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I have never met a shop owner who didn’t have the desire to be successful. People go into business with dreams of changing the world and to make a positive influence in the industry to which they have dedicated their lives. They’re devoted, sacrifice time away from family and, at times, drive themselves to exhaustion—all in an effort to become the best they can be and make their mark. However, all too often, something happens along the way and the business begins to suffer. While shops owners may start their business with passion and vision, they tend to create a world in which everything revolves around them. When the business is small, the owner pays careful attention to every detail. Every car is repaired with the highest degree of excellence. Quality time is spent with each customer and a bond is created, which gets stronger and stronger as the years pass. As the business begins to grow, the owner realizes that the amount of work to be accomplished each day is overwhelming and hires more employees. Everyone is working, but not necessarily with the same culture the owner has. They do their job, but they are not really aligned with the goals and vision of the owner. The shop owner continues to work on his or her skills, learning everything that is needed to run a successful business. After a number of years, the shop owner becomes skilled at running a shop and proficient in nearly every aspect of business, except one: the area of people. And that is when the downward slide begins. The owner recognizes that, in spite of the dedication to excellence, things are not right. The shop owner has established the goals of the company and put everything in place. Everything is attainable. But it’s not working. Frustration sets in, and it’s not long before the owner begins to complain about the lack of performance and drive from the employees, which is the perceived root of the problem. Well, the root of the problem is the owner. We all know that running a business is not a walk in the park, but if your business is struggling, you, personally, are struggling. If your people are not performing the way they should, then you are not performing the way you should. Granted, there are employees that are a problem, and if that’s the case, they need to go. But even superstar employees will turn sour under poor leadership. There are endless issues and problems you encounter each and every day, and some of those problems are out of your control. But, excluding a cataclysmic event, you can trace most of your problems back to you. You are the shop owner, you are the leader. The strength of your business begins and ends with you. Given two equally talented ball teams, the difference between winning and losing is usually leadership. Employees need to know you care about them. The people you employ have vision and goals, too. Not the same as yours, but real nonetheless. One of your jobs, as leader, is to align their goals with yours. We throw this leadership term around a lot these days, and for good reason. It’s the most powerful skill you have in terms of getting the results for which you are looking. The horrible truth is there are too many bosses and not enough leaders. Anyone can be a boss. Bosses order people around. And people will follow, but not for the long term. A leader motivates others by understanding what drives the individual. A leader gives credit to others, never seeking gain at the expense of others. Next time you walk through your shop, pay attention to the mood of your employees. Are your employees laughing and talking to each other? You know, having a little fun at work. Do your employees look to engage in conversation with you, or are their heads buried under the hood of a car as you pass them by? Even worse, does everyone stop talking when you are around? These are signs that your employees are not engaged, which means they are not aligned with the goals and vision of the business, and you are not aligned with theirs. A leader finds out what’s important to others, and works to help them achieve it. Aligning the goals of the individual with the goals of the company will achieve great things. When employees are respected as people, they become motivated and perform at their best; not because they are told to, but because they want to. This is the highest form of team spirit and becomes your driving force toward success. This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on October 1st, 2018
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There are days I want to set the place on fire (sometimes just customers cars) ok just kidding. I seem to be getting a streak of problematic parts lately. I am so tired of reps telling me about quality, oem specs, warranty blah blah. My main supplier is AAP. Here are some examples below. - 2000 wrangler needing rear axles due to bearing failure. Ordered Dorman axles and both had fitment issues where once installed the differential pin wouldn't fit in due to improper clearances on the axle. Ordered another brand online Yukon Axles. - 1995 Lexus SC300 (mint cond, low miles) Felpro valve cover gasket was manufactured too thick and didn't fit in the groove on the valve cover. Ordered from Lexus and fit fine. - Forgot the year (Chrysler van) water pump with a pulley that wobbled and even the online reviews had the same issue. - 1993 Wrangler water pump machined incorrectly where once bolted to the block, the ears of the pump where the ps pump bracket bolts to was not machined correctly and if you tried to bolt it on it would bend the water pump. Ordered AC Delco (i think) from Cold air distributors and worked fine. - 1999 Lexus ES300 front left brake hose manufactured incorrectly. Ordered another brand, probably Raybestos from Cold Air Distributors, and all is well. - 2003 Taurus 3.0 OHV timing cover from Dorman 635-117. Online reviews had some issues but the oem unit was expensive. I ordered 3 before I found one that was machined good enough then installed. Came back a while later leaking. I ordered a replacement under warranty and the quality control was horrible. Just ended up getting the ford one and looked and seemed to work great. Time will tell - 2005 Honda Element Monroe struts all the way around (these are the ones) in the front like the civics where the strut has the bracket where the tie rod bolts to. Left front was fine. Right front couldn't get aligned properly as the bracket for the tie rod was welded on at the wrong angle. Went through a couple from the local parts store then I think Monroe sent me a strut that was tested to be ok on their manufacturing/ quality control/ measurement jig and it still failed. They paid to have the old Honda part sent back for inspection. I think i ordered KYB for the front and all was well. I use the AAP Wearever Platinum which have been great brake pad material and braking, but lately they don't fit properly and I have taken video to show the reps and I believe when the backing plate is cut, there are imperfections where it wont fit into the caliper bracket without me grinding the backing plate on the edges. The actual manufacturing company for them sent a rep to a local AAP BBQ event and I talked to him and he is very aware and they supposedly changed the manufacturing process to address this issue but recently I did a brake job and had the same issue then installed Akebono and all was well. I am considering switching to the Wagner TQ which they stock as well. They give me an across the board pricing on the Platinum pads of $34.99 on most vehicles. Has anybody got a good pricing structure on the Wagners? AAP gives a 3 month parts and labor warranty on pretty much everything they sell. The labor is reimbursed on my parts account at 1/2 my shop labor rate times the book time. The problem is I still have to write up an invoice showing that I replaced the part and didn't charge the customer, and spend time calling their hotline and explain what happened, then fax or scan and email the original invoice, warranty invoice, original parts invoice with the claim numbers and I still have to call and check in to make sure the claims have been processed and paid out. This takes time and is not very encouraging. Otherwise the parts themselves have the standard warranties, 2 year, 3 year, lifetime, etc. though this still requires me to redo the repair that should have been successful the first time. I am the owner and mechanic and I waste so much time in the office dealing with parts, Calling manufacturers tech support lines, taking measurements, sending pictures of parts problems. Then if I cannot get it resolved having to research another part. The Dorman timing covers were terrible. the metal was porous and i sent them a screenshot of their website talking about "High quality plastic or metal construction resists warping, cracking and porousness". I am surprised that these companies don't look at the reviews of their own products and correct the issues. I do need another technician so I don't have to wear so many hats but in the meantime how do you folks deal with these types of issues. The other issue is because I am not a high volume purchaser, although it is getting better as I grow, I have to purchase the majority of my parts from AAP to keep myself on a reasonable tier level. If I spread my purchases around then I can fall off the tier level in a short time. I like AAP and they have a warehouse near me and have a vast inventory available locally as opposed to other suppliers. Most of the stuff I get is name brand stuff to avoid junk parts. I like Moog, National, Motorcraft, Delco, Etc so its not like I am trying to be cheap on everything, I just seem to get burned a lot. When the commercial reps come by, it is usually to check up on business and try to sell me something or a service or a package deal, however when I show them the issues I am having, they really don't or cannot do anything other than listen and tell me about their "quality parts". I ask for the numbers to the engineering departments to try and at least get some of these issues resolved and I cannot get through. How do ya'll deal with these situations?
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The day to day operations of running a business can take its toll on anyone. To be a business owner means to address problem after problem and finding the right solutions. Sometimes the decisions we make will be the right ones, sometimes not. If we are not careful, this emotional roller coaster we call being in business, can make us focus too much on the negative, and not the positive things that happen in our lives. With nearly 4 decades as a business owner, I can say with certainty that one of the basic building blocks of being successful in business is having the right team of people around you and getting yourself in the right frame of mind. You need to find and hire great people. But once you have them, you need to do all you can to take care of them, train them and make them successful in order for you to be successful. Is it easy? No. But it is essential. Most important; you need to treat each day as if it were a gift from the heavens and base your entire perspective from a position of strength and remaining positive. I know it’s not easy, but I can tell you, it works.
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http://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-selfdriving/u-s-house-unanimously-approves-sweeping-self-driving-car-measure-idUSKCN1BH2B2?feedType=RSS&feedName=technologyNews WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House on Wednesday unanimously approved a sweeping proposal to speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls by putting federal regulators in the driver’s seat and barring states from blocking autonomous vehicles. The House measure, the first significant federal legislation aimed at speeding self-driving cars to market, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year. The cap would rise over three years to 100,000 vehicles annually. Representative Doris Matsui said the bill “puts us on a path towards innovation which, up until recently, seemed unimaginable.” ...
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MEN ARE JUST HAPPY PEOPLE This needs no explanation - and is a fun read, no matter your gender. Men Are Just Happier People! What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress - $5,000. Tux rental - $100. People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Two pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original color The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. One wallet and one pair of shoes - one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can 'do' your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes. No wonder men are happier! NICKNAMES If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah. If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Bubba and Wildman. EATING OUT When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back. When the girls get their bill, outcome the pocket calculators. MONEY A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale. BATHROOMS A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel. The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items. ARGUMENTS A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument. FUTURE Awoman worries about the future until she gets a husband. A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife. MARRIAGE A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't. A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does. DRESSING UP A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, or get the mail. A man will dress up for weddings and funerals. NATURAL Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed. Women somehow deteriorate during the night. OFFSPRING Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house. THOUGHT FOR THE DAY A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing!
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By Joe Marconi
Here's a tip I have posted before, but it's worth repeating.
One job that goes unnoticed most of the year is the job of the part's driver. You get part deliveries all day long, every day, all year long. Many times, these part's drivers take all the abuse due to wrong parts, the parts took too long to be delivered, on and on and on. Those drivers may not say anything, but they take it to heart.
So, here's what you are going to do. Buy small gifts, such as small boxes of candy or chocolate. Nothing expensive. During the holidays, give all the drivers one of these small gifts and say "Thank you, I appreciated what you do."
Two things will happen. First, the driver will be stunned and will not know what to say, and they will be very thankful that you thought of them.
The second thing that will happen is this: The very next time those part drivers have three delivers to make at three different shops, what shop do you think they will want to go to first? Yes...Yours!
By Joe Marconi
A few weeks back I had a problem with my refrigerator. I got a referral and called an appliance repair company. I called three times and each time I called this is what happened: "C and E appliance, please hold." I was put on hold three times for about 5 minutes. After being put on hold each time, a women would say, "What's the problem?" No engagement, no sign of interest for me the customer, no signs of caring. I gave the women a brief description of the problem and each time she told me someone would call me back. Well, no one did.
So, I called for the 4th time, and as the person answered the phone I said, "DO NOT PUT ME ON HOLD." There was silence, so I continued. I explained to her that she has spoken to me three times, I left messages three times and three times you told me that someone would call me back. She replied, "You are talking to the wrong person, if you have any complaints, write a letter to my boss, after all he won't listen to me anyway." I hung up the phone and called another company.
The lesson and takeaway here is simple: Who's answering your phone? The wrong people on the phone in your shop can kill your business. Have meetings with your people. Make sure you review your phone skills policy. If you don't have one, create one. Empower your people to people to handle issues. And make sure you log every phone call. If you feel you have a problem, start recording phone calls.
Your phone is your lifeline to future business. So, please ask yourself....Who's answering your phone?
By Ron Ipach
I'm going to go out here on a limb here and tell you -
YOUR ONLINE REVIEWS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN ATTRACTING MORE CAR COUNT!
First of all, the reviews given by your customers reveal the health of your business. If your customers aren't saying good things about you, that's a warning sign that you better get your act together right now and start providing a better experience for your customers.
Also, if you only have a few handfuls out of all the hundreds or thousands of customers you've worked saying good things - that's not a healthy sign either. They may like, or even love, doing business with you, but if they aren't telling the world (aka writing an online review), their little secret is hurting your chances to attract more car count.
You see, studies show that 92% of folks will read reviews before making a buying decision, and if you don't have a stellar reputation (4.7 or higher), they'll move on to the next shop.
In fact, I advise that you completely stay away from any form of online advertising for new customers unless your score is at least a 4.7 out of 5.0. Why? Because your prospective new customer will easily be able to compare you with everyone else and will more than likely choose the shop with the better reputation - negating all the time, money, and effort you've put into your advertising efforts.
Look, you can argue with me all you want, but we're talking human nature here. Most will always go with the higher recommended shop. Why not? If you don't have a great reputation score, all you're really doing is advertising for your competitors that do.
But your score isn't the only factor being looked at. There are actually three factors that are important about your reviews.
1. Quality (4.7 or higher overall score is needed)
2. Quantity (These days, a minimum of 75 reviews are needed, but in highly competitive areas, 150+ is needed)
3. Recency (You must be getting 1 or 2 new reviews every single week)
=== So you say you do a great job, your customers love you, but they just aren't writing those positive reviews that you need in order to let the rest of the world know how awesome you are, right? Here are three ways to get more reviews:
1. Ask. (Duh!)
2. Bribe. This has been very effective for a lot of my clients in the past, however it's also considered a no-no by the review sites and may get your account shut down if they find out.
3. Use an automated service like Soapboxx to do it for you that will email or text your customers after their service, ask if they were happy, and then send them directly to Google, Facebook, YP, or wherever you wish so they can write a quick word about their experience.
Soapboxx is the only automated review-boosting service created specifically for the auto repair industry and the beta-testing of the software has just been completed. (See just a few of the remarks from the users below) Go to www.Soapboxx.io for more details.
Check out what some of the members of the new Soapboxx platform are saying...
Whatever you choose to do, ask, bribe, or automate the whole thing - put getting more 4-5 star reviews at the top of your to-do list. It's simply the best thing you can do to help attract more car count to your shop!