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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
    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.
  4. 5 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 4 points
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. 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 😂
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. 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 .
  16. 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.
  17. 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 😜
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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)


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