don't want it to become something that creates more stress for anyone.  So the minimum of $125, and or the time limits for example are not hard and fast.  Neither are the gas and toll charges.  For me, they are used when a customer is not playing fair to speak or the cost is significant.   

Do keep in mind that a large portion of our customers are, or become long term customers.  So looking at one visits expense might skew things a little.  Here are a few examples.  A few months ago a long time customer's car was towed in for a fuel leak.  She took a loaner car.  The plastic gas tank was obviously cracked.  When I gave her the price to do it, she decided to get a new car.  I looked at her service records, we had over $7,000 in income from servicing this vehicle.  I think letting her use the loaner car for free was the right thing to do. 

One evening we had a customer come to pick up her car after we had done some servicing.  When she went to leave, the car would not crank.  One of my mechanics went out and determined the started was bad.  We had just replaced it 3 months earlier.  We put her in a loaner, sent her on her way and took car of the car the next day.  I think charging her to use the loaner in that situation would have been wrong. 

I did bill a customer for $35.00 worth of tolls.  A few others for speeding tickets.  I have had cars come back with only 1/2 a tank of fuel, but since the customer's bill was over $2,000, I did not worry about it.  Funny thing was the next customer filled it up. 

So far, offering the free loaner cars has been one of the things I have done to help my business.  And so far, it has not been as costly as I expected.  I realize that issues may still arise.  The last thing I want to share is that we are getting ready to give customers the option to fill the tank or be charged.  That way at the end of the day if their time is limited, the don't have to stress about filling the tank.

Scott

 

 

     

 

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Scott, thanks for the answer.  Your response is what I would have expected flexible as the situation calls for.  I really appreciate you sharing the loaner vehicle agreement! 

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7 hours ago, xrac said:

Scott, thanks for the answer.  Your response is what I would have expected flexible as the situation calls for.  I really appreciate you sharing the loaner vehicle agreement! 

xrac,

I realized I did not address one of your questions.  We have not modified any contract.  I would markup the agreement in a warranty situation if the customer requested it, but no one has ever asked.  There is a lot of trust between us and most of our customers, so when we tell them the loaner is free with the warranty work, it is good enough for them.  Other than that, right now I cannot think of a situation where I would be willing to modify the contract.

Scott

    

 

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With an older fleet have you ever had any issues with the loaner breaking down on a customer and if so how did you handle that?  Even with a well maintained car we can expect things to go wrong like starters, fuel pumps etc so curious how you manage those situations if that has happened.  Obviously newer cars don't remove that risk completely but just curious.

Do you advertise on the vehicles?  i.e. Decals, wraps, magnets?

Also a shop down the road from us had a similar agreement drawn up that customers have to sign but he has had a handful of incidents where damage was done to the vehicle but the customers insurance would not cover it even with the signed agreement.  In one instance it was a DUI and the customer just paid for the repairs out of pocket but curious if you have any similar situations and if the customer's insurance actually covered it?

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Never had one breakdown. We are pretty vigelant about maintenance, keeping them clean, and inspecting them between each use. While this does not eliminate the possibility of problems, it greatly reduces them. We have had a few check engine lights and one Customer mentioned that one of the cars seemed very sluggish. It turned out to be a fuel pressure sensor. I do have BG on the road cards in each car and NAPA road side assistance cards in each car, just in case.  

We do have a large decal/wrap across the top of the back window. And small ones on the side glass. You can't miss them, but almost a year of having the loaners and not one call because of them.

Knock on wood, so far no damage other than a scratch or two. Hope I am not jinxing myself. Right now I have full coverage on all the cars. I was surprised to find out it was less than $200 a year more for full coverage. I think right around $160. When I started this, while I would prefer not to loose a car, I figured there is a chance it will happen at some point. I accepted that as part of the costs. Loosing an engine or transmission might be more costly.

Obviously, there are risks. Not sure if it is more or less risk then any of us take every day. Your mechanic can forget to tighten the drain plug, leave an important part loose or off. The master cylinder he installed could be faulty and fail causing an accident. That is why we have insurance, and you can minimize your risks with the loaners the same way. 

If anything changes with our loaner situation, I'll try to post an update here.

Scott

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One thing I haven't seen anyone mention about loaner vehicles is that, as a shop owner, you should be taking full advantage of having a loan car fleet personally. My company has three loaner cars, but I don't own a car. I also don't pay car insurance, but the company does. I also don't have car repair bills, maintenance, or fuel expenses, but my company does. Just thought I'd throw that out there

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