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I havent posted here in awhile figured id might get some insight. I am 27 years old, Been in business for 4 years. Over the last year i just feel like ive run out of gas. I am getting depressed, Not interested in working on cars or the business. Its taken a toll on it. Very close tk losing it, I do not want that. Any ideas on what to do?
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Picture This ---- I learned a little something when I was teaching a little something Picture This
(A lesson learned while teaching)
Years ago my younger brother came to work for me. He didn't know a thing about cars, but was willing to learn all he could. Teaching new techs is an art that most shop owners have to learn to do, but teaching your little brother can be a chore and can test your patience. I muddled thru it all and taught him what I could. I was sure at some point in time the two of us would butt heads like brothers will do, and he would take his new found skills and move up in the rank and files of the automotive technical world, but in the meantime it was his turn to learn from his older brother.
When he first started I would walk him thru each step of how to diagnose a certain system in a car. A lot of times he would have questions, and I'd do my best to answer them. He learned quickly and was really sharp at picking up some of those little details that are harder to teach, because you tend to forget to mention them while you're teaching. Mainly because you are trying to get to the solution as efficiently as possible, and you neglect to bring it up. Such as: "always test your test light connection before testing what you're testing, or don't forget to check for all your tools before you pull the car out of the shop…." Things like that.
One day we had a truck come in with dual fuel tanks on it. The gas gauge wasn't working and needed some attention. This was a perfect opportunity for Junior to learn a few of my short cuts on these old models. It was an older Ford, in which the tank gauge ran thru the tank switchover button. It was rather easy to pull it out of the dash and connect to the gauge from the back of the switch.
Luckily it was the typical problem I've seen a hundred times in the past. The switch connections would melt and the tank wouldn't switch from the front tank to the rear, and of course the gauge wouldn't move either.
After locating the correct leads to the gauge and to the tanks I decided to show him how the gauge worked. I hooked up the one of the tanks to the crossover lead that would supply the signal from the tank to the gauge.
"Ya see this, that's the lead to the fuel gauge in the dash, and this is one of the tank wires. I'll connect these together and we should get a reading on the dash," I told him.
He was watching intently, taking in all the wiring diagram information, the location of the wires, and how I was bypassing the switch. He was fascinated with the flow of the current and the way the gauge would respond. I even went as far as moving the gauge from full to empty by opening and closing it to a ground signal. While I had his attention I filled him in on the two types of gauges that were used back then (bimetallic and magnetic) and how low resistance on a bimetal type gauge would read near a full tank, while a magnetic gauge would read close to empty. Change the resistance and the gauge would/should read accordingly.
"So, if we put gas in the tank the gauge should move right? That way we could check the sending units in the tanks too," he asked me.
"Great idea, grab a gas can and let's add a few gallons," I said, excited that he was so interested in the project.
He grabbed a can of gas and poured a few gallons in the tank. I was watching the gas guage carefully, but there was no movement. I knew I was on the right wires, but nothing was happening. Now what? Are there more problems?
"Crawl under there, and check to be sure the wire color is correct," I yelled from the cab to him.
"Yep, it's the right wire on the tank."
"Well, we might have to pull the tank; it's not changing the gauge readings up here."
"Before we do that let's add some more gas, maybe we didn't add enough," Junior tells me.
I thought I better go back and help hold the funnel, while he poured the gas in the tank. Unknowing to me, all this time my wife (who was the office manager) was listening in on the whole thing. She likes to keep tabs on me, and make sure I'm not going into one of my usual rants or having a fit because I had to explain something over and over again to little brother. This time she was standing at the corner of the shop just behind the truck with a camera. "CLICK", I heard the camera shutter go off and she was back there laughing like there was no tomorrow.
"What's so funny?" I asked her.
"You two idiots have been putting gas in the wrong tank. You're on the front tank, and you're putting gas in the rear tank," my wife answers, laughing hysterically.
About then the camera "clicked" again… this time it was an action shot taken at precisely the exact moment when these two idiots had that dumb struck look on their faces and realized what they just did. The shot had both of us on our knees, one holding a funnel and the other with the half empty gas can, and both of us staring right into the camera lens. Couldn't have set it up any better if you tried. The picture clearly showed the side of the truck with both fuel tank doors visible and there was no doubt which tank we were putting in the extra gas. I guess it was one of those things I should have mentioned when we were checking the tank senders… make sure we are both on the same tank.
For years that picture hung over her desk, and anytime I thought I was so smart she would point at the photo. Usually with that typical smirk, usually shaking her finger at me and of course the laugh… she had to laugh, but it wasn't all that funny until she had me laughing about it too. Ok, Ok, I'm not perfect... and now my little brother knows it too. These days he's a top notch tech at a dealership, and I have to call him on occasions for some help on how to solve things once in a while. Oh the photo… uhmmm… what photo?? Somehow it's missing… haven't seen the darn thing in years. But I guess I really don't need to see the photo … the wife has a pretty good memory... she reminds me just how smart I think I am every chance she gets.
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By Bruno Tabbi
New member here.
I wanted to pose a question to the forum here.
Which types of leads are most likely to turn into sales for you? Put another way, what is your best source for generating new business? I don't want to know how you advertise, I want to know know for example if phone calls are more valuable than web leads, or which types of leads have the highest closing ratio for you?
For most people here and in most industries, its unanimous that word-of-mouth and in person interactions are your most likely sales but besides those what is the most reliable? Web leads, phone calls? And when you do advertise do you push people to the form of contact that your most likely to close?
The reason I ask is because I see people just advertise their website with no phone number sometimes or some people really push people to call.
Do you find that people who call your shop are more likely to come in than people who might come from a web lead such as an online form?
Thanks in advance for any input.
As the title says, I will be turning 50 in the next few years, and I am now in doubt that I want to stay in this business.
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy running the business and helping ppl. But I feel burn out.
I have a few properties and other things that will help me "retire", but I have not seen anything that fires me up into the next stage in life.
Anyone else have experienced anything like it?
When it comes to cars there’s one thing that has held true from the very earliest days of needing any type of repair: if there is a demand for it, somebody will grit their teeth and step in there and get it done. And, that somebody is the mechanic. There’s a demand for qualified technicians all over the country, and as the complexity of the modern vehicle increases, the demand for more knowledgeable mechanics will be even greater. Being in-demand is one thing, being ready to make those repairs on-demand is another.
Obviously, demands expected of mechanics have greatly changed over the years, and the type of, or ways of making a repair has changed as well. Needless to say, mechanics will always be in-demand, regardless of these changes. Consumers, on the other hand, have their own set of demands and can be quite finicky.
The greatest asset to any business is its customers, but there are a few fellow consumers out there who have their demands a little confused. I’m referring to the ones who have a problem with their car, but can’t commit to getting it in the shop.
Whether it’s due to the weather, the day of the week or the cost of the repair somehow, someway their demands change from one extreme to the other. They are definitely in-demand of a qualified mechanic to solve their problems, but for some reason their demands are overshadowed by other factors.
I’m still puzzled as to how many times I get a call on a typical, rainy day and someone will ask, “Do you fix windshield wipers?” I’ll answer, “Yes”. Then they’ll tell me, “OK, as soon as it stops raining, I’ll be in.” Obviously the mechanic is in-demand by the caller, or they wouldn’t have called. “Now!”, usually isn’t the appropriate on-demand time, and you know, once it stops raining so will the demand of having the wipers in working order.
You might say they were just inquiring if you did that kind of work, and they’ll be in just as soon as the rain stops. Funny thing is, I hardly ever see the customer or the car after the rain stops.
How about the ones who call on the coldest day of winter wanting to know if I can replace a heater core, and if I can get it done ASAP? Well, if it’s an icy, snowy winter day chances are I’m not that busy anyway, so “now” would be an excellent time to demand something like that. Oh, but wait, there’s a catch. They can’t make it because they can’t clear the frost off the windshield. Sure, you could mention a tow truck, or you could send somebody out to pick it up. But, all of a sudden it’s not so important to have it done now. Seems their demands have changed somewhere in the length of the phone call.
I’ve lost count how many times this has happened. You know, when a customer comes into the shop boiling over with excitement about finally getting their car fixed. Oh, they’ll talk to the receptionist about how they have been putting things off just to get the car into the shop today, how wonderful it will be to have it fixed, and how they already budgeted for the repair based on the estimate you gave them a few weeks ago. The smiles keep coming from the other side of the counter, up until they realize it really is going to take as long as you estimated to get the job done, but without warning, their entire attitude will change. Seems the on-demand was there, and the “in-demand” was in place, but now… everything is off. “Oh, I’ll have to wait until next month to get it done. I just remembered, I have some other pressing items to take care of first. Oh, don’t worry I’ll be back,” they tell me.
It never fails, someone at the counter will demand to have their car looked at this very second, and then figures out that their plans need to be changed because of the length of time it would take to make the actual repair, or the fact you just can’t physically start on it right now. The outcome predictably is the same, with the same old line, “I’ll be back”. (I’ve learned not to hold my breath waiting for their return, or scratch a tentative date on the calendar).
Whether it’s the, “I’ve got to talk to my wife first”, the “What time do you open?”, or the “I’ll absolutely be back tomorrow”, you know there’s not a stick of truth to their story whatsoever. I often wonder why they just can’t tell me straight out, “I’m sorry, but you’re too expensive”, or “I just can’t afford it, so I’ll have to pass”, or “You fix it now and if you can’t, I’ll take it somewhere else.” It would make things a lot easier to move on to the next paying project rather than assuming even a small percentage of these “I’ll be backs” will ever show up again. In all honesty, probably less than 1% of them ever return.
I guess it’s just human nature to act this way. I suppose in some respects, it’s a much gentler way of getting oneself out of the jam you’re in. Perhaps they were hoping for some miracle from the automotive repair genie, and to be bestowed with some mystical repair with nothing more than a snap of the genie’s fingers.
It’s no different when you ask the guy on the phone, “So, what’s the problem with the car?” and instead of just telling you the symptom they have to go into this long dissertation of everything they’ve just done to the car. Every part and bolt has to be explained in detail, and they will usually throw in names of any shops that referred them to you. However, by the time you get to the diagnostic charge their entire demand during the phone call has changed.
Maybe they were just looking for free information, or some sort of good-old-boy bailing wire repair that I could explain over the phone. Obviously, the mechanic is in-demand. They called the right place, and they have a need for the service of a mechanic, but apparently not a very strong demand for professional service.
Like any professional field, the cost of service is based on the amount of background knowledge, the years of service, and the equipment involved. However, there are more repair shops near you right now that are working on cars with absolutely no proper training or equipment. Basically, they’ll charge you less to get you in the door. This also means a lot of wasted time and money trying different cheap parts and fixes; no diagnostics, proper equipment, and certainly without proper training.
Maybe this is why so much mistrust is in the world of auto repair. Some consumers have gone round-and-round at cheap parts stores and parts-slapper shops, without luck. Even though there is a demand for a true professional shop, there will still be a lingering doubt from the consumer whether or not this shop will be capable of doing any better than the last shop that just threw parts at it.
Hey, nobody is perfect, and yes, I started out with very little training, but it wasn’t long before I figured out that if you want to get anywhere in this business, you have to get the training. So, my immediate demand was to get that training and become a true professional at my trade, and not another one of those parts changing mechanics. Of course, some consumers are still going to find those parts thrower shops, no matter the problem. You have to ask yourself, “How many poor decisions do I have to make before the professional mechanic is in-demand?” Well, that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself.
Eventually, cars will be too sophisticated for those fly-by-night guys or the DIY’r. Maybe, some of these consumers will start to take notice of how much demand there is for a well-trained technician. There will still be a few quirky ones out there who will bring their car in and demand that all the valve stems stay in alignment. That’s OK too. It’s not a perfect world out there, and you may still have to spend time explaining to people that some demands can never be met…no matter what.
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