By Joe Marconi
For many shops, business during the winter can slow up due to a number of reasons. What I have found that works is to schedule a flood of service reminders and past recommendations to go out during the months of Jan and Feb. Maintaining touch with your existing customers is a great way to keep your shop top of mind, and it may just bring in a little extra work too.
Any winter marketing tips to share?
By Joe Marconi
There is a large repair shop in the mid Atlantic states (they want to remain anonymous) that just formed an alliance with a local new car dealer to service their used cars. I will change some of the details; a request from the shop owner. But, the story brings up a few interesting facts. And, the big news is: This shop is profiting from this relationship!
The shop owner was approached by the GM of the dealer to service some of the used cars they have been taken in on trade and want to sell. The dealer techs are not trained and not familiar with the different car lines, being a Chrysler-only dealership. Due to the shortage of cars these days, the dealer is taking in on trade, all makes and models and wants to sell the used cars. And we all know profitable used cars are.
The repair shop performs a multipoint, which they get paid for, and then they do many of the services and repairs, which includes tires, brakes, wheel alignments, oil changes, air and cabin filters, wipers and other simple services. Most of the cars are newer cars, and the work can be done by a GS tech.
I don't know the pricing, sorry. But, I am interested to see where this goes.
Imagine, a new car dealer asking an independent repair shop to service and repair their used car fleet???
By Joe Marconi
One of the lessons from COVID is for repair shops to have a strong cash reserve. Shop owners need to budget their money each week, and allocate money to different bank accounts, such as payroll, operating expenses, taxes, etc.
Another account I would recommend is to have a Cash Reserve account, where money is allocating each week, and not touched unless their is a emergency, such as an economic downturn and or if an economic emergency occurs in your area or with your company.
While no one could have predicted the affects from COVID 19, I think we can all agree that being cash strong is a viable strategy.
You should have anywhere from 3 to 6 months of covered expenses in a separate bank account. I know, I know....it's a lot of money. Start slow and build each week. Anything set aside is better than nothing.
Of course, to have a reserve means that you need to have the profit to put away. Right? Well, another reason to know your numbers, revisit your pricing and make sure your labor rate is enough to support your payroll, operating expenses and have enough left over to set aside money for the unexpected.
Trust me, you'll be glad you did.
By Joe Marconi
The strength of your company relies on many factors, and one of the most important is having a great set of systems and procedures in place. Systems and procedures bring consistency to your customer service, and to your repairs. While I am not a fan of creating a company with employee clones, having everyone in your company on the same page, sharing common goals is crucial for overall success.
In terms of selling your company, having systems and procedures in place is an advantage when potential buyers are interested in your company.
Please remember, it doesn't matter where you are in your business career, you are never too young to start planning for your exit strategy. And, perhaps equally important is that by preparing your business for sale will actually help build a stronger and more profitable business.
Stayed tuned for more tips on Creating Your Exit Plan.
Kevin Syed, Owner of Integrity 1st Automotive, 8 Locations, Dallas Fort Worth TX, grew up with an entrepreneurial father and was always encouraged to lead. Having successfully earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from University at Buffalo, Kevin went on to become a franchisee with Getty Petroleum / British Petroleum service centers for the better part of a decade in New York City. After gaining the knowledge, experience, and funding required to produce his own operation, Kevin went on to operate his own independent shops in New York. Kevin sought to find a new place to call home with his wife and twin girls; he longed for the community values and environment of the South and so his family made the decision to move to Texas. Integrity 1st Automotive was then born in Texas and Kevin has scaled his business to multiple locations across the Dallas Fort-Worth Metroplex. When he’s not working, Kevin enjoys local car rallies (e.g. Lamborghini Club Dallas), traveling, and hunting. Listen to Kevin's other Episodes HERE
Carl Hutchinson, Owner, Complete Automotive, 2 locations, Springfield, MO has been in the car industry since 1982, but has worked on vehicles long before that time. He has a passion for engineering, for understanding how vehicles operate, and how to repair a customer’s concern. Earlier in his career, Carl started working at a GM Dealership, then went to work at independent repair facilities as a technician and eventually became a service advisor. Carl’s experience in the automotive industry led him to his current position as co-owner with Maureen Hutchinson of Complete Automotive in Springfield MO., where he works every day to provide high-quality, valuable service to all customers. Carl is an Alumni with Ozarks Technical Community College, Springfield MO Campus. He currently sits on the Automotive Advisory Board with Ozark Technical Community College, a member of South East Rotary, and a member of the Springfield Midwest Auto Care Alliance chapter. Carl has his Master ASE Certification, L1 and Service Advisor certification and is an AMI Graduate. Listen to Carl’s previous episodes HERE Kenny Wedow, Owner, Fine Tuned Auto, 2 Locations, Broomfield and Erie CO knows cars. A natural talent even at the young age of 17, he pursued it auto repair in shop classes in school then slipped right into the work field. Working for dealerships such as Saturn, and Nissan, as well as other independent shops, has afforded Wedow with extensive and well-rounded education. More importantly, before Wedow branched off to open the doors of Fine Tuned Auto in 2013, he already learned the importance of patient diligence. Many dealerships and independent auto shops can default to make generalizations about the problems with your car, sometimes not always seeing the things that really might put you in danger on the road. The patience Wedow has to pull everything apart if need be to find the root answers makes him unique in his field. It is a quality that got him promoted to foreman at a Nissan dealership when he was only twenty-three. It wasn’t that the six technicians under him weren’t experienced, in fact, some of them had worked considerably longer than Wedow. However, his attention to detail and follow-through put him above and beyond. Listen to Kenny's other episodes HERE
Key Talking Points
Building Trust- Focus on relationships, not transactions. Reviews, book of business, referrals etc. People always like to try something new, wow them. Make customers feel better- don’t fake it. Location Location Location- be selective. Walk-ins at an easy location will increase with oil changes etc. First chance to gain customers for life. First impression marketing- Kenny uses poker chips with his information to attract new customers. Signage, uniforms, customer waiting area etc elevate the professionalism. The image plays a huge role in sales, female-friendly bathroom/lobby, cleanliness, smell in the waiting lobby, convenience etc. Be mindful of female customers, educate and simplify. Direct mail, google ads, geofencing- who is your clientele? What advertisement is right for your area? Once you have multiple growing businesses- what is your year after year retention? Why do people choose certain careers/trades? What is the reason? Look at different industries and see what they provide. Focus on the relationship, not the transaction Be involved in the community Connect with the show:
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By Joe Marconi
I am thrilled to announce that I will be the presenter at Elite's Fly With The Eagles course Oct 12 to 15. This is the first live event since before COVID. This will be held in Indianapolis. We are expecting a big turn out, so please check this out ASAP. Details below.
The Eagles course is Elite's premiere event for Shop Owners and Managers- course covers:
Leadership, Time Management, Goal Setting Financial Reports and Cost Controls Recruting Employee Management Marketing Click on the link below for more information. You can reply to this post too with questions.
By Joe Marconi
As a young tech, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. I diagnosed every car with the accuracy and skill of a Greek god. My efficiency week after week was over 150 percent, and with no comebacks. As a shop owner, I sold every job, and at a profit. Each new day was better than the day before. Boy, when I look back, I was amazing. Those were days.
OK, OK, perhaps I am stretching the truth a bit. The fact is my past was not a smoothly paved road to success, but rather an obstacle course riddled with emotional and financial potholes, with more ups and downs than the biggest rollercoaster. Was it amazing? Oh, yes. Amazing because of all the mistakes I made along the way.
As the years have piled up in my life, I often find myself thinking back to the “old days” and judge people by how “perfect” I thought I was back then. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I was a good technician and somehow evolved into an accomplished businessman. But was I really as good as I remember?
I was outside the bays talking with my manager when Nick, one of my techs, began his road test on a Chevy Tahoe. As he passed us I could hear that unique “squeaky” sound a seized, worn out u-joint makes. I yelled to him, “Hey, check the u-joints.” He nodded his head and drove off.
About 30 minutes later, I walked over to Nick and asked him what he found on his multipoint inspection. He told me that the wiper blades were torn, there’s a little play in the right side outer tie road and he recommends a four-wheel balance with a wheel alignment. I asked him, “What about the u-joints?” Nick replied, “They’re fine; nice and tight.”
I could feel the tension begin to rise when I continued with, “Nick, I asked you to check the u-joints because I could hear that something was wrong. How did you check the u-joints? Do you know how to check u-joints?” Nick was visibly upset, so I suggested another road test—this time with me.
During the road test, I told Nick to roll down the windows and listen. I said, “Do you hear that squeaky sound? That’s a seized u-joint.” Nick listened closely and then said, “I never heard that noise before.” To myself, I said, “You must be kidding me! How in the world can this tech not know it’s a seized u-joint?” But, thankfully I paused, and replied with, “Nick, how old are you? He responded proudly, “Twenty-one, boss.”
Nick is a recent graduate of a well known tech school. He comes to work on time, works hard, and learns every day. His production improves each month. He has a lot of raw talent and a great attitude. At 21, how in the world could he know what I know at 63?
I often forget how young some of my employees are. I also need to remember that people will make mistakes and they need the time to hone their skills through years of experience. They don’t have the gray hair of knowledge that often comes with decades of experience.
Allowing people to grow will mean making mistakes. A tech will make the wrong diagnosis. A service advisor will lose a sale or forget to sell the tire rotation. But, did you or I diagnosis every car correctly? Did we make every sale? Were we absolutely perfect in everything we did? Of course not. So let’s be a little more understanding. I am not suggesting we settle for mediocrity. People need to strive for excellence. But even the best home run hitter will strike out at times.
As business owners, especially those from my generation, it’s our job to pass the baton, to teach others, to be a mentor and a coach. Don’t be too judgmental. If we are honest with ourselves when we look back on our lives, we will see triumphs mixed with a lot tough days.
When you feel yourself losing your temper or getting upset over the mistakes or lack of knowledge from one of your employees, just think back and view your own past. Don’t look back with a skewed memory of your greatness, but with an honest recollection of your struggles and mistakes. And you never know, you just might help others avoid some of the mistakes you made.
Oh, by the way, my approach with the way I handled the situation with Nick and the seized u-joint? Another mistake on my part. So even at 63, I am still making mistakes. Kind of humbling, right?
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on July 6, 2018
View full article
Just saw this online and wanted to share. With the COVID-19 down time some have now, might be of interest. CARQUEST Technical Institute and Worldpac Training Institute are offering free 1 hour online training Monday - Friday, complimentary. See:
Breaking News: The CTI+WTI teams have worked hard over the past two weeks in creating two new opportunities that will allow you to access live training from the comfort of your home. Click the link below for our announcement that highlights the new CTI+WTI Virtual Classroom and World Professional Automotive Community. The World Professional Automotive Community will deliver business and technical topics every night in one-hour segments starting at 8PM EST. The Community is designed to bring our industry together to learn about timely topics that are affecting everyone during this crisis. The Virtual Classroom will deliver technical topics in one-hour segments, at various times starting this week. The Virtual Classroom has been in the works for a year and will become a regular part of how we deliver our Career Pathway content. More to come on this soon.
Click here to see the full announcement
To see what is scheduled for both the Community and Virtual Classroom, simply search the ‘Classes Near You’ tile on this home page and search for Virtual Classroom or VC and World Professional or WPAC and you will see a schedule for each event with a registration link to each. Oh, and these events are available at NO CHARGE.
Join our new CTI+WTI Members group on Facebook
Finally, due to the extended Shelter in Place orders across the country, we have postponed all classroom events through May 1st. We will be converting many of these events to Virtual Classroom events to enable you to continue your training.
RALEIGH, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 1, 2019-- Advance Auto Parts, Inc. (NYSE: AAP), a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider, has launched a new learning management system designed to provide training programs that grow an automotive professional’s knowledge and skills throughout their entire career. Advance regularly serves more than 26,000 individuals in North America each year with training courses offered through the company’s Carquest Technical Institute (CTI) and Worldpac Training Institute (WTI) programs.
Training from Advance now combines courses available online and in the classroom from CTI+WTI into an integrated training solution, giving aftermarket professionals access to a robust library of technical training and business management education. Career Pathways, which feature a structured set of online and classroom events to establish mastery of technical and business competencies, are currently targeted to the General Service Technician and Professional Technician, with Senior Technician, Master Technician, and a number of specialist programs coming by the end of the year.
“Delivering quality training is critical to addressing the technician shortage facing the automotive industry,” said Chris Chesney, Senior Director of Customer Training at Advance. “Integrating the expertise and curriculum of CTI+WTI into a centralized, easy-to-use platform enables Advance to go to market with an unrivaled training program. No matter what stage a person is in the life of their career, training is crucial to their long-term success.”
Shop owners can track the progress of their technicians and staff through Career Pathways specific to the type of work they perform at their shop. Training participants receive certifications within the CTI+WTI platform as they complete training programs and advance in their career.
“The advancement of automotive technology requires that our industry has access to leading edge training to keep pace with modern vehicle systems,” said Rob Morrell, Senior Director of Customer Training at Worldpac. “CTI+WTI’s new learning management system enables national accounts and independent shops alike to help attract, retain and grow talent.”
CTI+WTI have hosted more than 45,000 training events in the organizations’ 20-plus year histories. For more information, visit CTIonline.com or WTIonline.com.
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 July 13, 2019, Advance operated 4,912 stores and 150 Worldpac branches in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Company also serves 1,250 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/20191101005436/en/
Source: Advance Auto Parts, Inc.
T: (540) 589-8102
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