Quantcast
Jump to content


Gonzo

Article: The ATM - a fantasy story about robots taking over for mechanics... or is it real?

Recommended Posts

The ATM

A bunch of the higher ups at a corporate owned big city dealership were looking at their end of the year numbers and were trying to figure out where they could save a few bucks. It wasn’t hard to find the largest expense in their operation. It was the mechanics salary. Now all they had to do was figure out a way to keep more of the gross profits in their pockets instead of spending it on those grease covered employees down in the service bays.

 

It was up to the R&D department to come up with a concept and get back to the higher ups. They talked to a guy fixing his own car out in the parking lot. They asked around at the nearby discount auto parts center. They even discussed how they could provide repair services at all hours of the day and night without having to hire a single mechanic. As for the diagnostic side of things, the general consensus from the DIY’rs they talked to was that if they knew what was wrong, they could fix it themselves. Their plan was sounding pretty good on paper. Funny thing though, the only people they didn’t talk to was… the actual customers and the mechanics.

They compiled their analysis, ran it through a computer simulation and came up with this conclusion. The mechanic/technician field is a highly skilled trade that requires a great deal of mechanical aptitude as well as advanced knowledge in electronics and hydraulics. As well as knowing how to use sophisticated tools and computer systems. It also requires continual training in new equipment, procedures, and even newer systems. The investment into maintaining a top notch technician is quite expensive. (All of which the higher ups wanted to avoid.)

 

The R&D report was sent to the higher ups. The higher ups came to the conclusion that as long as you could diagnose a problem the rest of it is just changing a part. “This car repair stuff is easy to do. Why don’t we get a computer to do all of this? It could work 24-7, what a concept!”

 

So the plan came down to this. Devise a way to not only diagnose a car, but be able to repair it at any time of the day or night without having to pay for any high priced mechanics. How? Simple, they invented the ATM. The “Automated Technician Machine”. A 24 hour, credit card operated, self-serve, automotive diagnostic and repair center for the DIY’r. This machine had a diagnostic hook up for the car, with complete diagrams and all the needed tools at their disposal. These service bays would be capable of dispensing the needed fluids, parts, and the tools too. It didn’t take long before the higher ups threw even more money at this project and converted all the service bays into these ‘coin-operated’ contraptions and all the ‘human’ mechanics were given ‘the’ pink slip.

For the first month or so, the higher ups were smiling from ear to ear with their pet project. Gone were all those high paid technicians in the service bays. The DIY repair mode was in full swing. But, it wasn’t long before problems started coming up. First it was a stuck ball joint that the computer couldn’t help with. Next it was an electrical problem where it advised replacing everything even though it was just a broken wire in clear view. Then, it was a broken stud that the computer couldn’t figure out, and more than once, some character got upset and didn’t understand the information provided, and took their frustration out by damaging the machine. Even though the info was as accurate as possible, there was still something missing.

 

The answers were the ‘by the book’ type answers and it would only work properly if the car was as it was from the factory. Any deviation from the original … any at all… and the ATM would go berserk, causing even more chaos. The problems just kept adding up.

Soon, it wasn’t only their customers that were having issues with these ATM’s, it was the city who was on their backs now. Seems, they didn’t consider the fact that they needed a license to operate vending machines in the city limits, and there were additional taxes owed to the city too. The cost of operating these ATM’s kept climbing. The higher ups started to think this wasn’t such a good idea. “We didn’t have these kinds of problems when we had mechanics!” they told each other. So, what do you think these white shirts did now? Well, they spent even more money. They hired in a bunch of other white shirts to examine the problem.

 

Soon, there was more money going out the door than there was coming in. After several months of research, more broken machines, more upset customers, and tons of none returned tools that had to be replaced, and cars abandoned in service bays after the owners had given up on the repairs, the evaluation team had their answers. A meeting was set up for the next afternoon in a large suite on the top floor of a huge skyscraper, miles from the chaotic scene at the dealership. The number crunchers were there, as well as the vice-presidents, the vice-vice presidents, and the executives to the vice presidents. All the white shirts were leaning back in their overstuffed office chairs waiting for the answer that would lead them to an even higher skyscraper and more dividends. The higher ups asked the team of evaluators, “We expect something worthy of your six figure fee for evaluating all of this. So, what’s your grand solution to this mess?”

 

They answered,

“Hire the mechanics back!”

 

The moral of this story;

When it comes to repairing your car, it still takes the human touch. The kind you’ll find with an experienced mechanic. Things like a stuck ball joint, a broken bolt and other problems that are associated with automotive repair are all part of the daily routine. With practice and a bit of mechanical know how, mechanics find ways of getting around the so called ‘by the book’ repairs and solve a lot of issues that can’t be solved any other way. Those higher ups are smart guys and gals, but their training in what they know isn’t acquired in the same manner as the way a mechanic’s skills are. There’s a lot more to repairing something than reading a book or hooking a computer up to it. Seriously, if it was easy… anybody could do it…but it’s not as easy as it looks.

 

Consider this; it takes a lot of OJT to be an ATM. Oh, and I don’t mean one of those ‘Automated Technician Machines’, that acronym has a completely different meaning down here in the service bay. There are a lot of people out there who admire the skills of a good technician, who understand the complexities of this job, and are more than thankful such guys and gals are out there. As a customer or a fellow technician, you may know of one of them… one of those ATM’s that is, an “Appreciated Technician-Mechanic”.

 

Click here to view the article

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites





  • Similar Topics

    • By CAR_AutoReports
      Another acronym being thrown around is ADAS, short for Advanced Driver Assist Systems. I think everyone is stuck staring at those four letters without understanding the liability that those 4 letters represent for the future of the automotive industry, regardless of how much safer they make vehicles on the road. As one of the first facilities in NJ to purchase and utilize the ADAS calibration system from Autel, we have some really unique experience with it and want to pass on some information you should be aware of when considering whether or not you want to jump in.
      Facility Is Too Small - Size matters, A LOT with ADAS calibrations and if you have less than 2500 sf of space with a booming business... chances are you don't have the room to perform calibrations. Your exact business configuration will help determine this, but you ideally need a location where you can pick up 10 feet of open space all around a vehicle for most calibrations, but some calibrations may require 20 feet or more. Floor Isn't Level - If your floor is uneven, you can't perform ADAS calibrations, period. Can't Program? - If you are not experienced with programming modules or updating vehicle modules, you will not be able to perform a fair amount ADAS calibrations. Can't Diagnose? - If you don't have a team that can efficiently and accurately troubleshoot the vehicles already coming into your shop, ADAS isn't going to be any easier, it's going to be significantly harder. Who Needs OE Information, I have "X"! - Replace X with All Data or Mitchell or even the instructions in your scan tool. What happens when the manufacturer updated the information on the procedures yesterday and they didn't share that information with anyone yet? We've already encountered steps missing from the Autel scan tool... Minimum Insurance Policy Is More Than Enough - We have more than double the minimum and we are worried it's not enough. With lawsuits that settle into the tens of millions of dollars, we're not sure what enough is anymore. Don't Document Your Process? - This is where a lot of people will scoff. Who has the time? Save pictures and files, where am I supposed to do that? Who's gonna pay for this? We've figured this out and more importantly... we get paid for documenting. Do you? Mobile Calibrations? - Besides the fact that you're trying to transport $20,000 of equipment needed for calibrations in a van, this one is so serious... we couldn't give you a 2 sentence paragraph, read below. How are mobile glass services, like Safelite, performing calibrations on the go? We don't know, but we have A LOT of questions surrounding this. A recent calibration of a 2019 Toyota C-HR, after a windshield replacement, has some really interesting requirements. Requirements which we are used to, but we want to know... how is a mobile tech handling this? These are the requirements that must be met prior to starting a calibration:
      It is our experience that once a windshield has been replaced, the vehicle should not be moved for a period of at least 2 hours (weather dependent) in order to allow the glue to harden properly. So, what's going on? Is the mobile glass tech filling up the vehicle prior to replacing the windshield? How many of you had a windshield replaced and a vehicle calibrated with a fuel tank that was not full? We don't know how many corners are being cut and where they are being cut... but what we do know is that the above requirements have been there in every vehicle we have calibrated at this facility thus far.
      Lastly, pay particular attention to this requirement in this photo...
      *Calibration should be performed in a window-less environment with no bright lights or reflective materials. Ensure no other black and white patterns similar to the calibration pattern should be behind the calibration pattern.
      In a world where reducing liability is at the forefront of most public discussions, there are sure a lot of companies undermining their insurance policy in the field.

      View full article
    • By Joe Marconi
      Roughly a month ago, two events happened on the same day that reminded me that there are things that are so precious, you cannot put a price on them. Those events also reminded me that some of the things we stress over, really aren’t as important as we think. And in the end, it all comes down to the importance of life itself.  
      I got a call that day from Paul, the person who picks up our scrap metal. He asked if he could speak to me in private. Now, being a seasoned business owner, that’s usually not a good sign. But, this had nothing to do with business. I met Paul in my office a few hours later. He appeared very uncomfortable and upset. After exchanging a few words about business and the weather, he told me that his brother died last year. He was one of three other brothers that died within the past five years. He went on to tell me that none of his brothers had any savings or insurance, so it was up to him to take care of all the burial expenses for all the brothers. As Paul spoke, I could see that he was emotionally drained. Then he said to me, “Joe, I really hate to ask you this. I am tapped out. I cannot support all my financial obligations at this time. Would it be possible to lend me the money to purchase the gravestone for my brother? You can make the check out directly to the gravestone company, not to me.”
      I have known Paul a long time. He’s one of those hard-working, tough-talking guys that you would never imagine asking for a handout. I didn’t hesitate and wrote out the check and handed it to him. He held back the tears as he shook my hand and told me, “Joe, I will never forget this, and I will pay you back.”
      About an hour later, the owner of a local tow company walked into my office manager’s office to pick up a check we owed him for last month’s tows. I wasn’t paying much attention until I overheard my office manager say, “Oh, my God, I am sorry, Dave. I didn’t even know you were sick.” Dave is 42 years old, married with kids, and has brain cancer that is not responding to treatment.
      Dave has a great attitude, but understands the reality of his illness. He’s doing his best while on the treatment, but admitted that, some days, he finds it hard to function. He told us how he started his tow company right out of high school and has worked hard his entire life. As he was leaving, I told him to reach out to us if he needs anything. He told me prayer might help. I told him I would do that.
      Before the two events that day, I was dealing with a few business problems. And I need to be honest: I was not in the best of moods. After speaking to Paul and Dave, those issues that seemed so daunting before, didn’t seem all that important anymore. I sat back in my chair, looked over at a photo of my grandkids on my desk, and told myself that I need to do a better job at arranging life’s priorities.
      As shop owners, we get caught up in the day-to-day struggles of running a business—sometimes at a cost to our families, friends and ourselves. We anguish over bad online reviews, disgruntled employees, slow days and declining car counts. We sometimes find it hard to sleep at night, reflecting over and over again in our minds, the problems of the day. And we repeat this cycle over and over, year after year. Let me tell you, no business issue is ever all that serious that it cannot be overcome. But, when life throws you a curveball, as in the case with Paul and Dave, those problems are not so easily overcome.
      There are many reasons why each of us go into business. For many of us, it’s the passion for the work we do. For others, it’s the burning desire to improve the automotive industry. While I cannot say that we are in perfect alignment in every area of business, I do know one thing with certainty: We all need to stop and reflect from time to time on all the things that have nothing to do with business, but everything to do with life itself. Those are the things that no amount of money can ever buy. Those are the things that are priceless.
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on June 1st, 2019


      View full article
    • By Elite Worldwide Inc.
      BY Bob Cooper
      If your shop’s not generating the sales you need, you may very well need more customers, but before you start pumping more of your hard-earned money into your advertising campaigns, you may want to take advantage of this easy-to-use Elite checklist to see where you may be losing valuable sales.
          The Proper Goals in Place – As a shop owner you need to ensure you set daily sales and car count goals. These can be easily created by simply breaking down your monthly goals. In addition to car count and sales goals, you need to ensure you have a closing ratio goal in place for bringing in those first-time callers.
          A Competent Team that Believes – You’ll need to have a team of superstars who are gifted at what they do. Beyond that, they’ll need to believe in proper, professional and ethical inspections of every vehicle. Your advisors will need to believe in your technicians and their recommendations, in the services you offer, and that the prices you charge are a good value for your customers.
          The Right Customers – You’ll need to ensure you have the right customers on the other side of your service counter. With the wrong customers you will inevitably lose sales at the point of sale, your ARO (and efficiencies) will drop, the sales process with each customer will take more time (and subsequently cost you more), your comeback rate will increase, and you will get less favorable reviews. If that’s not all damaging enough, when the wrong customers decide to decline all the services you’ve recommended, your techs (and advisors) will become frustrated, which leads to poor morale, a decline in productivity and higher employee turnover.
          The Right Telephone Procedures - Putting first things first, you need to make sure that everyone who picks up your phone is properly trained. Also bear in mind that what you hear when you are at your shop may not be what the callers are hearing when you’re not around. Accordingly, you may want to records all calls, or have mystery calls made to your shop on a random basis.  It’s senseless to keep pumping money into advertising campaigns if the leads are being lost when they call your shop.
          The Right Procedures for Handing Web Leads – When someone reaches out to you over the web, time is of the essence. In addition, you need to have a clear policy in place for how those leads are going to be followed up with, by whom, and when. Remember, the primary objective with every web lead is to get them on the phone as soon as possible so you can start building the relationship you need for the ensuing sales.  
          Proper Vehicle Inspections – You need to ensure that every vehicle is properly inspected every time, and that all discoveries are properly documented. Ideally the inspections will be performed digitally so that your techs can be more efficient with their time, and your advisors can communicate with your customers more effectively. In today’s age of technology, there is no longer any valid reason for a shop to still be performing handwritten inspections. In addition to all the efficiencies, digital inspections will build customer confidence that is so desperately needed in today’s competitive environment.
          The Right Pricing Structure – In all cases you need to ensure your prices are competitive for the value delivered. By no means does this mean you need to be the cheapest shop in town. What I am suggesting is that your prices need to be competitive with other top shops in your community that offer similar value. The right pricing structure also mandates that you have a clear policy in place for when you will begin charging for your time and services. In essence, to what extent will you help, or provide service to a customer, before they will be required to pay? Lastly, in order to maximize your sales you need to ensure your advisors are charging the appropriate prices for all of your diagnostic services.
          Proper Estimating – There is no question that your sales will be dependent on every job being properly estimated. At any given time you should be able to review reports that reflect what we at Elite refer to as the “Total Discovered Services”. In essence, this is a report that shows the true sales potential of your shop, not only for the past year, but for the past month, week and any given day as well. Remember, your advisors can’t sell it if it’s not on the estimate.
          Complete & Proper Disclosure – In order to provide exceptional service to your customers, and maximize your sales, your advisors need to ensure they never pre-judge or pre-qualify any customer. To pre-judge simply means the advisor feels the customer won’t authorize the repairs, and to pre-qualify means the advisor feels the customer does not have the financial wherewithal to pay for the necessary services. We have also found over the years that there are many advisors who hold back on their disclosures to their first-time customers because they’re afraid to scare the customer away. Unfortunately, this practice not only leads to a decline in sales, but when the customer later discovers that there is something your advisor did not disclose to them, your reputation with that customer will be irreparably damaged.   
          Utilizing the Proper Sales Procedures – In all cases, your advisors need to be properly trained how to sell. Beyond having the necessary knowledge of automobiles, your products, and your services, they need to know how to help your customers make the right decisions. If you find your advisors are closing less than 50% of the total discovered services, you need to look for the failures, and you need to do so immediately.
          Advisors Monitoring & Measuring Their Own Performance – Each morning your advisors need to create a daily goal sheet that reflects both their daily sales and car count goals at the top. When a repair order is written, they should then strike a line through the current car count goal, and write the revised goal beneath. They’ll need to use this same procedure in tracking their sales performance. By taking this approach, at any given moment they will know exactly how many cars they still need to bring in that day in order to reach their daily car count goal, and they’ll know what they have left to sell that day as well. By reaching either of these daily goals by the end of their day, they’ll be able to go home feeling great about what they were able to achieve. In addition to the goal sheet, your advisors need to have a call log by their phone to keep track of their lost calls.  
      For those of you who feel having daily sales goals in place may cause your advisors to sell services that don’t need to be sold, consider that if this occurs, the problem isn’t with the system, but with the advisor. When you have the right people with the right principles, they understand that reaching their sales goals doesn’t include selling services that don’t need to be sold. They can reach their goals by being more efficient with the vehicles they have in the shop, and when necessary, bringing in more customers. As an added note, I used this daily goal setting strategy at the shops that I owned, and it enabled me to generate outstanding sales. I have also noticed that as soon as our clients start using this procedure, it is not uncommon for their sales to increase 10-15%, with no other changes.
          The Shop Owner Doing Their Job – It is the responsibility of the shop owner to not only ensure all the above policies and procedures are in place, but to ensure they have the right people, that their techs and advisors are properly trained by the best trainers, and that they’re monitoring, measuring and praising the positive performance of all their employees. This responsibility also includes performing mystery calls (or recording all calls), spot checking vehicle inspections, watching for trends, doing repair order reviews with their advisors, and performing role-plays.
          A Companywide Commitment to Principles – To maximize your sales and build a really great business at the same time, you need to create a list of Guiding Principles, you need to share them with your entire team on a consistent basis, and you need to ensure everyone on your team lives by them each and every day. If you do, and apply the procedures listed above, then not only will you reach your sales goals, but you’ll do so in a way that makes you and your entire team proud.
      “Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (www.EliteWorldwide.com), a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers coaching and training from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can contact Elite at [email protected], or by calling 800-204-3548."

      View full article
    • By Elite Worldwide Inc.
      By Bob Cooper
      When it comes to keeping your employees operating at peak performance, I am sure you will agree that training is critical. Accordingly, I felt it would be appropriate for me to provide you with what Elite feels to be the most important considerations when it comes to training your team.
      First of all, here in the U.S. both physicians and attorneys are required to participate in continued education, and I feel your team members should be required as well. It is for this reason that I would strongly encourage you to have a policy in place that mandates that as a condition of ongoing employment, each year your technicians will need to complete (as an example) at least 40 hours of training, and your advisors will need to complete at least 8 hours of training. In all cases, the training will need to be company approved. 
      Secondly, as we all know, there is no one right answer for who pays for the training, but you may want to consider this. As soon as the employee has completed their training, they have benefited, because they are now more knowledgeable. On the other hand, as the owner of the shop, you will not benefit (economically) until your employee has applied their new-found knowledge, and the application has increased their productivity. I am sure you will agree, these two reasons alone suggest that an employee should invest in their own training. Additionally, when someone has their own dollars invested in any type of training, they will take it much more seriously. 
      Accordingly, you may want to consider having the employee pay a percentage of the cost of the training, and letting them know that if they are still employed with you XX months later, you will then reimburse them for their contribution. If they are cash strapped, you can always do a payroll deduction spread out over 2-3 pay periods. 
      If you find you have to sell your employees on participating in such classes, you will ultimately discover it’s due to one of two reasons. One, they don’t see the value in such courses, and if you discover this to be the case, you may find that they have taken courses in the past that were sub-par, and they lost interest. In such cases you need to sell them on how you select the courses, and/or have them participate in the selection process. On the other hand, if you find you have an employee that has little or no interest, or if they suggest there is nothing left that they can learn, then clearly you have the wrong employee. 
      Whether or not they are paid for their time taking the courses is subject to state laws, and to your discretion. Just bear in mind that the only thing worse than training an employee and having them leave, is not training them, and having them stay. 
       
      Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (www.EliteWorldwide.com), a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers the industry’s #1 peer group of 90 successful shop owners, training and coaching from top shop owners, service advisor training, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can contact Elite at [email protected], or by calling 800-204-3548.
       

      View full article
    • By CAR_AutoReports
      Whether or not we realize it, each shop has a similar workflow process. Like many areas of life, we think that we are all unique in our business strategy. However, reality is we are all very similar, our differences lie in management styles. Our attitude and approach, from employees and customers, defines how we achieve success. 
      Check In Inspection Estimate Building Customer Authorization Work In Progress Completion Follow Up The process, is often hijacked by two elements. The first element is service center employee(s) and their attitude(s) and the second element is the software your business uses.
      Your employees are your team, and that’s exactly the best way to approach your business. When you look at employees as team members and not as just “the new guy/girl” or “Jack the mechanic who never combs his hair”... everyone’s attitude begins to change.

      Being a part of a team is a mindset that everyone ‘shares in the responsibility’, everyone is accountable for their role and if one person fails… everyone has failed. This mindset is used to build all types of companies, some of which end up being valued into the billions of dollars. Teams help each other pick up the slack and work with one another to get through personal and professional barriers.  
      The most important thing to remember about the team, is that everyone can have a bad day, week, month or even months. We are all human and too often we forget everyone is going through something. The team element opens the door to communication among the facility and if people are comfortable enough to communicate, they are open to moving past whatever ails them. We are all too quick to give up on someone we have invested an immense amount of time and energy training to our standards.  With the right team, dedication is matched on all ends, resulting in happy customers that not only return... they refer.  Which lowers acquisition costs and keeps business growth healthy.
      You can read more about team building here and we also encourage you to search for ideas on team building and how to achieve the optimal team at your auto repair facility.
      This article originally published in CAR's News Section

      View full article
  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors



×
×
  • Create New...