Massachusetts voters are deciding in this year’s election on whether they---and not the vehicle manufacturers---have control over the repair data generated by the vehicle they purchased.
The Auto Care Association and the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE) have supported efforts by the Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee to obtain public support for ballot Question 1, which would give the consumer choice in vehicle repair.
“While the battle has been hard fought and expensive, the Auto Care Association is pleased that the most influential publications in the state have seen through the negative advertising campaign being funded by the vehicle manufacturers and have unanimously urged their readers to vote ‘yes’ on Question 1,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO, Auto Care Association. “We trust that voters in the state will agree with these publication that the right to repair is important and that advances in vehicle technology should not be used to limit the ability for owners to have their vehicle repaired by the shop of their choice."
These “‘Yes’ on Question 1” endorsements include:
The Boston Globe on Oct. 13 declared, “The reason the new Right to Repair measure should pass is simple: It is inherently unfair for car manufacturers to have sole access to a vehicle’s mechanical data, because it gives their dealerships an advantage over independent auto-repair shops. That ultimately hurts consumers, because with limited options come higher prices.”
The Boston Business Journal on Oct. 15 maintained, “Without the ability to repair cars equipped with wireless electronics, repair shops will see declines in business in coming years as car owners are forced to get repairs done at more expensive dealerships. In the end, more of the millions of dollars that Bay State residents spend every year to fix their cars would go to out-of-state manufacturers. More neighborhood car-repair shops will go out of business."
The Sun Chronicle on Oct. 21 stated, “…we think the opponents of the law have done themselves no favors by overhyping the risks it poses. For example, the ‘No’ campaigners lean heavily on a statement from ‘Jane Doe Inc.,’ a Massachusetts advocacy group against domestic violence and abuse. But, on its website, that group now says its position on the referendum has ‘evolved’ and, while saying it’s staying neutral, complains that it’s wrong to use the fears of abuse survivors to promote a political position. For that alone, we think the opponents of Question 1 deserve to get their comeuppance at the ballot box.”
The Berkshire Eagle on Oct. 21 stated, “Question 1’s opponents had ample opportunity to explain why this lobby should keep a monopolistic grip on your car’s telematics. They instead spent their campaign dishonestly fear-mongering in an attempt to distract consumers from asking why carmakers should be able to flout the spirit of the extant Right to Repair law to drive more repair jobs to their dealership garages. Hopefully voters will see through this charade.”
For more information about the Right to Repair ballot initiative in Massachusetts, visit massrighttorepair.org.
By Joe Marconi
I know it's not going to be Back to School as usual this year, but there will be increased traffic on the road as more people perform school-related errands. It's your obligation to your customers and the community to make sure the roads are safe.
Many people have neglected their cars the past few months, making a lot of opportunity for your shop.
Get your Fall/Back to School marketing plan in place today!
Want to share ideas? Even Better!
By Joe Marconi
A ride to the Mall with my wife today (yes, I went to the Mall, got a problem?) gave me assurance that things are really getting back to normal. The stores were full, the roads were packed and expect for the masks people are wearing, you would think it's just another ordinary summer weekend!
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
With business slowing down for most, we feel that there's never been a better time for shops to take advantage of online training. We know that everyone in our great industry is in this together, and want to help shop owners in any and every way that we can, so have decided to team up with Jasper Engines & Transmissions to make our Online High Impact Customer Care Sales Course available to the industry at no charge.
The recordings for this 4-part online sales training course are usually sold for $179, but the below link will provide you with complimentary access. You'll see that the page also provides access to an Action Plan that you can follow to help you navigate through the coronavirus pandemic.
As you take on this challenge, please don't forget that you're not alone, and that this pandemic will pass. If there's anything else that Elite may be able to do to help you, please feel free to Contact Us, or give us a call at 800-204-3548.
Click Here for complimentary access to our Online High Impact Course and COVID-19 Shop Owner Action Plan
Wishing you the best,
Your Friends at Elite
By Joe Marconi
Not every shop pays flat rate; for many reasons. So, many techs are on hourly pay. There is nothing wrong with hourly pay, as long as you have an incentive program in place that promotes high production levels to avoid complacency. For hourly paid employees I strongly urge you to have a pay plan that rewards production levels on a sliding scale.
As a business coach, I have seen too many times shops with low production levels and high tech payroll due to overtime pay. Overtime pay must not be used to get the jobs done with no regard to labor production. Limit overtime and create a strategy that increases production and rewards techs with production bonuses. By the way, there are many ways to incentivize techs, it's not all about money.
Overtime without high levels of production will eat into profits and if not controlled, with kill your business.
If your shop is an hourly paid shop, what incentives do you have in place to maintain production levels?
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By Joe Marconi
The year was 1980 - the year I founded my company. And, like many new business owners, I didn’t have a clear understanding of what was needed to grow a successful business. I thought that success would be determined by my technical skills and my willingness to wear the many hats of the typical shop owner. It wasn’t until I began to let go of trying to do everything that I realized that success is not just dependent on what I do, but by the collective work accomplished by the team. I eventually discovered that I was not the center of my universe. After a few years in business, I began the transition from simply owning a job to becoming a businessman. And, while technology has reshaped our industry throughout the years—and will continue to do so—there is one constant that will never change: success in business rests largely on the people you have assembled around you.
By the late '80s it was obvious that I was doing way too much. I looked at each role I had my hands on: shop foreman, service advisor, shuttle driver, bookkeeper to lot attendant. And, as long as I’m confessing all this to you, I need to disclose that I was also the shop’s maintenance person; making repairs to the bay doors, the slop sink and equipment. You name it, I did it. I was literally too busy to be successful.
In order to lead my company, I had to first clearly define my responsibilities. These are working on the business, recruiting and hiring the best employees, becoming a leader of people and making sure that my business was successful. I also needed to fulfill the obligation I had to my employees. I realized that this required a deep understanding that putting people first is the best strategy for success. This was difficult at first because it requires working on things that have no immediate impact on the business. Unlike working in the trenches and having your hands on everything, working as a businessperson means that you need to spend time building for the future. The things that are most important to your success in business are the things that have a payoff down the road.
I also clearly defined the duties I should not be doing and assigned those tasks to others. This is a critical step for any shop owner. Warren Buffett says that in order to be successful in whatever you do, it’s crucial to focus on the things that generates the greatest return and that you can’t do it all, and that means sometimes you have to say, “no.”
By the late '90s it became clear that the most valuable role I played in my business was that of coach. All the best marketing plans and the best business strategies mean nothing without a team of great people around you all pushing in the right direction. And that takes a strong leader. Not just a boss, but a leader. Leaders inspire people. Leaders get others to reach down deep inside themselves and perform at their best because they are aligned with the leader’s vision.
Leaders inspire others through praise and recognition for the work they do. When people feel their work matters, they have a purpose. People are motivated by the heart, not the wallet. That’s not to say earning a decent wage isn’t important. But a focus on money alone is not a strategy for success. Focus on people first and profit will follow.
Spend time with your employees. Get to know them as people, not just the role they have in your company. Find out what their dreams and goals are. And then find a way for others to achieve what they want out of life. People cannot be motivated until they realize that what they do every day helps them to achieve what they want in their personal life.
There are other people in our business world that we must never forget. And that’s our customers. If you were to ask me, who is more important, my employees or my customers? I would answer, “They are equally important.” You cannot have a successful business without the right employees and the right customers.
One last bit of advice I can give you is to focus on your success, no one else’s. Be very clear about the pathways you take and never forget about the obligation you have to others. Build a company culture of teamwork, quality and integrity. Focus on what’s in the best interest of the customer and the people around you. Put people first, and everything else will fall into place.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on February 4th, 2020
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By Joe Marconi
We all have those customers that focus on price alone. And we all struggle with our persistent attempts at converting them into believers. Believers of the concept that, while we cannot totally dismiss price, it’s the value of the product or service the customer needs to consider when making a purchase. What’s funny about these customers is that each visit tends to start with a complaint about price, even before the car is looked at. We recently had a situation that started off on the wrong foot, with price being the issue; but ended up a win for us, and for the customer.
Charlie Challenge (not his real name) arrived at our shop and asked for an estimate on replacing the timing chain for his Nissan Altima. My service advisor responded with, “Mr. Challenge, that’s a big job. How do you know your car needs a timing chain?” Charlie replied back, “Another shop checked it out and they told me it does. Can you please give me a price?” My advisor continued with, “Well, before we do anything, we need to perform a few tests to make sure you really do need a timing chain.” Charlie emphatically replied back, “And how much is that going to cost? All you guys want is my money! I asked for one thing; a price on a timing chain and you just want to make more money on something I already know I need!”
It took a lot of composure, but my advisor calmly stated all the reasons why testing is the best way to go, emphasizing the fact that if we replace the chain and it’s not the problem, the money spent would be wasted. Charlie shook his head, threw the keys on the counter and authorized the testing.
I’ve known Charlie for a long time. He’s not a bad guy. But price is always the topic of discussion. He has told me in the past that I should take a look at what other shops charge, and be more competitive with my prices. I have told Charlie that I don’t, and never will, price my services by what other shops are charging. I have also told him to look beyond price and look at the value you get. Besides, all the quality shops that I know are pretty much the same when it comes to pricing.
During the write-up process, Charlie revealed to my service advisor that the check engine light had been on, and that’s why he took his car to the other shop. The other shop replaced a valve timing solenoid, but that didn’t fix the problem. He was then told that the next step was to replace the chain.
Later that morning, the car was dispatched to a technician. A multipoint inspection was performed, along with all the tests related to the check engine light; which was a timing error. After the MPI and the tests were completed, we found a few things wrong with Charlie’s car. His Altima needed an oil change service, a battery, rear brakes, an air filter, the cabin filter had a mouse nest in it and the car needed an intake timing control sensor, not a timing chain. This engine has two intake control solenoids. One was supposedly replaced by the other shop. So, did this car have two bad sensors? Or was the wrong sensor replaced by mistake?
When my service advisor called Charlie to tell him the good news, he was silent for a moment. He was shocked that the car didn’t need a timing chain. He authorized the solenoid replacement, the oil change and replacing the mouse-infested cabin filter. He declined the other work.
I purposely did the follow-up call with Charlie a few days later. He was happy to hear from me and told me that car hadn’t run this good in years. I had to needle him a bit, “So Charlie, are we really expensive? We saved you a ton of money by doing the tests first and not just replacing the chain.” He said, “Ok Joe, I get it, I really do this time.”
During our conversation, Charlie did confess that he didn’t go to another shop, but actually went to that all-knowing, all-powerful place on the internet known as Google. It was Charlie that replaced the solenoid, not realizing there were two, and not knowing how to properly test the system either.
When I asked Charlie why he didn’t let us replace the battery, air filter and the rear brakes, he replied, “Joe, come on, I can do that work myself, and besides, you guys are expensive.”
Sometimes you win the battle, but it’s hard to win the war with some customers.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on October 1st, 2019
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