Hey guys looking for a little advise for people that have been in my situation. We are a smaller shop but really starting to transition to doing more volume in the past 2 years. Been in business for 10 years now and currently have 2 full time tech's and myself. I manage most of the office and service writing stuff and even occasionally help wrench in the back when required. Looking to hire a service advisor soon to help with the work load on the counter.
Currently we just use a a mix of excel spreadsheets for invoicing and customer history, as well as Google calendar. My questions is will I see a big benefit from moving to a all in one management program? Is it worth the monthly fee's for a smaller outfit like mine?
Should mention we are in the powersports arena (mostly boat repair with some other rec equipment) so some of the platforms out there are not 100% tailored to our industry with the ones that are not offering up everything you would get out of a automotive program. Thanks in advance for the help!
By Elite Worldwide Inc.
Keep Your Shop's Summer Momentum Going!
Elite's Supercharge Your Shop, a series of 4 live online courses for shop owners, starts Sept 14th!
Learn to master your shop's numbers, recruit the top techs & advisors, maximize employee productivity, fill up your bays with your ideal customers and more!
These live online courses will be taught by industry superstars Joe Marconi and Kevin Vaught, who have both experienced extraordinary success as shop owners, so everything you'll learn has been proven to generate extraordinary real world results!
You have the option to either enroll in the whole Supercharge Your Shop course series, or pick and choose the individual courses that will help your shop the most. Here's the course schedule:
Sept 14-15 - Mastering Your Shop's Numbers and Cost Control
Sept 16-17 - Hiring America's Top Techs & Advisors
Sept 21-22 - Maximizing Employee Morale, Productivity and Profits
Sept 23-24 - Filling Up Your Service Bays with the Ideal Customers
To enroll in the complete series of these 4 live online courses, just visit our Supercharge Your Shop Page to reserve one of our last openings!
By Joe Marconi
We, automotive shop owners of America, must take the opportunity of a lifetime and turn it into a bunch of success stories. What opportunity? Look around you. The world is in turmoil. COVID-19, social unrest, uncertainty about the presidential election, the economy, how are we going to get out kids back to school, on and on and on.
While the world is spiraling out of control, we have the power to make big changes to our auto repair shops. And it can all be positive!
First, the average age of a car in the U.S. is about 12 years old, attaining well over 200k on the clock.
Second, Uber, taxis and limo companies are suffering. Guess why?
Third, the motoring public in the foreseeable future will be traveling by car, taking road trips like they have never did before.
Fourth, the roads are packed with motor vehicles, as more and more people prefer their own car as their primary means of transportation.
Fifth, as the cars get older and older, more of them will be out of factory warranty.
Sixth, independent auto repair shops have a vast amount of training, resources and replacement parts.
Seventh, the overwhelming majority of cars being build and sold today are still internal combustion engine powered cars. If you factor in the expected average age of car these days, we can safely bet that those gas engine cars being sold today will still be on the road in 2033 and beyond!
Eight, You need more? That's not enough!
Get your plan in place. Get your prices in line with making a profit. Don't give anything away anymore (I am mostly referring to checking, testing, diags of any sort!) Offer world class customer service. Be a leader of your employees. Show the world what you are made of!
By Joe Marconi
Most of you probably already know what I am about to say: The Service Advisor position is the most crucial position in the shop. I know, I know, what about the mechanical work done by the techs? Well, that's important too, of course.
For the most part, customers spend their hard-earned money and most of time don't really know or see what was done to their car. Let's face it, the customer can't see the water pump or T-belt. And most of the time, the customer does not feel any difference with the car as they drive out of your parking lot.
What the customer does see (or experience) is how she was treated. And that makes all the difference in the world.
Plus, great service advisors also motivate the technicians, because great advisors are also great leaders of people.
Think about this...Six months from now, your customer will not remember the fuel injection relay or the mass air sensor that was replaced....but she WILL remember how she was treated.
And trust me, that OE-quality fuel injection relay install by a certified A-level Master tech using Snap On tools and a Launch Scanner IS NOT the reason WHY your customers return to you....She returns because of the level of service your provide.
I am helping a growing business to be more efficient. As part of this, I am looking at a service to maintain our general hardware and supplies. The shop needs a manager as the owner is too involved with the shop - and rightly so as he is highly respected in his arena. That's another discussion.
As he moved into a larger facility and hired more people. I'm working on efficiencies. The current goal is to have common hardware an supplies on hand, always. I am looking for a service to handle this. I have spoken with Rogo, Fastenal and Kimball Midwest. Any other suggestions? Runs to the hardware store are costly...
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By Joe Marconi
Source: Use technician comebacks and customer service issues to learn and improve
By Joe Marconi
Lets face it, a week cant go by without a technician comeback or a customer service issue. Mistakes will happen, theres no avoiding it. Obviously, you need to put systems and procedures in place to reduce the chances of mistakes occurring, but the truth is everyone at one time or another we will drop the ball.
The key thing to remember when a mistake happens is to keep the lines of communications open. With every mistake there is learning experience that everyone in the shop can benefit from.
Discuss the issue with your tech or service advisor. Get all the facts. Dont assign blame; the person who committed the mistake already knows he or she dropped the ball. Draw out of the person ways to improve and ask that person if it would ok to share the findings with the rest of the staff.
We all need to adopt the culture of continuous improvement. We can sometime learn more from mistakes then when things go smoothly.
One last note; I am not suggesting to ignore habitual mistakes or not recognize when someone refuses to improve or cannot do the job. In some cases you may have to let someone go.
By Joe Marconi
Legendary College basketball coach John Wooden, would always preach to his players that it’s the details of the game that matters most. That worrying about the score was futile if the execution and the details of the game were not performed with consistency and to the best of everyone’s abilities. In other words, the score will take care of itself and the wins will come if every detail of the game is consistently executed properly.
In the shop environment, only worrying about getting the car done, without performing all the steps properly will lead to an eventual breakdown in your workflow system. It will lead to higher comebacks, lower profits and poor customer satisfaction.
To have a properly working workflow system, that minimizes comebacks, improves overall quality and improves customer satisfaction, requires paying attention to the details of the workflow process in a consistent manner.
Is the customer write up process done properly each time? Are the technicians following the workflow process and every checklist done properly every time? Are the technicians short-cutting the process in an attempt to book hours? And, perhaps the main killer of the shop environment and workflow: a sloppy shop.
Yes, a sloppy shop leads to a breakdown in the system. Disorder in the shop equals disorder in the workflow, which equals increased comebacks, increased chances of people getting hurt, unhappy customers and lower profits. Time is wasted finding tools and equipment. People tend not to care enough about the condition of the customer’s car because the shop does not put an emphasis on neatness and order in the shop. Cars will leave with grease marks, dirty floor mats and job details forgotten.
The first step in any process is the shop environment and that means shop organization. You cannot have an efficient workflow until you have shop order. Everyone must be held accountable for keeping order. And it starts with the tech’s work space.
Want to improve production, profits and customer satisfaction? Pay attention to the details, focus on quality, create a well-defined workflow process and maintain order in the shop.
By Joe Marconi
The issue with part quality and returns is on every shop owner's mind these days. It doesn't matter if you buy from NAPA, CARQUEST, Advance or O'Reillys. Poor quality parts, comebacks and getting the wrong part hurts our bottom line. I don't know how many of you track your losses with regard to comebacks and returns, I do. And I can tell you, it is doing more damage to your profit margin than you may think.
I don't have the answer but I will bring up one fact. In the industry's effort to reduce prices, we have sent a lot of manufacturing business overseas. In order to maintain or reduce price, too often quality suffers. But who's is to blame? The part companies, the shop owner's who are seeking low prices, the consumer?
The truth is, the time for pointing blame is gone. We need to change our mindset, not chose parts by price, but by quality. We need to start sending a message to our suppliers that we want quality not just price. We also need to insure that we don't have internal issues. Are our techs properly trained and do we have an adequate quality control system in place. Our reputation and the safety of the motoring public depends on it.
Here is one other fact that you cannot deny: If you reduce comebacks, improve quality, sell quality parts at a reasonable margin, you WILL make more money, have happier customers and have a lot less stress.
Here's a link to an interesting article on part quality from Aftermarket Business World
By Joe Marconi
The True Cost of Comebacks
Comebacks are a hot topic today, particularly with the frustration over poor quality parts. You need to track all comebacks, determine the reason (Tech error, part error, training issue, other) and then calculate the true cost of the comeback.
Here are a few things to consider:
- The loss of time when performing the comeback; time that the tech can performing other work and generating profit
- The misc costs, such as overhead costs, supplies, cleaners, etc
- Towing costs, rental, etc
- Cost to morale
- Reputation damage
- Reduction to your profit margin
For every part issue, you need to inform your supplier, whether it's NAPA, CARQUEST, Advance Auto, O'Reilly's, or any other. Sit down with suppliers on a regular basis. Dont return defective parts until you have listed the parts and maintain a report. Document everything.
Part issues are increasing. Every shop owner I speak to is frustrated over this.
Remember, comebacks kill your bottom line, the more comebacks you have, the more its killing your profits.