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Typically, at the end of the year, tool reps and other sales people will try to sell shops tools and equipment with the pitch to make sure you get all your write-off deductions in by the end of the year.
While this tax strategy can reduce your taxable income, thus reducing the amount of taxes you owe, you need to discuss any purchase with the purpose of using it as a write-off with a qualified accountant first.
Reducing taxable income through ligament write-off deductions can in many cases also reduce your cash reserve. Cash is king and sometimes paying taxes and maintaining cash reserve is the smarter decision.
Everyone wants to reduce their business and personal income tax. But, please discuss with your accountant any purchase that may impact cash reserve. Obviously, if you need a particular tool or equipment to operate your business, that’s different.
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We all have the good, the bad, the liar, and honest customer. This customer brings me in his personal 2006 Hummer H2. Looks at me hands me a dozen Titleist Pro V golf balls and says fix my truck . We chit chat a few and he says I took the vehicle to SO & SO to have a leak in the top light fixed and carpet dried out, I opened the door and this thing smelled like a dead animal in there for days. He says that is not the problems crank it up and watch what happens, out pf his mouth he says it has gremlins in it. The gauges go off all lights go off windows up and down , RPM gauge works. Then bam it goes to normal. I feel underneath carpet still wet , the guy had charged to take out and dry this. I said Bill I am going to have to dry this out. As I said Bill is the both honest and good customer, He says Dave I do not care what it cost , he actually does own a large bank here, fix it or Ill go find a new one. This is one of those "Center Of Influence" customers I have, his friends are the people you want for customers. I have others say yeah old so and so was telling me about you in the Country Club how good and honest you are. He things I hung the moon and can fix anything. OK, heats on right out of gate I pick up the Hummer at the bank drive to office and never once did it happen. I get to work, yank out seats ,pull carpet up and yank out padding and threw it in garbage it stunk bad. I am sorta PEE-OD at the guys that charged him 611.00 already and hosed a good guy . I put fans under both sides of carpet and dry it out all night . Put new padding in it rehooked all plugs and redid the 2 small grounds on floor , remember, he always said this happened when those guys did the previous work. I actually called the shop up that did the work and spoke to the owner and ask him how much water was in it and if they unplugged anything , he denies all other than we dried it out and took the seats out. I keep the high road and said thank you. Heck wasn't my money, it still sorta ticks me off when I see charges for something that is so easy to repair correctly, the previous shop was a Auto Trim Shop, heck he should have cut the wet pad out he new dry mat in stock . He had the seats out he acknowledged that earlier. He says we dried it out and did not do anything to the computers. I drive car home , 13 miles home ,13 miles back. Bill comes to pick up Hummer it is running like a dream , no gauge issues or smell. I charge him 500.00 he shakes my hand , says your the best David, dont know what I would do without you. I am still a little concerned and told him nothing hit me in the head as the previous gauge issue . I saw one right door connector wire that was not altogether , I also reset all grounds. We shake hands again and out the door he goes , then the worst thing ever happens I look at my phone on the other line is one of my best Customers who just left, not mad , he just says David this thing has gone crazy windows rolling down radio lights off all gauge lights on , weird stuff . Like a BCM. I said Bill you gotta bring it back in the morning Sat. I am going to be out Tue and Wed. He pulls up , great customer and guy and says It never did this until I took to Auto Trim Shop. Call me when it is done. Game on. I am like dang, so I yank dash covers off go to Mitchell print all my circuits, get out my power probe and scanner and here we go. I am getting very erratic numbers from the DLC ground wire , it was killing my scanner when it would go into this mode. I worked on it for 3 hard hours trying to make it happen it was on and off. I finally was done with it yesterday call my brother who I think could be Einstein of electricity, he pops off , I guarantee you I can tell what is wrong with it. I said ok big boy I am right around the corner, Sunday at 2.00 PM . I pull up give him run down , he reads schematics and says this and that at 5 o'clock he says I don't think it is ground issue I think computer. I come home and making plans who to take to this morning . I said to my wife at 8 PM last night i am gonna get my bright light and go look at this truck , I will redo grounds real quick. I come running in house come help me , she is 5'2' tall I said get that flashlight tell me what I am pushing with my foot under the dash it is triggering the dash issue, "Finally Something", I Love Her To Death, 25 years, she is blonde. I am saying put your finger on what my left big toe is touching. Finally I get down there she gets in seat and I start wiggling gas pedal mount , nothing, I smartly say go back inside I get in truck stretch out and put my toe of my shoe in a area under dash stretched out and as I tap with my foot the GREMLINS go nuts. I go to hop out off this Hummer and I feel new fake leather on the side of seat. When I was moving over edge of seat the gremlins started I put foot back under dash and start moving my rear end around in seat. I hop out go underneath backseat unplugged the electrical connector to the controls. BINGO. The guy had resewn a piece of fake leather onside of seat when they had it there. When the kid put the seat back together he just let the main harness hang it got wedged in between 2 bars inside the seat I took side control panel off seat. When I started doing it one screw was different by about 3 inches longer and had penetrated the harness also. I took pictures of it. I did a lot of work because a kid, i hope,did not take the time and do the job right. The sew looks good he just crammed the harness back inside the seat and ran a screw threw it because he did not put the plastic clips back in the holes that they were in. My guys will have a lesson on quality and control this morning. ""I GUESS I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED"" WHEN THE CUSTOMER SAID IT DID NOT DO IT UNTIL THEY TOOK THE SEATS OUT, DRIED IT OUT AND FIXED THE WATER LEAK IN ROOF LIGHTS. He was right. If people only new what we go through working on these new vehicles. So how was your weekend.
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A customer wanted to speak to me the other day to let me know of a situation he had on the road. He said that there was a car that was tailgating him, and it turns out that the driver of the car was one of my techs. The customer was driving to my shop to pick up his other car and saw my tech pull into the shop. The customer was upset and said he was surprised that one of my employees would drive like this. I thanked him for bringing this to my attention, and said I would look into it. BUT, the customer said one thing that did not sit well with me. At one point he said, “Maybe he thought I cut him off?” In the meantime, my tech went up to one of my advisors to let him know what happen. We sat down with the tech and I could sense he was upset. I asked what happened and he said, “I was road testing a car, and a car pulls out in front of me. I nearly locked up the brakes and then I backed off. It happened real quickly.” After listening to both sides, it was clear in my mind that what happened was a mistake on both sides. This tech has never shown me anything but respect and is a soft-spoken guy. I believe him. The truth? Well, I have learned that each side will state his position and the truth is usually found somewhere in the middle. Equally important: Don’t be too quick to judge the employee, listen to all sides, ask question and focus on what happened. Correct the performance. People make mistakes. If you have the right people, look to improve and move on. Lastly,when the employee knows you have their back and looking out for their best interest, this will go a long way with morale.
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Nothing Beats a Full House There’s days, even weeks (depending on the time of year) when a pair is pretty good. Then there are days when three of a kind ain’t bad. But in my book nothing beats a full house. I’ll bet you thought I was talking about poker, didn’t ya? Nope, I’m talking about the automotive repair business. When the shop is humming, and the jobs are flowing, and business is brisk, that’s when I know I’ve been dealt a winning hand. It might mean coming into work really early or staying late, but at the end of the week it’s a pretty good feeling to know you’ve played your cards right. There’s been many a day that closing down the shop early is better than being dealt jokers or cards that won’t play. The phone isn’t ringing, the shop is empty, all the tools and service bays have been cleaned, and all the shelves are stocked, but not a single car in the service bays. Those are the days that even a pair sounds good. I’d even settle for pulling one decent card out of the deck on those days. “It’s feast or famine,” a good friend of mine told me. He’s a realtor, and his business is the same way. One day everybody is calling, and the next day you have to pick up the phone just to see if there’s still a dial tone. (Boy, do I know it, I certainly can relate to that.) There is a pattern to all of this chaos though. It took me years of running a shop to figure it out, and I’m sure the same thing happens in every part of the country, just like it does here in the southern part where I live. Take the holidays… no, seriously… take them. There a joyous time to be with family and friends, but it’s not that great if you’re making a living servicing cars. It never fails when a holiday is on the calendar you can bet it’s slow. But, the day or so before a long weekend holiday you can guarantee it’s going to be packed at the repair shop. Seems everybody waits to the last minute to get the car ready for a trip and everybody wants their car done… RIGHT NOW! I pretty much know those are the days I’m coming in early and staying late. Then there’s when school starts… listen close…can ya hear the crickets out in the shop? I know I can. Usually the week or two before school starts everything slows to a crawl. Oh you might get a couple of pair, maybe three of a kind but it’s doubtful you’ll get a full house. As soon as school is in session the cards start to fall in the right place again. It’s a sure bet the shop is going to be full for the next couple of weeks. Of course there’s Fair week. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Fair, I think it’s pretty cool, but not from a business stand point that’s for sure… it’s the week to fold your hand. Nothing ever happens Fair week. In my early years there was one Fair week that I’ll never forget. I had one car for the whole entire week… yes… one and only one car. However, it was a super huge job that nearly took the whole week to finish. (Funny how things work out that way.) Temperature and the weather have a lot to do with what cards you’re dealt in this crazy world of auto repair. Heavy snow or monsoon rain means… stay home, fold em’. Now a light rain, one of those steady down pours that doesn’t seem to end has a different affect. The shop slows, but the phone rings constantly. The usual caller will tell me something like this; “Yes, I’m having a problem with my wipers can you fix them?” I’ll answer, “Why yes, we could get you in right now.” “Oh it’s raining, but as soon as it lets up I’ll bring it in.” I know better than to assume they’ll be in on the next sunny day. As soon as the sun comes out they forget all about their wiper troubles. I guess it’s one of those “out of sight, out of mind” things. Although, I’ve learned to get their phone number, and call them the next day and remind them of their previous call and set an appointment to get it in the shop. Surprisingly enough, it works. Now the temperature, that’s a real fickle issue. Too hot or too cold does some strange things to cars. Usually means it’s going to be busy. Then again if it’s a “room temperature” sort of day… it’s probably not going to be that busy. There are the calls of course, there’s the “stop by the shop and chat about it” kind, and then there are the ones that just want to pick your brain and price check everything. When it comes to creature comforts in the car, it’s a safe bet on those high or low temperature days those systems are on the top of the repair priority list. Wouldn’t be the first time someone has come in the shop with their brakes metal to metal, but they’re not worried about that… that A/C is a must. Now in the winter months it’s the heater, or the defroster, or the wiper blades that froze to the windshield the night before and they didn’t bother to clean them off… they just turned them on, and now... oops… they don’t work at all. The one ace in the hole that does take the edge off of the ups and downs of the seasonal changes is to have a back burner job sitting in the corner of the shop. Maybe a restoration project or some personal toy you can pull out of moth balls for the guys to fiddle around with when it’s slow. All in all, doing this job is a great reward; it’s a great career choice. You meet some really interesting people from all walks of life in this business. A lot of them become regulars, and stop by no matter what the temperature is or whether or not the Fair is in town. Ya just got to play your cards right, know when to fold them and know when to hold them. When it’s slow you might tend to dwell on things and think you’ve done something wrong, but then things pick back up and you forget all about those thoughts. You’re taking a gamble in just about any career choice you make, automotive repair is no different, and when someone asks, “How’s it going?” I always answer with, “It’s slowly getting busy or busy getting slow.” A couple of cars in the morning, maybe three of a kind later that afternoon, whatever there is that’s the hand you’ve been dealt for the day. But, in this game of auto repair… nothing beats a full house. Click here to view the article
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Trust your ears; listen and write exactly what the customer says That’s the advice I preach to my service advisors. I remember a few years back I overheard a customer give a 5 minute explanation of a no start problem. When the customer was finished, the service advisor typed on the tech word order: “Check battery." Boy was I furious. Customers give you clues to the problem. Do not translate or change in any way, the thoughts and words of the customer. Take the time to listen and write down exactly what the customer states. About 10 years ago, a customer, Dave Bell, came in saying that every time he passes Mrs. Murphy’s driveway, the transmission would slip. I took the car out on a few road tests and found nothing wrong. I gave the car back to him and he returned 2 days later insisting that it had something to do with Mrs. Murphy’s driveway. After a little detective work I learned that the problem only occurs in the morning. Each morning he would back the car down his driveway. Then he would put in drive and proceed down the block. Then he made a stop at the corner, turned right up a steep incline where he passed Mrs. Murphy’s driveway. There he felt the slip. It had nothing to do with poor Mrs. Murphy, but everything to do with the steep incline. Obviously he had a transmission issue. I learned long ago not to discount what customers say. Your ears can be an important part of the diagnostic process.
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