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By Zs Automotive
I just opened an auto repair shop about 4 months ago, but I'm still working my full time job as a tech therefore I open the shop from 4 pm until 9pm M-F and 8-5 on Saturday. I'm starting to build customers but most are from referrals and neighbors I don't get much traffic cars. I'm starting to think that the hours I'm open don't really work for the auto repair business seems like after 6 everything dies. Has anyone worked this kind of hours or what do you guys think about this odd hours.
Article: The Ghost Mechanic - those mechanics that seem to leave evidence of their bad work that you find... or was it a mechanic after all?By Gonzo
The Ghost Mechanic
Creepier things have happened, but rarely do things go without an explanation. This time around it’s the mystery mechanic who seems to have been working on this guy’s car, or maybe not. Maybe it’s that ghostly mechanic who haunts people’s cars on quiet neighborhood streets in the middle of the night. You know, that guy who leaves nothing but telltale greasy finger prints or unattached wire harnesses, or even loose bolts where loose bolts shouldn’t be. This job was no exception to the antics of the invisible mechanic’s handy work. It’s a mystery worth solving.
A Chevy HHR was towed in for a no start condition. It wasn’t exactly a no start; it was more like a poor starting/running condition. When it would run, the poor thing sounded like it was on its last trip to the garage and its first trip to the salvage yard. Trying to beat it to its last ride on the tow truck, I hooked up the scanner to see what inner mysteries were present. Code P1682 (Ignition 1 switch circuit 2), but I wasn’t done yet. Time to do a complete health check on all the modules. Sure enough, the ‘U’ codes were off the charts. Seems we have a lot of low voltage codes causing a problem.
A quick check of the wiring diagram showed the power led to a voltage input lead for the PCM, TCM, and several other circuits that would definitely lead to a rough, hard to start, non-cooperating HHR. This may turn out to be a simple problem after all. Could be wiring, a component, or perhaps a fuse box problem. A quick glance at the fuse box didn’t reveal much, but I should probably take a closer look at that fuse box. Maybe go as far as physically checking the actual fuse circuit. Hmm, something is amiss here. The fuse is good, but the fuse is in the wrong slot. The slot that it’s in should be an empty slot. Seems somebody was fooling around under the hood and didn’t put the fuse back correctly.
Might as well try moving the fuse back to the proper location. Well, imagine that, this old HHR starts right up! OK, it’s not running the best . . . yet. Do a little throttle relearn and it runs as good as new.
After rechecking the related circuits for any damage, or out of place items I gave the HHR the once around the block test. Runs great, sounds great, no warning lights, no unusual noises, seems fine to me. I guess I’ll write up an invoice on this job and call the customer. As I closed the hood, the telltale greasy hand prints from the last guy who was under the hood were everywhere. I think I spent as much time cleaning this guy’s hood as I spent diagnosing the problem.
I gave him a call and explained to him, as best I could, what I had found. Although, I did have that one nagging question regarding who had worked on the car previously. I really wanted an answer to that question.
"NOBODY" … are you serious? That’s when I explained the entire repair all over again. Between the greasy finger marks on the hood and fenders, and the fuse in the wrong place, I’m afraid I’m not going to buy the story that the mysterious ghost mechanic has struck again. His only explanation came down to the whole thing must have been a poltergeist or something. Or ‘someone’ not ‘something’ is a better way to put it. I’m not buying the ghost mechanic theory. At this point, he seemed to be more intent on finding out the final bill, and not so much on solving the mystery of how the fuse mysteriously moved into a different slot.
But, before I gave him the total, I recommended he perform an exorcism on his car, since ‘NOBODY’ has been touching it. His response, "How much more will that cost me?” Seriously? Now, I’ve been asked to do all sorts of things to a car, like put a helicopter landing pad on the roof, remove a varmint from behind the dash, or turn a Prius into a tow truck, but I don’t think I’ve ever been explicitly asked to do an exorcism on the family truckster. Actually, I’m starting to put this whole thing together.
The mystery mechanic is none other than this guy himself. His answers to certain questions, and how he told his story were a dead giveaway as to who the ghost mechanic was. I swear some people just can’t be honest and admit when they’re beyond their learning curve. We both might have had a good laugh over the whole thing, but instead this guy wants me to drop the price in half, since it was such an ‘easy’ repair and all, and ignore the whereabouts of this seemingly ghostly apparition with the mindless ability to screw up the family car. But, since this guy wouldn’t own up to it, even with the evidence of his very own greasy paw prints, he’s in for a lesson of honesty, awareness of his own abilities, and how to pay for a professional diagnosis.
It’s just another case of the mechanic solving the mystery of the proverbial ghost mechanic. Debunking wives’A tales about the modern automobile, supernatural occurrences under the hood, and apparitions that seem to move fuses around is just another duty of the modern mechanic. Oh, and don’t think you’re the first person who’s tried the ghost mechanic as your method of passing the blame… you’re not. Every good mechanic has performed their fair share of exorcisms in the past and have seen the results of the mystery mechanic and his endeavors. We know who you really are.
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By Elite Worldwide Inc.
By Bob Cooper
We all know that the industry is continuing to evolve, and you will be seeing your customers less often as time goes on. Accordingly, you will need to find ways to keep your service bays full. One way is through commercial accounts, which we will call fleet accounts. Now I realize that fleet accounts may not be practical for some of you, but for those of you who are open to servicing such accounts, here are some tips you may want to consider…
First of all, many shop owners shy away from fleet accounts because they feel they’re not profitable, and I can understand how they would feel that way. But don’t forget; you set the pricing, not the customer, and there are many business owners who are willing to pay a fair amount for quality repairs and service. Ironically, there’s a perception that in order to be competitive in servicing commercial accounts, you have to come in with the lowest price. Yet in reality, that’s not the case. When I was still operating auto repair shops, I discovered that fleet owners and managers are most interested in quick turnarounds and quality repairs that keep their vehicles on the road. There is no question that with commercial vehicles time is money, which is why every fleet manager knows that vehicle downtime costs them a fortune.
Fleet owners (and managers) need to know that their vehicles will be turned around quickly, so you may want to give them a guarantee when it comes to the turnaround time. You should also bear in mind that your warranty will play a strong role in their decision, because it will send two messages. First of all, it will let them know just how confident you are in your repairs and services, and secondly, it will give them the peace of mind they need in knowing that if one of your repairs fails, they won’t be facing additional expenses.
Now we all know that there will need to be some conditions in place with your warranties, especially with commercial vehicles, but your basic warranty needs to be good enough to put the customer at ease. Something else that I discovered over the years is that fleet owners and managers are busy doing what they need to do with their businesses, so the more hassle-free the service and repair experience is, the more open they will be to your proposal. This leads me to the best-kept secret to landing the right fleet accounts…
What you need to do is put your entire proposal in writing. Fleet owners and managers have been duped in the past in many ways, but one of their biggest challenges is that as soon as they switch service providers, they find that a month or two later they’re faced with huge price increases. This is why you need to clearly outline the prices for the more common repairs and services you’ll provide, and you should guarantee those prices for one full year. You should also clearly outline your warranties, towing provisions and pricing, inspection services, turnaround time and any employee discounts that you elect to include.
Now before I go any further, I know that many of you are thinking that even if the account takes you up on your offer, the margins are going to be thin. I would be the last to disagree, but I also hope you consider that because the services are pre-sold, your efficiencies will naturally improve. Secondly, most advisors are more than willing to earn a little less on these accounts because the jobs are pre-sold, and thus do not require the same investment of their time. Now here comes the best part: beyond having all of the fleet account employees exposed to your brand, the account’s brand is now promoting you. To put it another way, just think of how much more powerful your image and automotive repair marketing campaigns will be when the people in your community know that many of the community’s prominent business owners turn to you as the best choice when it comes to repairing and servicing their vehicles. I am sure you will agree; that kind of name association is priceless.
So, can fleet accounts work for you? Only you can answer that question, but one thing is for certain: now that we are seeing customers less frequently, fleet accounts will be an integral part of many successful shops in the coming years.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com.
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Fleet business can sustain your revenue during the up and down times of the year. Great advice on getting started and be willing to change and adjust as you move along. These three shop owners agree that it may be time for you to ‘Get out of your comfort zone’ and jump into the fleet business. LISTEN HERE. We talk how to recruit fleet customers, obvious reasons to get into the fleet business, the how to deal with fleet managers and the challenges of implementing and growing fleet revenue. Learn from Tom Palermo from Preferred Automotive Specialists in Jenkintown, PA, John Constantin from Bison Fleet Service in Buffalo, NY and Bill Nalu from Interstate Auto Care in Madison Heights, MI.