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    • Article: Challenges Of The Auto Repair Business

      As the auto industry moves on into the modern age, repair centers all around the country are experiencing pressure with the tech world and our world colliding. We are all trailing nationwide franchises and dealerships that have endless resources working at their disposal. For most smaller auto repair businesses there isn’t enough time, money, or energy to attempt to constantly and actively secure the new business. We’re mostly worried about attempting to maintain the existing business we have, which has newer cars and increasing demands. Most of our time is now spent adjusting to the learning curve of advanced vehicle systems. However, that’s just a shop problem. The front office of your shop has its own issues to contend with that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Make no mistake about it, our industry is in the middle of a revolution and with 3D printing knocking at the door… the amount of balls to juggle are going to be considerable and it's all just getting started. Today’s auto repair businesses need to worry about the following: Location – Securing a proper location and the authorization to conduct business there over the long term ensures survival. Tools – Without the proper tools, we just can’t work on today’s vehicles. Training – Without the proper training, we put ourselves and our customers at high risk. Employee Engagement – Keeping your employees as interested in your success as you are is critical to the elements that keep people returning and employees from leaving. Employee Advancement – Providing an environment where employees know they can grow with your business, whether financially or moving up within the organization, is the key to keeping and securing talent. Marketing – This is the most complicated element in today’s world. It involves a mix of a strong web presence, good advertising ethics, social media profile, and following up with customers. Advertising – Can be expensive and very confusing. The best method to start is to get your feet wet with small budgets that keep your name in front of your potential customers, constantly. Software – Without good software, it is difficult to run any business. Good software is and always has been subjective. Our experiences indicate that good software saves you time and builds trust with your customers. Most importantly, it should work for you and not against you. This article originally published in CAR's News Section
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      By CAR_AutoReports, in AutoShopOwner Articles

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      • 77 views
    • Business management training

      Have any of you attended classes or seminars put on by a company called ATI automotive training institute ? Was considering signing up for a 1 day class.

      By Bob K, in Workflow Management

      • 9 replies
      • 1,424 views
    • Article: Restoration for the Mechanic - modern repairs, old mechanic

      Restoration for the Mechanic Electrical issues on today’s cars have certainly taken  center stage.  Mechanical issues are still there too, but  it’s not uncommon to have a mechanical problem be  diagnosed, monitored, or calibrated by some electronic  means.  You just can’t get away from the electrical  if you’re in the automotive repair business these days.   It’s taken over just about every facet of the automobile.         Today’s mechanics have become something entirely  different from the stereotypical mechanic from just a  few decades ago.  It’s not that long ago when the  electrical section of the repair manuals were just a  chapter or two, today… its volumes and volumes of  schematics and diagnostic procedures.  I’m old enough  to remember when points and condensers were still  the norm, and I’ve watched the industry go from  electronic ignition to today’s electronic jungle of wires  and processors. We’ve definitely come a long way with  the technology.   Even though I work on all these newfangled electrical wizardry systems on the modern car, deep down I’m still the kid who got a kick out of tearing down an old junker and putting it back together.  Now, I’m surrounded by modules, proximity keys, and sensors.  Occasionally it’s kind of nice just to step away from the computer and just turn a wrench or two. I look forward to those simpler kinds of jobs, the ones that need a craftsman’s touch and not a box of transistors and capacitors to figure out what to do.  Back to a time when a driver was more mechanical involved in the process of operating the vehicle.   Heating vents with levers and cables, or a hand choke that needed just the right touch to get it started.  No electronics, no service light, just the essentials.  (For you younger techs, I’m referring to the days when you actually had to unlock a door with a key.)     I still marvel at the ingenuity and engineering of those times. I guess it’s one of the reasons why I like going to old car and steam engine shows so much.  It’s all about the mechanics for me.  Electronics are great, but to see the early mechanical devices that were commonplace a century ago still amazes me.  How they figured it out, and how they made it work is shear brilliance.  (If you ever get a chance to study some of those early mechanical systems, you might be surprised how things were accomplished prior to the computer age. It’s quite fascinating… well at least to me it is.)      It’s great to be able to step back once in a while and just be a mechanic.  Back when things were rebuilt and not just replaced with new. There’s a certain satisfaction in taking a broken mechanical device and making it functional again.  It’s those jobs that after you’ve wrestled the components into place, and everything is finished you realize that you’re covered in grease, but for some reason you’ve got this big smile on your face. It’s the look of accomplishment, a smile of pride in a job well done.  And while you’re cleaning up the tools, you look over at the finished project still smiling, knowing you’re done and can move onto the next project.  It just doesn’t compare to finishing up on a modern car when the last thing to do is watch that blue line steadily move across the computer screen, waiting for it to say “Task completed”.   Not that I’m putting down the modern car, no far from it.  It’s just nice to take a break once in a while from the technical mumbo-jumbo and just be a mechanic for a change.  Even though it’s pretty awesome to solve a difficult electrical issue, it’s hard to beat a good old fashion mechanical repair.  For me, when a restoration project shows up at the shop I get a chance to turn off the laptop and open the toolbox.   These restoration jobs are just as much for the customer as they are for me.  It’s a restoration of some of my old almost forgotten mechanical abilities. (Yea, I still got it…)     We put a lot of trust in the modern electronics, something the engineers and designers of those automobiles from a few decades ago never even though of.  Their own ingenuity and craftsmanship kept them going.  Components were built to be repaired not replaced.  I think it’s safe to say that a car from 50 years ago is more likely to start and run in another 50 years but I seriously doubt a car from today would have the same luck. There again, it might be something a technician/mechanic of that era might figure out how to do by then.  Me I’ll still stick with being a mechanic/technician … I still like the physical repair aspect of the job.     The future of electronics in today’s cars is constantly changing; sometimes we notice the changes while other times you can’t physically see them.  Sometimes all it takes is a little R&R on an old jalopy just to make me remember how far we’ve come.  In the meantime, the latest restoration job is done so it’s time to go for a test drive.    I’ll get back to the laptop and the modern car world just as soon as I get all the tools cleaned up… it might take a bit though … I’m still admiring the restoration job and I’ve got some more smilin’ to do.  
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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

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    • A FEW QUESTIONS FOR 4 BAY SHOP BUSINESS OWNERS

      How many of you have a four bay shop ? If you do how many techs do you have ? What is your average sales weekly , monthly ? What do you spend in advertising ? What was your sales in 2017 ? I am using this shop as a guide for those who would like to follow and see real time progress. For those interested just answer the questions so you and I can see what your strong points and if and where you may have areas for improvement.   

      By Stevens Automotive Service, in Shop Management Coaching, Business Training, Consulting

        
      • 2 replies
      • 719 views
    • Article: Networking - Business to business referrals

      Newspaper circulation is dropping by the day and is next to nothing,  bulk advertising mailers aren’t near as effective as they were years ago, radio  time can be costly and can pigeon hole your advertising dollars with the type  of clients you’re looking for, local television is only available in those off hours  and I’m not sure how many new prospective customers I’ll find with broken  cars at 3am, and internet advertising isn’t as local as you’d like, and at best is  unpredictable. So what’s an affordable, useful, and productive way to  advertise your small business locally? One that draws local people that want  to work with a local company? Maybe, instead of advertising to the consumer,  how about directing your meager advertising budget to other businesses….  Networking is the answer.         If you’re not familiar with networking you should be. Networking groups are everywhere. Occasionally you’ll hear the term ‘Tips’ groups vs. networking groups. They’re basically the same thing. Networking groups are a diversified group of business people, shop owners, sales people, and/or employees that get together once a week, once a month, or on special occasions to exchange ideas, business cards and referrals. They’ll usually have a few minutes for you to introduce yourself and talk about your business. Some will offer you a chance to do a presentation about your business at each meeting. Either way, this is your opportunity to advertise your business to other businesses and generally, create new business for you. But, the big thing you’re looking for is the referrals. It’s probably the most important reason to join one of these groups.       Some of these groups are small, some have been around for decades, and some are very secretive. Some in fact, only allow one of each type of business into their group, while others have no restrictions at all. Of course, there are rules in most cases. Things like, “always check with members first for any service and always relay your experiences with the other members, attendance policies, and confidentiality concerns. In a few of these groups it’s not about how much money you have, because you can’t buy your way in. It’s your character and community standing that are the deciding factors. For some of these groups you have to be nominated and then you’re brought before a board of your peers to be voted in, or black balled out. Other tips groups aren’t near as picky. Whichever way it’s organized I guarantee to you… it’s all worth it.        You’ll even find some of these networking groups that share a common interest outside of their own business ventures. Such as meeting at a golf course once a month for a short meeting and a 9 hole golf tournament. There’s even a tips group here locally that likes to sample different restaurants each month and switch their location depending on the group size and menu selection. I’ve even heard of one that meets every Saturday morning for breakfast. They’ve got a whole corner of this restaurant reserved for them. Sometimes they are a hobby based tips group. From model airplanes, to sewing, to horse racing. The types of networking groups are endless. Once you start checking into them you’ll be surprised at the diversity and number of tips groups there actually are.        I’ve been with one networking group for over 20 years. This one is a private membership type that meet once a week with rather strict attendance rules and a ‘hush-hush’ policy as to who is a member. I recently withdrew from the organization because of my busy travel schedule and couldn’t meet the group’s attendance requirements. Although I will say, I made a lot of connections, and a lot of money out of the group.       Now, after being out of the loop, –so-to-speak-, I find I’m missing something. The referrals weren’t the only thing that was important and only a small part of what I enjoyed about being a member of the group. It was the alike thinking individuals who experience the same good and bad days, crazy customers, and unpredictable parts and employee problems we all face on a daily basis that made the difference in my daily activities at the shop. It just proves the old adage that misery loves company. I couldn’t agree more. In other words, it was the lifelong friendships and the contacts you make that were more important.        Recently, I went looking for another tips group to get in. I found one that meets at a golf course once a month. My kind of group. I’m not really there for the business contacts anymore, I’m there for the fellowship and contacts. The dues are extremely cheap, attendance doesn’t matter, and any number of identical businesses that would most likely share the same type of clients are allowed. This time around it’s all about the camaraderie since I’ve retired from active repair shop ownership.         Here’s the big problem though: If you’re sitting there complaining that you don’t have enough work to keep your bays full and don’t know what to do, start searching for a tips group. If you’re not that guy sitting there worried about filling your bays but you know of a guy who is worried about filling his bays, tell him about tips groups. To put it another way, if you’re reading this you’re more than likely the type of individual who is looking to succeed in their business by absorbing as much knowledge from every source possible. That’s where getting involved with a tips group would be absolutely beneficial to you. It’s the ones that don’t keep up with the changes, don’t socialize, and don’t get off their duffs to do something about their situation that fade into obscurity.        If perhaps, you can’t find one in your local area, or you feel you’re too far off the beaten path, chances are you’re not alone. My suggestion, start your own networking group. It can start off based on common interests or school activities or anything else you can think of. Try putting one together at a local meeting place or at the local coffee shop. It can all start by just talking with another business owner on a Wednesday morning, which then leads to the next person, and then another. Soon, you’ll have a group with lots of new friends and business contacts.        Think of it this way. Right now, reading this article, you’re effectively in somewhat of a tips group. Everyone who is reading this are probably looking for the same thing you are. That my fellow tippers, is basically the secret of networking. I for one, have found that networking groups are far more valuable than expected. If I needed a plumber, tile for remodel project, or in the need to rent a piece of machinery for a job, the first place I looked was through my networking group. If there wasn’t anyone I could find in the member list, I would ask the other members who they’ve used for that certain job. Chances are, that referral they told me about got my business, and for them, it was better than any other type of advertising. Because, these type of customers are more than likely not going to give you a hard time about the cost. They’re after a quality job done in a timely manner. Chances are they didn’t reach the top of their business ventures by cutting corners. They appreciate good workmanship and good service.       Let’s face it, the internet is great, newspapers and radio media are fantastic, and like most people the TV is on 24-7 blasting out commercial after commercial. But, nothing beats a handshake and a “Nice to meet you” in person, in your community, from another local business. There’s something to be said about front porch diplomacy. Even as the world seems to draw closer and closer by way of our laptops, getting out into your local community is still hard to beat. Even with all of that, some businesses still thrive because of local appeal and not national reputations. Automotive repair is one of those businesses that really need local involvement to keep the bays full. Get out there and network! 
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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

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      • 173 views
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