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  1. 2 points
    One more tip: if your main parts guy takes good care of you, tell his boss how good he or she is. Everybody benefits! The same for the driver. Tell his boss and your parts contact how good he is. My last compliment said how cheerful he is EVERY time and that he takes care of me AND his company.
  2. 2 points
    For the umpteenth year in a row I will be delivering about 15 dozen donuts from a really good local bakery to parts stores and machine shops and other vendors my shop uses this Wednesday. YES, I have been told that this is backwards - they should be bringing US treats. But rather like the Original Post, I have learned that this comes back to help my business through much of next year! AMAZING how much fun it is to go out and deliver these boxes and bags of donuts with a card and a bow on them and get to talk to other business owners / managers about the holidays, the weather, families and maybe even business. GREAT TIP!!!
  3. 1 point
    Hi Ken! I don't call myself an expert - but been around auto service/repair for the better part of 30 years. I re-read your question a few times, but still not sure of what you're looking for or how I can help you. I don't think I need to walk you through a business plan outline - there's a ton of that on-line and you've probably done it before - but I think that your biggest focus is to retain that customer list. I know, I know, everyone want to talk about assets like equipment and all that - but if you really think about it - nothing matters without the customers. Now, you don't mention if this is a "going concern" type of shop - meaning its already got X number of techs and ongoing customers - or if it's operating under a banner or franchise. But with that said, being an "existing full-service shop" (your words) I would think there's customers. Just remember that those customers built a relationship with the existing owners - not YOU. So now, if you're a lender or partner - the only thing they're looking at (in reality) is how they're going to get their money back. Having borrowed millions for business investment, I know if you want their money - you have to show them how they're going to get it back. With that said, the ONLY source of revenue (cash) that business has it customers - and more you can show your plan to retain those customers - while building more - will be the key to getting funding. Make sense? Let me know if you have any specific questions. You're welcome to message me on this forum, reply here or whatever. Hope this helps! Matthew Lee "The Car Count Fixer" P.S.: Join me on YouTube at Car Count Hackers - Grow your Car Count, Income & Profits
  4. 1 point
    While looking for absentee investments, I found a self-storage and Auto repair shop on sale. The purchase price is small and also cash flow is very high to ignore. But, I am a Software Engineer and I am New to running a Business leave alone an Auto repair. The shop is 2 hrs drive from my home. The owner is ready to provide 2d/week consulting service, and lone other mechanic is ready to work with new owner. Plenty of cash transactions. No computers to log work orders. Specialist in exhaust systems. The mechanic is not insured. Shop and storage has some level of insurance. Small town and original owner ran business from the shop for 33 years. Now wants to retire. I have plans to modernize the work orders and add cameras for remote tracking. I will have to add one more mechanic, and then trust mechanics and also introduce softwares to increase transparency. For someone who is interested in Auto repair in general, do you think its good business to run as absentee? I plan to spend few hours at the shop once a week and less frequently later. I am 40 year old, I think right time for me to start a business and get off the corporate world. Please advice. Appreciate.
  5. 1 point
    Maybe it is possible to succeed as you have planned. After 47 years in buisiness I am sure that I could not succeed if my time investment was 2-3 hours a week. Some people can possibly pull that off, I am not one of them.
  6. 1 point
    I think you should have them let you play boss for a month or two and see how it goes before you buy it. I'm not sure sure about this business or shop but chances are you're going to be in for alot of surprises.
  7. 1 point
    Yes, customers will always find something to complain about, and the approach I am thinking about is not without its risks. In fact, what you just asked was the first thing my service manager said to me when we discussed it. We have been moving away from having a posted "labor rate" for a while. We have a "labor rate" that we use to calculate the labor for a given job, but we always present the the total labor for each job to the customer. This makes it a bit more difficult to make an easy comparison. I also find it much easier to address higher labor, then trying to get a customer to understand that my business model requires me to double the price of a part. Labor charges are very subjective, while parts prices are objective. Each of our shops is unique, no one else can offer exactly the same service, and the customer has no idea what it cost to produce the labor. You can easily differentiate yourself, and therefore justify a different labor rate. When a customer tells you he/she found the same OEM part online, for 1/2 the cost, there is nothing you can do to differentiate the part you are selling, from the part found online. You are now in a position where all you can do is try to get them to understand that you have to mark parts up to stay in business. A lot of customers do understand this, but each one has a different idea about what constitutes a reasonable markup, and what is excessive, leaving them feeling ripped off. Whenever I discuss this idea, I feel the need to add my disclaimer. While I do continue to like the possibilities of conducting my business this way, I still have not tried it in my shop. So, I do also have some serious reservations about it. Scott
  8. 1 point
    At this very special time of the year, I would like to wish all the very best life has to offer. My gift from all of you are the amazing posts and contributions each of you have made to help each other and help the industry. It makes me proud to be among such an elite group of shop owners! Thank you all! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Joe Marconi
  9. 1 point
  10. 1 point
    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!
  11. 1 point
    Let's take it one step further: do the same thing at your shop. When a technician fixes a tough car problem, walk out in to the shop and compliment the guy loud enough for everyone to hear. You will make his/her day. And the crew will know you are comfortable enough with yourself to not have to be the smartest diagnostician in the shop. Side note: I think the worst thing for an owner to say is: "Ya, that's what I thought it was." You just downplayed their 3 or 4 hours worth of work. Resist the urge to say that, even if you guessed that was the problem. Side/side note: I worked for a guy who would shout out the three typical solutions to a certain car problem and when it turned out to be one of those, would gloat around about how smart he was. Again, deflating to your hardworking technician. Now off my soapbox.
  12. 1 point
    Another great tip newport5! I was just at a Christmas event for one of my clients. It was catered in the back room of a restaurant. I was blown away by how well the entire staff handled everything. With that said, I made a point of talking to the owner before leaving. I explained that (as an owner) you always hear about things when they go wrong - so I wanted to let him know how fantastic his staff was! Sometimes you just have to give credit where it's due. But as I was talking... I noticed the chef sort of looking - trying to figure out what was going on. I was the stranger in the kitchen, right? And when I walked away... I stopped and asked him if he was the chef. Reluctantly, he said "yes". I give him a huge smile - thumbs up - and told him what a great job he did! If I could only show you the expression on his face - it spoke volumes. I'm guessing he never hears about "the good ones" either! Hope this help! Matthew!
  13. 1 point
    You're 100% correct stvstbsvc! It's fun... nobody ever says "NO"... and it makes you look good. The only change you can try... is do it when it's NOT so expected. Like people are trained that giving a little bit at Christmas is... well... almost "expected". But what about the first nice day of spring? What about that killer hot day in July? Works even better then! Hope this helps! Matthew "The Car Count Fixer" Join me on YouTube - grow your car count, income and profits!
  14. 1 point
    Good story Joe! You are spot on.
  15. 1 point
    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
  16. 1 point
    Scott... what you said is sort of ironic. I just attended a party my client holds for his entire staff and family every year. (He' invites me every year). About 20 people sit down to full dinner and open bar. I get what you said about business - but in reality, we're living in one of the best times in the last decade. Money is pretty free flowing... compared to 07-08. But if you're in a pinch, turn the $20, $50 and $100 into $5's and $10's. I don't know anyone who walks away from a gift. I just think it's those little things that mean so much. Hope this helps! Matthew Lee "The Car Count Fixer" P.S. Get registered for my free training course before the "free" goes away!
  17. 1 point
    For about 20 years, I would get those money cards, and put $20's in some and $100's in others. I would give the mailman, UPS driver, FedEx driver, Parts drivers, etc. the $20's. The $100's would go the the main parts guys we ordered from. There was always a lot of appreciation. For me, the Auto Repair business had been less and less profitable over the last decade. I had to cut this practice from the budget as well as Christmas bonuses, a yearly company event, and a number of other expenses. I agree, if you can afford it, these gestures go along way toward building loyalty. Scott
  18. 1 point
    My people made some calls and apparently this is only currently happening in the Dallas/FW area. Involves less than 20 stores. A pilot program? Possibly.
  19. 1 point
    I think we all know that diagnostics is the most costly service we provide in the automotive repair business today. In today's automotive repair environment, you need to be selling diagnostics, and getting paid for it. I'm looking for feedback on when things don't go exactly as planned. Let's say a car comes in and you sell some diagnostics, by the hour, or from a menu. After you complete that work, and you still don't have an answer, do you go back to the customer and sell some more? Do you continue at your expense? If you do go back to the customer, and you have nothing conclusive after that, then what? Do you keep going back and selling more diagnostic work until you solve the problem? If you continue to go back and sell more, how many times can you do that? We've all had that car that we've worked on for weeks to find some strange problem. I doubt many customers are willing to pay for the 40 hours you spent on the car. Now lets say after 5 hours of work that the customer agreed to, you are no closer to finding the issue than when the car came in. Do you charge them for the 5 hours and send them down the road even though you have not provided them with a diagnoses? Do you start spending your time trying to solve the issue because you have a hard time charging for 5 hours and are unable to provide any answers? I'm asking these questions as I am rethinking my business strategy on diagnostics a little. Our shop is known for its abilities to diagnose problems. We have other shops bringing cars to us on a regular basis because of these abilities. I actually get several calls and emails weekly from across the county for help diagnosing problems. There are times, a lot of times, when I think this is more of a curse, than a blessing. I know we are in the business of fixing cars, and we need to be able to find problems if customers are going to keep coming back. But after my lead tech and I spent a considerable amount of time over the last 15 days diagnosing the strangest intermittent no start issue on an Audi, and watching his frustration grow everyday, not because of the difficulty of the issue as we both love the challenge, but because it held him back from addressing the other work that was coming in the shop. So, as rewarding as it was to solve that mystery, I can't help but look back at what it cost me financially, and the frustration to the technician, and realize we have to come up with a way to try to avoid going down those rabbit holes. Right now my idea is to give it 1 hour. If after an hour, we are not relatively certain that we will find the issue, with another hour or two, then let the car go. Let the customer know that it's not that we can't fix the car, but that we cannot fix it efficiently. If I lose that customer, it would probably still be cheaper that working on his car for 2 weeks. Love to hear your thoughts. Scott
  20. 1 point
    Doctor's Orders The field of automotive repair and body work has always been plagued with a few unscrupulous individuals. But, I would say that every trade has their share of them as well. I pride myself on doing the best that can be done for my customers and I don't take kindly to anyone who thinks this job is anything but a professional. This is not a job that can be mastered overnight; it takes years of experience and understanding. Even though I carry the title “ASE Master Technician” I don't consider myself a “Master” of the automotive field. I may have “mastered” the trade but not the technology that continually changes. That's an ongoing education which each and every mechanic deals with. But, with that said, there are still some individuals that still look down upon the automotive trade as some sort of second class job. Recently I received an email from one of those type of individuals. Several years ago I wrote an article titled, “Diagnostics Fee or Diagnostics Free” which was published in a variety of magazines. The article was primarily about the issues of a diagnostic fee for testing and evaluating a vehicle. A copy of one of the magazines was in a waiting room at a repair shop where this guy was getting his car to be repaired. He happens to be a dentist, which I consider as much a professional field as mine. However, this guy... doesn't see it that way. His email went something like this: I read through your 'two cents' on engine diagnostics and I could not agree more. However, I do have a bone to pick. Charging for a diagnostic is fine but where do you draw the line? I am a general dentist. For a new patient I charge $39 for an exam (cleanings from a hygienist are $60). I take roughly 25 minutes to complete an exam on a patient. Some patients take longer as they have a more difficult case and sometimes they just have more questions. I have spent 9 years in college, at a cost of over 200k, and roughly 600K on my practice (I have lots of fancy equipment too, even more expensive than the 'diagnostic computer') AND I am dealing with the actual health and well-being of mankind (screenings for head neck cancer, dental caries, oral path., etc., etc.) If I used your kind of math I guess I should charge more in the neighborhood of $500 for an exam (my education alone was probably more than 20 times yours so the math is still WAY low). But I don't charge that much. A true professional would realize when a charge is ridiculous and when it is not. A diagnostic charge from a mechanic should be in the neighborhood of $20. If you are charging in the near $100 range I would consider removing the self-titled "professional" from your website. Which I found funny that you brought it up anyway. Your computer is a one-time purchase. You don't throw it away when you are done so quit trying to factor in the computer cost like it is a consumable. A mechanic's pay at best is $35 an hour. A $20 diagnostic over 5 minutes is more than enough for that and even overhead. Actually, you just gave me an idea. I am going to tell my patients I now have a "parts, labor, and supplies" fee. That would be great. Imagine the next time you come into my office and I say that my labor fee is over $500 an hour. My patients would leave. I can't believe a mechanic thinks charging $100 an hour or labor is reasonable when everything else is also marked up 300% PLUS!!!! ... It is laughable. Anyway, I agree....but let’s get realistic. This is a junk email and address, no need in trying to contact me with your response. He agrees? Realistically, I find that hard to believe. These are the typical misguided perceptions that still linger in some peoples conceptions of the auto mechanic. Apparently, according to this guy... I'm not worthy of calling myself a professional because I'm “just” a mechanic. It's sad to say that there are still people out there that take this dim view of the automotive mechanic world. It could be this guy is only retaliating from a previous experience with his car that didn't go right, or it could be he was at one of those “unprofessional” shops that tried to tackle a job they shouldn't have been taking on. Maybe he thinks all mechanics alike, and not one of us is a true professional in our trade. Obviously, after reading this, I have come to realize that all dentists are not alike. I know my personal dentist respects my profession... and has a great amount of appreciation for my trade, just as much as I do for his skills and abilities. Even though in the email he stated there was no need in a response, well, there is a way to respond. Here it is. Those years you spent in college almost equals my years of training... your investment into your field is acknowledged and is definitely a part of both our trades. Mind you, the countless changes and improvements in the equipment and procedures in the auto industry (and dentistry as well) doesn't offset the cost of doing business in any shape or form. You'd think it would, but, as fast as the auto manufacturers introduce new systems so does the equipment to diagnostic them change. Honestly, I feel sorry for this guy. He seems kind of bitter. As a mechanic, I work on everything from the front bumper to the rear-end of the car. This guy... using a car as the comparison... only works on the shiny grill that everyone first sees. I mean really... he only has two models to work on and the last time I looked both models have the same 32 components to deal with. But, let's not reduce ourselves to his level of explaining the differences between the two professions. Oh wait… I already did. My bad… I guess it’s a lot easier to be condescending than it is to pull teeth, huh, Doc.? Sorry Mr. Dentist, I don't think I'll be following “Doctor's Orders” as you clearly state them in your email. I think this time you should take my advice and try to be more respectful to the guys and gals that keep your cherished ride on the road. There's no set fee for diagnostics, there's no 300% mark-up on parts, and there definitely isn't any magic one time purchased machine that will diagnose a car. Maybe you should try to be a little more understanding and a bit more professional, because right now... you're not!
  21. 1 point
    I am writing this to you based on the thread title. Step back and take a deep breath, it is not uncommon to become overwhelmed. Remember that your family is more important than anything and that is where you will find your strength. If you are struggling in your work there is no shame in that, we can all relate. The ironic thing is that when this passes and you look back on your struggles you will realize it was not the end of the world. Get yourself in the right frame of mind (with your family ‘s help) and don’t make ANY decisions of any kind until you are feeling better. Be strong and hang in there, look to the people who care about you to help you through this.
  22. 1 point
    We have unifirst now. We started out with 45.00 a week with 5% a year increase. Well into our 2nd year we are 73.45. Just ask them how they figure it. We have many problems with their drivers. They can't seem to keep employees. Half the time only part of the uniforms are brought. I don't see any difference in any of them. I did tell them I would not automatic renew and made them sign it.
  23. 1 point
    I just took a class from Jeremy O'neal that addressed this exact issue. Rather than raising your shop supplies fee, you can add it as another, separate fee on any diagnostic line. Label it 'additional resource fee'. I haven't started this yet, but he says that he hasn't had a single customer question it. I imagine that if you have clear a detailed explanation of the testing a diagnostic process you went through to figure an issue out, they won't think twice about 'additional resources' needed.
  24. 1 point
    okay, okay lol, everyone has their own opinion like they say opinions are like assholes everyone has one.. LOL.. but that being said this is just like anything else in the world.. it is divided. There are democrats, republicans etc.. some like Trump some don't. Some people like a nice T-bone steak some like a nice salad, just because someones opinion is not the same as someone else's it doesn't mean you or they are wrong.. for anything ever to take place people need to work together. Debating things is usually how things get hashed out. Although hashing things out we need to understand someone else's opinion and listen to them with a level head so we can come to a bipartisan conclusion ..
  25. 0 points
    hello everyone just started here .i just got signup with identafix and direct shop i need to migrate my mitchell teamwork to identafix direct shop.the sales person at identafix lied to me he said they can migrate it .then i find out they want 600.00 they are out of there minds lol


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