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  1. 7 points
    MEN ARE JUST HAPPY PEOPLE This needs no explanation - and is a fun read, no matter your gender. Men Are Just Happier People! What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress - $5,000. Tux rental - $100. People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Two pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original color The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. One wallet and one pair of shoes - one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can 'do' your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes. No wonder men are happier! NICKNAMES If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah. If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Bubba and Wildman. EATING OUT When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back. When the girls get their bill, outcome the pocket calculators. MONEY A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale. BATHROOMS A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel. The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items. ARGUMENTS A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument. FUTURE Awoman worries about the future until she gets a husband. A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife. MARRIAGE A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't. A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does. DRESSING UP A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, or get the mail. A man will dress up for weddings and funerals. NATURAL Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed. Women somehow deteriorate during the night. OFFSPRING Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house. THOUGHT FOR THE DAY A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing!
  2. 6 points
    Guts and brains is what it takes for us to succeed. A lot of us owners lack the guts to charge what we need to charge to really succeed.
  3. 5 points
    About 6 months ago, The Wall Street Journal ran an article that featured all the trades: welders, electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics, etc. They found that there is a shortage among all the trades, nationwide. At the same time, we are seeing more and more automotive graduates from schools like Universal Technical Institute and Lincoln Tech. So where are they? It's time we start a movement to become involved in our community, schools, and technical schools. If we can't find them, we need to grow them. Xrac is right about the money. Unfortunately, until shops make enough profit, they cannot always pay what a tech deserves. Basically, the shop owners too need to earn the wage THEY deserve. I know I may hit a nerve here, but here it goes: I find that too many shop owners do not earn enough profits, so how can they attract quality people and pay them. As an industry we need to raise the image and the average income of shop owners first. Automotive shop owners are the hardest working people on the planet. They owe it to themselves and their families to earn the income they deserve. When this happens, they will be able to offer their employees a better pay package. It's not all about money, but everyone needs to earn a decent wage and feel good about themselves.
  4. 4 points
    One Penny at a Time One year I thought I’d try something to drum up some new business. I’ll try a cash discount for large jobs. Maybe this will bring in those new customers. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but as they say, “The best laid plans of mice and men….” certainly got involved on this little adventure. The cash discount was going to run for a month, just to see if it was going to work. All expectations looked promising. Jobs from a few weeks earlier had been contacted and informed of the new promotion to see if they’d like to reschedule that big job they were putting off. Almost all of them set an appointment before the promotion deadline. Soon, the shop was bustling with new activity and jobs were getting stacked up waiting for an open service bay. Unfortunately, as usual, there’s always one sourpuss who has to ruin all the fun for everyone else. Mr. Gripey came to the shop for an engine swap. He was your typical bargain hunter/never going to be a regular/always had a complaint type customer. As he put it, “I’m going to be your number 1 customer, if you can get me done on time.” I assured Mr. Gripey that everyone is our number 1 customer here and we would do everything we could to get him done, within reason, in a timely manner. It was just another Ford Ranger V6 engine swap. Nothing different from any other V6 Ranger we’ve done. That is except for Mr. Gripey, of course. His periodic snooping and interrogating questioning of the mechanic (and his mentor) about the job was relentless. It never fails, you get a snoopy-arrogant person barging in on the work the outcome is the same. It spells d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r every time something like this happens. I was prepared for the inevitable and personally took on the job of double checking every part, every fastener, and every existing blemish on the vehicle just to be sure there was nothing Mr. Gripey could question once the job was completed. The engine slipped back in place without a hitch, and every nut and bolt was torqued down to specs. Everything was going as planned, except for one small detail. The promised date of delivery. Because of the work load and the arrival of the replacement engine, we missed his scheduled time of departure from the service bay by one whole day. This was all the fodder Mr. Gripey needed to begin his wrath of expletives and insults as to how awful we’ve made the entire experience. Was I surprised? No, not at all. Now he wanted an even bigger discount than what the promotion had offered. I offered my condolences and gave a bit more off the top of the cost of the job. That wasn’t good enough. He wanted it for free now. Of course, that’s not going to happen. Now, he has decided to refuse to pay for the job. Several days passed between unanswered phone calls and messages left for Mr. Gripey to return for his vehicle. The daily reconnoitering of the service bay when his truck was being serviced came to an end too. The mechanic and his apprentice mentor were relieved to move onto the next project. Me, I was still stuck with the task of collecting the balance on the job. Which, is usually a rather pleasant experience filled with smiles and thank yous followed by a check, credit card, or cash. But, not this time. A week has gone by and Mr. Gripey hasn’t made an entrance yet. Time for one more phone call, but this time with a little added incentive. Mr. Gripey is going to be informed about storage charges for keeping his little pickup behind locked doors and that the charges would keep adding up until he showed up. He was given a grace period until the end of the week, and if we didn’t hear from him by then… the storage charges would start from the day of this phone call. It’s no surprise, Mr. Gripey managed to show up at the shop that very afternoon. “I’m here to pay my bill and get my truck out of your $&^#*!!! shop,” he said, in a very disgruntled manner. I gave him the total and said, “That’ll be cash, sir.” I wasn’t about to give this guy a chance to walk out with the keys with anything less than a paid in full with good ol' “American currency” and a completed repair singed off. Mr. Gripey turned around and went out to his car and returned with three large bank bags. He tossed the bags onto the counter and said, “Here ya go. Count it if you feel like it.” The bags were full of good old American currency alright, all of it … … … entirely pennies. “I’ll take my truck now. If you don’t mind,” Mr. Gripey said. I looked at the pile of coins starting to pour slowly out of the split open bag and looked back up at Mr. Gripey, “Uhm, sir, this is legal tender alright, but this is no way to pay your bill. But, in your case I’ll accept the payment only after it has been fully counted,” I said to him, trying to stare down his angry gaze, “So, just have a seat and I’ll get this counted and when it has been counted I’ll gladly hand the keys over to you.” Mr. Gripey hadn’t planned his little caper out as well as he had thought. He thought I was just going to hand the keys over and I’d be stuck with several hours of counting pennies while he was long gone with a smirk on his face thinking he just pulled a fast one on a repair shop. The fact is, he wasn't getting the keys until I had every last penny was counted. With some help from the crew, we sat in the front office counting each and every penny one after another. And no, I wasn’t about to give the guy the satisfaction of taking the bags to the bank and have them counted. I wanted him to sit there waiting the hours it took to have it all hand counted. It was by far the best bonding time I had with the crew. As we counted we talked about jobs in the shop, what was coming up next, tools, where we wanted to be in the next few years, our families, kids, and pastimes. Indirectly, Mr. Gripey did us all a huge favor by allowing us all to have a few hours of time together away from the wrenches. We kept at it until we finished and never once did we remain quiet or stop for breaks. By the time the last penny was counted we were all tired of stacking pennies. We could finally get up from our chore and get Mr. Gripey out the door with his truck and warranty paper work. His warranty has expired a long time ago and if it was no surprise, he never did come back for even an oil change. I’ve been paid with all kinds of things over the years. From a stack of Susan B Anthony coins to a case of beer. But, this was the first time anyone paid for an entire job with sacks full of pennies. Just for the record, if there is a next time… I’m not counting all those pennies again. I’ll let the bank to do it and make the guy come back the next day. Just don’t tell Mr. Gripey that. He still may need another lesson or two on how to act civil at a repair shop. Even if it is one penny at a time.
  5. 4 points
  6. 4 points
    Thanks for all the comments and advice. We decided to give him two days off for the insubordination and told him if he wanted to continue to be apart of our team come back Monday with a new attitude ready to follow our policies and procedures. We also told him with the fresh start he would need to take a drug test to return. He quit on the spot after telling him that. Guess everything happens for a reason.
  7. 4 points
    I’ll never forget the day when Mrs. Obrien brought her car back for me to look at. She was furious. I stayed late the night before, well into the night, to finish her car so she could have it for work the next day. I even did a few little things on the house because I felt she may be a little inconvenienced picking the car up so late. Why did she bring the car back? A comeback? Well, not in the conventional way. It was the greasy smudge on her seat that she was angry about. But what about me staying late? Or giving away a few minor services? Doesn’t that count? She is upset about a grease smudge? Oh yes, and she has every right to be. The fact is, you can do the best repair, using the best parts, performed by the best technician on the planet. But what the customer sees is not necessarily your hard work, it’s that little greasy smudge that you are judged by. Unfortunate and unfair? Yes. But it’s a reality. Perform the best repairs and provide world-class customer service; and never forget; it’s the little things the customer sees. And that’s what important to them.
  8. 4 points
    Employees make or break your business. I am the king of the mis-hire. I have babysat through temper tantrums. NEVER AGAIN. I moved from hell to heaven by finally not being desperate and waiting for the special one instead of a warm body. My father owned a repair shop and the employees always complained about my father. My father would complain about the employees. The animosity between employers and employees seems to be common. I vowed I would not have that in my business. I found that if signing their check makes me sick it’s time for them to go and they usually know it but need a push. Otherwise they will hurt your business. If I do not take a regular break from the business I become ornery. I was lucky enough to be told by a good customer of mine that I had a bad attitude. Trade seminars recharge and invigorate me. I try to attend as many as possible. My attitude is the attitude of the business. I set the tone. You can’t take criticism personally. “Don’t worry be happy”
  9. 4 points
    I changed my hours back in Sept. 2012 8-5:30 M-F to 7a -7p 6 days a week. Full crew and full hours every day. Best single thing I've ever done. It was also one of the hardest transitions I've had to make. While I didn't lose any employees for it, I have lost the opportunity to hire a few great people because Saturdays are not possible for them. My techs work 7:30-6:30 and advisors go from bell to bell. The switch was good for an almost instant 20% increase in sales. 3 weeks after changing hours, Saturday revenue was indistinguishable from any other day. The ARO on Saturday is slightly lower, and the car count slightly higher. 2013 was our first full year of it, and we finished the year up 34% over 2012. The key seems to have been having full crew and regular hours. Half crew and half days gets you less than half results. Parts can be a challenge, but you quickly learn who you can count on for Saturday parts, which we then reward with more purchases from them during the week. The beauty of having a full crew and full hours is that we can identify problems during an oil change inspection, and actually get the work done without putting the customer out of their car during the week. I've found that people who generally get their oil change done on a Saturday are the same people who have a hard time giving up their ride during the week. They appreciate being able to get things done on their day off and are very likely to leave the car for the day for other repairs as long as it can be done same day. The way it works is that everyone is on a rotating schedule. The shop is closed on Sunday of course, but in addition to Sunday, everyone gets 2 days off during the week, and the 2 days off rotates every week. Week 1 has Monday & Tuesday off. Week 2 has Wednesday & Thursday off, and week 3 has Friday & Saturday off. I have 3 advisors and 6 techs. 1 advisor and 2 techs are paired up on each rotation, so I always have 2 advisors and 4 techs in the building. The schedule allows the guys some pretty good time off, and allows me to attract good talent while also working Saturday. Every 3 weeks when week 3 wraps around to meet week 1, the guys get Friday Saturday Sunday Monday and Tuesday off. I tell my people they could go on a cruise and I wouldn't miss them. Combining their 5 day weekend with vacation is not only allowed, it's encouraged. Lube dudes are hourly and work 5 days a week, and both of them work every Saturday. The difficulty in implementing this program was that when I started it I had one advisor, one assistant advisor, and 3 techs. I had a lot of hours of operation I had to cover at the front desk and not enough people to do it. I also didn't have the sales or car count to justify 3 advisors. I made the assistant advisor an advisor even though I knew he wasn't the right guy and would have to replace him, and I filled in the other advisor spot. On the 2 days a week that I wasn't playing advisor, I was playing shop owner/manager. I worked 7-7 six days a week for a year. The new hours and lots of marketing got us in a position to add staff, and after 18 months of this program I was at 3 good advisors and 6 techs. The other difficulty was learning how to handle/avoid having to pass a partially completed job from one tech to another and from one advisor to another without dropping the ball. We bought quite a few rental cars as we figured this out, but now problems with it rarely arise. I didn't really implement any specific strategy to fix it. After the advisors and techs got burned enough times they figured it out all on their own. Now if a big job walks in the door on a Thursday, the advisor who's getting ready for his 5 day break will instinctively pass it to the other advisor. Same for the techs. If they find a big job on an inspection, they'll tell the advisor to give it to another tech. In some instances if there's just too much gravy on the ticket to give away, the advisor or the tech might come in on their day off and sell/finish the job. It all works with almost no input from me.
  10. 4 points
    What those guys said. Remember, 500 cars is a lot of cars. Concentrate on figuring out exactly how many vehicles your shop can handle, and do an exceptional job with those vehicles. One metric that I used to measure, and I really should get back into, is the number of jobs found per RO. We all work on pretty much the same vehicles, 10 years old with 120-150k on the clock. Things are broken on most of those cars. Your job is to find what's broken, and tell the customer every single time. When we were measuring jobs found per RO, we were looking for about 5 to 5.5 jobs found per RO. Some cars need nothing, some cars need 13 things, but in the end we looked for the average. If a tech could only find 2.5 items per car, we knew he wasn't doing a good inspection. We also tracked the sales closing ratio by the SA, and broke it down by technician. If I have 3 advisors and 2 of them sell everything a particular tech gives them, and one advisor doesn't sell anything for him, we have a personality conflict that I need to get involved in. If I have 3 advisors and 6 techs, and all my techs are finding 5 items per car, but all the advisor closing ratios on one of those techs is complete crap, I know I have a tech who's pencil whipping his inspection and the advisors don't believe him. Lots of interesting things you can find out when you track that stuff. When we do an inspection, I have the techs give the advisor the list in a specific order. 1. What the car came in for. 2. Safety items. Actual safety like metal to metal brakes and ball joints that are about to fail. 3. Things that will become a safety items in the near future. 4. Things that won't become safety items, but get more expensive if you wait. 5. Needs fixed but won't get more expensive. 6. Maintenance.
  11. 4 points
    Good point. One of the things we did to build car count was go to cheap oil changes, which dropped our ARO. We've worked hard to get ARO and GP up to where it should be, and we're finally having a very good year in GP and net. From 2013 to YTD 2017 we grew an average of 33.5% per yr in gross sales, 35% in car count, and 27.5% in hours billed. And at the same time raised our labor rate from $89 to $126.57. I started my shop from scratch 7 yrs ago with me and a partner. I bought him out in 2013. I now have 8 employees plus me, and I don't work in the shop. I'm only saying this stuff to encourage others to not be afraid to raise your rates. When my partner left I was afraid to raise the labor rate, and I worked my ass off and didn't make any money. Then I was challenged to raise the rate and I did, then raised it again, and again, and again, in both big jumps and small jumps. Nothing happened, and we kept growing. If I can encourage some of you to just raise the rate then we're all better off. Friendly service and marketing matter, price is very minor.
  12. 4 points
    I have the hardest time understanding the ethics in this industry. It's like the auto repair industry has it's own set of ethics and expectations that are completely different than any other industry. It's absurd! Look at it: 1) Billing for 100% of Time - Lawyers do, doctors do, accountants do, plumbers do, phone companies do, and employees do...however, shops are supposed to stick to the estimate come hell or high water. Otherwise we are gouging or padding our time, or just adding random time. It's crazy! It's a double-standard that we allow to be placed on us. 2) Selling Only What Customers Need - People don't need 2 TVs, or 10 pairs of shoes, or bottled water, or Apple products, or bubble gum. Yet none of these industries are considered unethical for selling people something they don't need. Why are we unethical for selling people something they "don't need"? How did that happen? Don't go the wrong way with this...I'm not proposing telling people their car is broken when it isn't. I'm saying that right now our industry is in a position to bow to the customer any time they don't feel like the "need" a certain repair because they'll pull the unethical card on us. 3) Marking Up Parts - Why are we the only industry that is unethical for marking up things that we sell? Hardware stores do, restaurants do, plumbers do, Wal-mart does, O'Reilly's does. But for some reason, certain customers expect us to sell parts at our cost. Why not at O'Reilly's cost...or at Moog's cost? What is the ethical price? Is anyone allowed to make a profit selling parts? If so, who is and why only them? It's just crazy when I think about the unbelievable expectations people have for our industry. Here's my theory for how we got into this position. When we are desperate for customers we'll do anything they want. And it's much easier and less risky (so we think) to give into them by knocking the price down than it is to spend time teaching them about what they just bought or are about to buy. There's so much focus on shop efficiency that we don't take the time to develop customer relationships and educate them about the benefits of buying from us. It isn't a waste of time to teach customers about their car, to show them why we are proposing a certain repair, or to explain every item on the invoice. If we don't then people will continue to expect us to sell parts at cost, eat unexpected labor time, and not perform a proper repair all in the name of ethics. We have to put a stop to this. Our industry generally isn't unethical (we have 7 shops in my town of 12,000 and only one is shady) but we accept that moniker. We don't have to. I certainly don't. Does anybody else think the expectations on our industry are just plain stupid?
  13. 4 points
    The biggest problem we have in this industry is that most shop owners started as technicians. Those technicians have a thought process in their head that revolves around how much they would pay for something, not how much a customer should pay. If you can buy a water pump for $30 and the technician/owner knows that he can bolt it on in an hour even though the book pays 3 hours, and as a tech he got paid $25 an hour, to them, that job was worth $55. Most guys have a hard time wrapping their head around charging a customer $400 for that job. If they sell it for $200 they made a killing - they think. The second biggest problem that we have is that any one of our customers can buy parts just as cheaply as we can. Standard retail markup for many many years has been cost times 5. That's an 80% gross profit for those of you playing at home. When you think of a "discount" store like Walmart, that just means the items are being sold at cost times 2.5 or 3. The difference is that I can't go to the supplier for Dillards department store and buy a shirt for the same money Dillards pays. Most people have no clue how much stores mark up their products, and would be outraged if they found out. We are in the crappy position of having to explain to customers why we have to mark up parts at all, much less why we have to mark them up over 100%. A lot of the technicians turned shop owners are unable to explain it. The rest of us are compared to those shops who can't explain it.
  14. 4 points
    I don't like to just mark up my products....I usually double, triple, or quadruple my cost. Plus I buy deals and I pass the savings on to ME!!! I smother my clients with excellent, super, and unexpected service, and I make sure I am MORE than compensated for said service. If I were in business for my health, I would own and operate a GYM!!! Hi-Gear
  15. 3 points
    We take checks all the time. If I hadn't looked, I would have said we take 3 or 4 NSF checks a year. But I just checked and we have taken only 1 in the last 4 years!! It seems like people just don't bounce checks as much as they used to. We do have a few restrictions though. Unless it's a customer we know, we don't take checks that are written on a bank out of our county. Secondly, we limit 1st time customers to $500. Thirdly, we don't take "starter" checks. Lastly, if it is a first time customer, we make a copy of the check and driver's license together and keep it until the check clears.
  16. 3 points
    Nothing Beats a Full House There’s days, even weeks (depending on the time of year) when a pair is pretty good. Then there are days when three of a kind ain’t bad. But in my book nothing beats a full house. I’ll bet you thought I was talking about poker, didn’t ya? Nope, I’m talking about the automotive repair business. When the shop is humming, and the jobs are flowing, and business is brisk, that’s when I know I’ve been dealt a winning hand. It might mean coming into work really early or staying late, but at the end of the week it’s a pretty good feeling to know you’ve played your cards right. There’s been many a day that closing down the shop early is better than being dealt jokers or cards that won’t play. The phone isn’t ringing, the shop is empty, all the tools and service bays have been cleaned, and all the shelves are stocked, but not a single car in the service bays. Those are the days that even a pair sounds good. I’d even settle for pulling one decent card out of the deck on those days. “It’s feast or famine,” a good friend of mine told me. He’s a realtor, and his business is the same way. One day everybody is calling, and the next day you have to pick up the phone just to see if there’s still a dial tone. (Boy, do I know it, I certainly can relate to that.) There is a pattern to all of this chaos though. It took me years of running a shop to figure it out, and I’m sure the same thing happens in every part of the country, just like it does here in the southern part where I live. Take the holidays… no, seriously… take them. There a joyous time to be with family and friends, but it’s not that great if you’re making a living servicing cars. It never fails when a holiday is on the calendar you can bet it’s slow. But, the day or so before a long weekend holiday you can guarantee it’s going to be packed at the repair shop. Seems everybody waits to the last minute to get the car ready for a trip and everybody wants their car done… RIGHT NOW! I pretty much know those are the days I’m coming in early and staying late. Then there’s when school starts… listen close…can ya hear the crickets out in the shop? I know I can. Usually the week or two before school starts everything slows to a crawl. Oh you might get a couple of pair, maybe three of a kind but it’s doubtful you’ll get a full house. As soon as school is in session the cards start to fall in the right place again. It’s a sure bet the shop is going to be full for the next couple of weeks. Of course there’s Fair week. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Fair, I think it’s pretty cool, but not from a business stand point that’s for sure… it’s the week to fold your hand. Nothing ever happens Fair week. In my early years there was one Fair week that I’ll never forget. I had one car for the whole entire week… yes… one and only one car. However, it was a super huge job that nearly took the whole week to finish. (Funny how things work out that way.) Temperature and the weather have a lot to do with what cards you’re dealt in this crazy world of auto repair. Heavy snow or monsoon rain means… stay home, fold em’. Now a light rain, one of those steady down pours that doesn’t seem to end has a different affect. The shop slows, but the phone rings constantly. The usual caller will tell me something like this; “Yes, I’m having a problem with my wipers can you fix them?” I’ll answer, “Why yes, we could get you in right now.” “Oh it’s raining, but as soon as it lets up I’ll bring it in.” I know better than to assume they’ll be in on the next sunny day. As soon as the sun comes out they forget all about their wiper troubles. I guess it’s one of those “out of sight, out of mind” things. Although, I’ve learned to get their phone number, and call them the next day and remind them of their previous call and set an appointment to get it in the shop. Surprisingly enough, it works. Now the temperature, that’s a real fickle issue. Too hot or too cold does some strange things to cars. Usually means it’s going to be busy. Then again if it’s a “room temperature” sort of day… it’s probably not going to be that busy. There are the calls of course, there’s the “stop by the shop and chat about it” kind, and then there are the ones that just want to pick your brain and price check everything. When it comes to creature comforts in the car, it’s a safe bet on those high or low temperature days those systems are on the top of the repair priority list. Wouldn’t be the first time someone has come in the shop with their brakes metal to metal, but they’re not worried about that… that A/C is a must. Now in the winter months it’s the heater, or the defroster, or the wiper blades that froze to the windshield the night before and they didn’t bother to clean them off… they just turned them on, and now... oops… they don’t work at all. The one ace in the hole that does take the edge off of the ups and downs of the seasonal changes is to have a back burner job sitting in the corner of the shop. Maybe a restoration project or some personal toy you can pull out of moth balls for the guys to fiddle around with when it’s slow. All in all, doing this job is a great reward; it’s a great career choice. You meet some really interesting people from all walks of life in this business. A lot of them become regulars, and stop by no matter what the temperature is or whether or not the Fair is in town. Ya just got to play your cards right, know when to fold them and know when to hold them. When it’s slow you might tend to dwell on things and think you’ve done something wrong, but then things pick back up and you forget all about those thoughts. You’re taking a gamble in just about any career choice you make, automotive repair is no different, and when someone asks, “How’s it going?” I always answer with, “It’s slowly getting busy or busy getting slow.” A couple of cars in the morning, maybe three of a kind later that afternoon, whatever there is that’s the hand you’ve been dealt for the day. But, in this game of auto repair… nothing beats a full house. View full article
  17. 3 points
    Complimentary alignment inspection with the purchase of tires... Has so much more value..... Free= Bad word Check=means its free Look= means its free JMHO
  18. 3 points
    Individual shop and personal goals are a big part of why we do certain things. For me, I had two goals. First, I wanted to quickly grow the shop to have enough personal that I didn't have to work in the shop. I started from scratch 7 years ago, and I haven't worked in daily operations for over two years. The second goal is to get my customers in the habit of coming to us for everything, not just when something doesn't work. The inexpensive oil change has been an element for us reaching both of those goals. We also reduced the cost of an oil change, which helps. And, we do a complete digital inspection on every car and regularly do alignment checks. It has to be part of an overall strategy.
  19. 3 points
    Saw this posted on bolt-ons facebook page today... I've got have a mind to get a professional plague made up or at least have it framed for our lobby 😂
  20. 3 points
    Water Cooler Diagnostics We’ve all heard the phrase, “codes don’t fix cars, good diagnostics does”. Codes are merely a direction or path, not the answer as some might think. Those “codes fix it all” believers are usually at the bottom of the diagnostic chain. You know the type; those Neanderthals with little wrenches and big cheater bars, or the ones that follow the old adage, “When in doubt-rip it out” method of diagnosing a problem. It’s seems to me that car repair for a certain demographic of people has always been something related to hand-me-down repair information, not diagnostic skills. I believe it’s all because of the availability of cheaply made parts and bad information. Some of it is hearsay, but a lot of it comes from two guys chatting next to the water cooler at work, and neither one of them have any automotive diagnostics background at all. This latest case study is a perfect example of why swapping parts and paying attention to those water cooler experts isn’t always a good idea. A trained technician with diagnostic background and less time at the water cooler may be what you need. A 2007 Dodge 4.7L pickup came into the shop with a stalling problem. The owner had already stopped by the water cooler and made a trip to the code fairy. Since no codes were stored, there wasn’t much for him to do except follow the water cooler genius’ advice. He swapped out every sensor and computer part he was told about and a few more he could barely reach, just to be safe. All of which didn’t change a thing. Before writing up the work order, I had to listen to his story, which ended like most of them do, "I've already spent too much on this truck, and I don't want to spend a penny more." (I wonder what kind of commission the water cooler guy got from the part store for helping this guy spend all his cash.) The stalling was pretty predictable, usually every 15 minutes. Just as it would stall, the check engine light would rapidly flash, then the truck would sit silent. If you turned the key off and back on, the truck would run perfectly as if nothing happened, right up to the very moment the whole scenario repeated itself. Since the only odd thing was this momentary flashing of the MIL, I decided to hook up a scanner and wait to see if this odd failure would show up on the screen. Sure enough, code P0688 popped up momentarily, just as the truck stalled “ASD signal low”. Out of habit I reached up and cycled the key. Dang it, the code never stored and the truck is back to running correctly again. I’ll have to wait one more time and see if I actually had the right code number. Since it only occurred as it went through its death roll, catching this failure was going to be tricky. It was the correct code alright, but no signs of dropped voltage or weak connections anywhere to be found. It’s time to pull out the big guns. Break out the scope boys! With the scope hooked up to two different injector leads and the remaining channels on a couple of coils, I spent the afternoon watching the ASD voltage like a nervous hen watching her chicks. As if on cue, the truck died. Not a bit of change on the scope. I’m definitely going at this the wrong way. Something is dropping off, or at least I assumed it was. Instead of looking at the ASD signal, how about checking the injection signal and coil signals from the PCM? This time the scope did have a weird response. Just as it stalled there was a little extra squiggly line that didn’t belong in the pattern on the coil input leads. Very subtle difference, but enough of a difference that it needed closer attention. The voltage signal spiked a bit higher than normal just as the truck would stall, and then the voltage would drop to zero. It must be the PCM or a coil. Since the signal was only there for a brief blip on the scope, it wasn’t exactly something I could put my finger on just yet. Time for some old school tricks. Since the PCM was new, I could at least (with some trepidation) rule it out for now. I could test further, or I could try to create a problem that might mimic what I was seeing on the scope pattern, or with luck, if it was a spike that was coming from a coil, disconnecting it could show the problem. I decided to give this truck a miss of my very own and see if I could increase that little squiggle into a bigger one. I'll unplug one coil and watch the scope pattern. If I’m lucky, the truck will either stay running longer than it normally did, or it might show me a larger voltage spike. Sure enough, I found it on the third coil. As long as that particular coil was left unplugged, the truck ran well past the usual stall time. To verify it, I plugged the coil back in and watched the scope readings directly at that coil. A millisecond before the stall the coil spiked to the top of the screen as the truck shut off. Just as I suspected, if it was on the coil that was causing the problem the spiked voltage would show higher there than on the adjacent coils. The big question for me was why did it not set a code? The reason was the coil lead led straight to the PCM. The extra high voltage going back into the circuit simply turned the PCM off as if the key was turned off. There’s no codes for shutting the truck off, only codes for failures that make it shut off. The solution...replace the coil. Now and then there are problems that don’t follow the diagnostic steps laid out by the engineers. Even though you’d think every aspect and every type of condition has been tried and tested, or at least talked about around the water cooler. There are times when you’ve got to look past the “assumed” problem and dig a little deeper to find the cause. There's no doubt this repair is going to be another one of those conversations around the water cooler, but I seriously doubt anywhere in this story will the novice know-it-all admit that it took an experienced technician to locate his problem, not his water cooler buddy. Oh, and I don’t expect to hear him say as he leans on the cooler, “Codes don’t fix cars, mechanics do” even when there isn't a code.
  21. 3 points
    Drain the Swamp and Count the Alligators Occasionally the customer has more confidence in you than you do yourself. The old farmer tells his hired hand, “Get down there and drain that swamp today.” The hired hand says, “Looks like there’s a heap of alligators in there.” “Don’t ya never mind about them gators, you just get that swamp drained!” the old farmer explains. Some days I feel like the hired hand. I’ll get a job in, and I already have the feeling there is going to be a whole heap of alligators between me and draining that swamp. This time around it’s a 2004 Nissan 350z with a non-functioning convertible top. The top was up, but wouldn’t move, other than unlatching the rear (5th bow) window section of the top. Jim is an old customer who loves his little Z car, and was well aware of a few of the alligators lurking under that deck lid. How did he know? Easy, he already tried to get it repaired at a convertible top shop, but they weren’t up to the task of taking on this alligator infested swamp. Jim’s only comment to me was, “I don’t care how many problems you find, just get it working for me.” After gathering all the TSB’s, wiring diagrams, procedures, and any other bits of info I ventured out into untested waters to see what I could find out. All the test procedures started out by checking pin-out voltages and resistances at the convertible top ECM, and guess where that is?… under the very same deck lid that isn’t moving… hmm, imagine that. The trunk is the only option. You’ve got to crawl in there and find the cables to release the deck lid manually. You could tell somebody else had already been working on it; the emergency cables were nowhere to be found. I looked like some sort of contortionist trying to get down into the small little opening at the bottom of the trunk with my bore scope. I had to wiggle it around in there, until I found the very thin wire cables that would release the latches. (They were pushed back under the lining of the storage area, which is not accessible from the trunk area) Ugh, I haven’t even moved the top yet and I’m already swimming with the gators… what could be next? Once I got the deck lid up I could then remove the interior trim and test the ECM to see what needed to be done. The output voltage for the 5th bow actuator motor was coming out of the ECM, so unless the wires are broken or disconnected the motor must have failed. Ok, now crawl out of the storage area and wrestle my way into the passenger compartment, then pull the trim piece on the back window up to expose the 5th bow motor. The motor brushes were shot. Lucky for Jim, I just happened to have some brushes that were a perfect fit. Might as well replace the brushes and see if it will work. I gave it a try. With a flip of the control button the 5th bow swung up into perfect upright position, but the top wouldn’t move. What now!?!? Back to the ECM and check the stop switches and motor voltages to the top. This time the alligator is in the ECM. Inside the ECM I found the circuit board lead to the top motors was burnt in two. Ok, fix the circuit board and try again. The top moved smoothly through its folding process. As the top closes the 5th bow actuator has to rotate in the opposite direction, so it will sit flush inside the convertible top storage compartment. As the bow moved to its next position the whole thing quit again. Oh come on… enough already… more alligators?!?! Yes, more alligators. Another trip back to the ECM, this time I found the stop switch for this position wasn’t working. Somebody had bent the micro switches so far out of whack there was no way most of them were ever going to work. By now I’ve called Jim at least a dozen times to keep him informed of what I was up against… his only answer, “Keep draining the swamp” Ok, Ok, I got it… I’ll put my waders on and crawl upside down and sideways to get this thing working… but…man these alligators… they’re everywhere. If you counted the different movements from completely up to fully down there are 12 separate electrical/mechanical operations the top has to go through, AND they all have to work in the correct sequence. One micro switch out of position and something else begins to move at the wrong time. I thought I was done with my alligator counting by the time I had the last micro switch in place, but the first time I got the top to fold up and drop into the storage area, it would stop about an inch or so from completely going down. Seriously? More gators on the prowl? What did I miss this time? I went thru all the electrical and mechanical diagrams again… Nothing, every step was correct, but there had to be something missing. Then I found the answer on one page. One short reference to some elastic straps that connect the 2nd bow to the 3rd bow. These straps spring the 2nd bow towards the rear of the car to allow for clearance, so the canvas and all the linkage arms can drop that last inch or so into the storage compartment. I did some more searching and found the part number 97150-CE01B “strap, elastic, convertible top”. I called the dealer and gave them the number… “Yea, it’s a good number, but we’ve never sold any.” I’m shocked. From what I found out lots of these convertible tops had the same problem. I figured they would have changed hundreds of these. It looks like it’s a common alligator in this part of the swamp; seems to me every top should probably have these replaced with the new part number, (know somebody with one?… give them that part number). “Well, get me a set of them.” Once the parts came to the shop, installing them was a piece of cake compared to everything else I had to do. At least now I could see the bottom of this swamp. No more alligators, no more swamp to drain… I’m done. I found 20 different problems in the top mechanisms and electrical components. That’s a total of 20 alligators that were lurking in this swamp. What a job! It took a lot of effort to solve all the problems that I found. It didn’t matter much to Jim how many things needed taken care of, the smile on his face as the 350z top worked like new made all that gator wrestling worthwhile. I almost gave up on it several times, but Jim insisted that I keep at it… I’m glad I did. So the next time I take on one of these gator infested jobs, I know exactly what I’m going to do. Ignore the difficulties, and do just like the old farmer told his hired hand to do. “Drain the swamp, and don’t pay no mind to all those alligators”. View full article
  22. 3 points
    So true, I use to put money away now i pay bills, The industry has not kept up with cost of living, price of tools, education both with the techs and the public. It has become an art but also a dying art at the same time. Not only do they not want to get their hands dirty , they don't want a career that continues to cost them money over the duration of it. It seems that the tool companies have kept up with the times tools keep getting more and more expensive. They understand that we need the tools to get the job done, supply and demand = pricing . So over time our industry may get to the point that it is a well paying career once enough techs get fed up and leave it and we don't have the young ones joining, but how long will that be? Probably not in my career or at the very end . Time will Tell .
  23. 3 points
    Same story here. Quality hires are not available. Too many techs have left the industry and went to other jobs where they can make more money. Young people are not interested in jobs that get their hands dirty.
  24. 3 points
    All depending on the size of your business, the quality and integrity of your employees. I am not new in the automotive industry, I have seen many many many techs. Unfortunately many don't care as much about the customer nor the business as they do about their pay check. So if the shop starts to get an influx of customers and is already running at a good high rate , there is going to be more pressure put on the staff to get these cars in and "repaired" to keep the new customers happy. In return that WILL put more pressure on your staff. Also if your staff is more worried about what is going in their pockets vs taking care of the customer and building a long relationship your quality of work and reputation can be effected. I Did not say that is the case in every shop, I was just giving my 2 cents when someone asked for help 😜
  25. 3 points
    We are praying for our brothers and sisters down in TX. We have sent supplies to Austin, and hoping we can help in whatever way we can.
  26. 3 points
    I don't know if that is the best strategy. I think way too much emphasis is put on car count.. Some of our best weeks have been with lower car counts.. I think more needs to be focused on quality of work and charging fair and appropriate fees for the service provided.. In turn results in a proper higher RO amount . Cars now a days are too sophisticated and need someone who really knows what they are doing to diagnose, repair , and confirm that repair. So a quick in and out or building the car count may produce a less favorable repair ie. more comebacks, and even throwing parts at cars to get the next one in . Resulting in a larger income for a short time , but maybe a lower income for the long run. This may work for say a quick lube or tire place, but for a full service shop may actually hurt the reputation and the business in the long run.. That being said it is your business. Do what you think will work that is just my 2 cents.
  27. 3 points
    yes the bugs, mice and rats ewwww... the biggest thing I came across was a full grown buck stuck under the front end of a little old ladies car.. She pulled up to the station in an old crown vic with a huge buck stuck under the front of the car . leaving a nasty skid trail of fur etc as she came in . She calmly walked up to me and asked if I could remove the deer from under her car she had been dragging it around for the last two days (over the weekend) .. How could I say no to a little old lady, so I grabbed some rubber gloves and went over to take a better look. I took a quick look and decided the best way was to just back up and see what happens. I got the keys from her threw it in reverse and slowly started backing up since I wanted to drag it as far from my bay as possible. As I started to back up she started clapping and cheering as I backed a few more feet i could see the deer laying right outside my bay door. I got out of the car she came up to me and said " If I knew all I had to do was back up I would of done that two days ago" so this little old lady seems to only drive forward. WOW . I ended up calling the county to come and pick the deer up they said it would be several hours and it needed to be dragged to the edge of the road so I guess I didn't put the rubber gloves on for nothing, Luckily I think it had lost a lot of its weight being dragged around for two days LOL.
  28. 3 points
    This is not new topic for me, but I need to revisit it again. And I will keep revisiting this topic for the sake of our industry. For independent repair shops to "thrive" today, you must take a proactive approach with regard to business. If you only want to "survive" you can stop reading now. Waiting for the phone to ring, or for cars to breakdown, or for a customer to drive into your shop asking for a repair or service is business suicide. The days of broken cars lining up in front of your bays are over. Sure, cars still breakdown, but you cannot thrive with a wait-and-see strategy. Make sure you perform multipoint inspections on all cars in for any type of service. Yes, any type of service or repair. Look up vehicle history on all vehicles. Let the customer know of needed services, missed services and services due. And lastly, book the next appointment. Yes, I know....Joe's been preaching this over and over and it does not work in your shop. Fine, then let me focus on those shops that do book the next appointment. Because those are the shops that are adopting a proactive approach...and I will see those shops in the future.
  29. 3 points
    Along with doing an inspection on every vehicle, the customer needs to be primed for it at drop off. I train my guys to use the line "while your car is in the shop, I'll have my guys look it over to make sure everything is ok for you." Without fail, the customer says "Great. Thanks!" It's important to use that line pretty much verbatim. We don't talk about courtesy inspections etc. It's all about making sure the car is ok for them. In a round about way, we have permission from the customer to inspect the vehicle, and sell them the needed repairs, while not making them feel like you're simply going for the upsell. Considering the age and mileage of the average vehicle we see, every single customer knows there's something wrong with their vehicle, and isn't surprised when we tell them there are things that need to be fixed. If they're primed to hear about it, the odds of getting the job are much higher.
  30. 3 points
    get the chains and such for insurance purposes but you don't have to use them. In regards to customers being customers, you just have to politely discourage that behavior. Train the technicians to answer questions with, "Hello sir, you are looking for the front reception area" and point to the door. They arent there to answer questions, thats what your writers are for. When someone walks into the shop, "I'm sorry sir, due to insurance restrictions all clients can't be in the work area" point or show them to the office. Yes its nice to have techs walk all the customer to the office but at least train them to SMILE, be polite and point. Please and thank you go a long way.
  31. 3 points
    Explaining is the only way that customers will ever understand. If you just eat it then they'll never understand. Your strategy is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Watch: YOUR SHOP 1) don't tell customers why you charge for shop supplies 2) customers don't understand what's in shop supplies 3) customers complain because they don't understand 4) you can't charge for shop supplies because they complain MY SHOP 1) we tell customers why we charge for shop supplies 2) customers understand what's in shop supplies and why we can't break it down into line items 3) customers don't complain because they know we billed them fairly 4) nobody complains about shop supplies (I've never had a single person complain about it) so we can charge for them Every shop owner is free to make their own decisions, but in my experience people are willing to pay for the things that are required to do the job as long as they know what they are paying for. Any shop owner that isn't charging for shop supplies is leaving money on the table that customers are willing to pay for. I'm up 30% this year in sales and July alone was up 58% in sales over last year! I'm not losing customers due to charging for shop supplies. I'm not losing them because my shop rate went up 2%, I'm gaining them because they feel comfortable with us because we show and tell everything that we can so there are no mysteries. They know they are getting what they pay for and that there is no fluff in the invoice. It's all legitimate charges for what it takes to do the job in a professional manner. And just an FYI I'm not a tech and I've never been a tech. I'm just a business person in this industry trying to make a profitable business that people can trust. It seems to be working.
  32. 2 points
    I Just Don’t Get It Help me out here. There’s something I just don’t get. How in the world do people leave their pride and joy, the family truckster, the old jalopy, or whatever they want to call it at a repair shop for an extended amount of time? Every day while driving to work I’ll pass numerous little shops, and a few big shops that seem to have the same cars sitting in front of their bays. They move them around a bit, you know, kind of like shuffling chess pieces or something, but they never seem to leave. What’s going on? Then, every once in a while I’ll get someone that comes into my shop with this same old story, “I had my car over at this other shop for the past month and they still haven’t found out what’s wrong with it. So, I got tired of waiting and had it dragged over to you.” Usually after they’ve finally decided that leaving their car at one of these phantom repair places wasn’t a good idea. Sound familiar? Well, if you’re a shop owner you’ve heard it before. What’s surprising is that it happens a lot more than most people realize, and what really surprises me is how somebody could be without their car for such a long time, then finally decide to pull it to another shop. I mean seriously, what did you buy the car for? Was your goal just to make the payments while it sat in front of this obscure repair shop rusting away? I just don’t get it. How’s this possible? I mean, does this shop have some sort of charismatic charm that convinces someone to leave their car there for months on end without ever getting it repaired? Or is it one of those, “I’m in no hurry. Take your time with it.” stories? For me, it seems every time somebody tells me they’re not in a hurry is when they call back in an hour or show up the next day wanting to know what I’ve found wrong. I’ve never dealt with anyone who has just left their car for me to casually work on it whenever I feel like working on it. Oh, they’ll tell me to take my time but, they really don’t mean it. I have the time. I’m in the business of repairing cars. I’ll make the time or I’ll hire more help, whichever or whatever way it takes to keep the customer happy. At my shop, the norm is that everyone is in a hurry and can’t wait even a few hours for me to get to their repairs, which seems to be the complete opposite at these main street rest stops that call themselves “repair shops”. Now, if all these shops are doing is providing a free space for an extended stay at the “Shady Rust Hotel”, well, that’s not what I’d call a really smart business decision. Maybe keeping the parking lot full is just their way of showing off how many cars they have to work on, or should I say… trying to work on? I’ve often wondered about the true status of those cars at these repair shops. I’m pretty convinced that it’s not because these stationary cars all have some sort of exotic part that has to be shipped in by a row boat from some far off island country. I really think the reason these cars are spending their day taking up valuable space in front of these shops is because the mechanics at these shops don’t have a clue how to fix them. Let’s face it, if they’re in the business to repair problems on customer’s cars (just like I am) then by all rights fix it! Make room for the next one! As one good ol’ boy mechanic from one of these “We’re always busy” shops stated to me the other day, “Well, I just keep trying different parts until I get’r runnin’. If’n I run out of idears I let er’ sit until I think of somethin’ else ta do. I’m only bringin’ ya this here car cause the owner was getting a bit riled up over it takin’ so long.” Seems like a poor way of diagnosing problems and even poorer way of taking care of their customers if you ask me. But, we should also look at it from the other side of the coin, the customer side that is. They’re just as much to blame for all this waiting around for a repair that probably ain’t going to happen. Obviously it’s not time that worries them, so it must be the cost factor they’re concerned about. Talking with one customer who had their car at another shop for so long that cobwebs had spread across the motor told me, “Well, he’s good and cheap. That’s why I left it there for him to give it a try.” I can believe the cheap part, but good... I don’t think so. When are they going to wise up about it all? That is, the shop that doesn’t have the skills to repair the car properly and uses whatever charm or magic they have over the customer to leave the car at their shop for so long. Along with the car owners who simply pinch pennies on their car repairs and aren’t concerned with quality. But, they’re willing to put their own kids in their family truckster that was repaired by somebody with questionable knowledge and skills. This car repair stuff isn’t some kind of kid’s game or something that should be left to chance. It’s a highly skilled trade with highly skilled individuals who dedicate their life to performing intricate diagnostics and repairs to their customer’s cars with sophisticated equipment and continual education on the latest systems being developed. Of course, I’m leaving out those parking lots that claim to be repair shops. For something that has evolved into a computerized and mechanical machine that is rarely understood by the average owner, and something that nearly every person owns, has been left to the whims of an unregulated and unlicensed repair industry. It just completely boggles my mechanical mind. It’s a wonder anything ever gets accomplished, or that good mechanics stay in the business and further their education to do even higher quality work than before. I mean seriously, you’ve got to have a license to sling plumbing pipe or cut hair, but hardly any kind of quality check for the person doing the repairs on your family jalopy that zooms down the road at 75mph. I just don’t get it. View full article
  33. 2 points
    From what I see and have heard finding the right people is becoming harder and harder.. Why is this? Is there a true shortage of good people, is there an over saturation of shops, are there programs out there creating "lazy mechanics ie parts throwers" ? Is it just decades of schooling pushing people to go to college and become a doctor, dentist, lawyer, or accountant and not enough put on the trade industry? Is it the cost of tools and schooling that does not appeal to the younger generation? It seems building that family for a successful business is getting as hard as diagnosing today's cars..
  34. 2 points
    My initial thought is this guy is not a keeper. He will cost lost business and reputation.
  35. 2 points
    When I entered this industry I began working at my fathers shop seven days a week. I was young (18) really loved the work. At 25 my father decided to close Sundays. I worked Saturdays until I became 56 years old. I am amazed at all of the fun things there are to do on Saturdays. Two consecutive days off are wonderful. The workers today do not want to work Saturdays. I really can’t blame them. There are so many reasons I hated Saturdays I can’t get into them now. I have three master techs that are compensated better than they could get anywhere else and I know they would walk if I wanted them to work Saturdays. As it is they do 1.25 million in sales without my involvement. They can have Saturday off. And four day weekends whenever possible.
  36. 2 points
    First, The basics Let’s talk diagnostics. Do you follow any kind of diagnostic procedure, or do you just throw darts on a wall, or play “pick-a-part” and hope you fix it before you or the customer runs out of cash. I hope you don’t do that. That might work some of the time, but it’s not a good way to get to the source of problems quickly or accurately. One of the tire shops that I do business with dropped off a 2003 F450 with a 7.3 diesel for me to look at. It’s one of their service trucks that died on the highway. These guys are super, I’ve known them for years, and they’ve got a great reputation and excellent work force. In fact, I buy all my tires there, and they do all my alignments. They try to fix their own trucks “in-house” and sometimes, well……the repair/diagnostics are a little out of their comfort zone. This was one of those times. Now, they don’t try to keep up with the scanning or diagnostics on most cars and trucks. It’s a tire shop that specializes in tires. They stick to what they do best, tires, wheels, and undercarriage stuff. The only “techy” stuff they get into is with the TPM systems. Most generally, when it comes to their vehicles they’ll go with the tried and true…”throw a dart and whatever it hits we’ll change.” Of course they’ll ask around first, but you know, second hand information hardly ever gets the job done these days. They had it at one of their stores in another town for about 3 weeks trying to solve the problem. When that didn’t work they decided to tow it up to another one of their stores, and see if the guys there had a better dart. Another couple of weeks and several darts later, all they had were holes in the wall and no truck running. Then my phone rang. “Can you program a PCM on a F450?” the shop asked. “No, sorry I don’t do those, but I know who does. I’ll call him and see if he can come over and do that for you,” I told them. A day or two went by and the phone rang again. “Hey, this thing still doesn’t start. The guy that programmed it said it sounded like an electrical problem”. Ok, somehow, I’m getting involved now. “Sure, bring it over,” I told them. Well, they towed it over with a strap pulled by an F250 diesel truck. The F250 looked like a toy truck compared to this behemoth. With a push and a shove from the F250 the guys got it lined up and into one of my service bays. The big concern was the IDM relay, it kept chattering like a machine gun. Instead of checking codes I thought it best just to start with a complete wire to wire check to determine if there was some lost signal that was causing the problem, or a wire that was scraped and grounding out. Removing the inner fender on the driver side I could gain access to the Injector module (IDM) and the PCM (Power control module). Seemed easier to start here than any place else. It didn’t take long before I tracked down a problem. On pin #71 of the (new) PCM there should have been 12 volts from the ignition. No voltage at the terminal. Tracing the wiring diagram thru its maze it led back to the in-car fuse box on fuse #22. I grabbed my test light and checked the fuse… (Rolling my eyes about now) the fuse,… oh man… the fuse is blown. Good grief… all this for a blown fuse. Well, I better change the fuse, and see if it starts. Sure enough; it fired right up… sounded great, good throttle response, and no service lights. Now the big challenge, what blew the fuse in the first place? Following the wiring diagram again…. I traced out all the components on the fuse circuit. There was one that caught my eye as the likely culprit. The brake cut-off switch mounted on the master cylinder. (It’s the one that had the big recall a few years ago.) The updated replacement piece was in place but somebody forgot to secure the wires. The replacement piece has a newer style connector and an adapter connector to allow you to attach it to the original style fastener. Which makes it a little longer than it originally was from the factory. It was hard to tell where the new wire and connector started, and the old one ended, because the whole thing was lying on the exhaust manifold, and had melted down to a glob of wire and plastic. Looking around under the hood there were all kinds of new parts installed. The nicest part……they were all installed correctly. There were no other wires out of place, or any signs of scraps or melted wiring. The important thing is that it runs, and the truck can go back to doing what it needs to do. I think the biggest thing that threw everyone on this job was the chattering relay. It sounded bad, sounded expensive… but, all it turned out to be was a loss of proper voltage to the PCM, because a fuse blew from a lead that grounded out. This was due to the improper installation of one small component. The PCM couldn’t spread enough voltage and ground signals to all the necessary systems when it was missing the voltage it needed. As the relay would engage, the voltage drop was too much to keep the relay engaged. The IDM would pull more signal voltage as the relay would come to life. Then the PCM would have to drop the ground signal to the IDM relay to compensate for the loss of voltage. All this was going on very rapidly … on and off, on and off… making the machine gun sound coming from the IDM relay. The guys at the tire store were extremely grateful that I got the job done, so they could use the truck again. For me, it’s another day at the shop. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the guys at the tire shop. Hey they tried, I’ll give them that. But one thing I wish they would do next time --- CHECK THE BASICS—BEFORE BUYING PARTS! It’s cheaper that way… View full article
  37. 2 points
    How many fuel pumps were condemned due to empty fuel tanks? Back to basics.
  38. 2 points
    I really enjoyed reading your post, you echo many of my own sentiments. Regarding marketing, I agree with you that is an effort in frustration. I have taken the long hard road and have learned many things, some that have worked really well and others that have failed miserably. Regarding this forum, like you, I came here looking for others with similar like experience and to see if we could share experiences and ideas, suddenly it became obvious to me that none of us with a lot of experience and financial success could share anything substantive without putting our interests in jeopardy, that's why I think you will not find anything deeper than a casual or superficial treatment of any topic by the most senior people. That's why a 20 group may be a better fit for someone that is looking for a deeper perspective on the subjects than the forum. Going back to the marketing topic, logically we think that marketing should increase car count. But would you believe that I spent $20,000 on a EDDM campaign that did not produce a single lead? I can't tell you why it failed, except the suspicion that the postal service never delivered my pieces. I have no proof, but that is my suspicion simply because I had 5,000 pieces re-printed and had them delivered by my own team over a weekend, with the results being a 2.6% response rate(over 130 leads on 5K flyers). On the other end of the spectrum, I have run campaigns that have had response rates closer to 30%! These have been customers that have been profiled and their pieces and offers carefully crafted and targeted for their particular vehicles. It is very important for you to know your customers financial profile in order to get the best return on your marketing dollar, there is no point in making offers to customers that cannot afford your services no matter how much they like you and are willing to use you except that they cannot afford to use your services. As for the consultants here looking for gigs, well, my opinion is that if you know that you need help then hire someone that can provide the help you need, and here is a logical place to find people that may be struggling with their shop. So what a better place to find a consultant than here? For if they are lousy and don't know what they are doing, their reputation would soon come to light.
  39. 2 points
    Great feature. Don't know if it will be utilized but it is a great idea.
  40. 2 points
    In addition to Stevens points I would add.... Inspect every vehicle, the more consistent you can be the better. Identify all needs. Estimate all needs, present all needs to customer in order of importance, along with estimates to correct. Watch average ticket grow. To improve results add in Stevens points: Dont market to bottom feeders. Market to value. Treat people well, serve them and consistently deliver. Hire the best you can find and help them be as efficient as possible. Also, get sales training. While you need (IMO) to be genuine knowing the tools and how to use them will assist in closing some of the more difficult sales and close more of the easy ones.
  41. 2 points
    This article is really based on the lack of preparedness of the students leaving the college program at the college I'm teaching at. Their theory is that they'll learn that on the job. My thinking is....learn it now, get good at it later. Gonzo, I think we touched on this in one of the chats.. I Graduated from LTI at the end of 1990 , it seems as if the schooling is the same then it was now as far as what they teach. Of course back then it was okay since the "electrical age" was just getting started. Now we are deep in the "electrical age" and it seems to me to be where the majority of the focus needs to be period! Is it lack of good teachers, good equipment, being lazy or a monetary thing as far as the school is concerned ? Are people really scared of change?? if we don't communicate the right message to the consumer, how in the world can they comprehend the costs associated with repairing and servicing their hi-tech vehicles? Joe, I can't count how many times I say this every single day at work. Of course saying something is one thing implementing it is another, but when you tell a customer this, they seem to roll their eyes and sometimes just walk off "trying to rip me off, a diagnostic charge" I just let those guys go , I feel sorry for them because the will probable end up at some hack shop who ends up charging them more than I would on a total bill since they will probably have several parts and possible many trips back to that shop before the problem is solved. That being said how do you get the customer aware of these things? I think it may have to come from someone rather than the tech or the shop, but who???? ps I don't know what happened to the quote thing, I had to copy and paste that is why I attached the names to the end of the quote
  42. 2 points
    Thanks, been doing this 30 years now. Started out as a 2200 sq ft 5 bay shop and moved into the rest of the building 16 years ago. While there are many successful shops represented here I would say for large shops Anderson and I are similar (we've gotten to similar sizes and numbers <mine are better haha>) but got there on completely different roads when it comes to marketing. Anderson has become very successful going the route of the oil change special but his route is offering incredible value (really cheap synthetic oil change and inspection) which will cause some of the real deadbeats to seek service elsewhere (think $12.95 lofs). You can read about his success in many forums here. Me....I was a little more idealistic in my approach. I don't have a menu price for anything. People do not come to me for price and I don't want them to. While we don't charge much (about $35) for a basic oil change we do not advertise price or specials anywhere anytime I dont care how slow it might be. The times I have done it many years ago I regretted every time. People find me because they are tired of being sold something they don't need, incompetence, or just plain poor service. So, we offer value through our service without the special. Different routes. While there were many times in the early years I was fearful because business was slow, I've never managed the business from fear of being broke. I have always taken the route of doing things (IMO) the right way and the money will follow. It have worked out well for me. As a businessman (who is getting older, wiser and less idealistic) I can see the route Anderson has taken could be appealing to gain quicker car count (ouch). Now, all that being said. You need to figure out what sets you apart from all this new (and old)competition. I will bet every time that service, expertise and convenience will win, and price is not part of the picture. Probably some of the best advice I can give from my experience is let the top 20% of you customers dictate who you are and what you do. Focus on that and not what the bottom 20% of your customer base tells you. We have a tendency to focus on the pain and try to minimize it but in reality you cant fix miserable people with miserable cars and wallets. You can increase the pleasure of great customers which will keep work fun.
  43. 2 points
    Gonzo all I can say is now that you have hung up the wrenches a technician among technicians was lost. WOW! What a difficult swamp that very few could have ever drained.
  44. 2 points
    Old story, busy week. Ran out of time to complete a new story. But, this one came to mind after working with the students at the college. They seem to spend a lot of time telling me what they think is a problem or something they've done in the past that's wrong with the cars instead of fixing what they're supposed to do. (The college cars are never going to see the road again these cars have been torn apart so many times they should have been held together with velcro instead of screws LOL). I tell them all the time, "Don't count the alligators...just drain the swamp."
  45. 2 points
    One thing I have noticed is work expectations, you get the young one's out of UTI or LTI they come get a job and think they should be getting top pay like the guy that is fully certified and has many many years of experience under his or her belt.. They don't seem to understand that what they learned is the basis for getting their foot in the door. Once they see how much more there is to learn and how little they make compared to the seasoned ones they get discouraged. I have seen many guys come through the shop and quit after a very short time because of pay that the thought they would make.. I always tell them it is like building a house on a concrete slab.. what you learned in school, was that concrete slab being laid with the roughed in plumbing. NOW you have to build that house on that slab. Sure you sell that slab by it's self you can get some money for it but if you sell the completed house you will get a lot more. I also don't think there is a good focus on the cars of today in school ( I could be wrong) . Not enough knowledge is given on diagnostics (electrical) things, which we all know is what our cars are now a days .. a bunch of rolling modules all communicating with one another to make things work. Just as cars now a days talk along two lines of communication take it all in, filter what they need and discard the rest as junk, unfortunately that is also what it has come to as far as hiring mechanics (techs)
  46. 2 points
    Your correct sir. We're in a steady growth pattern and we're up around $40,000 as opposed to this time last year. Each year has been seeing growth. What frustrates me the most is we've been offering good money! But a lot of the candidates want a guarantee of $xxx.xx - I've learned a lesson with this, I can't guarantee anything if they aren't productive! They still receive a living wage but demanding a guarantee of $900+ a week, and they can't generate that in revenue, I can't afford to do that! Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
  47. 2 points
    So the next question is, what are you going to do besides "visibility" to drive the extra traffic to your shop? Remember, your expenses are not just the rent. Utilities and insurance are going to go up, and not just a little. I'd figure on doubling your current utility bills. Maybe more since the new space will be air conditioned in the summer. Then if you're going to do the necessary marketing, it's expensive. On and on it goes. It won't be cheap. It could be made to be worth it, but it won't be cheap, quick, or easy. I'm going to guess that you're still the lead tech in your shop, plus you do the bulk of the advising. When you move the service counter to the front, you'll be removing yourself from being a tech, or you'll be hiring an advisor. What's your plan for replacing yourself in the shop? How much will an advisor increase your expenses? If you don't increase your sales right away, can you afford adding 50-60K to the expense side of the ledger and still take a paycheck home? Trust me, I'm not risk averse. I've been there and done that. The president of my old bank told I'm crazy for even thinking about it, so I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying to go into it with your eyes wide open and know that it's going to kick your ass for a while.
  48. 2 points
    My experience in the past two years I went from $85 - $95 then $95 - $105 my car count has increased. Industry standard is around 2 hrs per RO I think. So if you raise your rate $10 per hr the increase average is about $20. If a customer doesn’t come back over $20 either you don’t want that customer or you haven’t built enough value into your repairs or service.
  49. 2 points
    Hide supplies charges by incorporating it into some other charges? Hell let's just hide everything. Supplies? Hide it. Parts? Hide it. Labor? Hide it. Sales tax? Hide it. Lets just have one big fat total at the bottom of the invoice. No itemization whatsoever. Yeh, that will go over big. I read a lot of repair shop reviews and although I've seen reviews that say so and so shop has too high a labor rate or is marking their parts up too much, I've never seen a review that mentions supply charges at all. We charge 5% of labor capped at $40.
  50. 2 points
    In my comparison TABS & Winworks were the best value for my shop. My shop is small- 5 lifts, 4 empty bays, and a small yard (about 30-35 cars). TABS was easier to use but couldn't fix my duplicate ordering problem. Winworks is always pleasant and quick to take care of us. And $50 / month for updates & tech support is as reasonable as it gets. Many people thrive on new technology, but I'd rather be sitting in my bass boat than stuck in front of a PC learning new programs & updates. This business dominated my time for years. Never again. Missed too many ball games & school stuff with my kids. Now I do everything my way and on my schedule. Now it's time to take my "grand kids" to the lake.......