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  1. Joe Marconi

    Joe Marconi

    Management


    • Points

      43

    • Posts

      3,976


  2. xrac

    xrac

    Moderator


    • Points

      17

    • Posts

      3,410


  3. bantar

    bantar

    Free Member


    • Points

      14

    • Posts

      114


  4. Transmission Repair

    Transmission Repair

    Premium Member


    • Points

      9

    • Posts

      23


Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 09/22/2020 in all areas

  1. Big balls, little brain. Not sure which is more impactful in my decision making! 🙃
    3 points
  2. I have always tried to hire staff members that are knowledgeable for the work that we routinely do and share my same values and principles. General internal medical doctors send patients to specialists when their patients illness or symptom exceeds their knowledge base or experience level. The sign of a good doctor is that he/she sends you to a specialist when needed as opposed to trying to solve a problem without the proper background, training and or equipment. Can I possibly afford to hire a staff and set up a shop that could profitably repair any problem on any vehicle? The answer is that I could try but I could not accomplish this profitably. Recognize you shops ability and comfort level and NEVER allow your pride stand in the way of sending a job to the dealer. In general I think that too many shop owners feel that sending a customer to the dealer for a repair is the same as losing a customer. I know from experience that a trip to the dealer for an odd or complex repair increase our customers allegiance to us. Let the dealer keep the vehicle for ten days, charge the owner $2,000 for the repair only to have the owner return the vehicle multiple times because the problem is not fixed. Let that frustration and expense be associated with the dealer as opposed to me. Lastly, run a clean, well organized shop which maximizes productivity.
    3 points
  3. I am not going to pile on, but I came from outside the industry and I have always believed that if 10-15% of your clients don't walk because "your price is too high" then you aren't priced high enough. We provide excellent service, and we don't have ANY technicians on staff who have less than 5 years experience in the automotive world. I HATE giving a quote prior to looking at a vehicle, and it's because every car is different. Are you recently relocated from NJ with your 5 year old chevy equinox? It's a rotbox, and I have the spend 3x the labor time to get your rusty crap apart? That should somehow be MY problem? Nope. I have a minimum annual increase, we have the highest labor rate in the area and I am fine with it. We provide service, above and beyond what that rate reflects, and my front office desk person and myself are full invested in the successes. Above and beyond the reflection of the area, have you calculated your costs to reflect your profit levels required? I analyze about 2x a year what we need to be doing to provide for the services we offer, the employee satisfaction and for the best experience possible I want to make money. I want to reward my team for their efforts. I want to save some money for those short months... But I can't do all that if I am simply looking at my competition and determining what I will charge.
    3 points
  4. I really don't see the need for a AI to handle my conversations. Customers service is about building a relationship with the client. I'm telling you no customer wants to talk to a machine. They want human interaction. Persoanally want to feel the customers voice and understand their needs. But you be you.....BTW DVI are also a waste.....customers want a verbal explanation. Yes we do share pictures. We have been texting with Riptide for 6 years. But texting has its own limitations. Customers still your to explain verbally the cost and reason for the repair....all these other systems are for to masking weak selling technique. In fairness they may work for a tire store or something like that.... but not a full service auto repair facility.
    3 points
  5. First, we are a transmission repair facility and nothing else. No GR. What's your definition of your customers saying your prices are too high? Is it when they say "No" when trying to sell a job or, when they vocal with you and tell you straight up? I'll assume it's the latter. I choose to ignore price complaints because they are simply irrelevant for the most part. Transmission prices are all over the map. -HOWEVER- I worked hard to keep tabs on my costs. Everything is changing, and at a faster rate. Every single time I calculate our costs, it has gone up. Never fails. Early in my career I was scared and performed a cost analysis every month. As the years rolled by, the frequency slowly got shorter, then quarterly, and now I only do a cost analysis once or twice a year. As long as the front counter staff knows and believes in the shop's pricing structure, you can easily defend your prices. Most of the time, it's simply either a miscommunication, or comparing apples to oranges. I remember one time a customer blew a gasket over a transmission fluid change price of $500. It was a Euro vehicle with combination oil pan/trans filter rolled into one. To get the pan off, you have to fully drop the exhaust system. It takes special fluid. I just ignored the guy. Something like a month later, I received an Email off of our website. It was the same customer calling me on our prices. "The dealer wanted almost a thousand dollars for a fluid and filter change." the customer said. He learned a lot from doing his own research. J. Larry Bloodworth, Draper, Utah [email protected]
    3 points
  6. In case anyone has been under a rock home prices rose 20% in the last year. Food prices almost doubled. Parts prices went up a lot. Gas is 89% more. Half the shops in my area closed for good. So I raised my prices. No more $19.99 oil change. Nobody really complains about the labor rate but they do vocalize about their 8 quart silverado synthetic oil change.
    3 points
  7. Joe is correct that Covid-19 has affected everyone to some degree. Our gas volume is still off by 30-40% which is both a concern and hardship but repairs have been good so I feel very fortunate. There are a handful of varied businesses that have prospered during Covid such us drug chains, Urgent Care facilities, testing labs etc. Sadly there are so many businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters, hair/nail salons, catering halls, fitness centers, hotels/motels ..... that have closed up permanently. A shopping mall near me has a severe failure rate with 40-50% of the stores shuttered for good. A Hilton in my backyard closed permanently. Huge corporate office buildings in my area still lay dormant with all employees working from home. The overall business climate is still very poor in our are and concerns me. To answer Joe’s question as to what lessons I have learned - Adapt to change as quick as possible, do not financially over extend yourself, realize and react to untapped opportunities, increase and improve communication with customers and employees and be thankful to be able to come to work every morning because too many people are unable to do that.
    3 points
  8. Yeah had a garage door fixed. They put a link in the drive chain and adjusted it $300. Wanted a drain cleaned plumber was going to charge me $600 to take the toilet off the floor and put it back on! We do a heck of a lot more and need to know way more things than most trades but people think they don’t have to pay for it. I think the fantasy world is over the people in our trade want to be paid for what they do to and I think we should get it!
    2 points
  9. Raised mine $54 in the last year no pushback. Don't care what others are charging need to make this money to pay techs bills and myself!
    2 points
  10. I'm currently 66. I retired at 60 after 40 years in the transmission repair business. I feel sorry for many older owners (70s-80s) who are WAY PAST retirement, but still working because they have to. 😞 The guy I sold the business to was 80. That's no way to live, in my opinion. I feel humbled and blessed for my situation. I some owners who don't have a business, they have a job. Ever try to sell a job? Those types usually just sell the tools and equipment because that's all they can find a buyer for. Nobody is willing to buy a job. During my last 7 years, I maintained accurate records to prove I had $1.2M/yr. in sales with a 21% net profit (before taxes) because I knew I was going to retire. I just didn't know when. My wife and I paid ourselves $100K/yr. collectively, before the 21% profit. The guy I sold the business to folded after 5 years due to sales falling to $400K/yr. The $11000 monthly rent became 33% of sales. I purchased the building in 2013 for $860K. After he folded, I sold the building for $2,3M+. We had a small shop (3K sq.ft) but a HUGE parking lot. This is the only shop I've seen that didn't have a parking problem. Here's a short 1:07 video of the shop:
    2 points
  11. That is great news! And the strategy to move slowly is a good stratgey. Catch up to the dealers...have faith....you are worth it!
    2 points
  12. We need to avoid thinking about pricing ourselves out of the market. Why? Because if we are not profitable we will "underprice" ourselves out of business. I know it's not easy, but more and more shops are raising their labor rates for the same reasons you are. As an industry we have been too cheap too long. Believe in yourself and what you are doing. I have done the same exact thing and not looking back. Don't hold yourself back either worrying about the other shops around you. Be the market leader!
    2 points
  13. 2 points
  14. I raised ours $23/hr 4 months ago and gave the techs an $8 an hour raise. I think I was late to the party adjusting prices but we've gone up $50 an hour over the last year and a half. Customers haven't even noticed unless they are price shopping and those people will always find something cheaper anyway.
    2 points
  15. The right people performing consistently has certainly been a key to my ability to have a life, while owning my business. Some of that, I have to attribute to a healthy dose of good fortune, throughout my career, but especially early on(first 10 years). It was securing a single A tech (started as a C tech) and a service advisor , both with the right attitudes and right work ethic, and keeping them for 25 years plus, that has made the biggest difference for me. Others have come and gone, but having a core team through it all, made an immeasurable difference for me. This is especially noticeable when I compare myself to other owners, who were never able to establish that long term "core team", that still work in their business's every day, and face difficult transition options to the next generation of ownership for their store. Some may call "good fortune", hard work and smart work, which fits in their somewhere, but that has little to do with having healthy key employees that wish to remain living in the area of my store, for their entire career. For owners early in their career, I would suggest finding the right attitudes and grow together. Then start your transition planning a minimum of 10 years in advance of your intended transition time frame. This will give you time to find the next gen team for your business, and grow together with them to a successful future for all.
    2 points
  16. I always want parts coming through my front counter people. If it's direct to the tech, we can't keep track of what's coming and going and get it to the computer. Techs need to be turning wrenches. Not entering parts into the computer or locating parts or ordering parts. If they are waiting on parts for one job, they are figuring out what's needed for another. Each tech has multiple work orders they may be working on at once. As parts come in, they can complete jobs. My service writers or myself are ordering parts, dealing with customers and checking parts in and arranging the schedule based on where the parts are. The service writers job is keeping techs busy and efficient. We have a shelf for parts for customer jobs and once all parts needed are received, we get the vehicle in and the work done. I have 3 techs and limited space. We work on everything from lawn tractors to atvs and utvs and automotive. many of our jobs parts are 3 days to a week out. automotive is usually same day or next day on parts, but sometimes longer. Whatever you do make your deliveries and your process consistent. One parts supplier always drops the parts in the shop and leaves. I've asked many times for them to come to the front end. I'd order from them more often, but not if they can't deliver my way. It almost always throws us off schedule wise as the service writer doesn't know the parts arrived and the tech may or may not know either. I've found the stack of parts sitting there late evening (as I live in the same building and am always working), and come to find out the delivery driver told the tech that wasn't working on that vehicle where the parts were. He forgot to mention it as he was busy on an ATV he was working on.
    2 points
  17. I don’t think we deliver an expectation, we deliver the experience. The customer has the expectation. I would think their expectations would be: fix their car, at a fair price, a good warranty, with a good explanation of what was done, and kept up to date on the repair and it’s cost. A bonus would be a nice, friendly (maybe fun) interaction with the staff, whether service advisor, owner, manager or receptionist. Too many people “expect” or are afraid of being ripped off, probably more for first time customers. I can’t remember a customer EVER telling me their expectations. I’m not a fan of “exceed expectations.” What is that: coffee, donuts, toys for the kids as mom waits? A ride? A rental car? And then, how do you exceed exceeded expectations the next time??? I’ve even read “shatter expectations,” with no hint as to what that would be. What goes a long way are great 5 Star reviews to put (first time) customers at ease. I answer the phone cheerfully every time. I had a lady customer say: “When you answer the phone, I know everything is in good hands.” A good start on the customer experience.
    2 points
  18. Do you have a face mask required sign up at your shop or have you made one? I was browsing around and found these on Amazon:
    2 points
  19. Well, I've done a bit more digging. I had my tool guy reach out to RobinAir to check on those items in the video above. They only have one machine in the US that supports this connection and it's not a popular item. Further, the H2N2 Forming gas is also readily available in Europe, in disposable cans, but less so here. You can purchase it in a 300 CCF cylinder from AirGas as a special order. This size would be an Inheritable supply. However, I overlooked a 6th method for leak detection: 6) Shop Air and Soapy Water 150 PSI of shop air and soapy water looking for bubbles However, you are introducing moisture into the system. Is this a best practice? Is this a bad practice? It's a free test. Instructions here: Stepping back from tooling, the question is what problem needs to be solved? Some leaks are bi-directional and can be found with either a vacuum test or a pressure test Some leaks will pass the vacuum test, but will fail under pressure We want to find both leaks. Ideally, we should run both types of leak tests in an AC Service. The low cost of R134a, the availability of dye and the vacuum leak test of the RRR machine allows for a reduction in overall testing. In other words, we can skip the pressure test. How many leaks will only be caught with this test method? This reduces the cycle time and labor involved to the customer, keeping the service prices reasonable and allows the shop to remain profitable. R134a, $3/lb with dye finds pressure leaks affordably. Customer drives away and returns for a complimentary leak check. Our material cost is about $5 and the labor cost is near $0 as the car leaks and dye shows where it is. The higher cost of R1234yf begs the question, do we add in the pressure testing step to every service? This costs the shop extra labor that will need to be billed to the customer. Service pricing increases. R1234yf pricing is about $60/lb. So, our material cost is about $100. Is this an acceptable shop cost for leak detection? Should this cost be passed on to the customer? Technically, it is only a burden to them if we didn't find the leak with the RRR machine. The RRR machine only does a partial R1234yf charge and stops for you to execute a Manual Leak Test using a handheld scanner Since this step exists, one can ask if it is an acceptable leak test? The ability to find a leak is dependent on the quality of the tester and the skills of the technician in operating the unit and the leak size. At this point, you don't know if you have a leak, so you are scanning for a potential leak. How much time do you invest in searching for a non-existent leak? No leak is good. Would an impatient technician pencil-whip this test? Who loses money if it's not found with this type of testing? Let's say we detect a leak, how do we find it? We need to inject a detectable agent. At this time, it seems a partial charge of R1234yf is a viable solution. RRR machine comes into play again Back and forth equipment setups increases the overall time and labor costs for this job Again, I'm approaching this from a HOW TO PROVIDE THIS SERVICE PROFITABLY perspective. These are my thoughts as of today... Equipment exists that will definitively tell you if you have a leak. This lowers my risk of both costs or hits to goodwill R1234yf service cost is going to be higher everywhere. Machines are more expensive due to the purity testing function Cycle times are longer for the same job (machines are slower) Refrigerant is currently more expensive. Will the customer notice adding in an expense for leak testing? They'll already be in sticker shock. Makes sense to burden in a material and labor charge for pressure leak testing now It provides a more consistent pricing to the customer vs letting them pay for lost refrigerant Probably .5 - 1.0 hours Fieldpiece Digital Manifold with a Nitrogen setup will give a definitive leak result. I like this because you can read the answer. I like it because it frees up the RRR machine for overlapping jobs (only an optimist would go here) Plan to use my IR Leak Detector, but have to inject R1234YF into the system If a leak is found, then additional labor to find the leak, fix it and another leak test to confirm I do not intend to equip for handling contaminanted (refrigerant) vehicles and recycling thereof. I'm thinking out loud. It would be good to hear from someone that practical experience. I've talked to a few folks that are just using the RRR machine with a No-Warranty clause on the refrigerant. I'm not expecting that this level of leak testing will be the most popular practice in the US. It's all fine and dandy until it's not and somebody will be eating lost refrigerant cost.
    2 points
  20. It's hard to believe that it's almost a year since COVID-19 hit. And for many businesses, and repair shops, it's been a challenge. While many areas around the country have not seen a downturn, there are other areas that have been harshly impacted. Areas such as mine have seen a decline in miles driven per customer of up to 50% or more. Just consider working from home, the drastic decline of going out to dine and other activities, a decrease in after-school activities, a decease in youth sports, buying online and every other action that has become the norm, and it adds up to a negative impact for so many shops. NOW, you know ME. I always put a positive spin on everything. At this too shall pass. COVID-19 will be behind us and we need to prepare for great times ahead. I urge everyone to focus on people: Your family, your employees, your customers, and the community. With regard to your customers, they will remember you and their experience long after the water pump or mass air filter you replaced in their car. If you are having a decline in sales, here a few tips: Establish your new goals, look at your expenses, reevaluate your breakeven, make sure your labor and part margins are in line. BUT, never forget that your most important strategy is the culture of your business. Lastly, cherish every minute with family. This Crisis has brought Clarity. And let's never forget the things that money cannot buy.
    2 points
  21. I don't think shops should consider other shops in their market area when setting prices. In addition, while overheard costs may differ from shop to shop, that should not be the only thing that is considered when setting labor and part margins. Yes, a shop with a low overhead is different from a shop that has just invested in new equipment and added 3 bays. However, a job is worth what a job is worth. And that may mean that the shop with the lower overhead has an advantage and will make more money as compared to a shop with a higher overhead. But just because a shop has low overhead, does not mean that its will be low forever, and should charge accordingly to invest in the future. If we are to raise the industry collectively, we all need to charge what we are worth. I hope this makes sense. Great conversation!
    2 points
  22. we tried for a while but found it lacked the ability to truly decipher the mortoris question when very specific - you could set up you price matrix and then a price can be given without ever discussing value - we had many price inquiries and had a hard time converting them if you searched for a specific service, OTIS could not answer correctly (walnut blast for example) - Open bay business model is still price driven, OTIS can give the customer a price on a job and just keep on hopping from site to site until they find the bottom. I found it difficult to manage customer communication, as well
    2 points
  23. Last October the doctors found a large infection and abscess in my large intestine that perforated into my abdomen. I required emergency surgery to remove the abscess; removing about six inches of my large intestine. That was step one: This past January, I needed an additional surgery to remove another 4 inches, and repair other areas of my intestines. Thankfully, I am fine, with no lasting issues. It will take about a year to fully recover, but all is well. I am telling you this for one reason: What if something were to happen to you? Will your shop survive? What about your family? These were the things I thought about when I was laid up in the hospital. Create a continuity plan to prepare for a crisis. Make sure you have a will and enough life insurance. Build a business where it can be run by the systems and procedures you out into place. Lastly, ENJOY the fruits of your labor! When I woke up after the surgery with tubes inside me and in my arms, It became clear that the things we worry about in business are really not that important. Take care of yourself !
    2 points
  24. We have been with RepairPal for years and honestly, their reach has really fallen in our area. The last tow-in from them was Sept 9, 2020. 5 months ago! The customer spent all of $142. Not our clientele, not our ARO, NOT worth it. I will tell you that you can negotiate the monthly fee with them. We have not paid the $199 monthly fee for about 4 years which is why we are still in their program. If it cost us the monthly fee, I would kill it today. HTH.
    2 points
  25. First, I would be the last person to tell anyone that car counts is not a measurable and important KPI. Every shop needs to know their needed car count and what their sweet spot is. And then use that KPI to understand other important KPI's - ARO, Labor margin, part margins, etc. Now, with that said, the industry in general, has and will see, a decline in the amount of times your customers will visit your shop. It was not that long ago when we had customers bring their cars in 4 to 5 times per year. That has changed. Plus with COVID and many people not using their cars as they used to, we cannot rely on trying increasing car counts. We should, rather, making sure that we make every vehicle visit...COUNT. Here is my strategy to drive up sales per visit, while promoting the right culture with your customers: Ensure that the customer experience is the best on the planet! - Give every customer a reason to return back to you. Perform a complete MPI on each vehicle, but find out the particular needs of customers. What is their car used for? Get your entire staff to understand that the customer is everything and their safety and their car care needs are most important. Promote your Culture of taking care of people, not sales - Believe me, sales will come and so will the profits. Promote vehicle maintenance, safety, and reducing the overall cost of owning their car. NOW HERE'S THE TOUGH ONE: PLEASE BOOK THE NEXT APPOINTMENT AT CAR DELIVERY! Doctors do it, dentists do it, boiler service companies do it, hair dressers do it, nail salons do it, ..even chimney cleaning companies do it! It's not hard, just do it. Hope this helps. Thoughts???
    2 points
  26. I started having symptoms on the 7th and tested positive for the virus on January 9th. My symptoms were fairly mild but breathing became an issue by the 14th. My oxygen level was dropping. I had to sleep setting up. I received antibody infusion therapy on Saturday, January 16. I started feeling better yesterday and feel better today. If you have Covid and can get the antibody infusion therapy go for it. It is a game changer. I drug my feet when I could have had 5-6 days earlier. Three of the seven people at our shop tested positive. Be sure you take this serious. It is no joke.
    2 points
  27. Very good advise Joe. Get the most out of what you have first. Explain what they need now and what to be budgeting for in the near and distant future always building that personal relationship CONTANTLY ! I can guarantee if you build this type of business relationship with your customers in a few visits to your shop they will lay there keys on the counter and say fix it It happens with every shop I work with and it amazes them. I smile and say, its just being a people person and we are in the people business. Services advisers should be talking to the customer to become there friend and extract information. Put a comment in the customer info on what he or she likes from your conversation and you will be very happy in the return you will receive. I have always said a service advisor is NOT a sells people but a problem solver. Solve there problems and be friendly. Always ask to set up there next appointment ,as Joe stated everyone does it.
    2 points
  28. No. I have medical experience from the past as an EMT. Training is required to know properly how to use a mask. What I've seen in mask wearing is counter-productive and only going to further spread covid. I do everything in my power to stay distant, but I believe the masks are causing a greater problem from what I've seen. They are tequila and make people feel invincible, which in turn makes them believe going into walmart 13 times a day is safe. I've had customers pull up in their car with a mask on, walk in my shop door and pull it down to talk to me all while getting closer and closer.... to the point where I question if they are threatening me. Then turn to get back into their car and pull the mask back on and wear it while pulling away. By themselves. In the car. I believe we have a virus that is serious. I also believe that the only science getting broadcast about this virus is political science and I won't be a part of it.
    2 points
  29. Affected by COVID is an understatement! What's really surprising is the number of people this affected - and not just in a "business" way. Everyone has a personal story - good or bad. I think one of the biggest lessons learned (overall) is that we all seemed to get back to what really counts - the people! In the heat of a busy day, we all tend to take a lot for granted. But when it comes down to it, no matter if they're the "penny pinching" customer or the so called "bottom feeders" - everyone has a goal and from what I'm seeing. the goals are changing and there's more respect for those, even if their goals are different from ours. Here's to a safe, healthy and prosperous 2021! Matthew "The Car Count Fixer"
    2 points
  30. Expensive rent is the cheapest advertising money can buy. Follow the Sound of &nbsp;Bulldozers and the Smell of Fresh Paint <--Print article http://goodies.wizardacademypress.com/MMM080804-SoundOfBulldozers.mp3 <--Audio version.
    2 points
  31. Malls and shopping in general for the holidays is busy, we'll see what happens after xmas. Has anyone been to the post office lately? They are slammed and packages are arriving late. Big shift to online and shipping.
    2 points
  32. Most doctors'/dentists' offices in my area do not charge for missed appointments unless its a habit and you don't call first. But calling to reschedule even the day of usually does not result in a charge. Likewise, you make a haircut appointment and don't make it, do you have to pay for the one you missed before you can make another one? It's frustrating but it happens and we have to live with it. With that said, I had one customer who claimed she only trusted me, wouldn't go anywhere else and had to have me work on her car. She was lazy and a flake. She claimed medical issues but even when I would call her the day before and she was enthusiastic and adamant that she would be there and then I'd call her hours before her appointment she would still either be 30-60 minutes late or not show up at all. Finally I got fed up with it, I had tried everything else so I finally told her she would have to prepay for her appointment before I would schedule it. I told her if she didn't make it within 15 minutes of the appointment time, she would forfeit the labor portion and have to pay again before I would reschedule. She agreed once and made it 20 minutes late. I let it go and did the work. The next time it was the same thing, you have to pay for the appointment up front and if you are more than 15 minutes late, you lose the labor portion. She was almost an hour late and then argued that she couldn't make it on time. I stuck to my guns and held her to the agreement she had made. I refunded nothing and she didn't have me do the work. This was the last time I saw her but she did call a couple times years later. I hated to do it, but I was tired of losing 2 or 3 hours because she would not show up for her appointments. Since she did have multiple medical conditions (none that prevented her from getting around when SHE wanted to) I turned the tables on her and asked if she was ever late for a doctors' appointment and before she answered I asked her, if you're late do they still take you and put off all their other patients who arrived on time and kept their appointments? She was like, "Yeah, but," and I cut her off before she could make up a lie. Get used to people not showing up, it's frustrating but it is a part of running a business where you work on a schedule. When people call me to cancel, I am always friendly and nice and I respond with, "I am sad that I won't get to serve you, but thank you for calling to cancel. Now I know that you won't be in, I can use that time to serve someone else and I am sure they would thank you too." It reinforces that their actions affect not only me but other people as well and that their thoughtfulness in showing me the respect of cancelling is appreciated.
    2 points
  33. From as far back as I can remember, labor has always been an issue. As and industry, we have struggled to get paid properly for the work we do. And those shops that understand how critical labor is, are the shops that have done quite well. In today's auto repair shop world; Getting the right labor dollars is no longer a buzz topic or debate- Labor dollars will be the salvation of your business. Labor translates into profit, and will also allow you to build for the future and to attract the quality people we need in our industry. If you don't know what your labor should be, you need to find out. Don't call ABC Auto, down the street to ask him. The odds are he did not do the math. Plus his expenses are not the same as yours. Depending on what you pay your techs, your overhead, and knowing your numbers will determine your labor rate. I can tell you that there are shops that are paying techs a very good wage and those shops are getting $135 to $150 per hour, and more. That is not a typo. And there are shops that have multi-tier rates. So, for Diag and labor jobs that have no parts associated with the repair, their labor is much higher than their standard labor. It's fair, it's honest and it's time we all raise the bar. Please, do the math, get help and make sure your labor is right for your shop.
    2 points
  34. With so many uncertainties these days, there is one strategy that we can all do that will help to smooth out our overall sales and customer visits throughout the year. Make sure the experience is always amazing during the entire customer visit. And perform the car delivery that gives the customer a reason to return. Here's the key part before any customer leaves your shop: Make sure you discuss their next service appointment and any other future recommendation. Let them know that they will get a reminder by either post card, email or text. BUT, there is one more thing you can do to boost your customer retention, get permission from your customer to call them a week prior to their next appointment. Yes, give them a phone call. Try it, and give it time to work. Oh....won't work, you're thinking??? Well, here's list of businesses that do it: Dentists, doctors, nail salons, hair dressers, chimney cleaners, boiler service companies and Successful Auto Repair shops.
    2 points
  35. I use a Yellow Jacket "trap" (38080) on every car I recover. I'm running a Robinair 34788 NI-H and have not had any trouble in 5 years. I recover from low side ONLY (less oil come out) and the trap has not missed a drop. The machine never recovers oil. I intentionally recover my own cars without the trap to test the machine once a year. Oil recovery works fine then. The machine needs a tiny amount of oil to keep the solenoid seals lubricated. I believe 90% of the vehicles I service have sealant in them. The little test kits are not worth the trouble IMO. I do not use them. They are not accurate enough for me and take too long to test. It is difficult to find straight refrigerant in the DIY auto stores. Almost everything has oil and sealant... I have NEVER seen the sealant fix a leak but I have seen the sealant take systems out. The usual culprit is a membrane that the American manufactures like to use as a debris screen. The tiny holes in the membrane get clogged with the sealant and you find ALL of the oil in the system on the feed side of this membrane. GM SUVs with rear AC are the worst culprits. The tiny screen is inside the liquid line at the bulkhead fitting in the rear. Most techs don't know it's there as it is not a normally changed part (and it should be). A Murray part # for the little screen is 39335. It looks like a 1/4 scale orifice tube screen. The liquid line front to back has enough volume for the entire oil charge. If you have a plugged one and you don't change it you will have a comeback within a year. Rear AC will be wimpy as well. GM condensers with a replaceable dryer cartridge (Cadillac SRX) also have a super tiny membrane inside the dryer that will clog. Symptoms are low pressures on both sides, piss poor cooling, and a viciously hot discharge line. There is a TSB regarding this. If you refuse to service your customers cars because they might have sealant you are destroying your relationship with those customers. We have to service the systems and educate the customer. Occasionally I hit a system that has been massively over oiled. The sealant is everywhere. I will commonly replace compressor, condenser, orifice/TXV, dryer/accumulator, and discharge line. I will over flush remaining lines and evaporator and offer NO warranty. I haven't had a comeback on ANY of those but I believe I have been lucky. Customers will seldom pay to have the entire system replaced and see the shop as an "over charger". They will not come back to you for the other things they need. My Robinair machine's manual states "any leak sealers found inside the machine voids all warranties"... I run a shop in Texas that specializes in AC repairs.
    2 points
  36. Ha! I am 66 and there too. I will let everyone know soon my next chapter in my life. After 41 years in business and 47 years in the auto industry, it's time to turn the page.
    1 point
  37. Yep. I’m getting paid $.40 a gallon. Guy buys it to heat his greenhouse.
    1 point
  38. Just got my accounting caught up and first year ever I've been running at a loss, even though gross sales are up. Just raised shop rate from $90/hr to $100/hr with plan to raise monthly to $120 an hour by October 1st. Cost of labor is up 30% from last year and it's been everything I can do to attract and retain employees. I've known for years that techs were not making what they should, but I'm nervous about pricing myself out of the market around here as other shops in the area are at a much lower hourly rate still. Anyways, I'm going to pay my techs what they deserve and keep afloat or I'm going to go under trying. All their expenses have gone up as well and it's time.
    1 point
  39. Me too! It's time. We really need to get back to normal. The mental health of the country is important too.
    1 point
  40. Sabrina Gatewood and her husband have owned a shop since 1994. She is the bookkeeper for the shop. She does all the taxes, pays bills, etc. as well as creates paychecks. She has been a financial advisor since 2011. She helped her husband and other business owners like him to plan for retirement. She also helps with group health plans and voluntary benefits. Sabrina can also open 401K plans and simple IRAs. Listen to Sabrina’s previous episodes HERE. Greg Skolnik is the owner of Motor Works, Inc. in Rockville, MD. He is certified as a Master Automobile Technician and holds the prestigious L-1 advanced engine performance and emission analysis certification. Greg also received his (AMAM) degree from the Automotive Management Institute. Greg has a four-day workweek and has been doing pre-scheduling for years. He is also a part-time coach for Elite World Wide. Listen to Greg’s previous episodes HERE. Key Talking Points: You gotta pay attention to your peopleMost small business owners are freaking out over how much things cost Pay to Play Social security was never designed to be a retirement plan 401K is just one area to take care of your employees You don’t go to church to be converted, you go to church as a reminder! 88% of workers view a 401k as an important benefit in looking for a job You definitely need to take care of your employees, they are our bread and butterA good way to reward good employees is with benefits Most of the people that have been doing this for a long time are starting to wonder “how am I gonna get out of this (career or shop owner) How hard is it to sit down with a certified financial planner and do this?There are many options out there Find someone you can trust and guide you A standard IRA Put together plans to take care of your employees, it’s the right thing to do Offer employees a meeting with a financial advisor along with that 401k, this will show them where their money is going each paycheck Accountant or Financial Planner first?Both Safe harbor program Upside and DownsideDownsideCashflow is king Start-up admin costs Admin time to keep the program going UpsidePut away maximum amounts Roth IRA - tax free Benefits your employees Tax savings for shop owners Your investing, not paying a bill Saving money is not sexy, Investing is Your moving money from one pocket to the other Finding a great financial planner Usually a referral Final WordsSabrinaEveryone’s shop is different No cookie cutter approach Your never gonna go wrong helping someone else get what they need GregIt’s a spoke in a wheel It’s just one of the spokes Holidays are another spokes All the spokes - we put together as a package to make us more attractive to the top talent than the shop down the street Resources: A special thanks toSabrina Gatewood and Greg Skolnik for their contribution to the aftermarket. Books Page HERE Listen to all Remarkable Results Radio, For The Record and Town Hall Academy episodes. Facebook Twitter Linked In Email Mobile Listening APP's HERE Join the Ecosystem - Subscribe to the INSIDER NEWSLETTER HERE. Buy Carm a Cup of Coffee This episode is brought to you by Shop-Ware Shop Management. It’s time to run your business at its fullest potential with the industry’s leading technology. Shop-Ware Shop Management will increase your efficiency with lightning-fast workflows, help your staff capture more sales every day, and create very happy customers who promote your business. Shops running Shop-Ware have More Time and generate More Profit—join them! Schedule a free live demonstration and find out how 30 minutes can transform your shop at getshopware.com This episode is brought to you buy Shop Marketing Pros. Your guides are Kim and Brian Walker with a rich history as shop owners and industry veterans. When someone searches for a shop, who are they finding? Your competitors? It should be you! The good people over at Shop Marketing Pros know how to drive website traffic and make Google work for you! www.shopmarketingpros.com Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio
    1 point
  41. And it keeps on affecting. One of my techs and yours truly have tested positive. I have the shop with no one to enter the building except people that I have no symptoms and are waiting on test results. Trying to clear out cars that are in the shop so people don't go days or weeks without them. Maybe not perfect but I think it will be effective. So far it only feels like a mild head cold.
    1 point
  42. The new 5,500+ page Covid Relief Bill is massive, and it will take many weeks to digest everything included in the legislation. Here's what we know about business relief and PPP funds: There is now streamlined forgiveness for PPP loans under $150K. This is a significant development for many so check with your lender about how they want that now to be handled. There is also now an additional $284B in PPP funding for impacted businesses to access. More on this in days to come...
    1 point
  43. This is all very well said. Even with how tough this year has been, if I look at what was accomplished this year it shows many steps in the right direction. Helping shops financially survive and make it to 2021 has been one of the greatest and most humbling experiences of this year.
    1 point
  44. Merry Christmas to all! 2020 was a challenging year. Looking forward to 2021 and beyond!
    1 point
  45. In the process of switching our two shops from ROwriter to Protractor. Short-term pain for, we hope, long-term gain.
    1 point
  46. This might not be popular.... No masks required at our shop, nor are we wearing masks. We see about 40% of our customers coming in with masks and very few (1 per week maybe) ask for us to wear gloves. And many of those with masks will take them off or have them on incorrectly or take them off to talk, but wear them when not talking. Most wait in the waiting room, but we have a handful that are waiting outside. Give it a few more weeks and this will go away as the Texas sun pops out. We do have hand sanitizer on the counter and keep our waiting room clean, even before this virus. We wipe down frequently used surfaces, but, IMO, this is largely a feel-good farce. We can't hide from a virus unless we behave like an operating room and are completely fastidious, wiping everything and changing gloves and masks after everything we touch. (My repair business is mostly drop-off. The waiting room is generally filled with waiters for Quick Lube Services). I've changed my marketing to call out our clean facility. We generally get compliments on cleanliness. Many are changing their marketing and some are opting for a higher-level of cleanliness such as seat covers, surface wipe downs, etc. I'm not seeing much of a call for this. Dealers were advertising this heavy on TV, yet they laid off almost all service staff. It didn't seem to bring the nervous folks forward. I know some shops that are selling a $50 sanitization service. We do our best to respect the wishes and needs of those that grace our doors. When people call in that sound worried, I generally recommend that they put the service off until later. In reality, I would not want to disappoint someone that truly needs or expects a higher level of safety than we can provide. I have noticed that those whom are more concerned will sanitize their cars themselves. They have wipes in the car and will wipe it down to be sure that it was done correctly. In truth, this is likely the best model for true personal safety. We assume that everyone wants social distancing and try to respect their space. I shake hands with those that are comfortable and this is more than you would think. To me, it seems that there 3 types of people: 1) Live Free or Die, 2) Cautious and 3) Scared. Personally, I won't go in a place the makes me wear a mask. (Ask me why I still need a haircut). Ever since the restaurants have reopened for dining in, we've started patronizing them. No longer patronizing take-out only. I fall squarely in the Live Free or Die camp. Luckily, I'm under no local rules that mandate social distancing or other behavior.
    1 point
  47. Newspaper circulation is dropping by the day and is next to nothing, bulk advertising mailers aren’t near as effective as they were years ago, radio time can be costly and can pigeon hole your advertising dollars with the type of clients you’re looking for, local television is only available in those off hours and I’m not sure how many new prospective customers I’ll find with broken cars at 3am, and internet advertising isn’t as local as you’d like, and at best is unpredictable. So what’s an affordable, useful, and productive way to advertise your small business locally? One that draws local people that want to work with a local company? Maybe, instead of advertising to the consumer, how about directing your meager advertising budget to other businesses…. Networking is the answer. If you’re not familiar with networking you should be. Networking groups are everywhere. Occasionally you’ll hear the term ‘Tips’ groups vs. networking groups. They’re basically the same thing. Networking groups are a diversified group of business people, shop owners, sales people, and/or employees that get together once a week, once a month, or on special occasions to exchange ideas, business cards and referrals. They’ll usually have a few minutes for you to introduce yourself and talk about your business. Some will offer you a chance to do a presentation about your business at each meeting. Either way, this is your opportunity to advertise your business to other businesses and generally, create new business for you. But, the big thing you’re looking for is the referrals. It’s probably the most important reason to join one of these groups. Some of these groups are small, some have been around for decades, and some are very secretive. Some in fact, only allow one of each type of business into their group, while others have no restrictions at all. Of course, there are rules in most cases. Things like, “always check with members first for any service and always relay your experiences with the other members, attendance policies, and confidentiality concerns. In a few of these groups it’s not about how much money you have, because you can’t buy your way in. It’s your character and community standing that are the deciding factors. For some of these groups you have to be nominated and then you’re brought before a board of your peers to be voted in, or black balled out. Other tips groups aren’t near as picky. Whichever way it’s organized I guarantee to you… it’s all worth it. You’ll even find some of these networking groups that share a common interest outside of their own business ventures. Such as meeting at a golf course once a month for a short meeting and a 9 hole golf tournament. There’s even a tips group here locally that likes to sample different restaurants each month and switch their location depending on the group size and menu selection. I’ve even heard of one that meets every Saturday morning for breakfast. They’ve got a whole corner of this restaurant reserved for them. Sometimes they are a hobby based tips group. From model airplanes, to sewing, to horse racing. The types of networking groups are endless. Once you start checking into them you’ll be surprised at the diversity and number of tips groups there actually are. I’ve been with one networking group for over 20 years. This one is a private membership type that meet once a week with rather strict attendance rules and a ‘hush-hush’ policy as to who is a member. I recently withdrew from the organization because of my busy travel schedule and couldn’t meet the group’s attendance requirements. Although I will say, I made a lot of connections, and a lot of money out of the group. Now, after being out of the loop, –so-to-speak-, I find I’m missing something. The referrals weren’t the only thing that was important and only a small part of what I enjoyed about being a member of the group. It was the alike thinking individuals who experience the same good and bad days, crazy customers, and unpredictable parts and employee problems we all face on a daily basis that made the difference in my daily activities at the shop. It just proves the old adage that misery loves company. I couldn’t agree more. In other words, it was the lifelong friendships and the contacts you make that were more important. Recently, I went looking for another tips group to get in. I found one that meets at a golf course once a month. My kind of group. I’m not really there for the business contacts anymore, I’m there for the fellowship and contacts. The dues are extremely cheap, attendance doesn’t matter, and any number of identical businesses that would most likely share the same type of clients are allowed. This time around it’s all about the camaraderie since I’ve retired from active repair shop ownership. Here’s the big problem though: If you’re sitting there complaining that you don’t have enough work to keep your bays full and don’t know what to do, start searching for a tips group. If you’re not that guy sitting there worried about filling your bays but you know of a guy who is worried about filling his bays, tell him about tips groups. To put it another way, if you’re reading this you’re more than likely the type of individual who is looking to succeed in their business by absorbing as much knowledge from every source possible. That’s where getting involved with a tips group would be absolutely beneficial to you. It’s the ones that don’t keep up with the changes, don’t socialize, and don’t get off their duffs to do something about their situation that fade into obscurity. If perhaps, you can’t find one in your local area, or you feel you’re too far off the beaten path, chances are you’re not alone. My suggestion, start your own networking group. It can start off based on common interests or school activities or anything else you can think of. Try putting one together at a local meeting place or at the local coffee shop. It can all start by just talking with another business owner on a Wednesday morning, which then leads to the next person, and then another. Soon, you’ll have a group with lots of new friends and business contacts. Think of it this way. Right now, reading this article, you’re effectively in somewhat of a tips group. Everyone who is reading this are probably looking for the same thing you are. That my fellow tippers, is basically the secret of networking. I for one, have found that networking groups are far more valuable than expected. If I needed a plumber, tile for remodel project, or in the need to rent a piece of machinery for a job, the first place I looked was through my networking group. If there wasn’t anyone I could find in the member list, I would ask the other members who they’ve used for that certain job. Chances are, that referral they told me about got my business, and for them, it was better than any other type of advertising. Because, these type of customers are more than likely not going to give you a hard time about the cost. They’re after a quality job done in a timely manner. Chances are they didn’t reach the top of their business ventures by cutting corners. They appreciate good workmanship and good service. Let’s face it, the internet is great, newspapers and radio media are fantastic, and like most people the TV is on 24-7 blasting out commercial after commercial. But, nothing beats a handshake and a “Nice to meet you” in person, in your community, from another local business. There’s something to be said about front porch diplomacy. Even as the world seems to draw closer and closer by way of our laptops, getting out into your local community is still hard to beat. Even with all of that, some businesses still thrive because of local appeal and not national reputations. Automotive repair is one of those businesses that really need local involvement to keep the bays full. Get out there and network! View full article
    1 point
  48. We have been with RepairPal for a little over 2 year. It has brought us some decent work and with the towing program we get a car towed in every now and then. About $22,000 worth of work. Not a huge number but it helps. They are now involved with CarMax and another warranty company. We are listed on the Carmax website as a recommended service facility, and have had 2 new customers come in recently from there. Plus we can add that we are RepairPal certified to our marketing, Having said all that, if we got busy enough tomorrow, it would probably be one of the first things I would drop from our marketing. We waste a lot of time with calls from people just wanting a price, and a lot of them are shocked that you don't know the price instantly. Not even sure I would call them price shoppers. I think it is more of an extension of the site. People go there to find out what something should cost, then they call to get a price as part of further research or curiosity, not necessarily because they are going to get the work done. If you need more work in your shop, I would say give it a try and see how it works for you. At $199 per month, it won't break the bank to try it out. Scott
    1 point
  49. We have a regional chain store that often offer $99 brakes. We often place our sidewalk sign out and it reads... We Fix $99 Brake Jobs!
    1 point



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