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 Elite Worldwide Inc.
By Bob Cooper
During difficult times like these it's important to look for creative ways to keep your shop's name in the minds of your community members. Here are 3 easy-to-implement tips that will help your shop build its brand recognition in today's climate.
1. If you have a shuttle or any type of vehicle that features the name of your shop, it's important to get that vehicle out in your community. There are plenty of charitable organizations you could partner with that may need delivery assistance, such as Meals on Wheels. You could also provide a shuttle service for local retirement homes and any other group that may need assistance getting around your community, or you could even deliver groceries or household items to these groups. Getting your business's name out there and helping your community will certainly help people remember your shop.
2. Host an online course for people who are currently stuck at home. One specific idea is to host an online car care clinic for new drivers, teaching them things like how to maintain a car, how to deal with a flat tire, how to read and use their car's owner manual, and other similar topics. Not only will this help them learn vital information, but it will give them an indoor activity to focus their attention on, which I'm sure their parents will thank you for.
3. Now more than ever, it's important to have the right attitude each day. This is crucial not only for your own well-being, but for the well-being of everyone around you. A positive outlook will permeate throughout your staff and your community, and show people the type of business you have; one that views each day as a new opportunity to build a wonderful life and a wonderful company.
For additional help building a more successful auto repair business, feel free to give us a call at 800-204-3548 or visit the Elite website.
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Hi guys, first time posting to the forums.
I am a new shop owner, recently purchased an A/C machine.
Do you guys have standard pricing you follow? Pricing for leak checks, price per pound of refrigerant, top up if required? Let me know your A/C pricing matrix. Thanks so much for the help!
Is your business down 40 or 50% like many on this forum? If so, I have an idea to help a bit now, but especially in the future. And even help the impression of our industry.
You probably have more time available to spend with your customers. It’s the perfect time to build or cement a great relationship, to create that illusive trust with your customer, that’s mentioned in just about every trade magazine, but they never tell you how. May I suggest “The How” that I’ve been using for years? This will be handy now and in the future when this is over.
Learn more about your customers. Become “friends.” Talk about everything: the lousy situation we’re in, ask about their job, their kids, their past vacation, their future vacations, their weekend jaunts. Exchange good news. Exchange not-so-good news. Listen. Talk about what comes up.
I treat our customers like friends, like former high school friends. And these friends know we have to make a profit (EVERYBODY knows that!)
For me, it’s a given that we’re going to take care of their car. If they tell me their dad just went into the hospital or nursing home, we’re done talking about their car. I ask, “How’s dad?”
But still do your (digital) inspections. And write down everything, even the stuff that can wait six to nine months. This may affect the service writer or shop’s approval percentage, but so what! Your percentage will be lower, but you will do more work on the car this way. (Notice that I didn’t say you would sell more work. I don’t “sell.”) No decision now on the future stuff, it can wait.
If their car came in with a problem, this is what will fix it (there’s no selling: this is the solution). I point out the other thing that needs attention now. There will be some explanation, but no selling: it needs it. No decision for the customer, actually. Their car needs it.
Next I say, “Here are the things that can wait six to nine months, but I want you to be aware so there are fewer surprises.” No selling, no decisions on their part. Plus, I’m the trustworthy guy who’s telling them they don’t need everything now.
“Now let’s come up with a plan for these other things I found about your car.” I’m explaining, not selling. “You can do these now or in two or three months.” NOBODY wants to come back in two or three months so they are leaning in that direction, but no pressure from you. They will probably ask; “What would you do?” I say, “If you hate bringing your car in, do it now.” (this is where you would bring in a little value, benefits and safety) Again, not selling, suggesting; letting them make the decision. Notice that the first two issues didn’t involve them making a dreaded decision: It needs this, doesn’t need that.
If your inspection has 5 things, they will do 2 to 4. If the inspection has 8 things, they will do 3 to 5 – with no selling. You are their friend, you are advising. List everything!
Now think about that phone call. There is only a little selling value or benefits: maybe some safety. So there’s no pressure on you, no bad news. You are the car detective, reading the cars clues and helping your friend thru this.
When you take care of the customer in this fashion, you come from a place of trust, like taking care of a high school friend.
You will be happier because that call back won’t be stressful, you will have more work, and they are more likely to refer your trustworthy, easy-to-work-with shop, which means even more work.
Has the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impacted your auto shop business? If it hasn't yet, it has the potential to do so soon. Please share what you are currently doing, how your business is impacted, what plans you have in place, etc.
Some things to consider:
Do you have a plan in place should you or one of your employees become ill? With school, event, and business closures, how will this affect your shop? Are you sending anything to your customers in terms of sharing your plans around keeping your customer and employees healthy and doing your part in your community? Many small and large businesses have been sending email communications to their customers. Are you marketing to your customers in terms of not delaying car repair, should there be a need to temporarily close? Are your parts suppliers sharing their plans, should the pandemic affect supply chains? Are you stocking up on business and shop necessities? Please share your experience in this topic and stay healthy!
In the media:
The coronavirus and its growing tally of sick and dead victims around the world have been roiling financial markets, prompting countless hand-washing reminders and ruining more than a few vacations, and that’s before anyone knows exactly how widespread the effect will be on the automotive industry, including your local repair shop. Source
“By mid-March, the shortage of supplies will be felt and members are projecting they’ll experience disruption through May or June,” even if operations in China soon get back to normal, said Stacey Miller, senior director of communications at the Auto Care Association, a trade group representing 150,000 auto aftermarket and service businesses. Source
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Hope this helps!
"The Car Count Fixer"
By Joe Marconi
Usually the winter drops off in sales, but along with car counts. This year is different. Customers seem consumed with debt and worried about thier finances, and putting off needed vehicle maintenance. Not good. In the long run this leads to breakdowns and larger repair bills.
By Joe Marconi
Got your attention? Good!
Take it from me, a shop owner for 40 years; before you invest a dime on advertising, get your internal marketing in order....in other words...get your house in order.
No amount of advertising or marketing means more than what you do each and every day. And that is creating an amazing customer experience that gives your customers a compelling reason to return.
Make sure that each customer contact point creates a positive experience. The phone call, the drive up to your shop, the parking lot, the customer write-up, the upsell, the car delivery and every other point of contact with the customer.
These things I speak of means more than any money you spend on advertising. So, before you spend that dime, get your house in order. And remember, everyone in your shop is an important part of your marketing strategy!
By Joe Marconi
We all survive by and need healthy car counts. That's a given. But all too often I see auto repair shops with "steady" but not "growing" car counts, but with new customers coming in each week.
So, the question is, "If a shop has steady car counts and has new customers each week, then why are car counts not growing?"
This is a topic that's complicated for a post but here are a few things to consider:
Is your marketing attracting the right customer that matches your key profile customer? If not, the wrong customer may be a one-timer and that does not help your car count. Or, if you are promoting too much discounting, you may be attracting the wrong customer, and that's not a long-term strategy either. Are you making every effort to WOW all new customers and create an amazing experience that gives the new customer a compelling reason to return? All too often we are too transactional and don't spend enough time establishing relationships. Make every effort to spend time with each customer and ESPECIALLY with first time customers. Its the relationship not salesmanship that builds a company! Are you booking your customer’s next vehicle appointment? Please don’t tell me this does not work. It does! Hairdressers do it, doctors do it, dentists do it, nail salons do it. My chimney cleaning service company evens books the next chimney cleaning! If you are not booking your customer’s next visit, trust me, someone else will. I hope this makes sense. What are your thoughts?