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  1. 11 likes
    Best way I've found to jump start business? Bring your own car into the shop, and tear it apart so it's stranded on the rack and tying up a bay. The shop will instantly fill and you'll be in desperate need of that rack. Every friggin' time.
  2. 6 likes
    Slowly getting back at it. Very sore and low energy... but getting better every day. Thanx for all your caring thoughts. U guys are the best. Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
  3. 6 likes
    I hope everyone had a great month. April seemed to be off for a lot of shops, so if yours was one of them I hope it turned around for you. I had a great month! My guys turned in an all time record month. They beat the snot out of the previous record by $15K, and had a higher GP doing it. Car count is up, ARO is up, and I spent most of the month at the lake working on my boat while my guys took care of business. Tomorrow is one of my favorite times. I get to go in and write some serious commission checks. I'll probably flip everyone a Benjamin while I'm at it. Life is good.
  4. 5 likes
    Gonzo is home and has been outside for a walk. His wife said this on Facebook yesterday: Here's the King on a walk this morning surveying his domain. He's feeling really good.
  5. 5 likes
    Reckon Gonzo will come out with a story to write?
  6. 5 likes
    Don't know if anyone has heard yet, but Gonzo's wife posted that he is out of surgery and in the icu.. The surgery was a little more involved than first thought but the outcome was outstanding.. He still has a breathing tube in but apparently is Good old Gonzo interacting and joking the best he can with his hands LOL.. So now it is just all best wishes for a speedy recovery ! He will be in the icu for two days then in the heart hospital for another 3-4 days
  7. 5 likes
    My shop is similar to yours. Although this Spring we figured out how to jam a 4th lift in a 1500 foot space with 3 doors. It makes a huge difference when we are packed. Do it if you can. As far as charging for diagnostics. Absolutely. We sell time in this industry so you have to. Just don't call it a diagnostic. I have a bunch of canned "Inspections" that I charge a fixed amount for. For example, a fan inspection is $100. A pressure test is $100. An alternator test is $50. I try to separate them from time as much as possible. It's just a flat fee for the test. It works great. For tough runnability or electrical I have a flat $100 charge and then we call the customer and to go time based billing on the customer's authorization. For scheduling, here's what we do: 2 techs - 1 General Tech, 1 Lube Tech. We use Mitchell1 so the scheduler has a column for each tech. We schedule oil changes in 1 hour slots so we can do up to 9 oil changes per day. Sometimes we do! It doesn't take 1 hour but then we have time for rotations, show and tell with the customer, batteries, belts, wipers etc... and we can get it done for a waiting customer before the next oil change starts. Then we have the Lube Tech service other minor work (brakes, alternators, belts, tires etc...) between oil changes so he basically can have 2 jobs going on simultaneously all day. Master tech has 2 bays so he can swing back and forth between 2 jobs if he's waiting for parts or authorization. (side note, we are growing so we see patches of full capacity but it isn't like this all the time...yet) So, when this is working with an average tech and a lazy lube tech we've averaged 7.8 cars per day for stretches of 60 days or more. Sometimes it doesn't even feel busy. Now I have a much faster master tech so as we spool up this Summer I expect this to work even better. In fact, at 7-8 cars per day my service writer becomes the bottle neck. (we've actually serviced 18 cars in a day using this method...not recommended, but it worked on the shop side, just not the office). My service writer can't talk to customers fast enough or order parts fast enough to keep up. So we end up short circuiting the oil change inspection process because he can't write and sell all the work we find while he's answering phones and ordering parts for the bigger jobs. I just wanted to add that 6 cars/day is relative to how many hours per car you are selling. We haven't been great in that respect so if you are 2.5-3 hrs per car you might be at max with 6-7 cars/day. In that case you might need a bigger space before you pursue a full blown oil change marketing program. As for me if done right I seems I could service up to 12 vehicles per day without short circuiting my sales process. That being said, we are trying to improve our sales process right now so this might all change when we succeed. In that case we will add staff or reduce car count to make it happen. I'll cross that bridge when we get to it though. Hope that helps.
  8. 4 likes
    I had a customer come in, a young high school kid with his first car, his parents had bought him a used camry, which in my opinion was an excellent choice. He complained of a small clunk when turning. Right away I thought swaybar bushings, I've owned two camrys from that generation and know them inside and out. I take it for a test drive and start to hear the clunk and feel a tiny amount of play in the wheel, now i'm thinking tierod ends, they were pretty durable on the camrys but they do go bad. Less than an 1/8th mile down the road the steering shaft disconnects and I loose all steering input. I bring it to a stop and manage to get it to the side of the road by going back and forth like austin powers. It ended up that the bolt holding the universal joint to the lower shaft had backed out. That could have easily ended tragically for this young man, and that lesson taught me to take no chances and investigate everything no matter how little, it could save someones life.
  9. 4 likes
    Let us all take a moment this Memorial Day weekend to remember and honor those fallen soldiers that have paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend and preserve the freedoms we enjoy. The United States is the greatest country in the history of of the world, we thank and honor those that have died in combat to ensure our place in history. Happy Memorial Day everyone! Joe Marconi AutoShopOwner.com Cofounder
  10. 4 likes
    For those with bodyshops, here is some interesting reading: http://www.bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/?p=111 bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/ John Shortell I’ve taken a part time job working at an independent body shop close to my home writing estimates and supplements and harassing insurance companies. I’ve been at it for a few months now and up until recently I haven’t seen or heard from a Progressive appraiser. Finally, several weeks ago, I had a customer who was hit by one of Progressive’s insureds. Because I’m in a different area of the state now, I’m unfamiliar with the local appraisers. More importantly, they are unfamiliar with me. What fun! First let me admit that I was spoiled working at a high line dealership body shop. Those evil rich drove nice new cars that demanded nice new OEM parts. Now all I see are Honda’s and Hyundai’s. Old ones at that. I’ve never seen so many junk cars in my life. But I guess the poor have to drive too. Anyway, I had a customer who was hit by a Progressive insured. I wrote an estimate and asked the customer to make arrangements to meet the Progressive appraiser here at my shop. Progressive people hate that. They’d rather look at the vehicle somewhere else. Any where I am not. When the Progressive appraiser showed up I knew there would be trouble. He looked to be about 12 years old. He fit Progressive’s archetype for their ideal appraiser: young, naive and no experience in the collision repair industry. His estimate was several hundred dollars less than mine. No surprise there. But it was a small repair, and that several hundred dollars amounted to about 30% of my estimate. Of course, the labor rate was an issue, but what really got me wound up with this moronic “blend within the panel” crap. I basically told the kid he could take his “blend within the panel” and have his first sexual experience with it. I wasn’t going to accept it. There were some other issues too, and it all added up to the 30% deficiency. I was beginning to lose my cool because this prepubescent putz couldn’t figure out how to meet my bottom line, so I told him to do what a lot of other appraisers do: make something up and put it on the estimate. Of course, I was being sarcastic, but being so young, this kid didn’t understand the sarcasm and took offense to my suggesting he commit fraud. Well at least the kid is honest. I asked the kid for his appraiser’s license number and the name of his supervisor and explained that I would be filing a complaint with the insurance department, which I did immediately after he left (And don’t we all know how effective that was). I told the customer not to worry about the difference–I would take care of it. I had her sign a repair authorization, a direction to pay and a power of attorney in case I had to sue the bastards. Working at a dealership I never had the opportunity to sue an insurance company because the owner didn’t want the trouble, but now that I’m working at a small independent shop, the owner is willing to go after insurers who don’t play nice. I spoke with the kid’s supervisor over the phone about the situation. For the record, she was very pleasant, just like talking to sweet high school girl. I didn’t meet her in person, but by the sound of her voice she was another Progressive clone–too young and inexperienced in anything to be dealing with these issues. But she promised to look into it. I knew I was wasting my time, and I was. After three days of haggling, the young girl managed to come up with another hundred dollars. She was still a couple of hundred short. I explained to her that I was going to sue her insured for the balance. She responded with a perky “OK” like I had just asked her if she wanted to go hang out at the mall. She was trained to perfection. Great job Progressive behavior modification department! With little effort I was able to locate the guy who hit my customer and promptly mailed him the following letter: Dear Mr. XXXXX, On November 29, 2007 you were involved in an accident with XXXXXX, damaging her Honda Civic. Mrs. XXXX brought her vehicle to us for repairs. Your insurance company, Progressive, refused to pay the amount needed to properly repair Mrs. XXXXX vehicle. Mrs. XXXXX has given us her Power of Attorney and we are collecting the remaining balance directly. The total repair cost was $xxxxx, but Progressive has only agreed to pay $xxxx. Your insurance company has left you owing us $xxx. Your liability insurance is supposed to cover all damages up to your coverage limit, but ultimately you are responsible for any damages not covered by your insurer. We have filed a complaint with the Connecticut Department of Insurance, and we suggest you do the same. If you need help filing the complaint we will be happy to assist you. Progressive has already refused to pay the balance. If you do not pay the difference we will be forced to bring the matter to small claims court. Please contact us to discuss this matter, and for payment options. Our phone number is xxxxxxxxx. Enclosed is a copy of our invoice, paperwork showing what Progressive is willing to pay, and a copy of the Power of Attorney signed by Mrs. XXXXX. Sincerely, John Shortell A few days later I received a phone call from Mr. XXXX. He wanted to discuss the matter. I explained the situation to him in more detail, and he agreed to pay the balance owed and then deal with his insurance company. I again offered to help him in any way I could with filing a complaint with the insurance department or recovering the money from Progressive. He didn’t take me up on the offer, but he did send a check the next day. I’ve yet to hear from him or Progressive so I have no idea if he was reimbursed or not. I do know the gentleman was not too happy about having pay for repairs to someone else’s car after he had been paying premiums for liability insurance. Something tells me Mr. XXXX will be finding someone else to send his hard earned money to for insurance in the near future. I fully expected to have to go to small claims court. I knew Progressive would not give in, and I never expected the insured to cough up the money so easily. I feel sorry for the poor bastard. But I’ll be damned if I will become a cheap whore just because Progressive is too profit driven to treat my customers fairly. It’s ironic. Progressive was started by a left wing socialist. The name Progressive is not a coincidence. This nut job and his dope smoking kid, who recently stepped down from running the company, preached the progressive movements dogma, and heavily funded many of its whacked out causes. Progressives are supposed to be more fair than the evil rich. They are supposed to care about the little guy and scorn the evil corporations, yet here they are now acting as bad as any corporation ever did. They only care about their profit and share holders. Kind of makes them big time hypocrites. Just my humble opinion. Lesson learned? Never sell yourself short. If you’re going to be a whore, at least be a high priced whore. Stand up for yourself. Had I gone to court, I most certainly would have won. It is astonishingly easy to demonstrate to a judge how labor rates are artificially suppressed by insurers, how they manipulate the system for their corporate financial gain, and that they will do just about anything to save a buck. To be fair, I would probably do the same if I worked for Progressive or another insurance company. It is all part of their survival. When your cat eats a cute little bird, you may think it horrific, but it is only natural. And it is only natural for collision repairers to fight to survive. What is not natural is when collision repairers give up and play nice at the risk of losing everything. That’s agonizing suicide. If you’re thinking that I spend a lot of time talking about Progressive, there’s good reason. First, they deserve it. Second, I know my audience–and it’s Progressive. For this past year, Progressive Insurance has been my number one visitor to this website. State Farm has been catching up lately. They are the top visitor this month. Way ahead of everyone else. The only other entities that generate more traffic to this site are the large ISP’s like Road Runner and AOL. I’m flattered. Hopefully some of what I talk about is subliminally sinking in. Oh yeah, remember my prediction about CCC’s announcement that it would get rid of the prompts for bumper covers? I said it would be slow in coming. Well here we are a couple of months and updates later and it’s still there. Your complaints forced them to make a public acquiescence, but now that the hell raising has died down, no need to rush things. We’re still waiting CCC. Wassup? One more thing. Apparently there is a lawsuit going on in Arizona against Progressive. The plaintiffs have deposed a former Progressive employee. The deposition is interesting reading. For an inside look on the pressure and incentives to steer vehicles to network shops give it a read. It is only a partial transcript. If anyone has the entire document or a link, please send it to me or link to it in the comments section. http://www.bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/nobile-iacano-docs.pdf
  11. 4 likes
    About 15 years ago I was in dire straights. I was dangerously close to having to lock the doors and going home. I calculated my break even point, and what my labor rate would have to be to survive. Not make money, just to stop losing money. I raised my labor rate $15.75 in one day. Not one single customer complained. Not one. The only complaint I got was from my advisor, which ended quickly when I gave him the choice between selling the new labor rate, or going home forever. The bottom line is that no customer is going to complain. Charge what you have to charge to make your business successful, and stop worrying about raising the rate a few bucks to do it.
  12. 4 likes
    How Long is a Labor Hour? Did you ever stop and wonder how long a labor hour actually is? I’m not talking about time ticking away on a clock. I’m talking about the actual time spent on a repair vs. the labor guide’s suggested time. Personally, I’ve never had a job that started and finished exactly to the second of the given labor time. It’s not like the labor guide’s hourly chart is set in stone, or that they’re wrong, but when it comes to getting paid it sure seems like they are. Any mechanic will tell you that a labor hour can stretch to half a day if a lot of research is involved, or it can last 15 minutes. Most labor guides typically don’t take into account how much research, diagnosis, equipment setup, or the time it takes recover your 10mm socket that just fell down into the motor. Time, as they say, is money. If you don’t think so, take your car to any bodyshop and read off the labor charges. You’ll find the labor time is divided into a 1/10th of an hour. However, in the mechanical repair shop, seldom are the labor costs scrutinized as they are when dealing with insurance companies. Even still, I’ve never once been asked to break down the mechanical repair labor into diagnostic time and the actual physical labor when giving an estimate. Estimates are usually quoted by the R&R labor time for a particular repair. Generally, that doesn’t include diagnostic time. Even though the book time has been calculated out, it’s still not a complete guide and certainly not the Holy Grail of the repair industries time clock. Try sticking with an estimate for changing a starter that’s listed as one hour job. More than likely the estimate is only going to be quoted straight from book of a one-hour labor charge and not any diagnostic time included. Even with all the technically advanced diagnostic tools a professional mechanic has at their disposal there are still people who can’t understand why diagnostic time should be included in the labor estimate, even though it’s not part of the R&R for the component. In their mind, (as I’ve been told numerous times), the mechanic should already know what’s wrong when they pull their car into the shop. What’s worse is the price shopper who calls from shop to shop looking for the cheapest repair. I’d bet to say the cheapest quote is probably nothing more than the R&R labor time for whatever part they’re concerned about. However, nobody mentioned anything about the crusted connections at the battery, or the leaking valve cover that’s coated the starter in oil, or whether you’ve installed aftermarket headers. Not to mention any diagnostic time, because the real problem isn’t the starter at all. On the other hand there are the stop watch aficionados. You know, the people who literally count the seconds of every minute and are bound to argue over any labor time discrepancies on their invoice. The mechanic’s entire career, (in their way of thinking), is strictly turning bolts and slapping on parts. These tick-tock-time-keepers, watch their timepieces with precision and inevitably use “time” as the only determining factor for the cost of a repair. For instance, let’s say the book time said an hour, and everyone involved agreed upon the charges, but the mechanic got it done in 25 minutes. The argument has always been that the cost of the job should be no more than the time it took to do it. Should the mechanic be penalized for doing his job proficiently and having completed it early? Where does it say he should give the job to the customer at some discounted rate because he can beat the book time? Doesn’t seem right at all. But, what if the same job that was quoted for an hour has taken four hours to complete? Who pays for the time difference now? So in a sense, a labor hour isn’t an hour at all. It’s an arbitrary amount of time that may or may not be exactly 60 minutes. If it was as accurate as some people believe, then theoretically you should get an estimate for that hour’s labor, pull up to the repair shop, and walk out in exactly 60 minutes with the job completed. Not a second sooner or a second later. Yea, good luck with that one. Like most trades mechanics get paid by the hour, however it’s not like you punch a time clock in the morning, work all day, then collect a 40-hour paycheck at the end of the week. Most mechanics work on flag time. Realistically, let’s call it what it really is… piece work, (the piece being the car). Very few mechanics are offered an hourly pay and a guaranteed 40-hour work week, (although there are some places that use a combination of both flag time and hourly pay). More times than not, a mechanic ends up eating a whole lot of labor time for problem solving. Whether there are rusted bolts, bad connections, illusive intermittent problems or poor information from the get-go, something is going to use up time which eventually won’t go towards a paycheck. Any time money and people are involved in the same situation, and you’re dealing with something that’s not widely understood, such as the modern car, it’s up to the mechanics and the repair shops to make sure they do. Customers also need to understand that this is a business based on suggested labor hours and not a time clock. There needs to be a reasonable amount of trust in the labor guide estimates from both sides of the counter. Because, it’s hard to say how long an hour of labor really is.
  13. 4 likes
    A good way to price your labor rate is to take your most expensive tech's pay rate, then add in uniforms, benefit costs, FICA, workers comp, etc until you have the loaded cost of having a technician. From there multiply that number by 2.5 to get to a 60% profit margin. For example a $30.00 tech probably costs you about $39.00 per hour, times 2.5 is about $98.00 per hour labor rate, at the least.
  14. 4 likes
    Two weeks ago the lower balljoint fell out of a van as we were pulling it onto the alignment rack in our shop. There was no indication it was loose and it wasn't in for balljoints. Would you believe it came in for struts which we had installed and we're moving it to the alignment rack. Hopefully we would have found it when we shook it down for the alignment. I am just glad it was in our shop at 5 mph not at 50 mph on a test drive.
  15. 3 likes
    I agree that demographics play a big part, especially depending on how you are marketing your cheap oil change. It is great that the CHEAP is working for some members and I wholly agree with PherBag that talking to the customer and building a relationship is paramount. But it does not work for everyone and by everyone I mean the shops not the customers simply because of demographics. In my area there were at least 4 shops that tried the $18.95 oil change. Techs hated the oil changes, the shops have all but dropped them and with the exception of one but they are still $25.95. That shop is just a quick lube but you will not roll out of there without them trying to sell you every wallet flush there is. So when the victim tires of the cheating and unnecessary service selling and goes to a legitimate shop, they refuse ALL recommendations, even when you show them the tie rod end that's about to pop apart. Why am I pointing this out when it's a quick change place and not a real repair shop? Because that's the impression that is built in the customers' minds. the purpose of your cheap oil change is to get the customer in the door to find and sell extra services. How is that different than this quick change scam shop? It's not, not really. Not in the customer's mind. How you can make your shop different is not by not offering an oil change but by not using it as a loss leader in an effort to find and sell more services. Offer it as a legitimate service at a legitimate prices. Why do we feel the need to give our time away? Do we not value our time? If not why should the customer and why are we surprised when they come to us for the cheap oil change and then shop any recommendations we find and then pick the cheapest shop for each of them too? If you aren't willing to be part of the solution because being part of the problem is making you money, well, there's not much to say about the poor level of ethics involved.
  16. 3 likes
    It looks by the "likes" that the man himself has made a return to the forum , Welcome back Gonzo !
  17. 3 likes
    A visiting Priest was attending a men’s breakfast in Ohio Farm County. He asked one of the impressive older farmers in attendance to say grace that morning. After all were seated, the older farmer began------ “Lord, I hate buttermilk.” The Priest opened one eye and wondered to himself where this was going. Then the farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.” Now the Priest was overly worried. However without missing a beat, the farmer prayed on, “And Lord, you know I don’t care much for raw white flour.” Just as the Priest was ready to stand and stop everything, the farmer continued, “But Lord, when you mix ‘em all together and bake ‘em up, I do love fresh biscuits. So Lord, when things come up we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we just don’t understand what you are sayin' to us, we just need to relax and wait ‘till You are done mixin’, and probably it will be somethin' even better than biscuits. Amen.” You can't keep a good man down for long. I think this will all turn out o.k. for Gonzo!
  18. 3 likes
    Well, step one is over. Now the recovery. Let's continue to pray for a speedy recovery.
  19. 3 likes
    But that's not what gets the customer thru the front door the first time or what gets them to try coffee in the first place. Discounting IMO is a fairly unimaginative way to attract new customers. It is easy, it is effective but comes with baggage that I dont wish to deal with. That being said, I would ask the following: What are your shops unique competitive advantages? If you were in Anderson's market, what would you claim to do or do that would make you a better choice? ( I pick on Anderson because he states cheap oil changes is the way to bring in new customers) If It were me, a first class web site with customer reviews is a must. People need to look you up and "see" you online. What they see online needs to directly correlate with what they get in person. For me, we have all ASE certified Master Technicians, we use factory scan tools and factory information systems to service your car. We are the experts who can fix what others cant. We have a fleet of 26 loaner cars we freely offer for any type of service. We back all of that up with a nationwide 36 month 36,000 mile warranty. We have a sparkling clean waiting room for your convenience (if waiting). We take care of factory warranty and recalls for our customers. We do whatever we can to make it convenient to do business with us. Now, how to get the message out? Website #1. Optimize it and set up a pay per click campaign but dont compete for the common searches (oil change, alignment and tires come to mind). Join the local chamber and get out there and kiss babies and shake hands. Get involved in community events, donate time and effort, it will get the best results. Direct mail is quickly loosing it's effect here in the city but I would try it in the smaller markets. In everything you do talk about quality, convenience and expertise. In all polls those are the things that matter to people. When you make price the most compelling thing it becomes the most important which tends to commodify what we do. (oil changes). We wash every car we service, makes people feel good about their car. Put all the focus on what you do well, better than anyone else (then do it!) Hope this at least gives you somewhere to start.
  20. 3 likes
    Last May was a decent month. This May knocked the socks off last year. My gross profit was up by 47%. We've had 3 very strong months in a row!! Hi-Gear
  21. 3 likes
    We did record numbers! My people are a bit stressed but hanging in there strong. I keep telling them, let's shoot fish in a barrel while we can. We haven't seen the A/C work load I have been expecting due to the rainy weather, but I am sure it is coming soon. Congratulations y'all!
  22. 3 likes
    Congratulations on a record month. Months like that make one like this business. Last May was a month that I was hating this business. It was one of our all time worst months as our sales were down over $30K from the previous May. Sales this May weren't a record but they weren't bad. We ended up about $21k ahead of last May. Our car count has increased over the last week.
  23. 3 likes
  24. 3 likes
    in my experience with shops bad mouthing others is that the shop doing the bad mouthing is in a bad way trying to get customers, the reason being that they are probably a worse shop than the one that they are bad mouthing
  25. 3 likes
    To answer your question regarding benchmarks. Just run your detailed expense reports for the last year or two and you can get a good feel for what your spending in each category on average. I like to break mine down by the month. Since we pay bi-weeklly we always have two months out of the year where we have 3 pay periods so we have to adjust for that. We actual have it built into our spreadsheet so we know which months have 3 pay periods. We also project our workers comp costs as well as all of our benefits based upon number of employees. One thing to remember is it's really spending plan as Dave Ramsey would say and you won't always hit it exactly. It's a target, and if you don't have one then it's the easiest way to waste money or have leakage. It brings a level of accountability for yourself. You should also share it with someone who will question you on it and help keep you on track. I don't currently have a business coach but the budget is shared with the manager and lead tech. The right coach can be very beneficial to you and they need to bring more value than they cost. I will say I have used Elite in the past for some service writer training and have been very pleased with them. I am probably going to hire a coach (most likely from Elite) for my manager to grow him and get a prospective outside of my own.
  26. 3 likes
    I have a pretty detailed budget and budget everything from advertising, donations, employee relations (birthdays, dinners, lunches), inks, toners, janitorial, and even toilet paper. I have been doing this for years. It also looks at projected sales, tech efficiency, door rates, tech rates, training, certification test, dues, subscriptions, planned raises, effective labor rate, as well as allows me to see if we have the right amount of staff based upon tech efficiency and projected sales. I built a spreadsheet years ago and make upgrades to it yearly. I actually have my manager complete it now and I just review. We begin the process in October for the next year. We can get it completed rather quickly. We use it also to run "if, then" scenarios. Gives me the daily sales required to meet plan. It makes it much easier to sleep when you know what you need to do. Interesting aspect of it is we don't "win" every day but we typically win the year. We know we will have bad days, bad weeks and sometimes bad months. On a daily basis we win a little less than 50% of the days. The service writers see where we are everyday and weather we are on plan. It makes a difference. Start simple and grow it. As Joe says it would be hard to explain or even go through in a forum and really takes a full day at best to really understand all the variables. If you're using Quickbooks you can do a basic one in there. It's not my favorite but it could be a place to start. Another benefit is when someone is requesting donations, advertising or any other expense, you can honestly say "it's not in the budget this year, or it''s not a financial priority at this time". Start now as it will be the best thing you can do for your business. As the famed Peter Drucker wrote "What gets measured, gets managed"
  27. 3 likes
    After 10+ years of monitoring auto shop reviews add-on fees are in the top three of customer complaints. No matter how you justify generic, unspecific fees I feel they are bad business practice. Your customers may not be complaining to your face about your add-on fees, but these fees cause what I call customer relationship "rot". Add-on fees are little annoyances that most customers won't question but they accumulate over time and silently undermine customer trust and loyalty. This makes your customers more prone to customer defection. And customer loss is a HUGE cost to your business! Every shop has service failures. And the day something big goes wrong customers will have less forgiveness if they are already annoyed. The customer blows their cool and you are left wondering why they stormed out over some mistake you apologize for and make right... A classic case of death by a thousand small cuts. Every business should do everything they can to create a positive customer experience and relationship. Get rid of every friction point and possible annoyance in the customer's experience. That is what keeps customers coming back. One of the most dangerous mindsets in business is arrogance. You think you may be impervious to customer loss but all you need is a competitor to move in on you and customers who are not completely loyal will quickly be tempted to go elsewhere... Still not convinced add-on fees are bad? Have you ever gone into a restaurant and had them automatically add a mandatory 20% tip to the bill. Not sure about you but it just irritates me and makes me reluctant to return. Service fees may not seem like a big deal but they can be a very real threat to your reputation. And that can be far more damaging to your bottom line than what is mistakenly called a loss of profit due to shop supplies. A couple negative reviews about you being a price gouger and over-charging can significantly increase your advertising cost. The first thing prospective new customers do after seeing your advertisement is inspect your online reputation. What they find there has a HUGE impact on your advertising response rate and your cost per new customer. And that increased advertising cost will amount to far more than the relatively small amount represented by shop supplies (I feel shop supplies should be part of general labor rate, incorporated into specific job labor rates, or separately billed. If it is something used on every job of that type then add it to the canned job package that almost all shop management software has, e.g. include the price for 1/2 can of brake cleaner, etc). Every business should do everything they can to protect their reputation. Add-on fees are one of those silent business killers. Still not convinced add-on fees are bad? Think that because your customers aren't complaining about add-on fees they aren't annoyed by them? In 2009 I wrote a blog post about the pros and cons of using add on environmental fees (a new practice back then). It is still the highest traffic page on my blog by a WIDE margin! I finally had to turn off and remove the comments since it quickly produced 25 PAGES!!! of people complaining about add-on fees. Your customers may not be complaining to your face but I am sure they dislike the fees. And that underlying dissatisfaction will hurt your business. Hope this helps, Doug
  28. 2 likes
    Today, I actually made all day with no pain pills. Who hoo! More walking and more activities is the key. Can't work, still can't stay upright that long. Probably weeks until I'm allowed to drive anyway. Slowly healing, keeping up with posts, and everybody's comments. Thanx for ur thoughts. It really makes my day to hear from u all.
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    From what I see all Facebook he is doing well. I believe the home address is 15031 S. 4150 Rd Claremore, OK 74017.
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    Nice to see Gonzo up and about!
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    I don't have data on cars per lift, or billables, but I can share some insight on cars per bay. We ran a survey with the help of AASP-PA last year in which we asked ~ 70 shops about issues that caused productivity loss. Here are some of the high points: Number of Bays: The average shop in this survey had 4 to 5 bays. Number of Vehicles per Day: 9 to 10 vehicles per day Average Bay Turn Rate: 2 cars per bay per day. Those shops in the survey that run an SMS system (versus those that do not) tended to turn their bays faster. Also, those shops that order parts online also seemed to turn their bays faster. We also asked about the time wasters. "When you think about your daily operations, what process in your shop wastes the most time?" The big 3 themes we heard over and over were: Finding and ordering parts / parts availability Parts delivery / waiting on parts Waiting on customer authorization Hope this helps! Erik
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    According to a recent survey featured in the May issue of National Oil and Lube News, 38% of the motoring public usually go to a new car dealer to have their oil changed. Second place was a quick lube and third place was the traditional auto facility. Now, I have to admit, this survey was done by a publication dedicated to the Quick Lube industry, so I am not sure of any bias here. But it is worth taking note that the people polled were car owners from across the country. And, in spite of what we think about the new car dealers, they do want to penetrate the consumer market we took for granted for so many decades. The point is that in today’s competitive climate we need to take a proactive approach to our business. Anyone who knows me or reads my articles and posts know I have been preaching this for some time now. We also need to be convenient and deliver world-class service. We need trained people on the phone and on the service counter. Of course you need quality techs, training, information systems and the best equipment. But, look at your business through the eyes of your customers. That will tell you your next marketing strategy. If I were you, I would do my own survey….find out for yourself….Who’s changing YOUR customer’s oil?
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    Great answer. Yes, this is a place to discuss ideas and such and a great resource for management ideas. i am one of those 30 year guys and have been regarded as a "numbers" guy. While I have been thru many many hours of training I cannot find much of a use for ELR. Really, if you wish to improve bottom line you can charge 2 for 1' that will impact elr. You can also start stepping on the labor guid. If it calls for one hour and you bump it from 1to 1.2 ( in dollars not hours) and correct the hours back down you will really impact elr. You stated above this was shorting the techs. I could argue it isn't but it's one metric over another. I would focus on gross profit and expenses. Efficiency and productivity. If you still think there a % or 2 on the table raise the targets. Don, t change the measuring bowl.
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    You've pretty much answered your own question. 2 for one diagnostics will increase EFL and maintenance (packaged) items such as a flush you charge more than 1/2 hours labor but credit the tech for 1/2 hour. My question back to add to the discussion is why are you looking at ELR? I used to belong to a 20 group and they had us looking at a lot of different metrics. While it is important to know the metrics and what affects them in reality there are only a few you really need to get a hold of and monitor. You just have to chose the ones that mean the most to you. Example..... hours per ro or dollars per ro? Which one would you rather track and focus on? I can certainly manipulate one for the other.
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    He is tough as nails. It is hard to see how anyone as active as he is has heart blockage.
  36. 2 likes
    Gonzo, my thoughts and prayers are with you. But you are one tough Marine! There's a lot of fight in you. Get well soon.
  37. 2 likes
    I felt compelled to "chime in" on this topic again because of where the discussion is going. It seems to me that in a lot of ways, shop owners "miss the point". What's the point? The point is that no matter how good you are - how honest a shop you run - or how much you've spent on tools, equipment and scanners - you still can NOT do anything to a car unless it's in your shop. This was actually stated above by Anderson Automotive when he said... "The game truly is simple. Get the customer in the door by just about any means possible, do a quality inspection, and present them with the findings. " BINGO! Get the customer in. Now, understanding that people (that means YOU too) only buy what you want or know you need - there is no other automotive service that car owners know they need besides an oil change. You don't need to promote discounts and deals on alignments, timing belts or anything else. People just don't know they need that - or at least they don't wake up in the morning thinking... "I wonder where I can get a new timing belt?". In short, the only service they know they need is a simple oil change. You still can't do that unless they're in your shop. The other part that I feel is being overlooked stems from the TITLE of this thread: Who’s doing the oil change on YOUR customer’s car? Question. Who says they're YOUR customer? Do you OWN that customer? I don't think so. Let me explain it (and prove that YOU do the same) as most of your "so called" customers. Do you shop at Walmart? Target? Costco? Think about it. Without being specific about brands or preferences you may have - couldn't you get EVERYTHING from any one of those stores?? Really... think about it. They all carry pretty much the same stuff. They all have pretty much the same price. So why do YOU shop at two or three of them?? I don't need the answer - but the point is that the people you THINK are YOUR CUSTOMERS do the same thing. So how do you fix that? Well, sorry, but I've got to ask you another question. When was the last time you followed up with customers? (Notice I said customers, not YOUR customers, right?) But really, when was the last time you did something to contact them - without sending them some stupid postcard that screams "BUY SOMETHING". I am guessing you haven't. How about doing these 1) Send THANK YOU cards - real printed thank you cards - WITHOUT including any offers. There's a way to include them, but you've got to do it the right way. 2) Pick up the phone and follow up - yes, a short call to say "thank you" and "How did we do?" 3) Customer correspondence like a real, printed, sent-by-mail newsletter. You know that statistics prove that over 56% of customers LEAVE YOUR SHOP FOR ANOTHER SHOP because they think you don't care! Do you? Or do you just sit around and HOPE that they know you care? Look, the fact is that the selling starts AFTER you sell the customer. You follow up, thank them, call them and be sure everything is okay, send ongoing "reminders" like Newsletters, Text them oil change reminders (remember, you can't service the car as it rolls by your door! and stuff like that . I know... sounds like work. Well, here's the hard truth. There isn't a MAGIC BULLET! If you're looking for that, try checking beside the Unicorn that's sitting next to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I think I saw it there! Sorry for the long post and sarcasm - but I get a little steamed when shop owners think they own the customer. Hope this helps! Matthew Lee "The Car Count Fixer" Get "The Official Guide to Auto Service Marketing" Fix Your Car Count in 17 Minutes... Guaranteed! The Shop Owner's Unfair Advantage FREE Access
  38. 2 likes
    May was very good. We started with ReviewDriver about 6 weeks ago and it gave us a huge uptick in reviews, which I think translated into a lot of new business.
  39. 2 likes
    I've been in business 9 years and may was my best month ever by about 40%. I did start advertising with yelp a few months back so maybe that's some of it
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    Exactly! People that nickle and dime you and have no clue about what it takes to deliver a great service will always waste your valuable time. I learn long ago not to waste my time with those people. One of the first things I teach the service advisors is not to feel bad when someone declines a service, specially people that have no clue how a car works. There is a certain segment of foreign people that now live here and this is their first time owning a car, they have no clue as to what it cost to have a car service, but anything that cost anything is too much for them, heck, even with the free maintenance option they don't have their car service. This as told to me by the Ford dealer down the street. Like one of the SAs told me, they want to get a free coupon for the free coupon inspection they are redeeming for next time. Next, they will want us to pay them to let us work on their cars, lol.
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    xrac, Some have the attitude you must take care of all the customers, but over the years I have found that this only leads to problems of all sorts.. A lot of the time it is best to let them go especially when they try to make their problems your problems.. I don't know about you but I have enough of my own problems I don't need someones else's . Besides, half the time you take more time arguing over price than the repair takes LOL !
  42. 2 likes
    Great read Gonzo ! In the article you mention about cost of repairs etc.. I had a customer yesterday come in for a simple mindless tire plug, we charge 16.00 cheapest around. They guy bitched about the price. I told him go across to the station across the street and see what they charge, I know for a fact they charge 23.00 . Then he went on to say how he fixes his own cars since everyone charges too much.. of course that makes my blood boil since we are not charging enough for repairs.. I told him I use to make good money, put money away, now I pay bills. The price of repair has not kept up with the advancements in the automobile. I told him there is no more replacing parts everything needs to be programmed or calibrated and to do so you need someone with the know how and the proper tools none of which is cheap. He then asked about his A/C , we are cheap here too I told him 140.00 to vacuum, charge, dye and check for leaks (his system was very low cycling fast) again I can just get a can of Freon and do it my self.. Go for it ! They are fast to bark at a price for their cars, but if it was their home a/c and they guy comes out stays 30 minutes charges 500.00 they don't blink an eye .. people just don't know about auto repair anymore . So I urged the guy to use other stations in the area for repair and when he was fed up with them come back and see me. Have a nice day oh and I didn't plug his tire in the end since he wanted it done for 10 bucks.
  43. 2 likes
    Best May in the 30 year history of the company by 12%. Everything was up.
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    We just surveyed April's repair orders, and found we do an oil change on 67.7% of our RO's. That seems about right for the way I market my business. I have the cheapest full synthetic oil change around, and market the crap out of it. I do a full synthetic oil change cheaper than Jiffy Lube will do a regular oil change, then I discount it further with a coupon. I do full synthetic so cheap, I don't even offer dino oil any more. I hear all the time that only cheapskates will come to my shop with that sort of marketing, and will bleed me dry. If that's so, how do I have a $513 ARO at 60% GP? Our customers (and yours too) see an oil change as a commodity. As far as they know, an oil change is an oil change. It's a lot like gasoline to them. Sure, there are some people who will only put a specific name brand gasoline in their car, but that's not most people. If two gas stations sat side by side, and one had gas priced at 25% more, which one would do a better business? Which gas station would sell more Coke and Potato chips? Be the service center that sells the commodity for less than the guys down the street, sell more Coke and Potato Chips (and brake jobs) as a result.
  45. 2 likes
    I had my own trucks in the 70's and 80's when vehicles were not as reliable as they are today. It was convenient to have my own truck but I never made towing the main part of my operation. In our area most of the people have newer vehicles that are covered for three years for roadside assistance. Many of our customers also have AAA. Cost of truck, insurance, qualified operator, after hours operator, liability and limited use caused me to sub out all tows. I have a pick-up for road calls which works out well.
  46. 2 likes
    If it is there I will stop in and say hi. However, it is not a high priority for me.
  47. 2 likes
    Today I am remembering my great-great-great-great grandfather who fought in the War of Independence, my great grandpa who fought for the Union during the Civil War, my great uncle in fought in the trenches during World War I, my uncle who fought in Korea, a good friend from high school who was in Vietnam and my wife's brother who was in Vietnam. My great uncle was wounded in World War I had a steel plate in his head and was told he wouldn't live to be 30 but he died at age 96 and I was able to be acquainted with him. My wife's brother was wounded in Vietnam from shrapnel from a mine and my friend was shot but recovered. My dad was turned down for the draft in World War II due to an injury from being thrown by a horse.
  48. 2 likes
    You're 100% correct Joe! Somebody is doing their oil changes... and in a lot of cases, it's not who you (most shop owners) think. Most shop owners I speak with think they "own" the customers; They're "my customers". Truth is - you don't own them and there's a bunch of people trying to get their business. Above that, when you think about it, the bland old oil change is the ONLY service most car owners know they need. They don't wake up thinking about a brake job or timing belt - not even an alignment. With that said, the next issue shop owners have to remember is that no matter how good a tech you are (or think you are) or how much better you are than the other guy... you can't fix the car driving down the road. You've got to get the customer to stop in and get service. Then, you better be prepared to take the time to check the car - and offer the services required. I could go on and on about that - but for the purpose of responding to the oil change issue, I think most shop owners just ignore it. After all... where else would "my customers" take their car, right? Ha! If you don't think YOUR CUSTOMERS are shopping - then it's time to think again. I often ask shop owners if they shop at stores like Walmart, Costco or Target. In most cases they respond "yes, sure I do". Okay, couldn't you get just about everything you really need from any ONE of those? Really. I'm not talking about specific brands that you may prefer, but overall, they all sell the same thing. So you shop too! If you didn't, you would only shop at one. Focus on getting the oil change service - and when the car in in your shop - do the inspection that's needed and make the offers. It's the only way to succeed in today's market. Hope this helps! Matthew Lee "The Car Count Fixer" Get my book FREE Fix Your Car Count in 17 Minutes... Guaranteed!
  49. 2 likes
    REDNECK REPAIRS There’s some good ol’ boys out there who love to tinker on their cars every chance they get. They're not necessarily Harvard scholars, nor are they from back in the hills or down some dusty dirt road. They’re from every neck of the woods, and from every city street. They will tackle any problem out there, and usually have some really interesting ways of solving them. Give these guys, or gals a few tools, a cutting torch, and a welder, and you might find a redneck in the making. A little grinding with sparks a flying along with a few 2X4’s, and they'll soon have a new creation coming out of the garage. When it comes to every day repairs, they have their own unique way of taking care of them, to say the least. I'm not talking about the duct taped window with the split open garbage bag over it, or a pair of lock grip pliers for the blower switch. .. no, no, no... those kind of quick fixes are too common and don't even rate to be called a true redneck repair. I'm talking about the ingenious methods of taking care of their car without the aid of a manual, common sense, or good judgment. These are the true rednecks that blanket the country with the most hilarious methods of keeping their cars on the road that anyone could even imagine. I’ve got a few examples… let’s see if you agree. The other day I was making my way home when I spotted an old pickup a few cars ahead of me. It appeared to be hauling a load of scrap metal, but as I got closer it was clear this scrap metal was lashed onto the truck itself. This guy had an old aluminum screen door laid across the back of the cab horizontally, and had it silicone sealed in place as well as wire straps in several places. He was using it in place of the rear glass of the cab. Not only did he have the glass window pushed up, he was also using the screen window to allow the breeze to enter his cab. (It wasn’t hard to tell with the bits of paper getting blown up from the truck bed, and then sticking momentarily to the screen.) Yep, I’d say there's no doubt, this guy is officially ... a redneck. A few years ago I had an old car come in for some front end work... boy, was it a pile of junk. There wasn't a straight piece of metal on the car anywhere. Talk about clearing the barn out of bailing wire, this guy had it everywhere. The oddest thing was this piece of rope tied to each of the wiper blades which he had running through the open front windows. I had to stop what I was doing, and ask him what the rope was for... he was eager to show me. While sitting in the driver's seat he would pull the rope back and forth and his wipers would move accordingly. Cleaver ain’t he? … I guess so, his reasoning behind it seemed pretty sound…… the wiper motor froze up some time ago, and to avoid repairing it he came up with this little rig. Can’t deny it… that's a redneck repair if I ever saw one. Oh there's more...there’s always more redneck repairs out there. Just hard to keep from looking at some of them sometimes; just makes ya shake your head at what they have created. Of course, there are these guys that fall in the category of real redneck engineers out there. These suspender wearing-beer chuggin’ tool connoisseurs like to think of themselves as automotive structural re-engineers. I've seen everything from a Pinto four feet off the ground with a complete 4WD set up under the chassis, to SUV's with the tops cut off like a convertible. In fact one guy was using his revamped SUV as a way to haul his livestock around his farm. The only time he would get it out on the highway was to fill it up with gas at the local station. Once in a while he'd bring his pigs, goats, or whatever else he was hauling along for the ride. You guessed it, definitely... a redneck. So what constitutes a redneck? I suppose the best answer to that would be someone who dares to be different. Someone who has enough “moxie” to attempt the impossible without any concern or care what anyone else thinks about their remake of their horseless carriage. They're out to take care of a problem, or a need they have, with the tools and scrap metal they have at hand, and by golly, they’ll get it done for sure. I know I've done my share of redneck repairs in the past, and there's no doubt I've got a bit of that redneck in me too. I'm sure most of us do, just some of these good ol' boys just take it to the extreme. We've all probably seen the beer can strapped to the exhaust to keep it from leaking, the flashlights duct taped to the fenders, the chain and lock in place of the door locks, and of course the odd battery clamp. That’s just amateur stuff compared to some of the professional rednecks out there. These folks take care of business in their own special way. There's no end to their creativity, nor the ability to come up with something so weird or unique that you'll say, “Yep, that there is a redneck thru and thru.” (I would just stand clear if one of them says… “Hey now, watch this.”) Now, on occasion you'll spot some of the creations from these backwoods garages that will totally surprise you. At a VW car show many years ago I saw an old type III Volkswagen where this creative genius took a V6 Pontiac Fiero motor, suspension and drive train, and somehow shoehorned it into place where the original motor and backseat were. You could practically change the plugs from the driver's seat…… it was that close to his head. Did it work? You darn tootin' it worked. Work so well he could stand the front end up as it shifted into second gear. Ya gotta love these redneck creations. They make me smile; brings a chuckle out once in a while, too. As a mechanic I'm generally skeptical of these lofty ideas they have, but as a spectator at a mud bog...I just love this stuff. Give me some good old American ingenuity any day of the week. The one thing you can say for all those good old boys out there... these guys sure know how to have fun. Just keep trickin' out them there vehicles and show em' off, ya hear. I've heard of other countries claiming they have some good ol' boys of their own, but they can’t hold a socket wrench up against a couple of good old home grown U.S. of A. Rednecks, that's for sure. The heart and soul of us all... … … …Rednecks - a true American original, and dang proud to be one myself.
  50. 2 likes
    One last thing. When its slow, it just means each one of us has less cars to fix. There are still cars in each shop so you just have to figure out how to get the cars from your competitors shops into yours and then you'll be busy and they'll be making excuses!