By Joe Marconi
At the Ratchet + Wrench Conference last month, I met Charlie Marcotte, owner of Amerian Pride Auto in Virginia and the founder of Family Service Day. After doing a little research, I joined the organization.
Family Service Day originated in 2009 with a Williamsburg, Virginia based company, American Pride Auto. The idea was simple: offer support to single parent families and deployed military by offering the gifts and talents we have been given, the ability to repair vehicles, for free. There are really no limitations — if you have desire to make an impact in your community, Family Service Day is a great way to get involved.
Getting involved in your community is the best way to make your shop stand out as the business that cares about people. Plus, it will get your staff involved which will boost morale. You can reach out to your vendors for help with parts and also get major businesses in your area to help sponsor the event.
Shop owners, I recommend that you find out more about Family Service Day. Below is a link for more information:
I am new to the service side of the retail auto industry having worked in sales for 5 years. I am now the mechanical department manager of a Carstar collision repair shop. In addition to the usual insurance work, I am starting to take on more customer pay repairs. An issue I keep running into is that because I am located in Canada (South Ontario not far from Detroit) many of the vehicles we work on are severely rusted underneath and many bolts have siezed in place. Many require torches, cutting, drilling, and other unusual disassembly of adjacent components to remove. For example right now I am having a starter replaced on a caravan, and the lower engine mount needs to be removed but is siezed. We needed to apply heat but because it is so close to the rad fan shroud, ended up having to remove the shroud and other items nearby just to attempt to heat and remove the bolt. This ultimately didn't work, and we are now cutting it and drilling it out. Often times using heat causes damage to components. We needed to use heat to cut into a suspension knuckle to remove it after it was damaged from a curb, and ended up destroying a wheel bearing. Abs sensors also commonly need to be snapped off and drilled out because they are just so fused in place. Obviously this gets expensive.
This happens all the time, and as a result the times I am using from shopkey pro and mitchell are not reflective of how long these jobs actually take. On one hand I don't feel it is fair to the customer to charge 2.6 hours for the starter replacement, and another 3 hours to attempting multiple ways to get a bolt out, heating, removing adjacent components, fan shroud R+I... turning a 2.6 hour job into 5.6 hours. On the other hand I understand that this is just the reality of working on vehicles older than a couple years in this part of the country and the customer should be paying for it.
What would you consider standard practice in this situation? I don't want to be eating all this extra time, but I also don't want to have to charge customer hours upon hours additionally because we have to figure out how to unsieze everything.
This has kind of been a hot topic here lately...how do you guys deal with family and friends? I am trying to run a business, as are the rest of you, how do you deal with people wanting "friend discounts" or family not paying their bills. It seems I try and separate business and personal relationships and in the process end up being the "bad guy". How do you deal with close friends as customers and try to give them a deal but not go out of business by them expecting it every time? Do you just not do business with family or friends?
I started a business idea & funded everything to get the business going. It has boomed faster then I expected, i still own & run the shop from the outside but I have 2 family members that have grown the shop from the sales & service from the inside & have been paid a weekly check plus sales bonus checks above any local shop. I have the idea that over the long haul I will recoop my investment & time. I have told them the more we grow the more you will earn pretty simple plan. The company continues to grow every month so I'm not worried about location & all the other things that go into what is my business worth. My question is if I would sell to 1 of them how would I figure a fair price. Mind you I personally have yet to gain a profit from the business myself. I draw a small check but it goes toward bills that it took to get the company started that came out of my own pocket. My quick simple thought was Equipment+Inventory+ (Net profitx3)= Selling price to walk away. I would like to know others I feel I should gain on taking the risk & putting my personal family finaces on hold, but also feel I don't want to cause family issues that I was trying to cheat a family member that would say the business would be nothing without them.
Over the years we have developed some generic maintenance intervals to use on most vehicles. We have revised them as time goes by to reflect changes such as extending oil changes or extended coolant. Here's what we are presently recommending. Our POS system, Winworks Autoshop allows us to set up these intervals so that as a vehicle hits these mileages it automatically recommends them and when we do the service it automatically resets the recommendation in the future. Thoughts?
Oil changes: semi syn 4K, full syn 8K
Tire rotations 5K
Brake flush 30K
Auto trans svce 60K
Man trans svce 60K
Coolant flush 60K [older type coolant] 30K
Cabin air filters 30K
Fuel filter 30K
Fuel injection cleaning 30K
Spark plugs copper 30K, plat, irid 60K
Drive belts 80K
Coolant hoses 90K
Timing belts 90K