Notice to all customers bringing their own parts
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By Joe Marconi in Joe's BlogMost shop owners would agree that the independent auto repair industry has been too cheap for too long regarding its pricing and labor rates. However, can we keep raising our labor rates and prices until we achieve the profit we desire and need? Is it that simple?
The first step in achieving your required gross and net profit is understanding your numbers and establishing the correct labor and part margins. The next step is to find your business's inefficiencies that impact high production levels.
Here are a few things to consider. First, do you have the workflow processes in place that is conducive to high production? What about your shop layout? Do you have all the right tools and equipment? Do you have a continuous training program in place? Are technicians waiting to use a particular scanner or waiting to access information from the shop's workstation computer?
And lastly, are all the estimates written correctly? Is the labor correct for each job? Are you allowing extra time for rust, older vehicles, labor jobs with no parts included, and the fact that many published labor times are wrong? Let's not forget that perhaps the most significant labor loss is not charging enough labor time for testing, electrical work, and other complicated repairs.
Once you have determined the correct labor rate and pricing, review your entire operation. Then, tighten up on all those labor leaks and inefficiencies. Improving production and paying close attention to the labor on each job will add much-needed dollars to your bottom line.
Mark Roepke, Quality Auto Mart & Service, Batesville, IN. When it comes to “Alternative Profit” centers Mark and Nancy Roepke have created a solid pathway for alternative incomes as the Owners of Quality Auto Mart, Quality Carts and Quality Storage. Mark and his parents bought 4 acres in 1987, just outside of Batesville, IN, to build an auto repair facility and Quality Auto Mart & Service was born. His parents, Charles and Betty Roepke, built a 100 unit Storage facility that was one of the first in the area. After the passing of his parents, Mark and Nancy continue to operate Quality Storage. While doing Auto Service, customers from the Campground across the street started asking for Golf Cart repair and service. The word traveled quickly and Quality Carts was born and has proven to be one of the fastest growing parts of their business. Quality Carts offers Sales, Service, Parts and Accessories and contributes about 70% of the overall income! Key Talking Points Across the street from the shop is a campground, 500 acres with over 700 golf carts- started servicing the golf carts. Started to repair more and more golf carts. Lightbulb moment- “I don’t care what it costs, I just want my golf cart fixed now.” Started charging accordingly with auto repair rate- average 30 per week, no competition, DVI process, treat it exactly like a vehicle. No waiters, drop off only. Golf carts need good maintenance once a year and can last up to 25 years During slower winter months and holidays- free pick up and delivery for golf carts Dealerships would rather sell new carts than repair existing Everyone learns together how to repair golf carts- recurring problems and failures is a learning curve Built website and marketing campaign for golf cart repairs- backed up 2-3 weeks during busy summer months (golfcartdude.com) 2 parts vendors for carts (besides dealerships) Also buys and sells carts- new runs $8-10K, became difficult to purchase new or used post-pandemic Boneyard- carts get sold down to parts down to the frame, only a few in the country and people will drive hours to buy parts from them. All profit. Rental carts- $350 for 3 days Golf courses- receive carts from the vendor, when the lease is done Mark buys them. Thanks to Mark Roepke for his contribution to the aftermarket’s premier podcast. Link to the ‘BOOKS‘ page, highlighting all books discussed in the podcast library HERE. Leaders are readers. Listen for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spreaker, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Podchaser, and many more. Mobile Listening APP's HERE Find every podcast episode HERE. Every episode is segmented by Series HERE. Key Word Search HERE. Be socially involved and in touch with the show: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Instagram Youtube Email Join the Ecosystem - Subscribe to the INSIDER NEWSLETTER HERE. Buy me a coffee NAPA AutoCare’s PROimage program makes it easy for you to make the most of the NAPA brand. A PROimage upgrade lets you maintain your shop’s identity as a reliable, locally-owned business while letting your customers and potential customers know you’re partnering with NAPA, the most recognized and trusted name in the automotive aftermarket. AutoCare Centers that have completed a PROimage exterior upgrade enjoy an average 23 percent sales increase during the first year. You can also choose to go PROimage on the interior and transform your customer waiting area from merely utilitarian to warm and welcoming. You can even get a free look by visting www.NAPAAutoCare.com and clicking on the NAPA PROimage link under the NAPA PROimage tab. Of course, the AutoCare site is also the place to go to find out about all the advantages being part of the NAPA family has to offer.Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio
Why Would You Want To Listen and Who the Heck Am I?
Can you afford to miss out on being a fly on the wall of shop owners, coaches, technicians, executives and every other contributor that has been involved in the aftermarkets premiere podcast?
Imagine an aftermarket audio archive of over 600 episodes that speaks to the business of the aftermarket with a focus on the service professional. Every episode is cataloged by series to help you learn and tackle our industries challenges head-on. All for free, on-demand and available anywhere in the world.
Through interviews with the best in the business, our goal is to help solve your pain points and teach you stuff along the way? You know the drill change is a guaranteed constant in life. We must stay abreast of the speed of technology, succession planning, the lack of skilled tradespeople, specifically technicians, leadership, business culture, the need to be better marketers, the role of the CEO, consolidation, and most importantly your profitability.
Engage with the podcast because with all the noise in your life, RRR grounds you in the context of the aftermarket. You are almost guaranteed to learn just one thing from every episode and help bring wisdom and influence to the people you lead as we work together to elevate all ships.
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😆 I am sure we all know a few "mechanics" that could wear this proudly . Personally I hate You Tube mechanics, drives me up a wall to see guys trying to figure out car problems with it or even using google !
Building a Canoe
Have you ever noticed when you’re relaxing at home, or at work trying to accomplish something, sooner or later somebody comes along and asks, “So, whatcha doin’?” It happens to me all the time. Around my house though, there’s a typical answer you’ll get if you ask such a question, and that’s, “I’m building a canoe.” Meaning, “It’s not all that important what I was doing. Thanks for caring, but I’d like to get back to what I was doing.” It’s a running joke at my house. Nobody takes it seriously. It seems at my house, no matter what the situation is, somebody is building a canoe somewhere. Now at the shop, well, I’m not sure anyone would understand “building a canoe”, and it definitely wouldn’t be appropriate. But, I’ve certainly had my fair share of chances to shout it out from time to time.
Take the typical phone call that asks, “If you’re not real busy right now, I’ve only got a couple of questions I’d like to ask.” Not a problem, nothing is as important as helping the next person in line. Go ahead and ask, but if the questions seem to be from the far side of the lake I might start answering with nautical terms or what size oars I’m carving out. By then, you’ll know I’m probably not following your line of questions too closely.
Let’s face it, I’m just a mechanic. According to some, I’m supposed to have more in common with a Neanderthal than a rocket scientist. Figuratively speaking of course. But, at the same time, I’m supposed to have the solution for any type of problem at a moment’s notice, and know exactly the cost of each and every part from each and every manufacturer cataloged in my brain, and if I can’t answer their question with the answer they expected I must either be a Neanderthal, or I’ve spent way too much time building canoes and not on my chosen profession.
It goes back to the old school of thought that it doesn’t take a lot of brain cells to do this job. I’m not sure where that comes from, or how it ever got started. But, if you’ve watched a few old TV shows from the 50’s and 60’s it’s pretty clear that the portrayal of a mechanic is almost always one of a dopy guy with a greasy rag hanging out of his pocket who couldn’t hold an intelligent conversation with anything beyond a boat oar. That perception has gotta change, these days it takes a highly trained, technically savvy mechanic to diagnose and repair the modern car.
Like many professional mechanics, I don’t spend my time under the hood of a car to answer questions. I’m there to do my job, and that’s fix the car. But, there are those occasions when one of those rubberneckers is leaning over the fender and you know at some point they’re going to ask, “Whatcha doing now?” I seriously want to break out into a long dissertation of how I’ve been building this canoe. It’s probably best I don’t paddle in that direction, as I’d have to explain the canoe thing.
Being so involved in your work is one thing. Being asked questions while you’re working is another. Sometimes it’s not a problem, while other times it throws you so far off you’ve got to regroup your thoughts and start all over again. I’ve often wondered how a psychologist would interpret some of the things I hear at the shop. Maybe I really don’t want know, maybe I’m the crazy one and everyone else is just building their own canoes.
A perfect example was a hot afternoon with several jobs going all at once. The shop was buzzing and everybody was super busy when this guy came to the service counter. “Ya got a second? OK, OK, like… I changed the starter, the battery, and the ignition switch. Then, I changed the window switch, all the relays, and the fuel pump. I was told it could be the power steering pump, so I changed that too, and while I was at it, me and a buddy replaced the heater core. So, so, how much do ya charge to look at my car?”
For me, I prefer the logical approach to answering customer’s questions. That is to answer each and every one of their concerns correctly and professionally. But in this case, which end of the canoe are we talking about? I’m not quite sure what I was really asked. There I am just paddling along (working out in the shop), doing my thing, and when I pull up to the shore line (run up to the service counter) somebody starts telling me about what parts they changed on their car and not necessarily problems I’m capable of solving. Do I ask this guy, “I take it the car doesn’t start?” or do I answer the only question that I actually heard? Is there more than one canoe involved in this story, or have I been paddling on the wrong lake all this time?
By now, I should have a whole fleet of canoes. But, I never ever seem to finish the first one, before I’m swept downstream on another adventure. There’s always another job, another phone call, and another, “Hey, do ya got a second to answer some questions?” Which usually leads to another canoe.
Working on cars, and all this high tech razzle dazzle stuff can be a trying effort, but it’s what mechanics do every day. It’s one of those jobs that seems easy, but in reality, it’s not. It’s something that not everyone is cut out for. It has its rewards as well as its down sides. But for the most part it’s a great career choice and if you’re like me, finding and fixing the problems is what it’s all about. However, I wouldn’t mind building canoes as a career choice either. It’s another one of those jobs where working with your hands is the only way of getting things accomplished, and I’m definitely a hands on type of guy.
We all could use a little more time to just float along and enjoy the gentle current and scenery. You know, take in the big picture for a change, and realize none of us really have it that bad after all. Maybe a little less of that rush-rush and hurry up-stay-on schedule in our lives. Mechanic or canoe builder, every trade has their issues. But, when the day is done, and we have that moment to sit back and forget about the shop or that next car we’ve got to work on, it’s the perfect time to day dream about a leisurely float down a lazy river. So, as you’re sitting there in your easy chair, smiling, taking in that imaginary scenery and somebody comes along and asks, “Whatcha doin’?” just tell them… “I’m building a canoe.” It’ll be our little secret.
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