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Showing content with the highest reputation since 12/21/2020 in all areas

  1. 3 points
    Joe is correct that Covid-19 has affected everyone to some degree. Our gas volume is still off by 30-40% which is both a concern and hardship but repairs have been good so I feel very fortunate. There are a handful of varied businesses that have prospered during Covid such us drug chains, Urgent Care facilities, testing labs etc. Sadly there are so many businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters, hair/nail salons, catering halls, fitness centers, hotels/motels ..... that have closed up permanently. A shopping mall near me has a severe failure rate with 40-50% of the stores shuttered for good. A Hilton in my backyard closed permanently. Huge corporate office buildings in my area still lay dormant with all employees working from home. The overall business climate is still very poor in our are and concerns me. To answer Joe’s question as to what lessons I have learned - Adapt to change as quick as possible, do not financially over extend yourself, realize and react to untapped opportunities, increase and improve communication with customers and employees and be thankful to be able to come to work every morning because too many people are unable to do that.
  2. 2 points
    I started having symptoms on the 7th and tested positive for the virus on January 9th. My symptoms were fairly mild but breathing became an issue by the 14th. My oxygen level was dropping. I had to sleep setting up. I received antibody infusion therapy on Saturday, January 16. I started feeling better yesterday and feel better today. If you have Covid and can get the antibody infusion therapy go for it. It is a game changer. I drug my feet when I could have had 5-6 days earlier. Three of the seven people at our shop tested positive. Be sure you take this serious. It is no joke.
  3. 2 points
    Very good advise Joe. Get the most out of what you have first. Explain what they need now and what to be budgeting for in the near and distant future always building that personal relationship CONTANTLY ! I can guarantee if you build this type of business relationship with your customers in a few visits to your shop they will lay there keys on the counter and say fix it It happens with every shop I work with and it amazes them. I smile and say, its just being a people person and we are in the people business. Services advisers should be talking to the customer to become there friend and extract information. Put a comment in the customer info on what he or she likes from your conversation and you will be very happy in the return you will receive. I have always said a service advisor is NOT a sells people but a problem solver. Solve there problems and be friendly. Always ask to set up there next appointment ,as Joe stated everyone does it.
  4. 2 points
    It's hard to believe that it's almost a year since COVID-19 hit. And for many businesses, and repair shops, it's been a challenge. While many areas around the country have not seen a downturn, there are other areas that have been harshly impacted. Areas such as mine have seen a decline in miles driven per customer of up to 50% or more. Just consider working from home, the drastic decline of going out to dine and other activities, a decrease in after-school activities, a decease in youth sports, buying online and every other action that has become the norm, and it adds up to a negative impact for so many shops. NOW, you know ME. I always put a positive spin on everything. At this too shall pass. COVID-19 will be behind us and we need to prepare for great times ahead. I urge everyone to focus on people: Your family, your employees, your customers, and the community. With regard to your customers, they will remember you and their experience long after the water pump or mass air filter you replaced in their car. If you are having a decline in sales, here a few tips: Establish your new goals, look at your expenses, reevaluate your breakeven, make sure your labor and part margins are in line. BUT, never forget that your most important strategy is the culture of your business. Lastly, cherish every minute with family. This Crisis has brought Clarity. And let's never forget the things that money cannot buy.
  5. 2 points
    Do you have a face mask required sign up at your shop or have you made one? I was browsing around and found these on Amazon:
  6. 2 points
    Affected by COVID is an understatement! What's really surprising is the number of people this affected - and not just in a "business" way. Everyone has a personal story - good or bad. I think one of the biggest lessons learned (overall) is that we all seemed to get back to what really counts - the people! In the heat of a busy day, we all tend to take a lot for granted. But when it comes down to it, no matter if they're the "penny pinching" customer or the so called "bottom feeders" - everyone has a goal and from what I'm seeing. the goals are changing and there's more respect for those, even if their goals are different from ours. Here's to a safe, healthy and prosperous 2021! Matthew "The Car Count Fixer"
  7. 2 points
    Expensive rent is the cheapest advertising money can buy. Follow the Sound of &nbsp;Bulldozers and the Smell of Fresh Paint <--Print article http://goodies.wizardacademypress.com/MMM080804-SoundOfBulldozers.mp3 <--Audio version.
  8. 2 points
    Malls and shopping in general for the holidays is busy, we'll see what happens after xmas. Has anyone been to the post office lately? They are slammed and packages are arriving late. Big shift to online and shipping.
  9. 1 point
  10. 1 point
    I agree and would like to elaborate on a few things. Re: “Explain what they need now and what to be budgeting for in the near and distant future …” I so agree. May I add that I see it as roughly, 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. Their car comes in for a check engine light and their service is due soon, so do it now – first 1/3. You do an inspection and find several things that need attention - second 1/3. You spot things they need in the future – final 1/3. So … they NEED the first third – very little “selling” (see below for more). The last 1/3 is in the future, so little selling. And the middle 1/3 I say, “Lets come up with a plan.” Again, I’m not selling, I’m explaining and advising. I think the shop owner should be careful expecting a high closing ratio. It would be too easy for the service advisor to write up less in the last 1/3, the future work. Or, “sell” more of the future work. Either way, it’s not taking care of the customer first. “ … always building that personal relationship CONSTANTLY !” Agreed. They trust you now. Heck, I’ve told them what not to do now, the last 1/3. Meaning, I’m not after their money. My aim is to take care of them and their car. I then “explain” the middle third and why they need it. Most times they say yes. “I can guarantee if you build this type of business relationship with your customers in a few visits to your shop they will lay there keys on the counter and say fix it. It happens with every shop I work with and it amazes them.” Again, agree. It’s based on trust, that personal relationship. “I smile and say, it’s just being a people person and we are in the people business.” We are taking care of people, not just cars. “Services advisers should be talking to the customer to become their friend and extract information. Put a comment in the customer info on what he or she likes from your conversation and you will be very happy in the return you will receive.” Agreed. Then, during their next visit, you can ask: How was the camping trip? How was the trip to your son’s/daughter’s future college? How was the big golf tournament?” You are friends talking friend’s stuff. So instead taking time to sell “safety, value and benefits,” you’re talking friend’s stuff and they say yes to the additional work, because they trust their friend. “I have always said a service advisor is NOT a sales person but a problem solver.” Nobody likes to be sold: it’s almost an automatic defense mechanism. “Solve their problems and be friendly.” So simply put
  11. 1 point
    First, I would be the last person to tell anyone that car counts is not a measurable and important KPI. Every shop needs to know their needed car count and what their sweet spot is. And then use that KPI to understand other important KPI's - ARO, Labor margin, part margins, etc. Now, with that said, the industry in general, has and will see, a decline in the amount of times your customers will visit your shop. It was not that long ago when we had customers bring their cars in 4 to 5 times per year. That has changed. Plus with COVID and many people not using their cars as they used to, we cannot rely on trying increasing car counts. We should, rather, making sure that we make every vehicle visit...COUNT. Here is my strategy to drive up sales per visit, while promoting the right culture with your customers: Ensure that the customer experience is the best on the planet! - Give every customer a reason to return back to you. Perform a complete MPI on each vehicle, but find out the particular needs of customers. What is their car used for? Get your entire staff to understand that the customer is everything and their safety and their car care needs are most important. Promote your Culture of taking care of people, not sales - Believe me, sales will come and so will the profits. Promote vehicle maintenance, safety, and reducing the overall cost of owning their car. NOW HERE'S THE TOUGH ONE: PLEASE BOOK THE NEXT APPOINTMENT AT CAR DELIVERY! Doctors do it, dentists do it, boiler service companies do it, hair dressers do it, nail salons do it, ..even chimney cleaning companies do it! It's not hard, just do it. Hope this helps. Thoughts???
  12. 1 point
    Joe managed to capture an accurate description of our lives in a few sentences. I bet everyone read his words and thought “Wow...that’s me....that’s my life”. Given that should we really wonder why our trade struggles to find qualified employees?
  13. 1 point
    @xrac I’ll echo what @Joe Marconi said, hope you guys recover and get well soon!
  14. 1 point
    Above all, Frank, the health and welfare of everyone is number one. I hope that you and your tech recovers fast, with no continuing issues. When I hear stories like this, it really opens my eyes once again as to the seriousness of this virus. As a small business that relies on a constant input of customers, this virus will no doubt take a toll on many repair shops. Keep us updated and best of luck.
  15. 1 point
    And it keeps on affecting. One of my techs and yours truly have tested positive. I have the shop with no one to enter the building except people that I have no symptoms and are waiting on test results. Trying to clear out cars that are in the shop so people don't go days or weeks without them. Maybe not perfect but I think it will be effective. So far it only feels like a mild head cold.
  16. 1 point
    Thanks to all the folks who put in the hard work that makes this site so interesting/valuable.
  17. 1 point
    A lot has happened since last Winter. In some ways it's seems like years have past. Tough times reveals how tough people really are. My hope is that everyone learns from the events of COVID and takes those lessons to continue to push forward in business and in life. And of course, take the time to celebrate the things that money cannot buy. Life, health and family.
  18. 1 point
    Happy New Year everyone! Maintain the right attitude. Be positive and keep moving forward. 2021 will be a great year!
  19. 1 point
    We are still down about 20% from normal for this time of the year. It's not that we have lost customers, they are just not putting on the miles that they used to. 2021 will be a better year. I think we will see a surge by late spring and it will carry through the end of the year.
  20. 1 point
    Got your attention? Good. That's the power of advertising and marketing. I know many of you are affected by COVID and experiencing a downturn economically. Studies have shown that the businesses that maintain advertising during downturns do better with market share and sales when the economy returns to normal. Maintaining your marketing presence is a lot easier and less expensive than playing catch up when things get better. I know the reality of tough times. Do your best to maintain your advertising during tough times. You will get back what you invest.
  21. 1 point
    Matthew, There's actually 2 places you can get the information. One is from the U.S. Economic Census, and they are absolutely free. However, they have a convoluted website (of course, it's the federal government) that give you the same data in spreadsheet form. However, they don't have an interactive map; just spreadsheet form only. They are at https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/economic-census/data/tables.html The interactive map comes from Cubit Planning in Austin, Texas. Talk you Kristen at https://www.cubitplanning.com/ and tell her I sent you. Now you can mail me $100 bucks.
  22. 1 point
    Summer was great for me in Minnesota, but so so going into winter. We will see what 2021 brings, but I'm trying to be prepared for an almost guaranteed downturn in the economy going forward. I'm probably insane, but I'm adding equipment to my shop for fabrication work vs. repair equipment. Trying to expand into other markets as my repair work seems to be pretty stagnant even with added equipment such as the alignment machine and another lift. We shall see what happens going forward, but it's my boat and I'll either float it or go down with it.
  23. 1 point
    No. I have medical experience from the past as an EMT. Training is required to know properly how to use a mask. What I've seen in mask wearing is counter-productive and only going to further spread covid. I do everything in my power to stay distant, but I believe the masks are causing a greater problem from what I've seen. They are tequila and make people feel invincible, which in turn makes them believe going into walmart 13 times a day is safe. I've had customers pull up in their car with a mask on, walk in my shop door and pull it down to talk to me all while getting closer and closer.... to the point where I question if they are threatening me. Then turn to get back into their car and pull the mask back on and wear it while pulling away. By themselves. In the car. I believe we have a virus that is serious. I also believe that the only science getting broadcast about this virus is political science and I won't be a part of it.
  24. 1 point
    Cheers! And a big thank you for the work in maintaining this site. Good work and appreciated! Matthew "The Car Count Fixer"
  25. 1 point
    The new 5,500+ page Covid Relief Bill is massive, and it will take many weeks to digest everything included in the legislation. Here's what we know about business relief and PPP funds: There is now streamlined forgiveness for PPP loans under $150K. This is a significant development for many so check with your lender about how they want that now to be handled. There is also now an additional $284B in PPP funding for impacted businesses to access. More on this in days to come...
  26. 1 point
    This is all very well said. Even with how tough this year has been, if I look at what was accomplished this year it shows many steps in the right direction. Helping shops financially survive and make it to 2021 has been one of the greatest and most humbling experiences of this year.
  27. 1 point
    Good advice Joe.. I always try to ramp up advertising a month before I know it might slow down. You might talk about being prepared for the unexpected also. November 2018 I was in an accident and lost my left leg. Luckily I had decent employees in place, and a fair savings account. I was in a good place to spend a month in the hospital. Could you walk away from your business for a month? Would it survive or go under?
  28. 1 point
    You're "spot-on" Joe! The problem I see (from the shop owners I talk to) is that marketing/advertising/promotion is considered like a "like item" expense. It's treated like "supplies" or other expensed you need to run a business. I get it. But if that so called expense generated income, is it an expense? Or an investment? I know we can play around with words too - and I'm not trying to "sell you" (or anyone) on anything. But in conversation with shops and I ask them "What was the last marketing or promotion or the last time you sent a postcard or anything?", know what the answer is?? NOTHING! So with the risk of sounding like a smart a**, I ask them "Then what did you expect?" Look, if you put together a simple postcard... just black ink on a colored stock (I like yellow because it seems to get more attention) ... and just mail it out to your customers (who already know, trust and like you) with a kick-butt offer... you're going to get work! It's that simple. That makes the "expense" an investment. Hope this helps! Matthew "The Car Count Fixer" P.S.: Grow your Car Count, Income & Profit - Follow me on YouTube P.P.S.: Facebook? P.P.P.S.: Car count in 72 Hours?
  29. 1 point
    I haven’t been around much but I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a better New Years.
  30. 1 point
    Thanks for the info! This is great!
  31. 1 point
    Business is steady for us, but not like it should be. Customers are understanding about their car care needs, but many are reluctant to spend. Probably due to the uncertainty of COVID and the impact is had on the local economy and life in general. I am cautiously optimistic about 2021, but we will need to work hard to do all we can to maintain and improve business.
  32. 1 point
    Merry Christmas to all! 2020 was a challenging year. Looking forward to 2021 and beyond!
  33. 1 point
    Superstar shop owner and Elite Business Development Coach Greg Skolink shares a fun tip on how to keep your shop's customers engaged on Facebook. For additional help building a more successful auto repair business, learn how you can team up with a superstar shop owner like Greg through Elite Top Shop 360: One on One Coaching
  34. 1 point
    This informative article discusses digital vehicle inspections and the importance of using it to attract new customers. With contributions from Chris Cloutier from Autotext.me & Tony Mercury from AutoShop Solutions, there is a lot of great info here. If your shop is considering, or has already invested in Digital Vehicle Inspection (DVI) technology, you clearly understand the tremendous value and benefits that DVI provides. However, the vast majority of the general public does not understand what it is or how it benefits them. After speaking to several shop owners who conveyed to me that their customers have no idea what DVI is when they come into their shops, we decided to ask a random sampling of 104 consumers ages 18+ who all own and have had vehicle repairs within the past 12 months: Question: “Do you know what a Digital Vehicle Inspection is in relation to getting your vehicle serviced or repaired?” Answer: I’m sure that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Like many technologies, consumer education simply just takes time. This lack of consumer awareness is a problem for shop owners who are currently utilizing DVI technology and want to use this powerful technology to capitalize on its ability to differentiate their shop from competitors. How Can DVI Differentiate Your Shop? Implementation of DVI technology, from a marketing perspective, can help position your shop as professional and highly educated by using the most advanced technology to service and repair your customers’ vehicles. It just may be the most powerful tool at your disposal to create and position your shop as TRUSTWORTHY. How DVI Creates Trust & Why It’s So Important? The primary benefit of DVI technology, from a customer prospective, is that it provides them with full transparency to their repairs/services needed. Whenever you bring transparency to what is generally a non-transparent process, it adds a tremendous amount of TRUST. Being able to convey that potential customers can TRUST your shop is arguably the most critical component to attract them to your shop and, of course, to maintain current customer relationships. Two out of three U.S. drivers simply don’t trust auto repair shops based on the findings from AAA, with the top reason for the lack of trust being “Recommending Unnecessary Services.” Top Reasons Why U.S. Drivers Distrust Repair Shops: According to AAA This is further echoed by some of the latest consumer research from the Mintel 2019 AUTO SERVICE, MAINTENANCE, AND REPAIR market research report. When asked why they chose their auto service/ repair location over the previous 12 months, beyond shop location and being a returning customer, the top reason reported by respondents was TRUST. The TRUST factor came in above both quality and cost. Just think about that for a second. We know that the primary reason consumers don’t trust auto repair shops is due to the feeling that they have been recommended unnecessary repairs. We also know that trustworthiness is one of the top factors in determining which auto repair shop they have chosen. Therefore, If these same prospective customers understand that your use of DVI can eliminate these concerns, it would undoubtedly give you a major advantage over your competition. For some thoughtful industry insight, we reached out to Chris Cloutier; DVI guru, successful multi-shop owner and founder of autotext.me, a leading auto repair shop technology software provider that offers DVI technology and many more digital features. What Does Chris Have to Say? “As a multi-shop owner, I can attest that many customers are indeed very wary about being charged for unnecessary repairs and have a need for trust to be established, which the DVI greatly helps to solve. For example, the Digital Vehicle Inspection service offered by autotext.me can include multiple pictures and short videos, which serve to educate customers on overall vehicle health and repair needs and recommendations. Chris Cloutier Autotext.me By pulling back the curtain and enabling customers to understand the “why” behind recommended repairs, repair shops are able to boost customer confidence as well as increase their Average Repair Order (ARO) if the DVI is properly executed. A new feature we recently launched, Customer Insights, drills down even further to provide shops with helpful analytics on DVI customer engagement. Shops will be able to see if and when a picture or video was viewed along with whether a video was viewed in its entirety. autotext.me clients can leverage this data to determine how to communicate better with customers and establish best practices for DVI documentation by technicians. Think about the power a service advisor will now have before talking to a customer. “Mrs Jones, I see you didn’t look at the pictures of your brake pads that are metal to metal. Could you please open those up for me?” Vehicle inspections are not just a tool to increase your ARO. The ARO increase that shops might anticipate is from one thing only, and that is an informed client. If your client is not being fully informed by your inspection, wouldn’t you like to know?” Now, the question becomes “what can you do to capitalize on your use of DVI technology to attract new customers?” The answer is, to deploy a strategic and aggressive multi-channel marketing approach. Direct Mail + A Multi-Channel Marketing Approach is the Answer First, let’s take a look at why Direct Mail is one of the most powerful tools you can use to promote DVI, followed up with some additional insight from Tony Mercury, Digital Marketing Expert from Auto Shop Solutions, for his perspective, thoughts, and suggestions to help you jump-start your shop’s digital marketing efforts in order to promote your DVI as part of your multi-channel marketing approach. Why Should You Be Using Direct Mail to Promote DVI? Direct Mail Is a Trusted Marketing Method For starters, choosing to utilize direct mail as a marketing platform will ensure your message gets delivered in a method that is also trusted by consumers. MarketingSherpa, a research and training institute and division of MECLABS, the largest independent research facility, asked 1,200 consumers: “In general, which type of advertising channels do you trust more when you want to make a purchase decision? Please sort the options into ‘Ads I trust’ and ‘Ads I don’t trust that much’ categories.” Below are the results for the “Ads I trust” category. The results speak for themselves; 76% of the consumers involved in the survey trust direct mail when it comes to making a purchasing decision. Now, let’s take a look at some important considerations when developing your Direct Mail Marketing strategy. Consistency is Key Being consistent with your message is going to be critical in order to educate your prospective customers on the benefits of DVI. We already know there is a lack of consumer awareness, which is why consistency is of utmost importance here. Ensure your message is delivered consistently and across all channels you are using to market your shop. Don’t Just Say You Offer DVI, Explain the Features & Benefits One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to merely mention that you offer Digital Vehicle Inspections. It’s critical that the ad copy to support your DVI marketing Campaign gives customers a clear & concise explanation of what a DVI is and, most importantly, conveys how they will benefit from it. Just saying you offer Digital Video Inspections alone without additional context will mean nothing to a consumer and be a wasted effort. Strategic Ad Copy In addition to promoting DVI to create trust, you should also be thinking about what else you can include on your direct mail, plus all of your other marketing to support your initiative and on all of your other marketing for that matter, that will support your initiative to position your shop as Trustworthy. One easy way to do this is by simply telling your targeted prospective customers that they can trust you. According to Roger Dooley, author and expert on the subject of Neuromarketing, “Researchers found that placing the following statement at the end of an ad for an auto service firm caused their trust scores to jump as much as 33%: “You can trust us to do the job for you.” This one simple phrase caused consumers to rate the auto service firm in this ad higher in all categories: Tie It Together With a Strategic Testimonial Ask one of your Happy Customers for a testimonial that includes their experience with your shop’s DVI process and how they trust your shop because of this process. This will add credibility and give your prospects feedback from a point of view they can relate to. Choose The Correct Direct Mail Piece(s) Choosing the right direct mail piece to convey your message is important. You may want to consider using a larger Jumbo 8.5″ × 10.5″ Postcard or even a 10.5″ × 17″ Tri-Fold Brochure to your direct mail program. These larger pieces will give you more space for strategic ad copy to promote DVI as well as other services that a smaller card may not allow for due to size constraints. That said, you can still use a standard 5.5″ × 10.5″ or comparable size postcard to do the job for you as well. Just make sure that you have the right ad copy. You don’t want your card to be too cluttered with content that it makes the piece illegible or too busy that it becomes confusing. A Multi-Channel Marketing Approach Tony Mercury Autoshop Solutions As we mentioned above, due to the lack of consumer awareness of DVI, the use of a multi-channel marketing approach is critical with this type of consumer education marketing campaign. To add some additional insight from a digital marketing perspective, we asked Tony Mercury from Autoshop Solutions, a premier digital marketing agency for auto repair shops, for his thoughts. For an effective educational campaign, Tony suggests that you create a short but concise video to show the DVI in action to demonstrate its benefits and the value it provides to prospective clients. Once you have that video, he recommends using that content on your website, Facebook page and, if you’re using it, Instagram. In addition to the video, Tony suggests accompanying it with a few paragraphs of strategic content to not only support your message, but also benefit from an SEO perspective, and you’ll be on your way to a successful campaign. Using direct mail is one of the most powerful ways to drive prospects online to watch your informative DVI video, according to Tony. He suggests using a QR Code on your direct mail piece/s that, when scanned, immediately opens up your DVI video and allows prospective customers to view it on demand. Just make sure to instruct your prospects with a clear Call to Action if you want to ensure they scan the QR code or go to your website/social platforms to learn more. You can also access by clicking the link below or downloading the attached PDF. https://www.themailshark.com/resources/articles/digital-vehicle-inspections-your-auto-repair-shops-marketing-secret-weapon/ Digital Vehicle Inspections Your Auto Repair Shops Marketing Secret Weapon.pdf

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