By Elite Worldwide Inc.
Keep Your Shop's Summer Momentum Going!
Elite's Supercharge Your Shop, a series of 4 live online courses for shop owners, starts Sept 14th!
Learn to master your shop's numbers, recruit the top techs & advisors, maximize employee productivity, fill up your bays with your ideal customers and more!
These live online courses will be taught by industry superstars Joe Marconi and Kevin Vaught, who have both experienced extraordinary success as shop owners, so everything you'll learn has been proven to generate extraordinary real world results!
You have the option to either enroll in the whole Supercharge Your Shop course series, or pick and choose the individual courses that will help your shop the most. Here's the course schedule:
Sept 14-15 - Mastering Your Shop's Numbers and Cost Control
Sept 16-17 - Hiring America's Top Techs & Advisors
Sept 21-22 - Maximizing Employee Morale, Productivity and Profits
Sept 23-24 - Filling Up Your Service Bays with the Ideal Customers
To enroll in the complete series of these 4 live online courses, just visit our Supercharge Your Shop Page to reserve one of our last openings!
By Joe Marconi
We, automotive shop owners of America, must take the opportunity of a lifetime and turn it into a bunch of success stories. What opportunity? Look around you. The world is in turmoil. COVID-19, social unrest, uncertainty about the presidential election, the economy, how are we going to get out kids back to school, on and on and on.
While the world is spiraling out of control, we have the power to make big changes to our auto repair shops. And it can all be positive!
First, the average age of a car in the U.S. is about 12 years old, attaining well over 200k on the clock.
Second, Uber, taxis and limo companies are suffering. Guess why?
Third, the motoring public in the foreseeable future will be traveling by car, taking road trips like they have never did before.
Fourth, the roads are packed with motor vehicles, as more and more people prefer their own car as their primary means of transportation.
Fifth, as the cars get older and older, more of them will be out of factory warranty.
Sixth, independent auto repair shops have a vast amount of training, resources and replacement parts.
Seventh, the overwhelming majority of cars being build and sold today are still internal combustion engine powered cars. If you factor in the expected average age of car these days, we can safely bet that those gas engine cars being sold today will still be on the road in 2033 and beyond!
Eight, You need more? That's not enough!
Get your plan in place. Get your prices in line with making a profit. Don't give anything away anymore (I am mostly referring to checking, testing, diags of any sort!) Offer world class customer service. Be a leader of your employees. Show the world what you are made of!
By Joe Marconi
Most of you probably already know what I am about to say: The Service Advisor position is the most crucial position in the shop. I know, I know, what about the mechanical work done by the techs? Well, that's important too, of course.
For the most part, customers spend their hard-earned money and most of time don't really know or see what was done to their car. Let's face it, the customer can't see the water pump or T-belt. And most of the time, the customer does not feel any difference with the car as they drive out of your parking lot.
What the customer does see (or experience) is how she was treated. And that makes all the difference in the world.
Plus, great service advisors also motivate the technicians, because great advisors are also great leaders of people.
Think about this...Six months from now, your customer will not remember the fuel injection relay or the mass air sensor that was replaced....but she WILL remember how she was treated.
And trust me, that OE-quality fuel injection relay install by a certified A-level Master tech using Snap On tools and a Launch Scanner IS NOT the reason WHY your customers return to you....She returns because of the level of service your provide.
I am helping a growing business to be more efficient. As part of this, I am looking at a service to maintain our general hardware and supplies. The shop needs a manager as the owner is too involved with the shop - and rightly so as he is highly respected in his arena. That's another discussion.
As he moved into a larger facility and hired more people. I'm working on efficiencies. The current goal is to have common hardware an supplies on hand, always. I am looking for a service to handle this. I have spoken with Rogo, Fastenal and Kimball Midwest. Any other suggestions? Runs to the hardware store are costly...
By Joe Marconi
After a recent trip to California (Yes, in spite of COVID-19, I went to visit my family and grand-kids) I found that complacency has set in with many people. I thought that due to the current economic state for so many businesses, those that are working would be on high alert to go above the norm and provide an extra level of amazing customer experience. I found the opposite.
The airport in NY, JFK, nearly empty, was filled with workers leaning up against the wall on their phones. The people in security bordered on rude, no, let me rephrase that...they were rude. The flight attendants must have been auditioning for the next zombie movie, because there was NO sign of life with them.
We went to a restaurant in L.A. Outside dining only. We were herded like cattle through roped walkways, to our table and everyone spoke in a monotone voice, as if to say to us, "Why are you here? Can't you see we don't want to be here."
I know we have been through a lot, but I was surprised at the level of complacency. Or was it something else?
Shop Owners, it's been a strange and tough year. But we are still standing. Maybe a little battered. So, let's be thankful for each and every day. Let's smile. People may not see that smile through the mask, but it will show in your voice and attitude!
Those with the right positive mindset will come out the other side of this stronger than ever. Trust me on that!
Don't become a victim of complacency.
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By Joe Marconi
“Your labor rate is too high. If you can’t negotiate your labor rate, I will have the car towed from your shop to another shop in your area that will do the work at the labor rate we want to pay.”
Those were the words spoken to my service advisor a few weeks ago from a claims agent at an extended warranty company. The name of the company doesn’t matter. What does matter is what would you do when faced with this situation.
Here’s another scenario you’re probably familiar with: After diagnosing a failed steering rack, the customer informed us that she had an aftermarket warranty policy. She asked me if I could find out if the steering rack is covered. I said, “Sure, I will be happy to help. But, just to let you know, most of the extended warranty companies I deal with have their own labor and parts pricing policies, which may not be aligned with our pricing. So, whatever they don’t pay, you will be responsible for. Are you OK with this?” My customer said, “Absolutely. I understand. I appreciate anything you can do for me.”
I thought the hard part was over. What came next was bizarre. The insurance adjuster I spoke to authorized the repair, told me the labor dollars they will pay and then said, “OK, it looks like I have a used rack in a salvage yard in South Carolina. I can have that rack to you in two days.” I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t in a weird dream. Used steering rack? Salvage yard? Is this guy for real?
I quickly shot back and said, “Let me ask you a few questions. First, where does is state in the contract that your company will supply a junk yard part for your insured? And why in the world would I remove an old worn-out steering rack from my customer’s car and put back an old used rack from a junked vehicle? Is that really in the best interest of the customer?”
The claims adjuster replied back, “Well, shops do it all the time.” I said, “I don’t think so, and I won’t do it either. Let me tell you how this is going to go. I am replacing the rack with a quality part, and I will make sure that my customer gets the best job possible. So, please give me the authorized amount and I will let the customer know what the balance is that your company will not pay.” He said, “You can’t do that.” I said, “Yes, I can. My customer is already briefed on the situation.”
He reluctantly gave me the authorization number along with the dollar amount. I relayed the story to the customer. My customer then called the insurance company and gave them hell. They did end up authorizing additional money for the part I installed.
Before we continue, I want to be fair and balanced. There are some extended warranty companies that try to offer their customers a peace-of-mind policy, and do pay a good portion of the repair. However, far too often, it’s a struggle to get an extended insurance company to agree to our labor and part prices.
Here’s the deal. If you’re like me, you have spent countless hours understanding the numbers of your business. You’ve also spent a great deal of time and effort to put the right people in place, develop the right pay plans and have created the systems to run an efficient business. You know the balance between being competitive and profitable. When you consider all this, we need to carefully consider how negotiating our prices will affect our bottom line.
I understand the reality too. Sometimes, you really need the work. You don’t want to lose the job. And settling for something is better than losing the job. I have been there. But the truth is that negotiating your prices, in the long run, will not only hurt you, but will also hurt our industry across the board.
By the way, my service advisor never did negotiate our labor rate. He simply told the agent, “Our labor rate is non-negotiable. Do you have any other questions?” The agent eventually backed down and paid us the job at our labor rate.
Be upfront with your customers. Clearly explain to them that their warranty policy may not cover the entire repair and come to an agreement with your customer before you call the warranty company. Lastly, make sure you know what it takes to earn a profit. Profit is needed to pay your expenses, put a little money aside for the future, pay your employees a decent wage and also pay yourself the salary you deserve. When you really analyze the bottom line and what’s really left over, do you really want to negotiate your prices?
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on May 1st, 2019
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By Joe Marconi
The issue with part quality and returns is on every shop owner's mind these days. It doesn't matter if you buy from NAPA, CARQUEST, Advance or O'Reillys. Poor quality parts, comebacks and getting the wrong part hurts our bottom line. I don't know how many of you track your losses with regard to comebacks and returns, I do. And I can tell you, it is doing more damage to your profit margin than you may think.
I don't have the answer but I will bring up one fact. In the industry's effort to reduce prices, we have sent a lot of manufacturing business overseas. In order to maintain or reduce price, too often quality suffers. But who's is to blame? The part companies, the shop owner's who are seeking low prices, the consumer?
The truth is, the time for pointing blame is gone. We need to change our mindset, not chose parts by price, but by quality. We need to start sending a message to our suppliers that we want quality not just price. We also need to insure that we don't have internal issues. Are our techs properly trained and do we have an adequate quality control system in place. Our reputation and the safety of the motoring public depends on it.
Here is one other fact that you cannot deny: If you reduce comebacks, improve quality, sell quality parts at a reasonable margin, you WILL make more money, have happier customers and have a lot less stress.
Here's a link to an interesting article on part quality from Aftermarket Business World