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  • Similar Forum Topics

    • Chatbots — website, social media

      Does your shop use a chatbot on your website, or do you have a chatbot on your Facebook page? 

      If so, what has your experience been like? 

      By ratchetandwrench, in General Automotive Discussion

      • 0 replies
      • 130 views
    • Article: Zombie Cars - they're coming (updated older story)

      Zombie Cars   “Brains, Brains, we need Brains!”   Zombie cars?  What’s a zombie car?   Way back, when we used points and  condensers and later the basic  electronic ignition systems, cars didn’t  need brains (ECM – Electronic Control  Module), but that all changed in the  mid 70’s on some imports and pretty  much on everything else by the time  the 80’s came around.  Some of these  brains were only cursory, and didn’t  actually control the car, but merely  watched for emission issues, while others played a major role in the actual ignition spark or fuel delivery systems.     Most of the engines in those early years, still used the same basic type of distributor setups (with a few exceptions) as their earlier counterparts that used the old tried and true points and condenser type of ignition systems.  During those cross-over years it was rather easy to slap a different distributor in it, or change the existing points distributor over to electronic ignition (which worked quite well by the way).  These days...it’s not that easy.  These computer systems have become so entangled into the engine functions and nearly every other system that it’s impossible to bypass the fuel or ignition systems as we did years ago. However, there are still a lot of people out there that have hung onto some of the cars from that era.  Most likely they've been kept parked alongside the garage as a future project or hung onto for some sentimental reason.  Some (very few) are in great shape, others… well, they look like zombies already.     What makes them zombies?  The brain… the brain… they need brains!  Just this past week I had several of these faded paint monstrosities lined up in the parking lot. (They never come alone… always in a pack.) For starters an old dilapidated 1986 Dodge pickup with a slant six.  This old rusted, tilting to one side relic had been at another shop for a tune-up, but as the story was told to me by the owner, the other shop tried to start it when a fuel line ruptured and caught the old truck on fire. Luckily, they managed to get it out, but the damage was already done.  The main harness from the firewall to the distributor, coil, charging system, blower motor, oil sending unit, temp. sender, and the starter wiring were completely melted into an unrecognizable mass of plastic and copper.  It was my job to bring this dilapidated hulk back to life. However, the original spark control computer had melted as well, and was unusable. Worse yet, the brain was discontinued eons ago with no replacement parts anywhere to be found.  This zombie needs a brain, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to get one. At this point the only solution was to do away with the electronic brain and try to refit the old slant six with a much simpler ignition system from a decade earlier if at all possible.  A lobotomy if you will. (Dr. Frankenstein would be envious.)   Then there was this 2002 Mustang that moaned and groaned while dragging one foot into the shop.  It needed a new BCM (Body Control Module).  Call the dealer, call the parts warehouse, call everybody!  Anybody!  Is there a brain for this car?  Nope, discontinued.  Seems this particular BCM was a rather rare brain out there in zombie land, and at the time, nobody was setup to rebuild them.  It seemed this car was destined to wander the city streets with the rest of the zombie mobiles. At the same time this was going on, in comes a 1982 Ford Bronco with the original Variable Venture carburetor still on it. Ok, not a brain, but just as bad.  It qualifies as a zombie for sure.  Trying to find a suitable replacement these days is a challenge. Ten or twenty years ago this would have been no problem to find a carb. kit (if you dared) or the Holley conversion kit for it, but not today.     This trend of bringing back the dead looks like it’s only going to turn into the next zombie apocalypses.  As these electronic systems get more and more complex the likely hood of your family truckster turning into a zombie is just a matter of time as each new model comes out.  In some ways, I believe the manufacturers have thought this out long before there was a potential of these cars becoming zombies.      In my youth it was nothing for me and a few friends to grab an old car out of a junk yard and raise it from the dead.  Ya just had to throw a few shots of gas down the carburetor, add a few wires and a fresh battery and fire it up.  The rust would fly, the engine would clatter, the smoke would billow out from under the hood,  as the exhaust roared out of every crack in the manifold.  Those days are long gone now.  They may have engineered a longer lasting engine, better paint, and for the part, the interior can hold up to the ravages of time, however, the electronics, are their weakness.      Although, these zombie mobiles seem to be coming out of hiding more often than ever before. Reviving some of these early electronic zombies may happen, but on the other hand, it may be a futile effort. The truth of the matter is… these resurrections are not as easy to do as it was so many years ago. There are countless problems that have to be overcome to bring some of these rusted heaps back among the living, especially if you’re in an area that requires emission testing.  Just trying to bypass some of those early electronic brains when a replacement part can’t be found can be a real challenge. The good news is that there are a lot of guys out there tearing these brains apart and rebuilding them.  But even then, there are some zombie cars that will never make it and eventually die from the lack of a brain, while others wander aimlessly from shop to shop still searching for their elusive electronic gray matter.    Even after you manage to find a brain for these living dead vehicles it’s likely something else is going to go wrong.  After all, being cast aside for so long, all the hoses, belts, and gaskets have dried up.  Something will more likely fall off just like you would expect from any other zombie wandering around.  And, you know, just as soon as the latest zombie joins the living something will undoubtedly come tumbling to the shop floor.  Whether it’s coolant, oil, a belt, or perhaps no#2 connecting rod,  something is not going to stay in place.  Just like in every zombie movie I’ve ever watched,.one of them will always have an arm or leg falling off.  It sure seems that these zombie cars follow right along with that same affliction.       It’s safe to say, these relics of the early electronic era of the automotive world are in some respects the car equivalent of a zombie: half dead, half alive…and in search of a brain they may never find.  So don’t be surprised if you’re at the next traffic light when an old faded-rusty-dented car with a shattered windshield, screeching brakes, with plumes of dense low hanging smoke creeping along with it, don't be alarmed, it’s just another car beginning its transformation into a "ZOMBIE CAR".    
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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 5 replies
      • 125 views
    • Article: Sempri Fi - My traditional Memorial day weekend story.... leave a comment

      Semper Fi            Bob was well into his late 80’s when I met him.  He’s quite the talker, and he’ll never run out of things  to tell you.  I like old Bob. We have a few things in common, not much because of the years between us, but just enough that we can relate on quite a few  subjects. We both served in the USMC.  Of course,  the years we served were decades apart, but even  with the differences in time served, we still could  “talk-the-talk” like two old veterans who just got their discharge papers.   Bob had a problem with the horn buttons on his ‘92 Buick.  It was the kind of horn that has its buttons and the air bag all built as one piece.  He didn’t have the money to replace the entire airbag, but he did want to get that horn working somehow.  I thought I could get it to work even if I had to “rig” something up, but that was OK with him.     With his advancing years catching up with him, his hands weren’t the best.  Most of his strength had faded with time, and so did the ability to straighten his fingers all the way out.   I had to come up with a way that he could hit the horn button with the palm of his hand, rather than with a finger tip or thumb.  Not a big deal, actually if he didn’t mind the look of an old style horn button attached to the edge of the air bag (so it didn’t interfere with the air bag operation) it could work just fine.     Now Bob, being Bob, talking was his gift, and finding somebody with a little military background, and stuck in the driver’s seat of his car was all he needed to tell one of his stories.  Bob hopped in the back seat and leaned over to watch what I was doing.  As I worked on his new horn button, he told me all about his time in the Marine Corps.  Fascinating story; I could have listened for hours. In fact, I made sure I took long enough for him to tell his story in full and without any interruptions.   He told me about his time in Korea, in Inchon actually. It was a cold winter when he was there.  A bitter cold wind and heavy snow was only part of the horrific condition he had to deal with.   He went on in great detail how he was just a young kid who didn’t know a thing, and how you would be talking to someone one minute and the next minute the fellow Marine sitting right next to him froze to death.  When he told me that part of his story I had to stop and turn to him to ask, “That really happened, just like that, Bob?”   With a stone cold look on his face he said, “As sure as I’m sitting here talking to you, my friend.”   I don’t think he was kidding. He was dead serious, but it was as if he was telling me a story from a distance, but at the same time, a story where he was actually there in the mountains of Inchon still fighting the bitter cold.  I think it’s a way for time and age to allow a person like Bob to separate themselves from what was probably a terrible event in their life. I certainly have never experienced some of the things he was telling me about, like the chow, the hours of watching for the enemy, or how his boots didn’t have much in the way of insulation, so you put on as many socks as you could along with any straw or grass you could find. Bob made a point to tell me that if you needed to run to the “head” (bathroom for all you none GI type) … well, you tried to wait as long as you could, because exposing yourself in that kind of cold could be the end of you… and I don’t mean just “your” end that’s exposed.    I finished up my little project and gave it a try. It worked just fine.    “Hop up here Bob, and see if you can make it work like this,” I told him.   Bob made his way into the driver’s seat and gave his new horn button a try.  A gleam came over his face, beaming from ear to ear.  He had to try it a few more times, and each time the smile kept getting bigger and bigger.  “Don’t you know I needed that horn! Mercy, there’s some little kids in my neighborhood who get out in the street to play, and I just want to toot my horn to let them know I’m coming.  Thanks partner, ya done me right.”   The old Marine got out of his car and opened his wallet, “How much do I owe ya?”     “Bob, it was an honor to do this job for you. I can’t take a thing.”   “You most certainly are, Marine!” he said to me as he palms a twenty in my hand.   “Thanks Bob, I appreciate that, but I really appreciate the stories. You know I write a column for a magazine, and I think I’d like to tell your story if that’s OK.”    “Sure, not a problem. Go right ahead. I think I’d like that.”   You don’t shake hands with Bob, because of his crippled hands; his way of shaking hands is to “bump” knuckles.  Good enough for me.  It’s the thought that counts.  Then Bob turns to the car sitting in the bay just in front of his car. With whatever strength he had, he did his best to straighten one finger and point at the car in front.     “I’ll never get over seeing this,” he said.   It was a Kia Sportage in for a no start condition.  I made the assumption it was because it’s a Korean car, and I thought it must be bringing back some of those painful memories he had as a young man.   “I understand where you’re coming from Bob, it’s a Korean car. I understand completely; it’s something your generation had to deal with on the battlefield where your friends had died.  I’m sorry it brings up some bad memories for you.”   “That ain’t it,” he said as he walked closer to the car, and pointed directly at the name branded on the back door, “Killed – In – Action.”   I think my knees buckled a bit when he said that.  I didn’t know what to say next.  Bob waved good-bye, and pulled his car out of the shop, and tooted his horn as he made his way down the street.           I see old Bob once in awhile, still driving the same car, still tootin’ his horn.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget his story of how he served our country. He’s one of the last of that generation, a much simpler time, before computers, before cell phones, and when KIA stood for only one thing.      I’m proud to have served my country, I’m even more proud to have met a great man like Bob.  We should all be as lucky, and we should all remember what his generation and many others have done to keep this country free.  So the next time you see a Kia, think of it as something other than a car, think about my friend Bob.  Then, say this to yourself:   Semper Fi Bob, Semper Fi.  
      View full article

      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 2 replies
      • 184 views
    • SOCIAL MEDIA ATTACK SNOWBALL

      I NEED HELP.  I have been in business 48 years.  We had our best year ever, finally over 1 million in our small shop. I have always prided myself on our reputation.  We recently had a vehicle that had a drain plug not put back in and in return the engine went bad.  We replaced it with an engine with fewer miles. Both engines her old one and the replacement needed a timing belt.  The customer originally agreed to pay $650.00 for a new timing belt reduced price, when we put the engine in.  Finished the job and then she didn’t want to pay. We eventually said fine just pick up the car. We had asked her to sign a confidentially agreement because she had her son, sister, ex-husband and uncle  come in yelling.   She has turned us into the BBB which we have  A plus rating.  We responded with she could pick up the car anytime for Zero dollars.   We are being pounded in social media website NEXT DOOR.  It is like a snowball going downhill getting bigger and bigger.  Can’t get it to stop.  I responded on the site.  I didn’t do a he said she said.  I just laid out the facts.  I know people read what I had to say and appreciated it.  I even had a person stop in and say it took a lot of guts to respond like I did.  But he couldn’t say anything because he is a business owner and didn’t want to be attacked for it.  With all that being said we have many wonderful customers.  We have 667 five start reviews with only 8- 1 star reviews.  I know I am not the first person to be attacked like this on social media.  Any ideas would be much appreciated. If interested attached is my reply that went on the neighborhood site.   You can even call me.  503 646 2940  randi gant.docx

      By DUFRESNES, in Marketing, Advertising, & Promoting

      • 22 replies
      • 1,414 views
    • Improve your local ranking on Google

      Google has a great informational page that outlines best practices to increase your website/business ranking in search results.  Can’t find your business? Improve your info. You may find that your business doesn’t appear for relevant searches in your area. To maximize how often your customers see your business in local search results, complete the following tasks in Google My Business. Providing and updating business information in Google My Business can help your business’s local ranking on Google and enhance your presence in Search and Maps. Enter complete data Local results favor the most relevant results for each search, and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches. Make sure that you’ve entered all of your business information in Google My Business, so customers know more about what you do, where you are, and when they can visit you. Provide information like (but not limited to) your physical address, phone number, and category. Make sure to keep this information updated as your business changes. Learn how to edit your business information Verify your location(s) Verify your business locations to give them the best opportunity to appear for users across Google products, like Maps and Search. Learn more about verification Keep your hours accurate Entering and updating your opening hours, including special hours for holidays and special events, lets potential customers know when you’re available and gives them confidence that when they travel to your location, it will be open. Learn how to edit your hours Manage and respond to reviews Interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews. Learn more Add photos Adding photos to your listings shows people your goods and services, and can help you tell the story of your business. Accurate and appealing pictures may also show potential customers that your business offers what they’re searching for. Learn more How Google determines local ranking Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that's farther away from your location is more likely to have what you're looking for than a business that's closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results. Relevance Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches. Distance Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn't specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location. Prominence Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results. Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business's local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization. There's no way to request or pay for a better local ranking on Google. We do our best to keep the details of the search algorithm confidential to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone. Source: https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en

      By Alex, in Website Tips

        
      • 2 replies
      • 316 views
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