By Mark Johnson
In an effort to update the group with all the most recent developments, we are happy to inform you that on March 20, 2020 the U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the U.S. Department of Labor announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.
This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act), signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020.
The Act will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee's own health needs or to care for family members.
The legislation will enable employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks, their personal health or the public health measures needed to combat the virus.
To learn more about how this will work or how to access up to $2M in Federal SBA disaster loans call us at 954-324-0803 or book a time in our calendar https://calendly.com/markjohnsontaxplanner/45strategysession.
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This is an article I wrote several years ago for a trade magazine.... I think it's still true today... Love to hear your comments.
Diagnostics fee or not
This has been an issue since day one. Should we charge to diagnose the car or should the estimate be free. Let’s define an estimate first.
What is an estimate?
An estimate is a list of all the parts and labor involved in making a repair. With the possibilities of adding supplements to the original estimate if other work is deemed necessary after the initial work has started.
Ok that’s an estimate, or is it…? Let’s try this again.
What is an estimate?
It’s a guess……. With the chance that I might get it right but more than likely the final bill will be different than what was original “estimated” at.
Hmm, the two definitions are different but at the same time mean the same thing… What about the diagnostic side? Ok, how about that… that diagnostic thing.
What is a diagnostic?
It is the process in which a technician is able to determine the cause or failure of a piece of equipment, vehicle, or appliance.
Did ya get that? … One more time …
What is a diagnostic?
It is the process used to determine the root cause of a given mechanical or electrical problem that has become an issue with a vehicle, appliance or piece of equipment.
Sounds the same doesn’t it…. hmm, maybe we are getting to the real issue… MONEY
The diagnostics may take some time, may even require a few sophisticated scanners, wiring diagrams, and tools. Time is money as we all know, of course, knowledge, expertise and experience is a commodity that should always be respected no matter what field you are in. A service charge for such “diagnostics” is essential in the continuing financial stability of a shop or for that matter… any service oriented business.
Once the diagnostics has been completed an “estimate” can then be given to the customer for their approval. This should also be noted that if a “diagnostics” is preformed and the problem turns out to be “intermittent” or none exciting a fee still applies. The time has already been spent to figure out that there was nothing wrong. That brings up another touchy issue. For some reason the customer feels cheated if you charge for nothing found… now wait a minute, how was it determined that nothing was wrong… ah…the diagnostics lead to that result. Then the problem isn’t the problem anymore, it’s the time spent looking for the problem that is the problem. To ease the customer’s woes you could always give them a time table for future re-evaluations. (30 days is a good round number) Note; It wouldn’t be the first time I have diagnosed a car for a customer only to find out that their complaint is from lack of understanding of their vehicle or dare I say… their just another fruit basket behind the wheel.
Now I’m not in favor of a free diagnostics (if you couldn’t tell already) and I’m not too fond of the free estimate. If there is any “man hours” that are part of any job a “man” wants paid. If that “man” is working on a commission basis, I can assure you that he is going to rush through the “estimate” in order to get to the real money end of the job.
However a diagnostic is a totally different thing, I don’t think I could have made a living without charging for the time it takes to figure out some of the strange pr oblems I’ve encountered over the years. Some things were easy to diagnose, some took hours. But I believe it’s the standardization of a diagnostic charge that would make things a lot easier for the customers to understand the complexities of today’s problem evaluations.
If a tech couldn’t figure out a problem in a reasonable length of time … say an hour… then it’s quite possible the shop is going to be losing money if they kept him on that job. The next best thing would be to move him off that job. Put another tech on who might be able to figure out the problem in a reasonable amount of time. Of course, the shop is already behind the 8 ball, since the first tech didn’t get the job done, but in the long run… it will get done, there will be an estimate for the customer explaining the repairs needed.
I don’t know which is more of a problem, the shops out there not willing to charge for estimating… Oops I mean diagnostic time… or the customer who doesn’t feel that it’s a necessary part of the process. Then again, these are not yesterday’s cars.
It’s about time there were some standards that everyone in the industry had to go by, be it from the independent side or the dealer side. Regulation or self imposed limits as to how much can be charged across the board for various levels of diagnostics. Not to say diagnosing a bad ball joint is easier than a battery drain, no, not at all. Each field in the industry would have to come up with a balanced set of standards that those involved could agree was a fair price for that type of service. If all the independent shops charge the same fees in a demographic area it would lead to a more even playing field for the customer. Maybe, we should think about using a different term rather than “independent”… we can be independent in ownership, style, quality, etc… but put the customer’s concerns up front. If I wasn’t in the business and didn’t know where to take my car I would really would like to know that I’m getting quality work done at a fair price at any shop I went to. If there was a way to put an end to the “I can get it done cheaper down the street” escapades… my drive home would be a whole lot more pleasant than in the past. .
If that didn’t happen it then only comes down to a question of where to have the vehicle repaired at. Everyone has their favorite doctor, dentist, or restaurant. Which is probably based on location, atmosphere, or “ya just like that particular place”. Price is always an issue, and probably always will be. If you’re not getting the job done right at the shop of your choice… choose another one. How many times a day does your phone ring because you have some “price shopper” who is never coming to your shop because your price is higher than the last shop they called… even though they were referred by a friend to call you.
Maybe we should focus on better instructional classes, more information, and true manufacturer level scanners available to the independent side of the business. Sometimes too much effort is put on the “Be nice to the customer”, or the preverbal “Customer is always right” routine. The old saying; “If the customer knew what was wrong they would have fixed it themselves” still holds true today. But I’m talking about telling them what’s wrong with the vehicle, not how to fix it. With the advent of the computer age upon us the car has become a rolling updateable, flash reprogramming software jungle of information. The cost of these specialized scanners puts them out of the range of most consumers, and a lot of small shops, which, in some ways, also places the shade tree mechanic on the endangered species list.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the same line from a customer’s after I have diagnosed a problem. “Well, I could have done that myself, I would have looked there for the problem if I had the time, and I don’t know why you’re charging me for something so simple. You should give a break on the price because it was so simple. “Hey, I’m a regular customer I should be getting a discount.” My usual answer is… “So if you knew what was wrong, why did you bring it to me to figure it out?” And, I’m not sure that other professional people you deal with such as a doctor, dentist, or the grocer…etc… is going to give you a discount just because you shop with them on a regular basis.
Common sense, the largest lacking component in all of these situations… In my opinion, once common sense is removed from the conversation “stupid” takes its place. I wonder if I could estimate how many times this has happened… maybe so… but I better think about diagnosing it first…
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
Article: Electronically Handicapped - - The general public (and myself) are getting way to reliant on electronicsBy Gonzo
Electronically Handicapped Are we so inundated with electrical devices we’ve forgotten how to do certain tasks without them? I believe the time has come when common sense values and electronics have crossed paths to change the way some people assume things are done. Yes, we’ve become electronically handicapped by the very means that are supposed to make things better. Expecting those electronic wonders to always be in working order is one thing, but not knowing what to do when those devices fail and having to resort to good old fashion “hands on” is where the problems and frustrations begin. Case in point: a guy calls and asks if I can fix his speedometer. He explains he wouldn’t be able to drive the car to the shop, because he has no idea how fast he’s going. I suggested he just stay up with traffic or download one of the many apps displaying mph. This led to even more hysteria because he was afraid of an electronic bug affecting his phone. Instead, all he wanted was one of those “I ain’t holding ya to it” estimates. Not knowing the reason why his speedometer wasn’t working, I gave him a rough guess on the cost of the various components related to a speedometer problem. He then tells me, “Let me know when the part shows up.” I asked, “What part?” Now I’m confused. Finally, it came down to one question. “Sir, even if I knew exactly what component or problem you’re having, how are you going to get the car here? Tow truck, or do you want me to come and get it?” I asked. Absolutely no tow trucks, and he didn’t want anyone else to drive his car. Instead, he was going to check “YouTube” for a video on how to fix it. Then, there are those individuals that common sense has entirely left them. A lady called to tell me her door locks stopped working, and how she was trapped in her car for several hours until her husband showed up. (He unlocked the door with the key from the outside.) I asked her, “Why didn’t you just unlock the door from the inside?” Her answer, “Sir, I pushed the button several times but it never would unlock the door.” I calmly asked (although I was secretly bursting with laughter), “Why didn’t you use the mechanical lock knob or push the manual lock lever in the opposite direction?” The tone of her voice was enough to tell you she was more than a little shaken up over the whole door lock ordeal. Thinking I could ease her obvious tension, I suggested that she could have rolled the window down, but that just spurred her anxiety even more. She couldn’t understand why I would suggest such a thing; she would have had to start the car in order to do that. Since the windows were up, the fear of carbon monoxide poisoning was an even bigger concern. Now with back up cameras, lane departure systems, auto parking, active cruise control, and perimeter warning systems some of these folks that barely understand how to turn on a light switch are going to be even more lost when these systems in their cars fail. I'm convinced by the actions of some people that it's already happening. Like the time my wife's rear view camera was covered in mud, she stopped the car, calls me and says, "The camera isn't working, is it safe to back the car up?" What's the world coming too? Pretty soon, there will be a generation that won’t understand or even care to know anything about some of the old technologies. That is until they’re face-to-face with a situation calling for some nostalgic common sense and a bit of mechanical know-how. We’ve modernized the family car into a nightmarish electronic wonder, which has caused a lot of people to lose touch with the basic fundamentals of its operation. Not only is it more complicated electronically, but it’s also becoming more reliant on GPS and computers. Here’s something else that I don’t understand: We still call a manual shift transmission a standard transmission. There’s nothing “standard” about it anymore. It was the standard for decades, but not anymore. Now it’s rather rare for new drivers to even know how to operate a stick shift. Even now, you see people who don’t have a clue how to use their turn signals. I doubt they know the proper hand signals or for that matter how to stick their arm out the window. Of course, that would mean rolling down the electric window, which probably doesn't work either. What about the tire monitor systems on cars these days? How many people know how to properly use a tire pressure gauge? Then again, why? We’ve got electronics to take care of that stuff. A vehicle operator seems to require less common sense these days as the electronic world has already accomplished these tasks with minimal to no effort with things like voice activated entertainment to navigation controls. Why, we even have crash avoidance systems and air bags to keep us safe. More to the point… less personal responsibility for your actions; make it the car’s responsibility. I grew up in the time when road maps were in every glove box. Folding one back up from the passenger seat while giving directions could be a contest of wit and skill to say the least. You paid attention to the road signs and observed the different land features as well as points of interest that were pointed out in the map details. These days, you listen to this voice on the navigation system that says, “Turn right in 500 feet onto exit 227.” Why, I’ll bet you didn’t even notice you passed the world’s largest ball of string a mile back. It seems the navigation voice failed to mention anything about all those roadside features the folding map could tell you about. Just goes to show how much we have become dependent on these electronic devices. We’ve all become so complacent with our modern electronic conveniences that opening a garage door by hand seems barbaric in some way. I know I’m guilty of it myself. One time after a rather long and frustrating day at the shop, I came down my driveway tapping my finger on the garage door remote button. The door refused to move. Not to be outwitted by a garage door remote, I sat out there bashing the button and cussing at the door… determined to get that blasted thing to raise one more time. Eventually, the wife comes out and opens the door from the inside button. She was standing there with that typical wife look of disbelief, staring at her goof ball husband having a four letter word conversation with a dead garage door remote. Her response was priceless, “The battery is probably dead in the remote dummy! Just get out of the truck and open the door!” So, you say, “Yea well, I might be a little electronically handicapped, but I’m not as bad as ya think. I could handle living like they did a hundred years ago. No battery needed to start a horse.” Oh, really? A century ago anyone over 10 years old could hitch up a two horse team to a buggy for an afternoon trip to town and knew how to deal with their horses’ temperament. Can you? Back then, that knowledge was passed down from father to son. These days, well, you’re more likely to Google the answer than ask Grandpa.
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