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So I had a customer drop a wrecked bike off at the shop because his insurance needs an estimate of damages written up. The bike is obviously totalled, but I went ahead and wrote up the estimate anyways. I've never had to deal with this before, how do I go about/what are the rules regarding charging storage to the insurance company for the motorcycle?
Thanks in advance.
We current have an and use a hand held Interstate Battery Charging system tester with printer. We also have an use an older Vat-45. Our Interstate tester is leased and I am thinking about buying a tester. What do you guys like an use and what do you recommend. I want something hand held with a printer.
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....
By Joe Marconi
I was at a TECH NET meeting the other night and a discussion started on charging extra for mounting and balance new tires with TPMS. I was a little surprised to find that most shops don’t charge extra because they don’t rebuild the sensor by replacing the seal, core, retainer nut and cap. Most just let the air out, dismount and mount tire, put the core back in and that’s it. They claim that is only causes more issues and they can't charge for it becuase it adds too much more to the tire sale.
I stock most of the TPMS kits and remove the sensor, replace the seal, the core and the cap when we sell a set of tires. I feel it’s the right way to do the job. We explain to the customer beforehand about the TPMS and also inform them that sometimes the sensors may need to be replaced if the core or retaining cap is seized.
What are you doing in your shop?
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I've detailed on posts before about declining hours billed over the years. Brief summary: From 1979 to 2008 every year was a record year. From the late 80s thru 2008 we always billed around 97% of our 3 techs hours [avg 6150/6350 hrs/yr]. Didn't matter recessions or whatever we were never more than 50 hrs off those numbers. The recession hit and our numbers started to decline around 3% a year. We did have a few up years, but also a year or 2 when the hours took a 8-10% hit. From 2008, our last "good year" to 2015 we saw our hours billed drop 25% to 4610/6348 or 73% productivity. So for 8 years I've been looking at the numbers from every angle and kept coming back to my theory that it was all due to the recession and slow recovery, consumer confidence, etc. But I think I have been ignoring the elephant in the room. For the first 25 years or so in business, I always had the biggest shop in our little town. Started with 3 bays in 79 and grew it to 12 bays in my old shop. In 2006 we sold the land the old shop was on and built a new shop again with 12 bays. Prior to 2006 our town of about 15k population had by my estimate 40-45 bays in town so I accounted for 25% of that. Then there was a change that I have been ignoring when analyzing my business. Prior to that time we had no car dealers in town. We now have 5. Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Honda and VW all within a 1/2 mile of my shop. So in our little town we have gone from 40-45 bays to easily double that. Being "old school" I just never considered them my competition. I now think I was in error. So what to do? Last year my very first employee retired to run a non automotive home business. Wished him well, told him to keep his key in case he ever needs to use the shop. I mean after 37 years he's like a brother. So now I'm trying to see if we can make it with the remaining 2 full service techs, 2 tire techs, 2 service advisers and myself. Because I pay my techs minimums no matter how slow we get, I've had a big savings in wages. I've been able to cut expenses in other places as well. Plus we upped out labor rate from $95 to $100 per hour. We're still making money, not as much as before but it just feels better without techs standing around. Maybe I'm getting lazy in my old age. Anyway, I just think we have over capacity in our town at this point that will hopefully get better as town grows, which it is. Thoughts?.
I am new to the service side of the retail auto industry having worked in sales for 5 years. I am now the mechanical department manager of a Carstar collision repair shop. In addition to the usual insurance work, I am starting to take on more customer pay repairs. An issue I keep running into is that because I am located in Canada (South Ontario not far from Detroit) many of the vehicles we work on are severely rusted underneath and many bolts have siezed in place. Many require torches, cutting, drilling, and other unusual disassembly of adjacent components to remove. For example right now I am having a starter replaced on a caravan, and the lower engine mount needs to be removed but is siezed. We needed to apply heat but because it is so close to the rad fan shroud, ended up having to remove the shroud and other items nearby just to attempt to heat and remove the bolt. This ultimately didn't work, and we are now cutting it and drilling it out. Often times using heat causes damage to components. We needed to use heat to cut into a suspension knuckle to remove it after it was damaged from a curb, and ended up destroying a wheel bearing. Abs sensors also commonly need to be snapped off and drilled out because they are just so fused in place. Obviously this gets expensive.
This happens all the time, and as a result the times I am using from shopkey pro and mitchell are not reflective of how long these jobs actually take. On one hand I don't feel it is fair to the customer to charge 2.6 hours for the starter replacement, and another 3 hours to attempting multiple ways to get a bolt out, heating, removing adjacent components, fan shroud R+I... turning a 2.6 hour job into 5.6 hours. On the other hand I understand that this is just the reality of working on vehicles older than a couple years in this part of the country and the customer should be paying for it.
What would you consider standard practice in this situation? I don't want to be eating all this extra time, but I also don't want to have to charge customer hours upon hours additionally because we have to figure out how to unsieze everything.