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I had a couple of shops and sold out a while back and my weekly income was at least 4 times what I see the current franchising doing. Wondering what each of your bays is supposed to do per week?
I'll post the data collected once I gather everything and put it all together.
Sometimes I tell myself to look in the mirror!
So when you tell that guy that the his car is not safe to drive because the tires are worn down bald, and he tells you that they are perfectly safe, now you know how to classify him.
Lost and Found
How many times have you finished a job, watched the car drive off, and then started cleaning up your tools only to realize you’ve misplaced something? You’re pretty sure, but not completely sure the missing tool is under the hood or in the interior of the car that just drove off. If you’re lucky, you can call the customer and ask if they’ve found your missing tool. But, there are those occasions when a phone call or a complete search of the shop doesn’t yield any sign of the wandering tool. For the most part you can put that tool down as gone for good, lost to that place where wayward nuts, bolts, tools, and my arrant golf ball shots always end up. Yea, we all know that place, the “Lost and never to be found again!” place.
It’s not the only way I’ve lost tools in cars. There’s been many times some tool has gotten lodged in a hopeless retrieval area of the car. Like down between the fender and body line, or in some obscure area that would take hours just to get close enough to even see it again, let alone get it back. Once, while I was working under an old car the socket I was using popped off of the extension, and I watched it rattle around while banging off of one thing after another. It was spinning like a top by the time it made it to the flat surface of the center cross member where it then stood straight up, spun some more, and then like some cartoon character it vanished into a hole. The hole was not more than a thousandth of an inch bigger than the socket, but somehow it managed to fall so perfectly that it dropped straight in. And, of course, there was absolutely no way to get a magnet back down the hole because the oil pan was in the way, and no way to use an air nozzle to blow it to either end of the cross member, because both ends were welded shut. I never did get that socket back. So much for using a good socket on a cheap extension.
I’ve lost track of how much time I’ve wasted chasing down these elusive tools that like to play hide and seek. Not to mention the spattering of profanity that I’m sure to mutter while I’m trying to get an eyeball on some of these tools I’ve dropped down into unknown cavities of irretrievability. But, if you do get a glimpse of the stupid little gadget you dropped then it’s like playing the old “Operation” game to get the thing back out. I’ll use just about anything, including the extendable magnet wand or my long mechanic’s finger tool to slowly draw that &*$!* runaway tool back through the maze of hoses, wires, and other assorted engine parts.
Sometimes, it’s just the sound the nut, bolt, or tool makes while it’s playing pinball as it falls through the engine bay or behind the dash that gets you rolling your eyeballs in dismay. Now, everything else about the job has to come to a complete halt, while you go on the old tool safari to find it. Tools are too expensive to leave them to fend for themselves behind the dash or tucked in a corner of the engine bay. At the end of the day, they need to be with their other brothers and sisters in the tool box. Besides, the tool truck won’t be back until next week and that particular socket might have been the only one that would fit into the area of the car you were working on.
On the other hand, how many times have you found a tool that some other poor soul couldn’t find after dropping it down in the engine? I’ve found wrenches stuck between the exhaust manifold and the engine block and assorted sockets laying in the intake valley. Sometimes I wonder how some of these misplaced tools end up in such bizarre places. I mean seriously, what did ya need with a 4 foot pry bar behind the dash? And, how did you get it in there? I’ve found everything from cheap sockets to expensive micrometers buried in the depths of a car before. The thing is, if it wasn’t for doing some service work in that area of the car you’d probably never have known there was a brand new socket hiding.
Flashlights are a commonly misplaced tool. Many years ago, when my dad helped out at the shop, he would use a flashlight for practically everything. This particular afternoon he was installing a new window motor. Being Dad, he was very meticulous as always. Every snap, clip, and screw had to be put back in its exact spot. Every tool was carefully laid out on a towel on his work table and accounted for after the job was done. He was also one who took great pride in keeping track of every tool; he never lost a tool. Well, at least that’s what he used to tell me. But, that day the one thing he forgot to account for was his flashlight. The car was long gone and all his hand tools were back in place in his tool box before he realized he couldn’t find his flashlight. Since he had this reputation for surviving the loss of any type of tool, he wasn’t about to mention a thing to me about it.
A year later the same customer came back for some other repair work, and while he was there he asked my dad, “Oh, and if ya got a minute could ya look at that driver’s door for me? Every now and then I hear a rattle in there.” Of course, good old Dad was more than happy to oblige his friend and customer. And, of course, after all this time he had totally forgotten about his missing flashlight... which he still hadn’t mentioned to me. After removing the door panel, he found the rattle alright. It was his flashlight with the switch still on. Needless to say, his reputation for not losing a tool was still intact. Lucky guy.
I seldom get that lucky; usually when I lose a tool it’s gone for good. I do kind of feel lucky if I find a tool. It kinda-sorta evens things out a bit. Ya never know where a lost tool will show up. For instance, every once in a while I’ll be on a road call to rescue a stranded customer, and as I walk up to their car I’ll keep my eye out on the side of the road for anything shiny, such as a wrench or screwdriver. Occasionally I’ll find one. Hey, I know how they got there. It didn’t fall off of a tool truck, nope... it’s another lost tool from someone else’s repair. I’ll accept that in exchange for the last tool that I lost. Maybe one of these days I’ll get ahead of the curve and collect more than I lose. Just wish more people would lose the good stuff rather than those cheap overseas tools I seem to find most often.
Lose one-find one, it happens.
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By Elon Block
New announcement from Michelin. Looks like they're getting into the online game with a new and
different approach to making it easy for the customer to do business with them. There are a number
of interesting things in the website's FAQ's that caught my eye.
Even if you're not a tire dealer, this move is a game-changer, What are your thoughts on this?
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I have the hardest time understanding the ethics in this industry. It's like the auto repair industry has it's own set of ethics and expectations that are completely different than any other industry. It's absurd! Look at it:
1) Billing for 100% of Time - Lawyers do, doctors do, accountants do, plumbers do, phone companies do, and employees do...however, shops are supposed to stick to the estimate come hell or high water. Otherwise we are gouging or padding our time, or just adding random time. It's crazy! It's a double-standard that we allow to be placed on us.
2) Selling Only What Customers Need - People don't need 2 TVs, or 10 pairs of shoes, or bottled water, or Apple products, or bubble gum. Yet none of these industries are considered unethical for selling people something they don't need. Why are we unethical for selling people something they "don't need"? How did that happen? Don't go the wrong way with this...I'm not proposing telling people their car is broken when it isn't. I'm saying that right now our industry is in a position to bow to the customer any time they don't feel like the "need" a certain repair because they'll pull the unethical card on us.
3) Marking Up Parts - Why are we the only industry that is unethical for marking up things that we sell? Hardware stores do, restaurants do, plumbers do, Wal-mart does, O'Reilly's does. But for some reason, certain customers expect us to sell parts at our cost. Why not at O'Reilly's cost...or at Moog's cost? What is the ethical price? Is anyone allowed to make a profit selling parts? If so, who is and why only them? It's just crazy when I think about the unbelievable expectations people have for our industry.
Here's my theory for how we got into this position. When we are desperate for customers we'll do anything they want. And it's much easier and less risky (so we think) to give into them by knocking the price down than it is to spend time teaching them about what they just bought or are about to buy. There's so much focus on shop efficiency that we don't take the time to develop customer relationships and educate them about the benefits of buying from us.
It isn't a waste of time to teach customers about their car, to show them why we are proposing a certain repair, or to explain every item on the invoice. If we don't then people will continue to expect us to sell parts at cost, eat unexpected labor time, and not perform a proper repair all in the name of ethics.
We have to put a stop to this. Our industry generally isn't unethical (we have 7 shops in my town of 12,000 and only one is shady) but we accept that moniker. We don't have to. I certainly don't.
Does anybody else think the expectations on our industry are just plain stupid?