By Joe Marconi
I have been contacted by many shop owners about the decision to close or not. In most cases across the nation, Auto Repair Professionals are considered essential workers. Which means that we can stay open for business. However, even though we are essential, I personally will not demand my employees to come to work. If business fails because of this virus, it will fail in the short term. We will all eventually find a way to come back and rebuild our businesses.
Things are changing by the hour, and that makes our decisions as leaders even more difficult. I don’t want to get sucked into panic, but I don’t want to turn a blind eye to the fact that we are in uncharted territories and that we are all learning from this crisis together.
The decision to close your business is yours. There is no wrong or right decision here. The safety and well-being of our families are our number one concern. If it makes it any easier, make your next decisions from the heart, not from a business standpoint. Be strong, be a leader, and know that we will get though this.
When the dust begins to settle, we will have learned a lot about business and even more about who we are are as a culture and a society.
I cannot tell you what I am doing tomorrow. I plan on having a meeting with my staff, and a decision will be made to stay open, cut staff, cut hours or perhaps another scenario will surface. I will keep you updated and try to bring a little sanity to everyone during these crazy times.
You are all leaders; you are automotive shop owners. You are the toughest of the toughest. I know you and I will prevail through these troubling times and I look forward to the future when we can all look back and say…”We may it through, and we’re better off for it.”
Our current supplier for shop supplies just announced a 25% increase on nitrile disposable gloves (Ouch), as well as a 10% increase on wiper blades and metal spin on filters. I have limited to no choice in forwarding these increases to customers. However, I am in the market of seeking other suppliers. What companies do you currently use for such stocked inventory? Any recommendations?
What are your thoughts in asking the techs to supply their own work gloves? Perhaps a non disposable nitrile grip?
I'm throwing this out there to help those shop owners who are taking a beating. What do you guys do to remain positive? Recently we've had a couple backyarders open up undercutting every legit shop around, and customers are believing the magic promise of something for nothing. Others are going on a long trip in 15 minutes and want a full checkup for piece of mind, but no money. Then there's the guy who's inspection ran out 3 weeks ago about the same time his windshield broke and the steel came out of the tire, yet now he has an emergency at 5:45 on Friday because we won't give him a sticker.
Its really starting to be difficult to just grin and bear it. Maybe I'll take up drinking.
I'm ready to see more positive posts on this forum, so I'm starting with one tonight!
On Wednesday, a lady called and said she had a blowout and wanted her car towed in. Once the 2006 Buick Lucerne got to the shop we found that it needed a
new tire. We had sold a set of 4 tires to her in July 2016 with road hazard warranty. So she's getting a free tire now on the house. Along with the tire purchase in
July we also performed $1400 in repairs and service. So on Wednesday my technician jacked it up on the floor and installed the new tire. Then he told me he
was putting the car on his lift to do an inspection. The car had been well maintained, but while doing his inspection he found that it needed repairs.
It had a timing cover coolant leak, oil pan leak, rt. rear caliper leak, cracked serpentine belt, needed an oil service, and a couple of other things. I called her and
told her that the tire needed replacing. She asked if it was warrantied, and I replied that I had good news....she had purchased warranty coverage and I was
replacing it free. She loved that. Then I told her that we performed a safety inspection and told her of our findings. I didn't wait for her to ask "HOW MUCH?" I
immediately told her that I could get started on the work the same day and it would be $2150. She then asked if I had something she could drive, and I told her I
would provide her with a loaner car and could have her car ready by Friday. She asked if I could put the work on a credit card, so I said "SURE!!" Just come on
by and pick up my Altima to drive while your Buick is in the shop. She got a ride and came by about thirty minutes later. Today she picked up her Buick and
handed me her credit card. She was one happy lady, thanked me for finding what her car needed, and left smiling. Ladies and Gentlemen, I call that a
VICTORY in MY LIFE!!!
We need these victories daily in our businesses. Do you know any shops around your town that would have replaced her tire, done no inspection, eaten the
cost of the tire, and would have been in a bitchy mood after eating it?? So remember, Be an Optimist, Be Positive, Be Excited, Service Cars Properly,
Make Money, and Achieve a Victory in Your Life!!
Thank you for listening,
Due to lack of local parts inventory, price matching games, and b.s. clerical errors from vendors I'm tempted to just order all my parts from Amazon or another online wholesaler. The prices are the lowest, there's no denying that. Most PRIME parts arrive the next morning, quicker than waiting for a parts store order. The only issue is with warranty problems but I'm so frustrated with warranty labor claims I won't even go there. If you are in a major population area I'm sure you don't have this problem but in rural areas I'm sure I'm not the only one with a problem. I can't even get brake pads the same day unless I want to use store brand garbage. Today's example is a window switch for a Colorado. $275 from the national chains, 1-2 days away. $125.00 from Amazon, next day shipping (free). Same exact Door-Man part. That's $150 cheaper. I compared fuel pumps, wheel bearings, electrical parts. All are at least 50% less than the locals, apples to apples comparison (same part #) My feelings are if the customer can wait I can make exactly the same money and at the same time save my customer money, in some cases it's hundreds. What are your thoughts?