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My shop is in a very rural area in South Carolina. We are mainly a new tire dealer and we have been here for over 40 years. We repair and replace everything from hand truck tires all the way up to large radial rear tractor tires. We do alignments, brakes, front end suspension work, batteries, and oil changes. We have been successful at what we do, but I see the effects of the internet and additional competition from car dealers, big box, etc. on tires and rims. I took over from my dad about 3 years ago and I added oil changes and focused more on the alignment and front end suspension work, which has been great. I have a great alignment and suspension guy. My background is more finance and the business side of things as opposed to the mechanical side of things. I would like to get into doing more for our customers. I want to get some opinions on what types of services we should offer, and how I can find a decent general maintenance tech. I don't think that we should jump full on into engine and transmission work, but I could see doing things like master cylinders, ac work, fuel filters, general maintenance, etc. I am going to have a pretty steep learning curve on this, so any pointers you guys could provide will be appreciated.
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how to choose your Car Repair and Services garages ???
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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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Where’s That Machine? Even in this age of electronic gadgets, voice recognition systems, and cell phones, there are still a few things that require the dexterity of a human being. For some skilled and unskilled jobs the physical work or mental intuitiveness hasn’t been entirely replaced by machines, microprocessors and LED’s, just yet. Automotive diagnostics and repair is one of those fields. The modern mechanic is still very much a part of the repair equation. But, go to any repair shop in this country, and you’ll probably hear somebody at the service counter ask the service writer, “You guys do have one of those machines that tells you what’s wrong, don’t ya?” Yeah, we have one of those machines. It’s that guy in the service bay leaning over your car right now. You know, the mechanic. Oh, you know who they are. They’re usually the guy you spot in the elevator or at the supermarket who has more than a few grease spots on his clothes, scuffed up shoes, a pocket screwdriver, rough calloused hands, and wearing a shirt with his own name on it. He’s generally not a college graduate, probably doesn’t know the difference between Harvard and Yale, and probably doesn’t care either, but intelligent just the same. Yes, a machine all right. A walking, talking, hardworking, diagnostic and mechanically inclined individual who uses tools and equipment to solve your car problems. Look how the tools of the modern mechanic have changed over the years, such as scanners and meters. They are an aide, a machine, a tool if you will, but they don’t give out answers. Although, these tools can do so much in the way of diagnosing a problem in the hands of an expert mechanic. They show the technician a code or information in regards to the internal aspects of the vehicle. Code numbers and definitions are a strategic direction for the repair. This allows a trained technician to know which pathway to take in making the repair. To put it in other words: the real machine that finds out what’s wrong with your car is those two hands and brain of the very guy with his name imprinted on his shirt. Not some box of transistors and relays, but people still ask about and believe there is this magical mystery machine that does all the work. The automotive field isn’t what those reality TV shows portray it to be, either. Most of these shows highlight the automotive industry as a place for stupid, filthy, disorganized-knuckle dragging fools who can’t read or write, and wouldn't know a dentist office if they stumbled in one. It’s just one more reason why it’s so hard to find sharp, young talent to take up the trade. Car technology changes so fast these knuckle draggers can’t keep up with the true professional mechanic field and what goes on in a real repair facility, but for some reason somebody at these networks think reality shows of guys taking old non-computerized cars apart is what we want to watch on television. I for one would rather watch something useful like reflashing a GM than what it takes to weld in a new quarter panel. You want to get the next generation interested in the field…show em’ something of interest in the way of a modern computer driven vehicle. The vast number of computer systems, hydraulics, electrical, radar/navigation systems and mechanical aspects of the modern car are constantly changing. This means continual education is a must for the professional mechanic. A modern mechanic is more like a surgeon than a brick layer is to one. Even though both are considered laborer trades, one is more artistic in nature while the other is more technology driven. For some people, the mere thought that somebody out there knows more about their car than they do is quite disturbing to them. They seem to think they are far more intelligent than the engineers, designers, and the mechanics combined. In their interpretation of the automotive repair world, the mechanic has to be an idiot to even think they can make a living fixing this stuff when it’s just as easy to fix it yourself at home in the garage. I’ve been told more than once by an irate customer that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to fix a car, so it shouldn’t cost that much. So, why would these types of people even want to talk with this guy who has his name tattooed on his shirt? Why not bypass him altogether and go right to the mechanized technical wonder they can’t seem to find at the local part store. You know, that machine. That thing-a-mabob that tells those dimwitted Neanderthal mechanics what part to change and how to make their car all better. As far as they are concerned, diagnostics are not needed, because following a path laid out in a diagnostic chart isn’t a skill that’s required when making a repair. Just read the results on the scanner, order the part, stick it on, and then get back to their own lives with as little interruption as possible. All they want to pay for is what they consider the main reason for going to the mechanic in the first place. You know, let them get greasy, change some widget and make their car run like new without costing them a fortune, and if it doesn’t… blame the mechanic, and not that dime store diagnostic machine they relied on. Where the idea of a machine that can answer every type of automotive problem by simply plugging it into the car is beyond me. I suppose, some of it comes from growing up with the TV and watching sci-fi shows, but reality doesn’t come across as real with a portion of the driving public. They’re still stuck with the notion that Mr. Spock will break out his Tri-corder and inform them about the composition of material making up their engine block, and the exact cause of their engine misfire. Seriously people, get a grip on reality. The idea that this perfect machine actually exists is simply absurd, but the mystery of it all still lingers in the minds of those tried and true believers of all this technical wizardry of which they don’t understand. In their minds that “machine” is real, and any mechanic that doesn’t know about one is a fool. In the near future, even this mythical, magical machine may actually be more fiction than myth. Telematics and remote diagnostics may make the vision of a “one machine can fix-all” far more real than we can imagine. Not that I believe there really will be a “fix-all” machine capable of re-gapping a worn out spark plug, but I do believe a lot of systems will be diagnosed, and possibly electronically repaired by remote intervention. Although, those tough diagnostics that can’t be sorted out will still require the skill of a good diagnostic mechanic to accomplish them. Maintenance and wearable item repairs will most likely be the commonplace activities at a repair shop in the future. Needless to say, the days of a home mechanic with a set of tools picked up at a garage sale may soon be a thing of the past or left up to the hobbyist working on antique vehicles. The modern technically advanced vehicle of the future may become too far advanced for anyone except for the skilled mechanic. We may be in a technically advanced computer age, and there’s no doubt there are further advancements to be made, but the trained mechanic is still a big part of the future. So, the next time someone asks, “Where’s that machine?” tell them it’s where it’s always been, in the service bay, and you’ve been talking to it all this time… your mechanic.
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hey guys, I have a question right now I'm paying about $600-$700 in credit card possessing fees threw my company. that's based on 30k in sales. Is this high? Anyone use a company that they would suggest? thank you in advance !
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