By Joe Marconi
Due to COVID-19, many repair shops experienced a severe economic downturn, some with a drop in sales over 50%. Without a strong cash reserve and/or SBA funding help, many shops would have gone under.
My 40 years as a shop owner has taught me to always have a cash reserve. However, never would I have ever imagined a downturn like the one with COVID-19.
So, how do we plan for the next financial crisis. And, it will happen. Perhaps not as bad as the the virus crisis, but it will happen.
Here are a few things to consider: Have a separate, and hard to access, cash reserve bank account that has least two months of expenses. Also, secure a line of credit for at least one to two months of expenses. Also, know your numbers, keep payroll in line, and make sure your prices are fair to you too, not just your customers. Keep in good standing with all your vendors and keep your credit score high!
The bottom line here, is truly the bottom line. To weather the next financial downturn, you need a strong balance sheet and net profit to the bottom line.
What other strategies are you considering or implementing?
By Joe Marconi
As part of our debt reduction, I revamped all of our usual marketing and advertising and put those dollars into customer service and social media. For example, we ramped up our shuttle pickup and delivery service, extended our hours of service, made sure we spend a lot of time with each customer and made sure we called as many customers as possible. We also stepped up our meet and greet process and made sure will followed up with customer after the repair. Lastly, we increased our social media posts and increases ads and boosting. This has made a huge impact on our customer and already starting to pay dividends.
What changes have you made to your marketing strategy since the Virus Crisis hit?
By Joe Marconi
I know none of us wants to hear this, but there will be a next crisis of some sort. I have lived through many downturns in my 40 years in business, the COVID-19 was the worst. But, out of every crisis comes lessons to be learned. So create your Crisis Plan today.
Start by understanding your numbers and knowing your breakeven. Then add to your breakeven a percentage of profit you want to earn. Equally important is creating a cash reserve in a dedicated bank account that will be used only in a severe emergency. Set your financial goals and stick to them!
Often overlook is your staff. Assemble the best team around you. This is a crucial part to ensure your future business sucess.
Lower your debt, get your credit rating up and maintain a good standing with all vendors. Lastly, talk to your bank about a line of credit that can remain inactive until you need to use it.
What other key things can we all share to help us through the next crisis?
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. & RALEIGH, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- As NASCAR Weekly Series sanctioned events begin to return at select tracks across North America, NASCAR and Advance Auto Parts (NYSE: AAP), a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider, today announced a multiyear official partnership, designating Advance as the series entitlement sponsor. As part of the agreement, Advance also becomes the “Official Auto Parts Retailer of NASCAR.”
This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200610005058/en/
"It's great to have Advance join us in welcoming the return of NASCAR-sanctioned grassroots racing," said Ben Kennedy, vice president, racing development, NASCAR. "Advance’s commitment to our Weekly Series will develop some of the brightest NASCAR talent across North America. Advance has a long history in racing, and we’re thrilled to see its expanded presence from the grassroots all the way through our national series.”
The NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series is one of the oldest series in NASCAR, where champions are crowned at NASCAR-sanctioned Home Tracks. The NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series was paused in mid-March due to COVID-19 and recently returned with sanctioned events at select tracks beginning June 6.
The series is run at nearly 60 NASCAR-sanctioned Home Tracks throughout the United States and Canada. NASCAR Home Tracks are a group of local short tracks sanctioned by NASCAR.
“Drivers and race fans in North America have not been able to attend their local tracks due to COVID-19. We are excited to be partnering with NASCAR and the NASCAR Weekly Series to support tracks, drivers and fans as they resume live racing this year,” said Jason McDonell, Advance’s chief marketing officer. “We are committed to helping our customers advance in our stores, online and with this multiyear partnership with NASCAR. We are passionate about advancing local communities where we serve, and through this sponsorship we’ll be able to help grow racing at the grassroots level while supporting the next generation of champions.”
Race fans can catch select NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series races live and on-demand via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold, the new streaming service from NASCAR and NBC Sports. NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series races are part of the NASCAR Roots package for $2.99/month or $19.99/annually. The full TrackPass package, which includes NASCAR Roots, IMSA and American Flat Track events is available for $4.99/month or $44.99/year. TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold will be available on desktop web browsers and via the NBC Sports app on iOS and Android phones and tablets, Apple TV (Gen 4), Roku, Amazon Fire TV, AndroidTV, Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex and Chromecast devices connected via HDMI.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), one local grassroots series and three international series. The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).
About Advance Auto Parts
Advance Auto Parts, Inc., is a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider that serves both professional installer and do-it-yourself customers. As of April 18, 2020, Advance operated 4,843 stores and 168 Worldpac branches in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Company also serves 1,258 independently owned Carquest branded stores across these locations in addition to Mexico, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and British Virgin Islands. Additional information about Advance, including employment opportunities, customer services and online shopping for parts, accessories, and other offerings can be found at www.AdvanceAutoParts.com.
View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200610005058/en/
T: (919) 227-5466
E: [email protected]
T: (984) 389-7207
E: [email protected]
Source: Advance Auto Parts, Inc.
I'm Ricardo from Complete Auto Reports. You may have heard about the shop management software that we made at a shop in Linden NJ.
We've been really busy over the last year trying to refine the process at a shop through the software. We have come up with something we think that people can and will benefit from. We want to start with smaller auto repair facilities who are looking for something to transition out of paper and pen, as well as word documents and/or excel spreadsheets.
We've taken our software and made a free package that allows the following from any device with a updated and functional browser:
Take appointments from your customers Digital Vehicle Inspections - Included in every service request and sent to each customer if performed Workflow - Pending, Under Process, Awaiting Approval, Approval Completed, Work In Progress, Completed Ratings - Customers can communicate ratings directly to you Messages - You can communicate with customers through the platform Customer App - All service history available, can schedule appointments with the app, transfer vehicle records to new owners Sales Reports 100% mobile - Works on everything from your 5inch iPhone to your desktop.
You can presently upload all of your customer information: name, address, phone numbers, email.
Paid for versions offer parts ordering through PartsTech.com and Employeement modules that track employee time on jobs.
Are there members here who are interested in trying the free platform to see if it's a fit for their business? Anyone interested in the paid for versions, can also get 60 days of free use and discounted rates available from our SEMA promotions.
Our 3 plans can be broken down into these simple differences: Free: No inventory, no online parts ordering through PartsTech, only one photo/video per service request, one login, no employee management $50 per month (also have yearly options to save $): Includes online parts ordering through PartsTech and includes inventory, one login, no employee management $100 per month (also have yearly options to save $): includes everything with 5 logins to access the system. We often get asked, "What use can a bigger shop possibly get from the free plan?"
With the free plan, you can take appointments digitally from your customers and then upload a copy of their receipt from your existing system to their profile in CAR. Reducing paper waste and creating a digital record for your customer to always have. You can also use the free plan to send your customers a video or photo of the services you are performing, complete with billing the customer through the free plan at the end of the service. These are all features that you pay for with add on systems, they are all available for free with us as you learn to adapt to smarter, more efficient technology.
The data you enter is yours, we do not have any agreements presently to share it with anyone and we certainly will never be sharing any personally identifying information with anyone. Majority of the data we are interested in is to build better features to serve you better.
Should you ever decide you no longer want to use our platform, your account will be available to you for free for one year at minimum. In addition to that, we can and will provide you a complete data dump of all of your records within 72 hours of the request. These companies that make it impossible to recover YOUR data is the reason for our open policy. We want everyone to change their practices and we're leading by example.
If you decide to cancel your subscription for any reason, all of your data can and will be exported and delivered to you via a USB stick you provide or through email in the way of an Excel file(s). Additionally, you can access ALL OF YOUR information on our server for one year without any interference from anyone at CAR. Most of you may not know, but I actually own a shop and if it's one thing I can not stand behind, it's these companies getting access to all of our information for secretive reasons or keeping us from having the very data that belongs to us in the first place. You will never encounter this experience with us.
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Google has a great tool that allows you to check the mobile "friendliness" of your website. Just enter your website url at Google dedicated page: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
You should get something like:
If you don't, time to look into updating your website 😁
So I started a new venture and I need some new shop management software. I have a new venture where I have moved to a lower volume, high margin operation where we offer primarily concierge service to high end customers with high end vehicles. As such my current needs are very mobile, I've been doing some research, but I though I'd post up here for some additional input. What I need is an entirely mobile platform. This sticks me with SAAS based products which is fine. Finally mobile data is plentiful in all the areas I operate in. Many of the web based services out there are still designed for desktop use, and although they are mobile in a sense, they are not truly do business anywhere solutions. I need to be able to book appointments, see service history, attachments to ROs (like photos), check recommendations, start new ROs with customer complaints, accept signatures all from a mobile phone. I could live with an iPad if needed, but the phone is most ideal.
The software must have what are now a days standard features (or should be)
Scheduling app with integration to previous recommendations/estimates in the booking interface This should also have some CRM features such as customer reminder notifications, would be great to have multiple contacts notified as often there is a groundskeeper or administrative assistant that we are dealing with as well RO management that includes technician notes, photos attachments, service recommendations and job status (linked to procurement management when parts need ordering) Ability to link service recommendations to estimates and easily turn them into new ROs Inventory management, supply chain integration is nice, procurement management for tracking when and where all the parts are coming from VIN or Plate scanning via mobile camera to start new ROs or estimates with your now common carfax VIN lookup and service history Basically I need all the points of interaction with the customer to be completely mobile, they will not happen in the shop (usually), the RO processing itself can/will happen on a larger device such as desktop or tablet in the shop.
Is anyone working with a company that has this level of mobility yet? My research shows that many of the companies that have long been players in this industry are very slow to adopt this new way of thinking, there are a lot of new names out there though!
While I'm thinking about next level software, the software companies that know how be be ahead of the curve will soon start integrating calibration data VIA J2534 attached to the vehicle record and cross link to manufacturer databases for recommended updates. This will become increasingly important as more and more vehicles integrate complex self driving, in car entertainment and safety features that will require updating. Automatically notify technician of TSBs related to a vehicle and include other data integration features like this.
So I am moving away from the automotive industry and will be staring a mobile heavy diesel repair and service business.
Does anyone have any good contacts or know of any forums that would be of benefit to me to get some mentoring and some advice from the pros?
Thanks in advance!
We all know that Google rules the internet in terms of searches that drive traffic to websites. ASO alone receives 75-80% of its traffic from Google, then Bing. So ranking in search results is very important for website traffic. That being said, Google is now going to put weight on the "mobile friendliness" of websites and rank those that have a mobile layout, better. Starting April 21st, Google will use its new algorithm to re-rank results based on how well a website renders on mobile screens.
So if your website does not have a mobile layout, get with the webmaster or company that designs your site and make sure you have a mobile version working properly.
Below is a recent post from Google this past Feb. Source: Link
Webmaster level: all
When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps. As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns. In the past, we’ve made updates to ensure a site is configured properly and viewable on modern devices. We’ve made it easier for users to find mobile-friendly web pages and we’ve introduced App Indexing to surface useful content from apps. Today, we’re announcing two important changes to help users discover more mobile-friendly content:
1. More mobile-friendly websites in search resultsStarting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
To get help with making a mobile-friendly site, check out our guide to mobile-friendly sites. If you’re a webmaster, you can get ready for this change by using the following tools to see how Googlebot views your pages:
If you want to test a few pages, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test. If you have a site, you can use your Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report. 2. More relevant app content in search resultsStarting today, we will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search. To find out how to implement App Indexing, which allows us to surface this information in search results, have a look at our step-by-step guide on the developer site.
If you have questions about either mobile-friendly websites or app indexing, we’re always happy to chat in our Webmaster Help Forum.
I'm a recent college grad, former Toyota technician, and current software developer. I'm working on a shop management platform for a few shops in my area, but want to build it so it is useful for many others. The shops I'm building it for have limited budgets, and are currently using accounting software like Quickbooks and/or just doing it on paper. They are all profitable, established businesses, yet still use old accounting/ repair order tracking and billing methods.
What features do you look for in software? I know there are many options available on the market, but it seems like many of them have too many features and look confusing to use.
Any insight would be hugely helpful!