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Let me start off by asking you a very important but very quick question: what BS story are you telling yourself? Let me repeat that: What BS story are you telling yourself? We all have these stories and shop owner excuses that we keep telling ourselves that we think are true, that when you really look at it, they're really utter bullshit, but we've been telling ourselves the same story over and over that we actually believe it's true.

Case in point, now if you've ever been on one of my live webinars, you know that because I'm live, I can have a conversation with some of the people that are on the webinar. The other night, a gentleman was complaining about car count. He said because cars are made better (another thing I hear A LOT), there are no cars out there and there's a lack of car count, and that's a big problem.

I took that as an opportunity to tell him what I've probably told you before, if you've been watching these videos, that I don't believe that there's a car count problem out there at all because in every city all over the United States, all over Canada, there are cars sitting on lifts right now in your own town, dozens, maybe even hundreds of them, every single day that are being repaired and maintained by other shops, other shops collectively, but on any given day, there are tons of opportunities to repair cars. The problem is they're just in somebody else's shop, they're not in yours.

It's not a lack of cars out there to be repaired, there's just a lack of cars in your auto repair shop. It's a marketing problem, it's not a problem caused by cars being made better. Now I've told that story before. In case this is the very first time you've heard that, please believe me it is a marketing problem, not cars are made better. That's the reason why you don't have enough cars. Now we're past that.

Because I can go back and forth with them, I told that same story. He'd so believed that it was a problem that he wasn't able to fix, that he told me about the shop owner that was less than a mile away from his shop that said the very same thing, that his shop was down with cars as well. I guess the two of them got together and commiserated about the car count being down, and now both of them believe that there's a car count problem out there. That's an example of the BS story we keep telling ourselves that simply isn't true.

I want you to go back and think of all the things you say on a daily basis, maybe, "I can't find good techs," or, "There are no good techs out there anymore." There are good techs out there, they're just not working for you. What you look for, you're going to find. It's just the truth. Let me give you an example, and this is a story I've told my clients over and over. It's a great example of what you look for, you will see in abundance right there in front of you.

A few years back, we bought a beach condo down in Florida. We thought it'd be fun to have a Jeep, to be on the beach, and just the perfect car to have down there. I never owned a Jeep before, but guess what? As soon as I decided I was going to buy a Jeep, I saw Jeeps everywhere, all shapes and sizes and colors driving everywhere. I've been seeing them every single day go by, but I didn't see them until I decided I want to buy a Jeep.

Did everybody all of a sudden go out and buy a Jeep when I decided? No. It's because I was looking for Jeeps, all of a sudden I saw them. There was an abundance of Jeeps driving by me every single day. I just didn't notice them because I wasn't looking for it.

Then I decided I was going to buy a blue Jeep. You guessed it; pretty soon everybody was driving a blue Jeep. There were blue Jeeps everywhere. Everybody didn't go out and decide that they're going to buy a Jeep, and then they didn't decide if they're going to buy a blue Jeep. It's just I started focusing on it and I started finding exactly what I'm focusing on.

If you're saying that there are no good techs out there, you're going to focus on all the bad hires that you've had, you're going to focus on all the bad interviews you've been on, and you're going to say, "See? I told you so. There are no good techs out there." The same thing with your car count.

If you're going to constantly complain and look at the lack of cars that are out there in your own shop, you're going to keep seeing the same problem over and over and over. It's going to become etched in your mind. It's going to be a BS story, but if you start looking around, start driving around and realize there are dozens, if not hundreds, of cars sitting on lifts every single day in other people's shops and not in your shop, you'll realize you have a marketing problem and you'll start to tackle the big problem that you have right there.

I hope this helps. Go and think of all those things that you tell yourself so often that it's now etched in stone and it's true, and see if you could find the opposite. I guarantee you'll find it everywhere. Thanks for watching. Oh, by the way, I really appreciate all the comments. 

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Little doubt that the guy in the mirror causes most of his own problems. I agree whole heatedly with what's been said here with one clarification. As long as this statement "It's a marketing problem" includes the fact that our internal process's are the primary form of marketing we do, then AMEN. No post card, facebook post, radio commercial, social media campaign, ect, ect, ect will have any long term effect if we can't keep the customers it drives to our doors. Maybe we should practice some gorilla leadership while we are  concentrating on gorilla marketing.

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"it's not a problem caused by cars being made better". 

Talk about BS. The changes in cars and their recommended service intervals is indeed a major cause of the decreased car count we are seeing. Take a car from 20+ years ago. Then, just consider 3 services LOFs, park plugs, coolant]  and their recommended intervals. Those older cars would have close to 40 intervals recommended during it's 1st 100k miles on just those 3 items. On today's cars it would be around 14. You can't look at those numbers and say that it doesn't make a difference.  Are there cars getting repaired in the shop down the road? Sure, just not as many. Most shop owners I know are no where near as busy as they were 10 years ago. And that's if they are still in business. Another friend who owned a shop in the town near me for 25+years just stopped in an last week and told me he closed his doors. As I've outline on this forum before, I've been in business for 38 years this Nov. For the 1st 30 years we were always busy. With 3 techs we would consistently bill 6050 hrs out of 6300 hrs [96%]. About 8 years ago we started to see a decline which continued thru 2015 when we billed 4600 out of 6300 hrs [73%]. In early 2016 my 1st employee from 1979 retired and I elected not to replace him. We are now back up to consistently billing 90+% of our hours with 2 techs. We have also raised our prices so that we are not too far off profit wise from where we were with 3 techs at 73%. And consider this. Since those "golden" years, we have a beautiful new shop, a great website, a CRM program thru mechanicnet. I could go on and on. We are definitely not sitting on past laurels. We are moving forward and using new tools to grow our business. But it's just not what it was 10+ years ago and the quality of the vehicles and the extended service intervals are a major part of the problem. 

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On 8/1/2017 at 8:53 AM, tyrguy said:

"it's not a problem caused by cars being made better". 

Talk about BS. The changes in cars and their recommended service intervals is indeed a major cause of the decreased car count we are seeing. Take a car from 20+ years ago. Then, just consider 3 services LOFs, park plugs, coolant]  and their recommended intervals. Those older cars would have close to 40 intervals recommended during it's 1st 100k miles on just those 3 items. On today's cars it would be around 14. You can't look at those numbers and say that it doesn't make a difference.  Are there cars getting repaired in the shop down the road? Sure, just not as many. Most shop owners I know are no where near as busy as they were 10 years ago. And that's if they are still in business. Another friend who owned a shop in the town near me for 25+years just stopped in an last week and told me he closed his doors. As I've outline on this forum before, I've been in business for 38 years this Nov. For the 1st 30 years we were always busy. With 3 techs we would consistently bill 6050 hrs out of 6300 hrs [96%]. About 8 years ago we started to see a decline which continued thru 2015 when we billed 4600 out of 6300 hrs [73%]. In early 2016 my 1st employee from 1979 retired and I elected not to replace him. We are now back up to consistently billing 90+% of our hours with 2 techs. We have also raised our prices so that we are not too far off profit wise from where we were with 3 techs at 73%. And consider this. Since those "golden" years, we have a beautiful new shop, a great website, a CRM program thru mechanicnet. I could go on and on. We are definitely not sitting on past laurels. We are moving forward and using new tools to grow our business. But it's just not what it was 10+ years ago and the quality of the vehicles and the extended service intervals are a major part of the problem. 

Tyrguy, 

I’m with you. People claiming that better made cars are not negatively affecting our car counts and sales are either ignorant or full of it. In fact, I think it is one of the biggest challenges we face. Ron seems to be all over the place on this. In this post he claims there is no car count problem. In one of his previous post, he started with the same argument that car count is not down because of more reliable cars. Then in a response to that post he listed numerous reasons why car counts are down. So I'm no longer sure what he really believes. I'm a strong advocate for taking personal responsibility, not creating excuse, or blaming. However, sometimes our challenges do NOT come from the man in the mirror. It is however our choice how we respond to those challenges. I personally prefer action over denial.    

Scott

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"My point is this: Rather than accept the 'facts', find a way to fix the problem that ails you".

We accept those facts because we are out here everyday in the trenches and we know them to be true. And anyone who doesn't believe that the newer cars and the way they are built is contributing to decreased car count has their head in the sand. I have yet to meet a shop owner who does not believe that to be a fact.

However, just because we believe it to be true doesn't mean we're going to throw our hands up and give up trying to get better everyday.

The whole problem with this topic was when you posted "We all have these stories and shop owner excuses that we keep telling ourselves that we think are true, that when you really look at it, they're really utter bullshit, but we've been telling ourselves the same story over and over that we actually believe it's true."

Well I'm here to tell you it ain't bullshit.

 

 

 

 

 

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You obviously don't read the posts you're responding to.

I do believe that there are ways to increase our car count and we are working on those everyday.

The problem I have with your comments is that:

#1 You can't admit that the construction of newer cars has decreased the service needs of those cars. Just say it "yes I believe that to be true, however...."

#2 This "problem" can be solved quickly.

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"tyrguy, I don't believe I've ever said the construction of newer cars has decreased the service needs of those cars."

That's exactly right!!!! Not only have you never said it, you won't even admit that it's a fact.

May I suggest again that  YOU CAREFULLY READ  POSTS BEFORE RESPONDING TO THEM.

And again as to your comment about solving the car count problem "quickly"....spoken like a true salesman.

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I'm marketing to the public, to area businesses, to the community. Some days it seems to work well other days it seems to be pointless and expensive. I really come on these forums to learn more from shop owners like myself. But what I'm seeing more and more of is consultants looking for gigs. Guys telling me marketing will improve car count. But when it comes to nut cutting time the marketing service providers don't guarantee anything and you'll have mixed results. The challenge is finding the right marketing and that cheese is always on the move. 

Car counts are softer just about everywhere. There are factors in play that may or may not be unique to each of us. We live in uncertain times and despite the economic indicators we are fed from the government and media people are finding it difficult to pay for automotive repairs. So why not market to people with money? Some with money have cars with manufacturer warranties and must see the selling dealer but in the end there's plenty of cars to keep us all busy for what we need to be successful. I share many owner's frustrations with calls and visits that end up declined because they can't afford it and can't obtain credit. If I had a dollar for every phone shopper who won't come in and have me verify the price estimate I wouldn't need to work so hard. 

I'd love to see a consultant (of which I've hired one from these forums to very average results) who can deliver what they promise and that person wouldn't need to be here soft-selling. They would have more referrals than they could handle.  A marketing talent for hire is worth his weight in gold (or golf). But marketing is trial and error with change required often. It's guessing what will work. Cheap oil changes? Free tires? Free inspections? Promises of warranty and a pleasant experience? All part of it. I used to think my car count, which is down from 2014, was my problem. No, the problem was my staff practices of fully inspecting, finding issues, and communicating with customers. I've jumped my ROA nearly 20% and my margins by 5%. That adds up. I still need more cars but I don't need the car that's worth $500 who comes in for an $800 issue. If he/she could afford to fix that kind of repair they probably wouldn't be driving such a car in the first place. 

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3 hours ago, 3PuttFever said:

I really come on these forums to learn more from shop owners like myself. But what I'm seeing more and more of is consultants looking for gigs.

It's funny. I see that too and I font it quite annoying when some consultant adds their 2 cents and then relentlessly pushes their services. Most consultants were not terribly successful and probably why they are fishing for consulting gigs. Much easier to tell you how to do it than doing it themselves. Again, most of them come out and tell you they are some sort of car count expert. The problem is THEY dont have to deal with the people they showed you how to attract. Nobody in their right mind wants to expend their energy and time trying to cater to someone who does not value it. Then the gurus say stuff lie just inspect it and sell....right to the bank!! HA! Cheap MF's are always going to be cheap MF's. You might get lucky and upsell something once in a while but you are not creating relationships.

I am not a consultant, I AM a shop owner who opens and closes the door everyday and like others here, I believe myself to be quite successful but that success came from quite a bit of work and 30 years of effort. There is no one place or one post that will solve your car count issue. There is nothing that will fix it overnight. A consistent effort in both conquest and retention marketing is required. Consistency and continuous improved service is required. If you settle for good enough it will never be good enough. You also need to decide what you are and to who you are that to. You cant be a discounter and a high level service company. You cant put out coupons for everything and then say your the best.

My advice. Poll the top 20% of your customers and figure out what draws them to you. Then market to conquest with those attributes. If they love 12.95 oil changes..I see a lot of pain. But I bet they dont come to you for that.

advice 2: I have found a 20 group to be the best coaching out there. I would suggest looking into one.

 

Edited by Wheelingauto
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New cars require less service..yes I agree. But there are fewer shops with fewer techs and more cars on the road than ever before. And seems I read somewhere the avg. age of the car on the road today is over 11 years. That makes them a 2006 model? Yea those are needing something done. Just gotta get em in the door!!

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On 9/25/2017 at 6:55 PM, Wheelingauto said:

I font it quite annoying when some consultant adds their 2 cents and then relentlessly pushes their services.

Look, I agree with 3PuttFever and Wheelingauto about seeing too many 'consultants' pushing their services here. Heck, you may want to even put me into that group too, however I would vehemently disagree that I push my services here.

Do I have an agenda? Of course I do. Do I have a definite opinion when it comes to the right way to market your shop? Yup! Do I have the chops to back it up? Well, if 20+ years of sole focus on repair shop marketing qualifies me to have some sort of expert status, then... yes indeed.

However I prefer to pull those interested in my expertise to me rather than push my services or products upon them.

If you need help with car count, check out any one of the 120+ daily videos that I have for free on my Captain Car Count site: http://www.captaincarcount.com/auto-repair-marketing-blog/

What you'll find are 118 episodes with pure content (aka no sales pitches), and only a handful of invites to various webinars where my services or products were offered.

For those that like what they see, they contact me. For those that don't, well...they either go off to find another source of help, or let me know how wrong I am ;-)

On 9/25/2017 at 2:58 PM, 3PuttFever said:

But when it comes to nut cutting time the marketing service providers don't guarantee anything and you'll have mixed results

Again, let's not lump everyone together. Here is the guarantee that I offer on my latest marketing course: 

If you’re not absolutely blown away with everything in this program and don’t feel that it’s everything I promised… in fact, if you don’t feel that it’ll make you at least 20X more than you paid for it — let me know within 90 days, and I’ll issue you a quick and immediate refund, no questions asked!

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Again, let's not lump everyone together. Here is the guarantee that I offer on my latest marketing course: 
If you’re not absolutely blown away with everything in this program and don’t feel that it’s everything I promised… in fact, if you don’t feel that it’ll make you at least 20X more than you paid for it — let me know within 90 days, and I’ll issue you a quick and immediate refund, no questions asked!

90 Days? I’m going to check out your videos to see what this is all about.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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On 9/25/2017 at 6:55 PM, Wheelingauto said:

It's funny. I see that too and I font it quite annoying when some consultant adds their 2 cents and then relentlessly pushes their services. Most consultants were not terribly successful and probably why they are fishing for consulting gigs. Much easier to tell you how to do it than doing it themselves. Again, most of them come out and tell you they are some sort of car count expert. The problem is THEY dont have to deal with the people they showed you how to attract. Nobody in their right mind wants to expend their energy and time trying to cater to someone who does not value it. Then the gurus say stuff lie just inspect it and sell....right to the bank!! HA! Cheap MF's are always going to be cheap MF's. You might get lucky and upsell something once in a while but you are not creating relationships.

I am not a consultant, I AM a shop owner who opens and closes the door everyday and like others here, I believe myself to be quite successful but that success came from quite a bit of work and 30 years of effort. There is no one place or one post that will solve your car count issue. There is nothing that will fix it overnight. A consistent effort in both conquest and retention marketing is required. Consistency and continuous improved service is required. If you settle for good enough it will never be good enough. You also need to decide what you are and to who you are that to. You cant be a discounter and a high level service company. You cant put out coupons for everything and then say your the best.

My advice. Poll the top 20% of your customers and figure out what draws them to you. Then market to conquest with those attributes. If they love 12.95 oil changes..I see a lot of pain. But I bet they dont come to you for that.

advice 2: I have found a 20 group to be the best coaching out there. I would suggest looking into one.

 

It's funny, when I first saw the post saying "what I'm seeing more and more of is consultants looking for gigs", the first person that came to my mind is Ron, now he back on this thread, not realizing he is on top of the list.

Scott

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Scott, thanks for confirming my suspicions that no matter what I do or say, you're going to find something within it take issue.. It's been amusing to see it happen every time it does.

All you need to do is look at all of the content that I have contributed in this forum to see that I am providing a lot of value. Less than a handful of posts have been to invite folks to free webinars where I also provide a lot of useful content.

What you focus on, you will find. You are focusing on the tiny minority of times where I have promoted my services (of which, as a paid sponsor of this forum, is within my rights to do), and have all but ignored the dozens of posts where I have not. If you'd focus on the contributions instead, you'd see an entirely different picture.

BTW, I'll be waiting on pins and needles for your reply ;-)

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On 9/25/2017 at 2:58 PM, 3PuttFever said:

I'm marketing to the public, to area businesses, to the community. Some days it seems to work well other days it seems to be pointless and expensive. I really come on these forums to learn more from shop owners like myself. But what I'm seeing more and more of is consultants looking for gigs. Guys telling me marketing will improve car count. But when it comes to nut cutting time the marketing service providers don't guarantee anything and you'll have mixed results. The challenge is finding the right marketing and that cheese is always on the move. 

I really enjoyed reading your post, you echo many of my own sentiments.

Regarding marketing, I agree with you that is an effort in frustration. I have taken the long hard road and have learned many things, some that have worked really well and others that have failed miserably.

Regarding this forum, like you, I came here looking for others with similar like experience and to see if we could share experiences and ideas, suddenly it became obvious to me that none of us with a lot of experience and financial success could share anything substantive without putting our interests in jeopardy, that's why I think you will not find anything deeper than a casual or superficial treatment of any topic by the most senior people. That's why a 20 group may be a better fit for someone that is looking for a deeper perspective on the subjects than the forum.
 

 

On 9/25/2017 at 2:58 PM, 3PuttFever said:

Car counts are softer just about everywhere. There are factors in play that may or may not be unique to each of us. We live in uncertain times and despite the economic indicators we are fed from the government and media people are finding it difficult to pay for automotive repairs. So why not market to people with money? Some with money have cars with manufacturer warranties and must see the selling dealer but in the end there's plenty of cars to keep us all busy for what we need to be successful. I share many owner's frustrations with calls and visits that end up declined because they can't afford it and can't obtain credit. If I had a dollar for every phone shopper who won't come in and have me verify the price estimate I wouldn't need to work so hard. 

I'd love to see a consultant (of which I've hired one from these forums to very average results) who can deliver what they promise and that person wouldn't need to be here soft-selling. They would have more referrals than they could handle.  A marketing talent for hire is worth his weight in gold (or golf). But marketing is trial and error with change required often. It's guessing what will work. Cheap oil changes? Free tires? Free inspections? Promises of warranty and a pleasant experience? All part of it. I used to think my car count, which is down from 2014, was my problem. No, the problem was my staff practices of fully inspecting, finding issues, and communicating with customers. I've jumped my ROA nearly 20% and my margins by 5%. That adds up. I still need more cars but I don't need the car that's worth $500 who comes in for an $800 issue. If he/she could afford to fix that kind of repair they probably wouldn't be driving such a car in the first place. 

Going back to the marketing topic, logically we think that marketing should increase car count. But would you believe that I spent $20,000 on a EDDM campaign that did not produce a single lead? I can't tell you why it failed, except the suspicion that the postal service never delivered my pieces. I have no proof, but that is my suspicion simply because I had 5,000 pieces re-printed and had them delivered by my own team over a weekend, with the results being a 2.6% response rate(over 130 leads on 5K flyers).

On the other end of the spectrum, I have run campaigns that have had response rates closer to 30%! These have been customers that have been profiled and their pieces and offers carefully crafted and targeted for their particular vehicles. It is very important for you to know your customers financial profile in order to get the best return on your marketing dollar, there is no point in making offers to customers that cannot afford your services no matter how much they like you and are willing to use you except that they cannot afford to use your services.

As for the consultants here looking for gigs, well, my opinion is that if you know that you need help then hire someone that can provide the help you need, and here is a logical place to find people that may be struggling with their shop. So what a better place to find a consultant than here? For if they are lousy and don't know what they are doing, their reputation would soon come to light.

 

 

 

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