Stephane Grabina, BMW Excluservice, Rockville, MD, and Scott Pelava, Lonsdale Auto Works, Lonsdale, MN share the reasons they keep their floors clean. They use a commercial floor scrubber. Learn how and why these two successful shop owners have invested in keeping their shop floors clean.
Comment from Kevin Eckler:
Great episode and I loved the promoting of a clean shop. We picked up two 5-year-old floor scrubbers and a floor burnisher made by minute man that retails for almost $10000 apiece through an auction where a local school was updating their equipment. We paid less than $300 per machine and the only expense that we had was to install new batteries. They all work absolutely fantastic and it was a great deal. The toughest thing was finding a place to store them but they get used very frequently and the floors are significantly cleaner than the shop feels brighter and the guys have a better attitude because of it.
Things to consider when purchasing a floor scrubber Is to find out the proper kind of soap to use to clean your floors and what to do with the wastewater when you are done so that you are not polluting when you dispatch the dirty water. Certain soaps break down the oil too fine to be caught in an oil-water separator and oftentimes there is a large amount of sediment that collects into the machine when you are done. Emptying the machine into a smaller holding tank to separate off the settlement and the oil and then dispensing the water from there helps to not unknowingly polluted the local water sources and get yourself in legal trouble. Just something to consider. ~Kevin
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Are you seeing auto shops in your area get hundreds of 5-star Google reviews and are you feeling left behind because your shop only has a few?
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If you want to become a successful independent auto repair shop, it’s essential that you have your sights on not only developing a long-term strategy for expanding your customer base but also pivoting in a way that has sustaining momentum.
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I received an email today from a Consumer stating "Your price is too high, so hell with you sir!" in response a marketing email inviting him back for his next service. My initial reaction was uh-oh, quickly followed by "Why am I not hearing more pricing complaints?". This is quite interesting as we were in a discussion last week, talking about our prices being too low. We are priced competitively in the market, but with a higher service level, likely, we should be able to earn more with a higher pricing.
I remember reading somewhere that if you don't have enough complaints of your price is too high, then you are priced too low. There is a balance in pricing. On one hand, we have price leaders nearby (, with prices so low that they would go broke quickly if they were honest) that will rob the price shoppers blind when they visit as well as other reputable shops with various pricing levels.
I operate a combo lube and repair shop. My repair labor rate is a premium to the area and we have talented technicians that rate this premium. I'm at a small premium on the Lube, but believe it should be higher and .
After having a chuckle on today's email, I figured it would make for a good conversation. What is the right Price-is-too-high-complaint rate? 1% 5% 10%? We might get a 0.5-0.3% abandon rate at the counter over pricing. I'm sure that there is a silent minority that just doesn't come back, yet makes no noise.
Jason Molinar- Newest Industry Apprentice Graduate at McNeil's Auto Care
Pete McNeil is a second-generation family-owned business that started out as a Volkswagen specialist. They quickly recognized their potential for all makes and models and expanded their service offerings. During this time, they joined the NAPA AutoCare program, expanded their footprint in the Salt Lake valley and became a pillar in the automotive repair industry.
In 2018 alone, McNeil’s expanded their Sandy location to 16 bays to help accommodate their growing business, training center and partnership with local schools for the continued growth of their apprenticeship program. During this time McNeil’s also took advantage of the Interior ProImage program and remodeled their entire showroom! This included new counters for their 4 Service Advisors, new epoxy flooring, signage, and upgraded comfortable furniture and fixtures! This is truly a place where their customers can relax while having their vehicle repaired.
In addition, Pete opened a 2nd location in Riverton, Utah in May of 2019. Pete is very involved in the community both locally and abroad He is active in the local Church Youth Conference, Angel Hands, which assists people with disabilities.
Very active in youth soccer with contributions and cars washed to raise money for Sparta-United. He has donated time and resources to “Sandy Pride” which helps residents clean up and beautify the city.
Jake Sorensen- 2019 NAPA ASE Technician of the Year and 2019 Ratchet + Wrench All-Star technician of the year. He is an ASE Master technician with L1,2 and 3 advanced level certifications. He is the shop manager and diagnostic technician at McNeil’s Auto Care in Sandy, UT where he helped develop an apprenticeship program that is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor. This program has graduated several high-performing automotive technicians and was used by NAPA Auto Care as a template for their automotive apprenticeship program. Jake also developed the curriculum for an automotive course that he teaches at an adult education high school.
Brad Christianson- NAPA Sales Person
Special Guest Jason Rainey- Vice President, NAPA Auto Care
Key Talking Points
Jason- from pharmacy to an auto technician Spent 10 years as pharmacy technician out of high school Realized he didn’t enjoy his job or looked forward to it anymore Always had a love for cars (especially Jeeps) and started learning about how to fix them Took a maintenance and light repair class at a local college and loved it Saw an advertisement for McNeil’s apprentice program, interviewed for it and received the apprenticeship Larger pool for industryYou don’t need to only focus on hiring out of high school students or someone that has previous experience in the auto industry Hire for attitude not skillset- they will learn skill during the programCommitment and willingness to learn qualities Napa Apprenticeship Program- built in collaboration with Jake and Pete9 stages, 2-year program with 4 ASE certifications National program and approved by Department of Labor Receive apprentice tool kit worth $3500 Register your shop at www.napaautocare.com, resource tab and employee recruitment ROI calculator- customizable with also a gross profit impact chart Currently, 451 total registered apprentices participating in the program Mentor- willing to invest time and effortEveryone learns differently and at different paces- it will be a continual learning curve for both mentor and apprentice Shop owner needs to see the benefit for an apprentice program Previous apprentices turning into mentors Unrealized revenue When Jason was completing stage 7/9 during the program the profit for the shop in that category was 13K 2021 Jason has generated 47K on his own first two months Family sacrificesWorking 2 jobs at the start of the program with a newborn at home Was rewarded with hard work and could quit the second job after a few months AdviceTake advantage of the training (free and paid) “Pizza night” weekly during virtual Vision training There isn’t a technician shortage, there is a shortage of qualified technicians Takes 2 years for apprentice graduate to complete the program so keep the cycle going Learning doesn’t stop after 2 years- continue training, career-pathing and goal forecasts Learning is contagious- other seasoned technicians at the shop realize they need to continue learning as well Grows individuals and families A special thanks to Jason Molinar, Jake Sorensen, Pete McNeil, Jason Rainey and Brad Christianson for their contribution to the aftermarket. Books Page HERE Listen to all Remarkable Results Radio, For The Record and Town Hall Academy episodes. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Instagram Youtube Email
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By Joe Marconi
Don't make the mistake that so many business owners make; thinking that once they hire someone, their job is over. In reality, your job BEGINS when you hire someone.
Make sure that all your new hires and current employees are taken care of. Get them the training they need, help to map out their future, mentor them, coach them, let them know how much you appreciate them. Have meetings and reviews.
We talk so much these days about recruiting people and that it's hard to find people. What about doing all you can to make sure your existing employees don't leave?
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By Joe Marconi
The other day, a local fellow shop owner, was complaining to me that his plumber just charged him $225 labor for a house call. My response was, "And why do you have an issue with that?"
I know this plumber; he is very successful, in high demand in the area, does great work and provides a VALUBALE service. Does this sound familiar? You bet....sounds like you and your business!!!
When the day comes that all of us truly know what we are worth and charge for it, that will be the day when all us raise the level of the auto industry, begin to attract more people to us, pay our employees better, build for our future and go home with the pay we deserve.
I know this is going to cause controversy....so let's start the conversation.
We now have a nice tool available to all premium and platinum members under the tools menu, where you can view labor rates entered by our members on an easy to use map, similar to our member map. This is designed to give you an idea of where you are vs the market in your area. As you zoom in, the circle averages open up to more specific areas.
If you aren't currently a subscribed premium or platinum member, you can upgrade here.
For those with bodyshops, here is some interesting reading:
bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/ John Shortell I’ve taken a part time job working at an independent body shop close to my home writing estimates and supplements and harassing insurance companies. I’ve been at it for a few months now and up until recently I haven’t seen or heard from a Progressive appraiser. Finally, several weeks ago, I had a customer who was hit by one of Progressive’s insureds. Because I’m in a different area of the state now, I’m unfamiliar with the local appraisers. More importantly, they are unfamiliar with me.Â What fun!
First let me admit that I was spoiled working at a high line dealership body shop. Those evil rich drove nice new cars that demanded nice new OEM parts. Now all I see are Honda’s and Hyundai’s. Old ones at that. I’ve never seen so many junk cars in my life. But I guess the poor have to drive too.
Anyway, I had a customer who was hit by a Progressive insured. I wrote an estimate and asked the customer to make arrangements to meet the Progressive appraiser here at my shop. Progressive people hate that. They’d rather look at the vehicle somewhere else. Any where I am not. When the Progressive appraiser showed up I knew there would be trouble. He looked to be about 12 years old. He fit Progressive’s archetype for their ideal appraiser: young, naive and no experience in the collision repair industry.
His estimate was several hundred dollars less than mine. No surprise there. But it was a small repair, and that several hundred dollars amounted to about 30% of my estimate. Of course, the labor rate was an issue, but what really got me wound up with this moronic “blend within the panel” crap. I basically told the kid he could take his “blend within the panel” and have his first sexual experience with it. I wasn’t going to accept it. There were some other issues too, and itÂ all added up to the 30% deficiency. I was beginning to lose my cool because this prepubescent putz couldn’t figure out how to meet my bottom line, so I told him to do what a lot of other appraisers do: make something up and put it on the estimate. Of course, I was being sarcastic, but being so young, this kid didn’t understand the sarcasm and took offense to my suggesting he commit fraud. Well at least the kid is honest.
I asked the kid for his appraiser’s license number and the name of his supervisor and explained that I would be filing a complaint with the insurance department, which I did immediately after he left (And don’t we all know how effective that was). I told the customer not to worry about the difference–I would take care of it. I had her sign a repair authorization, a direction to pay and a power of attorney in case I had to sue the bastards. Working at a dealership I never had the opportunity to sue an insurance company because the owner didn’t want the trouble, but now that I’m working at a small independent shop, the owner is willing to go after insurers who don’t play nice.
I spoke with the kid’s supervisor over the phone about the situation. For the record, she was very pleasant, just like talking to sweet high school girl. I didn’t meet her in person, but by the sound of her voice she was another Progressive clone–too young and inexperienced in anything to be dealing with these issues. But she promised to look into it. I knew I was wasting my time, and I was. After three days of haggling, the young girl managed to come up with another hundred dollars. She was still a couple of hundred short. I explained to her that I was going to sue her insured for the balance.Â She responded with a perkyÂ “OK” like I had just asked her if she wanted to go hang out at the mall. She was trained to perfection. Great job Progressive behavior modification department!
With little effort I was able to locate the guy who hit my customer and promptly mailed him the following letter:
A few days later I received a phone call from Mr. XXXX. He wanted to discuss the matter. I explained the situation to him in more detail, and he agreed to pay the balance owed and then deal with his insurance company. I again offered to help him in any way I could with filing a complaint with the insurance department or recovering the money from Progressive. He didn’t take me up on the offer, but he did send a check the next day. I’ve yet to hear from him or Progressive so I have no idea if he was reimbursed or not. I do know the gentleman was not too happy about having pay for repairs to someone else’s car after he had been paying premiums for liability insurance. Something tells me Mr. XXXX will be finding someone else to send his hard earned money to for insurance in the near future.
I fully expected to have to go to small claims court. I knew Progressive would not give in, and I never expected the insured to cough up the money so easily. I feel sorry for the poor bastard. But I’ll be damned if I will become a cheap whore just because Progressive is too profit driven to treat my customers fairly. It’s ironic. Progressive was started by a left wing socialist. The name Progressive is not a coincidence. This nut job and his dope smoking kid, who recently stepped down from running the company, preached the progressive movements dogma, and heavily funded many of its whacked out causes. Progressives are supposed to be more fair than the evil rich. They are supposed to care about the little guy and scorn the evil corporations, yet here they are now acting as bad as any corporation ever did. They only care about their profit and share holders. Kind of makes them big time hypocrites. Just my humble opinion.
Lesson learned? Never sell yourself short. If you’re going to be a whore, at least be a high priced whore. Stand up for yourself. Had I gone to court, I most certainly would have won. It is astonishingly easy to demonstrate to a judge how labor rates are artificially suppressed by insurers, how they manipulate the system for their corporate financial gain, and that they will do just about anything to save a buck. To be fair, I would probably do the same if I worked for Progressive or another insurance company. It is all part of their survival. When your cat eats a cute little bird, you may think it horrific, but it is only natural. And it is only natural for collision repairers to fight to survive. What is not natural is when collision repairers give up and play nice at the risk of losing everything. That’s agonizing suicide.
If you’re thinking that I spend a lot of time talking about Progressive, there’s good reason. First, they deserve it. Second, I know my audience–and it’s Progressive. For this past year, Progressive Insurance has been my number one visitor to this website. State Farm has been catching up lately. They are the top visitor this month. Way ahead of everyone else. The only other entities that generate more traffic to this site are the large ISP’s like Road Runner and AOL. I’m flattered. Hopefully some of what I talk about is subliminally sinking in.
Oh yeah, remember my prediction about CCC’s announcement that it would get rid of the prompts for bumper covers? I said it would be slow in coming. Well here we are a couple of months and updates later and it’s still there. Your complaints forced them to make a public acquiescence, but now that the hell raising has died down, no need to rush things. We’re still waiting CCC. Wassup?
One more thing. Apparently there is a lawsuit going on in Arizona against Progressive. The plaintiffs have deposed a former Progressive employee. The deposition is interesting reading. For an inside look on the pressure and incentives to steer vehicles to network shops give it a read.Â It is only a partial transcript. If anyone has the entire document or a link, please send it to me or link to it in the comments section.
There are quite a few threads about pricing but I think it might be better to shift that discussion to value. How do you add value for your customers? For example, we have a very clean waiting room with coffee, wifi, nice music etc... We also, answer the phone in the happiest way possible, we use tablets for inspections, we vacuum the front footwells for all oil changes, we have demo parts to help educate customers and we have a 3yr 36k warranty. Recently I've been trying to dream up ways to add even more value so I can compete hard on what I deliver. For example, I just added a 20 year master tech, I thought I could vacuum every car and leave a thank you note on the dash.
What are you doing to add value? What additional value are you adding that I'm not doing? I would love to borrow some ideas if you are willing to share.