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    • Google Search - What Happened?

      Have you ever searched various services or products from your PC, tablet and phone trying to figure out what happens when your customers do the same? I'm guessing we all have and came to the same conclusion: it's a moving target. As shop owners we are all thinking "How do people in need of my services find me online"? Once we know the answer to this question we know where to go to get found, but that answer doesn't seem to be clear. Google search is still the #1 lead generator but the playing field has changed, here is the best article I have ever seen which clearly describes what Google is (and was) doing. If you struggle like me to understand, this will clear up a little confusion. To read it, CLICK HERE. Scorpion Internet Marketing are the experts my company has recently teamed up with for web development and marketing.

      By Charlie, in Marketing, Advertising, & Promoting

      • 3 replies
      • 215 views
    • Article: Picture This - - Hard to believe I wrote this 20 years ago.

      Picture This   Years ago my younger brother came to work for me. He didn’t know a thing about cars, but was willing to learn all he could. Teaching new techs is an art that most shop owners have to learn to do, but teaching your little brother can be a chore and can test your patience. I muddled thru it all and taught him what I could. I was sure at some point in time the two of us would butt heads like brothers will do, and he would take his new found skills and move up in the rank and files of the automotive technical world, but in the meantime it was his turn to learn from his older brother.   When he first started I would walk him through each step of how to diagnose a certain system in a car. A lot of times he would have questions, and I’d do my best to answer them. He learned quickly and was really sharp at picking up some of those little details that are harder to teach. You know things like how you held a certain wrench or used a certain tool, to you and me it’s no big deal. But to a novice, it’s a revelation, then you (I) tend to forget to mention those certain traits while you’re teaching. Mainly because you are trying to get to the solution as efficiently as possible, and you neglect to bring it up. Such as: “always test your test light connection before testing what you’re testing, or don’t forget to check for all your tools before you pull the car out of the shop….” Things like that.   One day we had a truck come in with dual fuel tanks on it. The gas gauge wasn’t working and needed some attention. This was a perfect opportunity for Junior to learn a few of my short cuts on these old models. It was an older Ford, in which the tank gauge ran thru the tank switchover button. It was rather easy to pull it out of the dash and connect to the gauge from the back of the switch. Luckily it was the typical problem I’ve seen a hundred times in the past. The switch connections would melt and the tank wouldn’t switch from the front tank to the rear, and of course the gauge wouldn’t move either.   After locating the correct leads to the gauge and to the tanks I decided to show him how the gauge worked. I hooked up the one of the tanks to the crossover lead that would supply the signal from the tank to the gauge.   “Ya see this, that’s the lead to the fuel gauge in the dash, and this is one of the tank wires. I’ll connect these together and we should get a reading on the dash,” I told him. He was watching intently, taking in all the wiring diagram information, the location of the wires, and how I was bypassing the switch. He was fascinated with the flow of the current and the way the gauge would respond. I even went as far as moving the gauge from full to empty by opening and closing it to a ground signal. While I had his attention I filled him in on the two types of gauges that were used back then (bimetallic and magnetic) and how low resistance on a bimetal type gauge would read near a full tank, while a magnetic gauge would read close to empty. Change the resistance and the gauge would/should read accordingly.   “So, if we put gas in the tank the gauge should move right? That way we could check the sending units in the tanks too,” he asked me.   “Great idea, grab a gas can and let’s add a few gallons,” I said, excited that he was so interested in the project.   He grabbed a can of gas and poured a few gallons in the tank. I was watching the gas guage carefully, but there was no movement. I knew I was on the right wires, but nothing was happening. Now what? Are there more problems?   “Crawl under there, and check to be sure the wire color is correct,” I yelled from the cab to him.   “Yep, it’s the right wire on the tank.”   “Well, we might have to pull the tank; it’s not changing the gauge readings up here.”   “Before we do that let’s add some more gas, maybe we didn’t add enough,” Junior tells me.   I thought I better go back and help hold the funnel, while he poured the gas in the tank. Unknowing to me, all this time my wife (who was the office manager) was listening in on the whole thing. She likes to keep tabs on me, and make sure I’m not going into one of my usual rants or having a fit because I had to explain something over and over again to little brother. This time she was standing at the corner of the shop just behind the truck with a camera. “CLICK”, I heard the camera shutter go off and she was back there laughing like there was no tomorrow.   “What’s so funny?” I asked her.   “You two idiots have been putting gas in the wrong tank. You’re on the front tank, and you’re putting gas in the rear tank,” my wife answers, laughing hysterically. About then the camera “clicked” again… this time it was an action shot taken at precisely the exact moment when these two idiots had that dumb struck look on their faces and realized what they just did. The shot had both of us on our knees, one holding a funnel and the other with the half empty gas can, and both of us staring right into the camera lens. Couldn’t have set it up any better if you tried. The picture clearly showed the side of the truck with both fuel tank doors visible and there was no doubt which tank we were putting in the extra gas. I guess it was one of those things I should have mentioned when we were checking the tank senders… make sure we are both on the same tank. For years that picture hung over her desk, and anytime I thought I was so smart she would point at the photo. Usually with that typical smirk, usually shaking her finger at me and of course the laugh… she had to laugh, but it wasn’t all that funny until she had me laughing about it too. Ok, Ok, I’m not perfect... and now my little brother knows it too.   These days he’s a top notch tech at a dealership, and I have to call him on occasions for some help on how to solve things once in a while. Oh the photo… uhmmm… what photo?? Somehow it’s missing… haven’t seen the darn thing in years. But I guess I really don’t need to see the photo … the wife has a pretty good memory... she reminds me just how smart I think I am every chance she gets.           Click here to view the article

      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 5 replies
      • 678 views
    • Article: How Much Is Your Shop Worth?

      By Bob Cooper If you speak with most shop owners they’ll tell you that they think their shop is worth x amount of money. Ask them how they came up with that number, and they’ll tell you it’s based on what they heard another shop sold for, or it’s predicated on their annual sales. But if you really want to know what your shop is worth, first of all, forget everything you’ve heard about “goodwill” and the fact that you have thousands of names in your database. That’s icing on the cake, but it’s not something a buyer can take to the bank. And although there is some value associated with some franchise names, there are two things that are most important to a buyer: the “tangible assets” and the “income history.”

      Tangible assets are things like real estate, cash in the bank, secured receivables, inventory and equipment. To put it another way, these are the assets that buyers could turn into cash if they had to. When you’re establishing the value of your inventory and equipment, bear in mind that the actual appraised value may very well be far less than what you originally paid. So tangible assets are always number one. 

      In regard to “income history”, we all know that past performance is no guarantee of future performance, yet the substantiated income history of a company is what buyers can use to forecast earnings. And don’t forget: The amount of money the “company” made does not include any income you’ve drawn out of the company as a salary. The company’s income is the amount remaining after all expenses, including your salary, have been considered.

      So imagine you’re looking to buy a shop, and let’s say the tangible assets are worth $400,000. In addition, let’s say the shop has a history of generating $100,000 in annual income after all expenses, and let’s say the owner has been drawing a salary of $80,000. So if you were to buy that shop, how much would you be willing to invest? Well, only you can answer that question, but I hope you take these 6 points into consideration:

      1. If you were to liquidate after you purchased, how much could you sell the assets for? I call this the “street value” of assets.
      2. How long has the company been in business, how long have the key employees been with the business, and what’s the probability that these key employees will stay on once you buy?
      3. What is the probability of the company continuing to earn the same $100,000 in annual profits, and for how long?
      4. In regard to the $80,000 salary the owner was taking, would you be willing to do what he or she does for the company for the same amount? Or will you be able to hire someone to do that job for the same or less?
      5. If you were to invest the same amount of money in any other business or investment vehicle, would you receive a better return?
      6. What are the terms of the purchase price? You may be better off to pay a higher price in return for a lower down payment, good financing rates and a non-compete.

      So, how do you establish the value of your business? Not by the icing (goodwill and number of names in your database), but by looking at it through the eyes of both a banker and a buyer. 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, or calling 800-204-3548.
      View full article

      By Elite Worldwide Inc., in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 0 replies
      • 248 views
    • Article: Battin a Thousand - - Mechanics have to step up to bat and hit it out of the park every time

      Battin' a Thousand   The batter steps up to the plate, takes a hand full of dirt  and rubs his hands and the bat.  He takes a few scrapes with  his feet from the batter’s box while digging in with his cleats.   He then gives the pitcher the evil eye and sets his bat ready  to take whatever the pitcher is going to throw at him. The  catcher gives the signs, the pitcher nods his head.  He takes  a quick look to first base makes his wind up and then lets the  ball fly to home plate.  The batter takes a swing... “Pop” the  ball is in the catcher’s glove.     “Steee---rike!!!” yells the umpire.   Somewhere there is an announcer telling the crowd the  count while a statistician is writing down the results of the  pitch, and calculating the batter's average. With baseball if  you can manage to get a hit 5 out of 10 times you’re up to bat…  you’re doing outstanding.  Achieving a perfect hitting record  on the other hand, may never happen in baseball, but in the  auto repair business (and most every other field of play)  batting a thousand is not a goal it's a requirement.   Every job that comes into the service bay is another attempt at keeping that perfect score.  Come-backs, bad diagnosis, faulty parts and the like are not what any service person wants to deal with.  To keep that perfect score going you have to overcome those obstacles and get the job done right before sending the customer’s car around the bases.  Unlike the highly paid professional ball player who is never going to achieve that perfect score the highly trained mechanic has to knock it out of the park each and every time.   There's a lot of talk in the industry about how some service advisers/writers and shop owners want a quick “off the cuff” diagnosis and repair rather than waiting for the results of a lengthy-time consuming diagnostic procedure.  A mechanic may have a general idea of what is wrong but it still takes proper testing to determine the correct course of action to make the repair.  I don't know where this idea came from that every mechanic has the correct answer to ever problem simply by listening to the description given to them by the customer or service writer.  It's not like we (mechanics) know what kind of pitch is being hurled at us each and every time.     I'm sure the pro ball player could “up” his stats if he knew exactly what kind of pitch was coming across the plate.  As it is, he has to make a quick decision, make the right swing, and make contact.  In the repair world, analyzing the pitch is the key to a successful outcome.  Diagnostics is what makes the difference.  Especially on today's vehicles with their interconnected systems, multi-layered computer controls, and the occasional “oops” from a previous botched repair, these all have to be sorted out before the repair is made.  This takes time, diagnostics takes time, and time is money.      When I hear that a shop isn't charging for diagnostic time it tells me they are either under estimating the value of proper diagnostics or believe they are good enough to read the catcher’s signals and in some way already know what pitch is being thrown.  Taking a couple of swings at a repair and not diagnosing anything is like standing in the batter’s box blindfolded.  I'd call that a foul ball waiting to happen for sure.    It’s important to examine a problem, diagnose as needed and not swing at every pitch that you’re given. In the long run, from the consumers standpoint, a shop that takes the time to diagnose a vehicle correctly may sound more expensive at first when you walk up to the service counter, but chances are you won’t be picked off at 2nd base because you have to spend more cash, buy even more parts that you probably didn’t need, while trying to solve the problem at those shops that don’t see a need in proper diagnostic time.    A new player entered the field; it was a job from one of the body shops I do business with. This 2013 Ford Escape was almost ready to go home, however the air bag light wouldn't go off.  That's when I was called to plate.    “We can sell this job today if you can get this taken care of.  We’ve struck out so far,” the owner of the body shop told me.     “I’ll see what I can do,” I told him.    The first thing I did was check out what codes were in the system.  There was only one code.  B0095-11 (Right front impact sensor fault – sub code “shorted to ground”).  Since it was in a front collision I took my first swing up to bat by checking to see if the wires were smashed or cut.  Strike one... the wires are fine, wrong colors though, need to check that a little further.  OK, let's try something else... is the connector damaged or the sensor itself in anyway a problem.  Strike two... now this is getting serious.  Did the module fail?  Is there more to this story?  Where's the next pitch coming from?   A little more snooping around and a bit more in-depth studying of the wiring diagram I think I've got the answer.  Very close to the impact sensor is another sensor with the exact same type of connector.  The real tell-tale was the wire colors.  It looks like when they put the car back together they inadvertently switched the two connectors.  (Pretty dumb to have the same type of connectors so close together under the hood... but it ain't the first time I've seen a curve ball like this.) I switched the leads and then went back into the system to clear the code.  (With most of these newer systems you not only have to clear the code but you also have to “reboot” the computer by turning the key off before attempting the next “at-bat”.)   Well, this batter is ready, the catcher has thrown down the sign, the computers and connections on the playing field are ready to go.  All that's left is the pitch.  I turned the key and the pitch is on its way. The warning lights come on, the air bag light stayed on for its required amount of time and then.... went off.  No codes present and the rest of the systems checked out fine.  Yep, I took my swing, and it’s a long, long high flyer… it looks like…yes… yes it is… it’s a “HOME RUN!”     Here's a perfect example of the diagnostics taking longer than the actual repair.  The way I see it, diagnostic is the mechanics swing at bat, and it's just as important as the actual repair.  After spending the time to research a problem only to find out that it was a simple connector doesn’t diminish the time already spent to find out it was just a connector.    Mechanics get paid to fix a car, that’s what we do, diagnosing a problem is part of it, and good diagnostic work will keep ya battin’ a thousand. 
      View full article

      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 3 replies
      • 335 views
    • Taking checks

      So it only happens about 3 or so times a year, but every once in a while we get a bad check. Out of the 3 or 4 bad checks, 1 or 2 are an honest mistake and gets corrected immediately with cash or CC. How many shops out there are operating as a cash or CC only business? I've thought about it many of times, but it's hard to make that change when we have a lot of customers come in and write $1,000+ good checks. 

      By mmotley, in Accounting, Profitability, & Payroll

      • 8 replies
      • 700 views
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