I recently bought an A/C recovery machine. I've heard plenty of horror stories of these machines being destroyed with stop leak. I spent the money on a "stop leak" detection kit. Just had a car come in my shop that is full of stop leak. Didn't even move the ball in the test kit. Asked customer about it and they have been putting in cans of freon from every source around for months. I'm sure some with stop leak. Obviously it's not working as the system is still leaking. My question is how do other shops handle customers that have tried this cheap do it yourself fix, failed... and then put my investment in equipment at risk? Replace everything in the A/C system? Is there some kind of flush that will remove that cr**p? Call the customer and tell them it's now a winter vehicle only? Not sure where to go in this situation and can't really seem to find an answer on the almighty google thing.
By Joe Marconi
Due to COVID-19, many repair shops experienced a severe economic downturn, some with a drop in sales over 50%. Without a strong cash reserve and/or SBA funding help, many shops would have gone under.
My 40 years as a shop owner has taught me to always have a cash reserve. However, never would I have ever imagined a downturn like the one with COVID-19.
So, how do we plan for the next financial crisis. And, it will happen. Perhaps not as bad as the the virus crisis, but it will happen.
Here are a few things to consider: Have a separate, and hard to access, cash reserve bank account that has least two months of expenses. Also, secure a line of credit for at least one to two months of expenses. Also, know your numbers, keep payroll in line, and make sure your prices are fair to you too, not just your customers. Keep in good standing with all your vendors and keep your credit score high!
The bottom line here, is truly the bottom line. To weather the next financial downturn, you need a strong balance sheet and net profit to the bottom line.
What other strategies are you considering or implementing?
By Joe Marconi
As part of our debt reduction, I revamped all of our usual marketing and advertising and put those dollars into customer service and social media. For example, we ramped up our shuttle pickup and delivery service, extended our hours of service, made sure we spend a lot of time with each customer and made sure we called as many customers as possible. We also stepped up our meet and greet process and made sure will followed up with customer after the repair. Lastly, we increased our social media posts and increases ads and boosting. This has made a huge impact on our customer and already starting to pay dividends.
What changes have you made to your marketing strategy since the Virus Crisis hit?
Hi guys, first time posting to the forums.
I am a new shop owner, recently purchased an A/C machine.
Do you guys have standard pricing you follow? Pricing for leak checks, price per pound of refrigerant, top up if required? Let me know your A/C pricing matrix. Thanks so much for the help!
By Joe Marconi
I know none of us wants to hear this, but there will be a next crisis of some sort. I have lived through many downturns in my 40 years in business, the COVID-19 was the worst. But, out of every crisis comes lessons to be learned. So create your Crisis Plan today.
Start by understanding your numbers and knowing your breakeven. Then add to your breakeven a percentage of profit you want to earn. Equally important is creating a cash reserve in a dedicated bank account that will be used only in a severe emergency. Set your financial goals and stick to them!
Often overlook is your staff. Assemble the best team around you. This is a crucial part to ensure your future business sucess.
Lower your debt, get your credit rating up and maintain a good standing with all vendors. Lastly, talk to your bank about a line of credit that can remain inactive until you need to use it.
What other key things can we all share to help us through the next crisis?
Similar Tagged Content
Has the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impacted your auto shop business? If it hasn't yet, it has the potential to do so soon. Please share what you are currently doing, how your business is impacted, what plans you have in place, etc.
Some things to consider:
Do you have a plan in place should you or one of your employees become ill? With school, event, and business closures, how will this affect your shop? Are you sending anything to your customers in terms of sharing your plans around keeping your customer and employees healthy and doing your part in your community? Many small and large businesses have been sending email communications to their customers. Are you marketing to your customers in terms of not delaying car repair, should there be a need to temporarily close? Are your parts suppliers sharing their plans, should the pandemic affect supply chains? Are you stocking up on business and shop necessities? Please share your experience in this topic and stay healthy!
In the media:
The coronavirus and its growing tally of sick and dead victims around the world have been roiling financial markets, prompting countless hand-washing reminders and ruining more than a few vacations, and that’s before anyone knows exactly how widespread the effect will be on the automotive industry, including your local repair shop. Source
“By mid-March, the shortage of supplies will be felt and members are projecting they’ll experience disruption through May or June,” even if operations in China soon get back to normal, said Stacey Miller, senior director of communications at the Auto Care Association, a trade group representing 150,000 auto aftermarket and service businesses. Source
By Joe Marconi
I will never forget the day I met Carlos. It was 13 years ago at a small business conference in New York City. The conference drew business owners from all types of industries throughout the greater New York area. Carlos was sitting next to me at orientation. The day was lined up with guest speakers, workshops and networking opportunities. By the third networking break, Carlos and I were hitting it off. We traded war stories, discussed business challenges and brainstormed new ideas. Carlos owns two Italian restaurants, one in Manhattan and the other in Brooklyn. His first restaurant was founded in 1986 when he was 27 years old. I finally asked Carlos, “What’s your background? Did you go school to become a chef? Did your family own a restaurant? Do you enjoy cooking?” Carlos turned to me, smiled, and said, “Joe, I am going to let you in on a little-known secret: I have never cooked a meal in my life.”
Unlike Carlos and his business venture, most auto repair businesses are started by technicians and use their technical skills to run their companies. I was one of them. I spent years honing my technical skills from the time I graduated high school in 1973 to my first day in business, Oct. 1, 1980. I worked hard at becoming the absolute best automotive technician I could possibly become. I also spent another decade after starting my business improving those skills. That is, until one day I realized that while I may have used my technical skills to start and initially build my business, it wasn’t enough.
In the first 10 years, I grew my business primarily with my hands, my strength and my determination. At the end of that decade, I hit a wall. Thankfully, that wall knocked some sense into me. My business was largely dependent on my abilities and what I could produce. After analyzing my business and realizing that it had plateaued for a number of years, I had to make a tough choice. It was time to put down the tools. I had to learn a different set of skills—the skills of running a company. This proved to be the right choice for me.
I’m not saying I regret what I did in those early years. I didn’t know any other way. I loved the auto industry and I loved working on cars. However, when the day came that I decided to become a business owner, my life changed. And, my awareness of how to build and run a business should have changed with it.
There are shop owners that were never technicians, and do quite well. It’s argued that they have an advantage over technician-turned-shop-owners. A technician’s brain is wired to look at the problem at hand, create a solution and move on. An entrepreneur looks at business from a different perspective: always looking to the future, at growth and what other greater things can be accomplished.
I remember many years ago meeting a very successful shop owner from the west coast at a trade show. We were both standing at a booth that displayed emissions-related products. I picked up a sensor, turned to this shop owner and asked what he thought of the new air fuel ratio sensors. He replied, “I wouldn’t know an oxygen sensor from a spark plug.” I kept silent. This shop owner was, and still is, well known in the industry—and very successful.
Here’s the bottom line: As a business owner, the skills of repairing cars have little to do with the skills needed for long-term business success. For many of you with a technical background, you may have come to the same conclusion. If you have not come to this realization, please take a long hard look at your life and your business. While you may love to be in the bays, your place it a helm of the ship. Use those technical skills, but understand that those skills may have gotten you this far, but they won’t get your business to where it needs to be. It will be your business skills and people skills that builds a sustainable company that continues to grow and becomes a source of enrichment for you, your family, your employees and their families.
Carlos and I still keep in contact with each other and he still owns and operates his restaurants. Carlos called me the other day and told me that he actually had the opportunity recently to work in the kitchen at one of his restaurants. Perhaps even entrepreneurs can cross over into the world of technicians. I’m betting it did a world of good for Carlos.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on November 1st, 2018
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By Ron Ipach
December spells the end of 2018, and hopefully you're wrapping up what was a fantastic year for your auto repair shop and business.
Now… it’s time to start thinking about how to make 2019 an EVEN BETTER year. (Heck, let’s go ahead and plan on making it your best year ever! Right?)
By attending for this special Live Online Webinar, you're going to get the proven 4-step process that will practically GUARANTEE 2019 to be a blow-out success for you.
With these four steps, you’ll be able to…
👉 ==> DOUBLE your take-home pay (Yes, that’s not a misprint. I’ll show you how.)
👉 ==> Magnetically attract more (and even better!) customers to your shop
👉 ==> Easily sell your services at higher prices than your competitors
👉 ==> Find, hire, and keep that elusive tech you’ve been searching for
👉 ==> Put the fun back into running your shop!
If you're interested... there is absolutely ZERO cost to attend this training.
All you'll need is 45 minutes of your day set aside in order to watch this webinar live.
For the dates, times, and registration details, CLICK HERE
Curious what everyone is doing for marketing and advertising. What have you found to be the best return for your money and where are you located?? Looking for some ideas for my auto body shop .
I have tried radio, yelp and yellow pages (never again).