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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
    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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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 .
  10. 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.
  11. 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 😜
  12. 3 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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
  22. 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.
  23. 2 points
    A real problem would have been to estimate it. As it was, ..... More time was in it than what was billed. I've seen jobs, repairs, and cars that were given up on because an estimate wasn't possible. If the customer is understanding, like this one it can be done. If they are not, well.... It ain't going to happen. I still made a buck on the job, but it should've paid more, maybe not for hours but for the difficulty and not so much for the actual hours.
  24. 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.
  25. 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."
  26. 2 points
    I would love to make that... sign me up 😜
  27. 2 points
    This is where our industry is so screwed up! FLAT RATE!!! All the industry guru's who want to put techs on flat rate because they cant teach and we cant learn how to properly motivate our technicians. Asking for a guarantee of 46k per year to show up is not out of line (for a journeyman) and if you cant afford to guarantee a quality tech that you need more help than a tech can give you. Offering $30-$40 a hour flat rate is great. IF you have the work, IF a tech gets truly paid for all they do..they will make a great living. I don't know of many who would turn down an actual dollar rate per hour and still give you an honest days effort if properly motivated. Everyone talks about how they offer good money. What isn't really discussed is how many techs are underpaid because their owner/advisor does not charge properly, gives stuff away or just plain expects someone to work for free. Discussions on this board about we pay our techs .2 for an oil change.....there is not a single person here who could pull a car in, give it a decent visual inspection, set air pressure in tires, adjust fluids, change oil and filter and back the car out in 12 minutes. Ain't happening and should not be an expectation. However there are techs getting .2 flat rate to do this with the caveat that what they find they will get to do if sold. OH YEAH...and car count. It should not be a techs concern if you can provide enough quality car count. Somewhere somehow as owners we've been taught if we're not getting paid they shouldn't either......that's a bunch of BS. IMO. We need to learn how to properly charge for our services, charge for all of our services and pay our people better than living wages based on the skills they have. There should be no journeyman plumber who makes more than their tech counterpart. (i'm not picking on plumbers).
  28. 2 points
  29. 2 points
    Your right on! I've got to give real props to Rosedale tech and Paul Danner and people like Richard McCuistian at a high school. I'm sure there's other schools doing it but these guys are teaching diagnostics in a broad way! Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
  30. 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)
  31. 2 points
    Great perspective! No app can replace good-old fashion mechanical know-how (I hope anyway) The other day I opened my tool box to look for something, and one of the younger techs said to the other techs, "Hey, look at Joe, it's like going through a museum." Well, I didn't need Google or an app to do my job years ago.
  32. 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
  33. 2 points
  34. 2 points
    There’s an App for that Technology has a way of surprising us all by surpassing itself over and over again. One day you’re dialing a rotary phone wired to a land line, and the next we’re communicating between micro wave towers and satellites. We now have the capability to talk to anyone anywhere on the planet with a small hand held device just as long as you’ve got a signal. But, talking isn’t enough for our modern world. We want the ability to connect with everyone and every sort of business or hobby we can think of through our magic little smart phone for any reason and at any time we’d like. It could be for local or world news, maybe to keep in touch with friends across the country, or how to do something you’ve never done before. Book a hotel room, find a new job, check the weather, the possibilities are endless. The technology in our hands is by far more technically advanced than what was used for the Apollo space missions. Think about it, we sent men to the moon with less technology than what you have in your pocket right now. Looking at it in those terms makes me realize the depth and scope of this new technology, it’s truly amazing. If it wasn’t for museums hardly anyone born lately would have any idea how life was before transistors. Something else to consider is that anyone born a decade ago has never known a world without a smart phone. People born just a few decades earlier have never known a world without the internet. Another decade more and those people have no concept as to how the world made it from day to day without a home computer. Going even further back before the home computer, a computer to those folks was this huge machine inside a climate controlled building with these big reals of magnetic tape spinning randomly around or large stacks of punch cards that zipped through a machine at lightning speeds. Going back to the 30’s and 40’s, a small screen 2 way conversation wrist watches was only in the newspaper comic strips and something that might resemble a computer was only found on a sci-fi movie down at the Bijou. Now, we not only communicate, but we can source information about anything you can think of right at our finger tips. Need to know the yardage at the golf course, there’s an app. Want to know the ingredients of a chocolate cake, yep, there’s an app for it. Can’t figure out how to fix your car, you got it… there’s an app for that too. Wait a minute… Did I say fix your car with an app? I thought car repair was some sort of highly skilled trade that took years to learn the proper techniques and even longer to be proficient at it? That’s right, the very same. Anyone with a smart phone can be an expert in any field they would like to be an expert in, and it doesn’t take much to make a “You Tube” video on any subject, especially on how to fix your car, and with a little extra effort you too can make an App on car repair as well. Some are developed, produced, and edited to a high standard and at a professional level. Others, well I’m not sure any thought was put into the content, background, or the poor grammar they used. Years before the internet a mechanic learned their trade by being in the trade, now we’ve got what are commonly referred to as “You Tube Mechanics”. These are the guys who couldn’t repair much of anything without consulting a You Tube video or going to their favorite App and more than likely never considered going to a trade school or opening a repair manual to find reliable information. Even though the general rule of thumb in the business these days is not to follow a traditional apprentice program but to learn as you go doesn’t mean you won’t learn something from today’s method of watching videos or viewing Apps, it’s just how much knowledge is lost or passed up by not following in the footsteps of our seasoned master mechanics and learning the trade from their well callused hands. I’ve got to admit, there are a lot of great Apps out there for the mechanic to have on their smart phone. For example, OEM1stop or NATSF where all the manufacturers’ websites are listed. You can find an App for calculating the cylinder volume on an air cooled Volkswagen, or the alignment specifications for just about every car out there, to what type of headlamp fits a certain car. It’s endless. Whatever information you need, chances are there’s an app or some sort of site for it. But, with all this helpful wisdom an App can’t fix the car for you. You still need somebody to get in there and make the repairs accurately. It used to be (years ago) a car would come into the shop that a friend of a friend spent the weekend under the hood trying to solve their friends car woes. Then, along came the internet and the smart phone which brought a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. But, in the end, the car still has to limp into a repair shop for a mechanic to get it back on the road. Take this typical internet repair that happens on any typical day at any typical repair shop in any typical town in the country. The car comes in on the hook and before it’s even on the ground the mechanic notices parts dangling out from the bottom of the car. The repair order only states that it stopped on the customer while driving and that he had attempted to look at the problem himself. Upon further investigation the dangling parts and the condition of the motor showed signs of someone trying to remove the timing belt. The plastic cover had a crack from the top to the bottom and it just so happens to be one of those covers that secured various hoses and wires away from moving parts. It was clear that somebody had tried to take it apart without knowing all that needs to be known on how to remove it. A few words were mumbled by the mechanic that we don’t need to repeat and a call was made to the owner. (On a smart phone of course) The conversation started and ended with how he watched a video and downloaded an App that showed the timing marks. The App had some great information on it, but the video lacked the complete step by step procedures. The kind of steps that a seasoned mechanic would do without thinking about. You know, checking for hidden bolts, or how you should always give a light tug before reaching for the prybar and damaging something. Things like, cleaning the surfaces before starting so that you’re less likely to miss a bolt or fastener or have a tool slip on the greasy surfaces, to name a few. But, the app didn’t mention any of that. Now the customer isn’t here just for a timing belt, but a new timing belt cover, a harmonic balancer that was mauled into a useless pile of metal because he didn’t have the correct removal tool, and to replace all the missing special timing belt cover bolts the owner let fall into his gravel driveway never to be found again. Not to mention, nothing has yet been properly diagnosed. Maybe what the automotive field needs is an App that shows a consumer how to dial their smart phone and contact a professional mechanic before they attempt a DIY repair at home, in a gravel driveway, with off shore-poorly made tools, and no proper safety equipment. All the while, trying to balance their cell phone on the edge of the fender watching a You Tube video from a source with no credentials showing their expertise or experience. Yea, there ought-a be an App for that.
  35. 2 points
    We're in the central valley of CA, so more of a midwest economy than SoCal and the bay area. We have among the lowest home prices in CA. We are the highest, the shop across the street from us has a $90 labor rate, a couple of my friends who own shops are at $98. I just decided I need to charge what we're worth regardless of what anyone else did. In the last few years we went from $89 to $126.57, and we've grown 30+% per year for the last 4 yrs. I'm pretty convinced that labor rate is a state of mind. If we're going to attract the type of techs we'll need in the future, we better make it an attractive, relatively high paying job, and to do that we need to charge enough for what we do. I learned that nothing bad happens by raising the labor rate. We had a strategy, we kept initial test time lower so we don't have to discuss a higher rate, and we avoid quoting rate...way too many ways to nicely and credibly side step the issue...and if we must quote a rate we quote our average rate (effective rate). We also price frequent services, like oil changes, brake jobs, trans service, etc, at competitive prices...what we call comparables. And, we focus on the customer having a great experience. I know every one of you could raise your labor rate $10 tomorrow and nothing would happen.
  36. 2 points
    We are on the last month of Summer, the Air Conditioner work we expected never materialized. We picked up a phenomenal amount of work from the bankruptcy of a major Brooklyn dealership group. With all the extra work we were tempted to pull back on marketing but didn't.
  37. 2 points
    We already give $20 cash to the customer for the referral and $20 discount to the 1st time referred customer, and it works very well for us. We use the $20 bill certificate that looks like a $20 bill and has my picture on it. My graphics designer did it and it's very high quality. We currently get a lot of new customers regularly and the shop is growing consistently. If/when this drops off for us, I would definitely consider upping the program to $100 in service. To the comment above, we don't decrease our quality. Quality work and reputation is a totally different function than marketing to get new customers.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 2 points
    I used to struggle with this when I first started out. I found that technicians would generally ask for enough money to make sure they can pay all their bills as a "guarantee". The end result was lazy technicians. If I would guarantee a guy 30 hours plus whatever he produced above that, he would invariably produce 28-32 hours. Years ago I decided that all my techs would be flat rate with no floor. I also put my advisor on a straight commission plan with no floor. The result has been technicians who are almost always flagging over 40, and advisors who sell. My job is to give them all an opportunity to succeed. A side benefit to this is in the bookkeeping. My tech wages are calculated as a COGS as they have a direct correlation to billed labor. It makes life easy when you're looking at your labor profitability vs ELR etc. Having a disconnect between labor hours billed and technician wages muddies the waters a bit. And since I'm the laziest human being on the planet, I like easy. No matter what you do with your pay plan, one adage I always go back to is "There's no better manager than a properly structured pay plan". If your pay plan by default has your employees doing what you want them to do, life gets easy for everyone.
  41. 2 points
    $120 Chicago suburbs. I can see $130 by the end of the year. I think in the near future we will be going thru a major industry change. I think labor rate will go up substantially.....like 30%. There is a major tech shortage out there and the ones who will win will be able to compensate their people properly and that's going to take a lot more $$$ and a change in how we currently compensate techs. (flat rate) Of all the industry speak I hear all shops including so called good ones are having difficult times finding employees. Business has been really really good....but we can't keep up.
  42. 2 points
  43. 2 points
    For years we didn't charge and then I switched to charging a nominal amount. Finally, about three years ago we switched to charging 5% up to $35 maximum. What I found out was the biggest problem in charging shop supplies was me not my customers and that for years I had been giving away money.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.......
  46. 2 points
    I'm working on the waiting room right this minute, I cleaned it up immensely. Looks like a whole new place actually. Cleaning the shop is always a ongoing project, but something I'm also working on. I've already spoken to my website guy about shifting the focus of the website, that will take place in the next couple weeks. The google reviews I will make a point of to get, just need to figure out how to do it in a way that I feel comfortable. I understand the Yes man mentality, at the same time I have to say no more in my opinion. To keep jobs that I think are going to be unprofitable out of here.
  47. 2 points
    I don't see the more reliable cars as a problem. There's no denying that cars are more reliable and require fewer visits to the shop, but there's also no denying that there are more cars on the road per shop than ever before, leaving each of us with more cars available even if those cars come to us less often per mile driven. There's also no denying that people in most areas of the country put more miles on their car every year. This leads to more wear and tear on the car, and more needed repairs. You just have to go out and get them. My car count is up 11.75% on the year. This has been my trend for the last 5+ years. Probably more if I go back and look.
  48. 1 point
    Just had a car in here from a new customer. Complaint was grinding noise. We assume brakes and look the car over. He's got high mileage, two broken springs and blown struts, a bad RF wheel bearing. Manager asks me what to do. He's thinking we just lead with the wheel bearing. I tell him to let the customer know all that it needs because that's what we're here for and broken springs may result in other issues that if we don't tell him and something happens how is that not on us? I follow MAP standard of communication - a broken or failed part is a 'required' fix and other worn parts are a 'suggested' fix. On this case - the RF wheel bearing and two springs/struts are a required fix and the other two springs/struts are suggested since both broken springs were on the driver side. Customer declined all repairs. My Manager is upset we let the wheel bearing walk out the door. We didn't let him walk out the door unless we purposely omit the other issues on the car to simply get a $275 wheel bearing ticket. The customer applied for financing, was declined, and didn't do anything with us. My Manager thinks someone else will get the bearing work and we lost a sale. I like he's fighting for the business but if a customer has multiple things that need attention now and they pass with us because they can only afford one thing so be it. I can live with that rejection knowing I did what was right. Customer may go to another shop, ask for a bearing R&R, and that shop may take his money and then mention the things I hope they find. Any thoughts on how we could have done better? A little off topic but in the vein of inspecting cars and presenting findings...
  49. 1 point
    Bugs In The Rugs Ants, moths, bees, flies, wasps, spiders, scorpions, roaches, yellow jackets, fireflies, centipedes, silver fish, lady bugs, katydids, mosquitos, termites, fleas, mites, and fly larvae (maggots). No, that’s not a list of insects on the back of a can of insecticide. That’s just about every type of creepy, crawly nasty little bug I have encountered in a car at one time or another. It’s enough to make your skin crawl. Sometimes it’s not so much what you run into, but where. For instance, I was working on a little foreign car, checking out a faulty turn signal. I diagnosed a bad lead on the front turn signal socket, and had already pulled the lens off and supplied a ground to the bulb, so I knew what I needed to do. Just sling under the car and reattach the ground lead that was hanging there. The car was low to the ground, but I managed to wedge myself under there just enough to make the repair. As I managed to turn my head to see the turn signal housing, there… just a ¼” from my nose was a large nest of red wasps. They were all darting around working on their nest totally oblivious to me. I didn’t stick around long enough to introduce myself. Something I’ve learned after being at this for a few years: If you get one of those carpet cleaning trucks in the shop for repair, make sure you have plenty of roach spray handy. It’s not uncommon to pop the lid off of the fuse box to find hundreds of those nasty little critters trying to find a new hiding place. I’ve even seen a few behind the lens of the instrument cluster just minding their own business as they walked over the gauge needles. They tend to eat wires, leave their acidic droppings on circuit boards, and their dead relatives laying in the vents. Nothings worse than getting “bug sprayed”… with bugs when you turn on the blower motor. Now when you’re trying to find an odor, or some reeking smell that has literally chased the owners out of their car, don’t be surprised if you’ll eventually find a dead mouse or some other strange varmint carcass in the duct work, trunk, or under the carpet. The worst is when the flies have found it and started laying eggs on it. For the investigative type mechanic, the fly larvae is a good way to determine how long whatever it was has been decomposing in the customer’s car. You see, a fly can lay more than 100 eggs on a warm moist body and in 8 to 24 hours the larvae will begin to hatch. Those wormy, wriggly, crawly little ugly, nasty things stick around for about 5 days and then start to pupate into an adult fly. A capital “G” for gross. Knowing all of that will allow you to inform your customer when their little friend became post mortem in their cabin filter or wherever it was you found it, although at this point they’re too grossed out to really care about your CSI skills! Spiders can bring out the heebeegeebees in the biggest, baddest mechanic on the planet. I once worked with a guy who was completely petrified of spiders. We were tearing down an old car that was in for restoration when he removed the door panel and a large tarantula came crawling out from the bottom corner of this old rusted door. Honestly, I’ve never seen or heard such a big fella scream like a little girl. He not only came up with his own high pitched language that only he could understand, but managed to dart across the shop and up onto the top of his tool box so fast he didn’t have time to let go of the door panel. He stayed up there perched on his tool box talking some sort of gibberish only he could understand, as he was kicking tools out of the open drawers. The tarantula had to go, or he wasn’t coming down. I got elected to shoo the little critter out the door. We literally had to pry the door panel out of his hands and coax him down with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. His tool box needed a bit of straightening after all was said and done. Ants for the most part are pretty harmless. I’ve never ran across fire ants in a car, but I can only imagine what that would have been like. The ones I’ve run across are just the busy little ant type doing busy little ant things. Sometimes the hardest part is finding where they’re coming from. Half the time you’ll see these little guys marching along one after another in single file heading to another part of the car. If it’s a car that’s been sitting in one spot for a long time chances are they’ve built an elaborate home somewhere in the car and it’s your job to find out where. Good luck with that. Sometimes you wonder how some of these insects find their way into a car in the first place. Like pulling a spare tire out of an old car and find a scorpion staring at you. Or mud dauber wasp nests all over the engine compartment. They sure do find some of the oddest places to build their little nests. One time I’ve even found them on the carburetor choke plate on a car that was only sitting for a few days. The owner tried to start it, but had no luck with it. He then had it dragged into the shop to have the no start problem checked out. After a bit of carburetor spray to dissolve the mud it started right up. The owner being the kind of a jokester he was, now had a new story to tell about his old car. He started his little tale with, “Guess wasp up with my car?” Whether it is a family of arachnids or any other family of insects invading your car, somewhere some mechanic has probably already experienced it. As they say, “There are more bugs in the world than there are people.” So there’s a good chance you’ll run across a bug in a rug or one in the trunk of that very car you’re working on. Just work on some fast reflexes, a few nerves of steel, and it wouldn’t hurt to keep a can of bug spray handy either. View full article
  50. 1 point
    if a vehicle needs a reflash or a part is going to need programming and I know it is something I am unable to do I send them to the dealer. I find that being straight up with the customer they will continue to use you for all their needs.. A job lost to the dealer because it may not be cost effective to you may lead to a customer that has more confidence in your for being completely honest with them.. I tell them It is not cost or time effective for me to purchase equipment to do the flashing and as stated above some only take a one time flash screw that up and you have to buy a new module or ecm, easier to let the big guys (dealers) with the money to make those repairs. That way you aren't out money and time , the bottom line is we want to make more money than we spend in a timely manner 😉 I had a Kia forte the other day the bcm was bad (would not release the shift interlock ) I did a quick look through my scanner to see if I could do the programming , but didn't see it.. On some models you can copy the old bcm if you can communicate with it and then install the new one and program. Instead of taking any chances I told the guy the problem he was happy , been several places that installed new brake light switch , new solenoid etc. if they had just done some bidirectional communications and checked some very simple wiring (after removing the center console everything is right there including the bcm) they could of made the correct diagnosis. He paid for the diagnostic time agreed upon when he first brought the car in and said he would like to use me for his other repairs.