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Showing content with the highest reputation since 12/21/2019 in all areas

  1. 3 points
    Hi Mark, Texas was under the gun to cancel our inspection program and before doing so, they commissioned UT to perform a study. Their results are public. We had on state representative in particular, who was pushing to get rid of it, living in my district, and we voted him out. Still had more. There were a total of 5 bills in this legislative session that were killed by our lobbying group. I can provide a bit of data that might let you see how Texas handled it and provide contact information of our lobbying group. Hope this helps. Some background on our Safety inspections. We are not that tough. Brakes, tires, lugnuts if visible, wipers, lights, horns, power steering, 1 mirror and exhaust leaks. No inspection of front windshield unless it is really bad. No disassembly is allowed, which implies no racking of cars, which means that we won't generally spot and eliminate rust bucket cars. So, braking test, then visual inspections of all other systems while on the ground. Tires are 2/32" (we've only heard rumors of snow elsewhere). Brakes must stop the car and no obvious safety issue noted. Much discretion allowed to the inspector, so if something is bad, it can be called out and the car blocked from passing. It could be over-ridden by a regional State Inspector Supervisor if protested, but they tend to do the right thing. All of this is done for a whopping $7. If you live in a SMOG county, then $18.50 more to get an ODB readout and a gas cap leak check. Annual cost here $25.50. News link: Study Results: And you may already know our lobbying group: Texas Vehicle Inspection Association 6101 Long Prairie Rd Ste. 744-240 Flower Mound, 75028 --brian
  2. 2 points
    We do not price match, I didn't pull a number out of a hat to put on an estimate. My estimate is specifically designed based on my needs. Parts are marked up according to what I need to be profitable, same with my labor rate. If your looking for the best price in town, I am not it. I am a professional and I want you to come to my business because of the service we provide, not because of my prices. Also why are you guys not making any money on tires??? Marked up 43% for 30% profit. I am not a tire store, I am only going to install tires if I am making money. Let the tire stores whip tires in and out. We have a diagnostic and repair work to do. I would like to say I think some owners need to slow down in their day. Being busy is just an illusion of being profitable. Bust in to your books and build your prices based on what you need.
  3. 2 points
    Virginia's Governor in his 2020 budget proposal has included elimination of the state's vehicle safety inspection program. In addition, a state legislator has introduced a bill doing the same. I serve on the board of the Virginia Automotive Association, a group of over 200 independent shops who have banded together to lobby in the interests of our industry. VAA has ponied up a a $25000 increase in the lobbying budget to fight the move. As a shop owner, I have mixed emotions on the subject, but if I were gambling I would bet that the program will go away. On one hand, it's kind of nice that the state's motorists are forced to bring their cars to a shop once a year, giving us an opportunity to make them life-long customers. Also, it has created a cadre of technicians in the state who have been vetted and background checked by the state police. On the other hand, there are a litany of negatives inluding customer resentment, anger when their vehicle fails, uneven management by the state police who oversee the program due to limited resources. Some shops are "by the book" while others are "sticker mills" who will pass anything. Unfortunately, VAA and others have been unable to produce hard statistics that show that the program .makes a difference in highway safety. The big studies I have found blame driver error for the majority of accidents. What is ironic is that just this year VAA won a long battle to get the inspection fee raised from 16 to 20 dollars. The legislature convenes in January to enact laws that will take effect in June. I would like to hear how other Virginia shop owners feel and I would like to hear from other states that have witnessed termination of these programs. Mark Anderton
  4. 2 points
    The practice of ending safety inspections in NJ completely changed the business. We saw glass guys fold within 30 days. Because once the state ended safety inspections, they ended as part of the inspection process. Meaning you no longer failed for a cracked windshield. I would do a little digging on what exactly that means for you and your state, because for us it was a license to drive anything that could pass emissions. It was more of a political move, used to trim the DMV budget and move money around. It is the worst thing any state can do for public safety. We see some insanely unsafe vehicles driving and there is nothing anyone can do. As long as the check engine light isn't on, the state doesn't care.
  5. 1 point
    The Hawk Eye Elite is probably the best alignment machine out there but for the few amount of alignments we do i will take the Atlas. The Atlas rolls on a cart easily every night. Plus we have limited space and our aliment rack is outside covered with a metal roof. We don't have the space for a Hawk Eye.
  6. 1 point
    We all survive by and need healthy car counts. That's a given. But all too often I see auto repair shops with "steady" but not "growing" car counts, but with new customers coming in each week. So, the question is, "If a shop has steady car counts and has new customers each week, then why are car counts not growing?" This is a topic that's complicated for a post but here are a few things to consider: Is your marketing attracting the right customer that matches your key profile customer? If not, the wrong customer may be a one-timer and that does not help your car count. Or, if you are promoting too much discounting, you may be attracting the wrong customer, and that's not a long-term strategy either. Are you making every effort to WOW all new customers and create an amazing experience that gives the new customer a compelling reason to return? All too often we are too transactional and don't spend enough time establishing relationships. Make every effort to spend time with each customer and ESPECIALLY with first time customers. Its the relationship not salesmanship that builds a company! Are you booking your customer’s next vehicle appointment? Please don’t tell me this does not work. It does! Hairdressers do it, doctors do it, dentists do it, nail salons do it. My chimney cleaning service company evens books the next chimney cleaning! If you are not booking your customer’s next visit, trust me, someone else will. I hope this makes sense. What are your thoughts?
  7. 1 point
    Set a limit for requiring a deposit on jobs. A $3,000 job should MOST certainly have had a deposit on it. Most states require you have clearly posted signage in order to charge storage fees. Make a nice looking notice, frame it and mount it on the wall in your office that is clearly seen when a customer comes in. Check with your state on the rules you may need to follow. Asking your customer to pick their vehicle up within 72 hours is well within reason. Remember you are not being a jerk, you're trying to run a successful business.
  8. 1 point
    Imagine....You walk into Starbucks....You ask for a large cappuccino. The cost? Over 4 bucks with tax. You ask the barista if she could match the price from the local deli across the street….$1.95. You tell me what would happen. And for those who say it’s not the same. It is.
  9. 1 point
    Joe, I agree with you totally! So many shop owners I speak to forget about the “relationship” and “retention” issues. In fact, in this video, I talked about the 3 things shop owners need to focus on in 2020. But what I feel (and see so many times) is that shop owners ignore are the facts… and the fact is that when you’re dealing with a new customer, you have less than 27% chance of them returning to you for a second visit. And that ONLY happens if they have an excellent customer experience! That 27% change is not very good - yet shop owners still call them “THEIR” customer. You don’t own the customer. In total, most of the car count issues I see would be solved if shop owners focus on RETAINING the customer’s they’ve got - and doing that generates more referrals, more car count and it just keeps snowballing. Hope this helps! Matthew "The Car Count FIxer" P.S.: Watch Marketing your shop in 2020 P.P.P.: You ONLY have a 27% chance of new customers returning P.P.P.S.: Don't ignore your customer - Start texting customers before this time tomorrow - and it's FREE!
  10. 1 point
    Our car count last year to date 1/18/19 was 209. This year to date 1/18/20 is 177. Our ARO is up though, so we are only down 5K so far. All businesses around here seem to be slower than last year. Might be a regional thing.
  11. 1 point
    So far for winter 2020, we are having a better than normal season. This is good news since, late fall sales fell. I am hopeful this will continue. Sales of new cars fell last year, with the average age of cars on the road are at an all time high. Near 12 years. And the scrappage rate has greatly declined. What are you seeing in your area?
  12. 1 point
    “Why are we discussing these issues when the people who need it the most are not here? We’re not reinventing the wheel. We get it. But the ones who don’t get it need to be here, too!” Those were the words spoken by one of my service advisors during a recent meeting. We were discussing quality issues and ways to improve overall production, which, we determined, would improve sales and profit. I listened as Tommy (not his real name) continued for a few minutes. I could hear the frustration in his voice, so I let him speak until I felt he expressed all his feelings to the group. I am a firm believer in holding regular meetings. And, while there are times when the group gives me feedback, rarely does anyone voice their opinion with such passion and intensity the way Tommy did that day. Drawing on experience, I thanked him for his openness and honesty. I also asked him if we could continue this discussion in the morning in private. He agreed. The next morning, I paged Tommy and asked him to come to my office. I thanked him again for his openness and asked him to elaborate more on what he said the night before. Tommy hesitated at first, but slowly began to tell me his frustrations. It really boiled down to the level of commitment from a few techs. Tommy spoke in length about what he would like to change in the shop, and again repeated that we’re not reinventing the wheel. His words were clear and on point, “Joe, we all know what to do. We all know our goals. And we all know when we perform to the level we are supposed to. So, I just don’t understand why all of us can meet those expectations.” Tommy’s insight into the work environment and the dynamics of people’s behavior was perhaps deeper than he even realized. When people within an organization feel that some of their coworkers are not pulling their weight, animosity begins to set in. Essentially, your top employees want to make sure that everyone is committed to the company’s success and doing their very best for the greater good of the team. We also need to remember that people look at things from their own perspective. And their perspective becomes their reality. The key thing is to keep the lines of communication open, learn from each other and try to view different situations from the viewpoint of others. After nearly 30 minutes of discussion, it was time to give Tommy my input on how I viewed the situation. I let him know that, while not everyone will be in total agreement with how he views these concerns, he has made a giant step forward at letting me know the issues we have in the shop. I then asked Tommy, “Out of our 16 employees, how many people in your opinion, without giving me any names, do not live up to the expectations of the company?” Tommy thought for a moment and replied, “Well, when I think about it, just a few. Two, maybe three.” Here was my opportunity to bring logic into a very emotional discussion. “So, what you are telling me is that the majority of your coworkers do live up to the company’s expectations and do a quality job?” Tommy replied, “Yes, I didn’t see it that way.” I let Tommy know that I would take his ideas and implement them into my strategy to improve the work environment. He appreciated the fact that I listened to his concerns. Here’s the bottom line. When a person speaks up like Tommy did—listen to them. Don’t shut them down. They are expressing more than their frustrations over a few of their coworkers. They are giving you real-life, from the trenches information. And although it may be from their perspective, their viewpoint can give you valuable information that will help you and your company improve. Even a few people not pulling their weight can be enough to affect morale. And others may be feeling the same way. What you don’t want are “yes” people who merely agree with you because you’re the boss. No matter how uncomfortable it may be, welcome feedback and criticism from your key people. We also need to listen more and speak less. And most of all, we need to understand that the solutions to our problems don’t always have to come from us. Sometimes, an employee’s outburst is just what we need to put things in the right perspective. This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on January 1st, 2020
  13. 1 point
    Thank you for your kind comments. I have to confess here... things have been moving so fast that it's difficult to keep up, but know this. We have some awesome video and help being worked on now so we can explain everything! I promise, you'll love it. Just let me know if you have any questions! Thanks again!, ~Matthew
  14. 1 point
    I signed up for this GoMo and love it. So do our customers. Matthew has been very helpful, it's worth looking into. Now just need to learn how to implement it more to promote business!
  15. 1 point
    I charge $25 a day. I only impose this if it's been one week after repairs are completed. The most recent one the customer cooked the engine and was from out of state. The storage charges started on Dec 23rd, she called her bank and surrendered the vehicle. The bank called and arranged to pick up the vehicle and pay the balance, including storage. This worked out great, THIS time.
  16. 1 point
    I currently have an Interstate ED-18 tester and Interstate recently released their “latest and greatest” IB Pulse tester. Very little independent information available concerning reviews of this new IB Pulse tester or comparisons to its predecessor, the ED-18. Does anyone have this new IB Pulse and how do you like it? Is it as good or better than the ED-18? After a VIN scan does the new IB Pulse tester preconfigure and load the testing specs like the old ED-18? Are starter draw and charging system tests adequate? Any information or comparisons would be appreciated.
  17. 1 point
    I just got an Atlas Edge 601 Pro and so far I'm very happy with it. Last week a Hunter salesman stopped in cause somebody mentioned to him I was getting an alignment machine. I told him he was to late as I just got one. He hadn't seen an Atlas and asked if he could take a look. I had just pulled a car on the lift to do an alignment so he stuck around for a few minutes. He seemed impressed by how fast I had the measurements on the screen, as well as not having to do the runout procedure. I wasn't sold on the not needing to do the runout at first, but the first two cars I ran through, I pulled measurements with and without the runout procedure and found that all the measurements were within a couple hunredths of a degree either way. I haven't worked in a shop with an alignment machine since the mid-90's, and we rarely used it as it was already 25+ years old. If I remember right, we had to modify the wheel clamps to use on something without wooden spokes. The new Atlas I had up and running in just a couple hours and feel quite proficient with it already. Two of the fast clamps were defective and I called Greg Smith Equipment where I bought the machine from and they overnighted me two new ones. Customer service is exceptional.
  18. 1 point
    I use Nest. They seem to work well and I have to say the video quality is great. I'm adding more cameras as I go. Currently have 7. My building has two furnaces and I have two of the nest thermostats as well. Plan to add 3 more cameras as well as the Nest deadbolts on two of my doors. I prefer to be able to unlock a door for someone when I am away than to have to hand out keys. I'm hardly ever away as I live in the same building. I went wireless because of the amount of wire I'd have to run to get cameras everywhere I want them. Only downside is it only holds 5 days worth of video and that is subscription based. Can get longer storage, but it's quite costly. 5 days has worked ok so far, but I can see where that could be a problem in some cases.
  19. 1 point
    I upgraded an older system a few years ago. I went with a system from Lorex https://www.lorextechnology.com/. I think my system was around $1500. I wanted the highest resolution cameras I could get and I would never go wireless. I wanted to be able to capture as much detail as possible, so we had the best chance of capturing tag numbers and possible damage to vehicles. The system has paid for itself many times over. First, there have been several hit and runs in our parking lot that the cameras have captured. This alone has saved me thousands of dollars. If a customer makes a claim, that damage was done while there car was with us, I can quickly look at the video to see if the damage was there when they dropped off. I trust my employees, and never put cameras in the shop with the old system. With the new system I did. I realized there were a lot more benefits to having them there. When the cars come in and out, you get a better look at any possible damage, and we have 6 loaner cars that are always being recorded. We have not had any issues, but if a car were to come back damaged, we would be able to quickly check to see if the damage was there before or not. Then there are a number of different scenarios where the cameras have been useful. Can't find a key, look at the video to see who drove the car last, and what they did after. A car sitting in the parking lot for days who's origin is unknown, just look at the video. The guys are always coming to me asking me to check the security cameras for these types of things. I would never trust wireless cameras. I would do as we ask most of our customers to do, and focus on performance and quality over price, and make sure the Hard Drive is big enough to capture several weeks on continuous recording. Which is the mode that I recommend. If you run them on activation mode, you run the risk of missing something valuable. Scott
  20. 1 point
    I would not recommend wireless camera for security purposes. Hardwired should always be the choice if possible. But Arlo does make decent wireless cameras. We have used hard wired Lorex setups from Costco, with amazing success. https://www.costco.com/lorex-8-channel-uhd-4k-network-video-recorder-with-2tb-hdd-4-uhd-4k-active-deterrence-bullet-cameras-security-system.product.100469040.html That is the actual kit we have. One camera is out, connector needs to be waterproofed a little better. App Print Screens available on my phone:
  21. 1 point
    After doing research on the wireless cameras, I had wired cameras installed by a professional security coming inside and out of the building. Best investment I made. It cost about $2300, but worth every penny. It picked up three accidents in my lot after hours. Saved me from responsibility each time. I’m at a major intersection and the police use it for accidents. Protecting my business is my first priority and wired cameras are the best bet. Just my opinion
  22. 1 point
    Hi Mark - we’re here in VA, too. We agree with the mixed emotions. We know that inspections do lead to customer interactions and some honest repairs. But we also know that we can get bogged down in nothing but inspections, which is highly unprofitable. I would like to see the process revamped, not removed. Perhaps annual inspections are excessive; I believe there are other states where inspections aren’t required until a vehicle hits a certain age or mileage. In PA, shops have the right to charge whatever they want for an inspection - that would be wonderful! The customer can choose to pay more to work with someone they trust, would help deflect some of those customers pounding at your door at the end of the month.
  23. 1 point
    Picked up a few zmodos on black friday. Also picked up a ring for the house. I have to say, I am impressed with the ring pro. Ended up getting a ring 2 on black friday for a relative's house, battery operated. works well.
  24. 1 point
    This has not been much of a problem for us over the last 30 years, but right now I have 3 cars sitting on my lot that have essentially been abandoned. One of the customers passed away unfortunately while the car was here. After about 9 months, I filed for mechanics liens. The first thing the lien companies do is send out a certified letter. Quite often, this alone will motivate people to come get their car. If they don't, the car becomes yours to do with as you please. I don't necessarily like doing this, but there has to be a limit to how long I will keep a car around. I make sure I have given them every opportunity to get the car, and use liens as the last option. Scott
  25. 1 point
    @Joe Marconi You said that right. Deserve attention towards O.E.M parts, repaint work done is not satisfactory, repair guarantee might be differ or sensing a difference in the way your vehicle handles. Improvement are key to ensuring and maintaining the highest possible level of satisfaction among the customers. Competition heads neck-to-neck in repair shops. The customer rely on quality and cost of service. A happy customer is one who will come back whenever they need help. Because the customer estimates the labor rates to various shops in nearby locations. Our biggest challenge is to adapt latest technology, while repair cost will minimum to our valuable customers.
  26. 1 point
    What’s wrong with my employees? Why don’t they do what I ask of them? It’s the same thing every day. I say one thing, they do another. It seems as if I am the only person who knows what to do around here. Does any of this sound familiar? Have you said these words, or a variation of these words, from time to time? If so, you’re not alone. Getting people to follow policy or a new marketing strategy sometimes feels as if you are trying to move the earth off its axis. People in high levels of authority are well-aware of the need to get things done. Each member of their team plays an integral part in the success or failure of the organization. In your shop, you are the authority: you are the shop owner. You know that the responsibility of attaining success directly rests on your shoulders. This is a weight you carry around with you each day. Eventually, if your efforts don't attain the results you need to run a successful business, you begin to look around to find out what’s causing the problem. And the tendency is to assign blame. All too often, you find that your employees are not all pulling in the same direction. And you determine that this is the cause of your problems. The following may not sit well with you, but if most of your employees are not engaged and not performing up to your expectations, it’s probably not their fault. You need to take a long hard look in the mirror. The fault may lie with management, and that means you. Assigning blame is destructive. It keeps our focus directed in the wrong areas. This is not to say we can never have a bad employee. But, if we focus on seeking blame, we are directing our attention from where our focus should be; and that’s accepting the responsibility to correct what’s happening and make the necessary changes. In order to really get things done and achieve personal success and the personal success of your employees, it takes the cooperation of each team member. Getting people to work as a unified team involves commitment, not compliance. Compliance is demanding people to do something. And they will—but only up to a certain point and only for a certain period of time. What you need from your employees is not compliance; you need commitment. Surveys have shown that the majority of employees in most businesses are not engaged at work and the primary reason is that most employees don’t know the overall goals and vision of the company. And they also don’t know what’s expected of them. Employees are largely left to react to their situations during the day; never really having a clear understanding of how their role contributes to their success and the success of the company. A business team is no different than a sports team. Every member needs to know the objective and goals. Imagine the coach of a football team who does not let the quarterback—or the other players— know what the play is? He simply tells the players to get out on the field and perform. After all, the players are well-trained, highly capable and all professionals. Shouldn’t they know what to do to win? And when they fail to win, the coach ends up blaming the players. Is this a ridiculous analogy? It may be, but this is what happens every day in shops across the country. Your best employees don’t want to fail. They don’t intentionally ignore what you want from them. It’s more likely that they really may not know what you expect from them. Employees need to know exactly what is expected of them and they need to be motivated and inspired to perform their best. However, the only way your employees can perform at their best is for each of them to know what the company goals are. In other words, what is our overall objective and how we, as a team, are going to achieve it. Each employee also needs to know that when the business wins, they do, too. When employees realize that achieving the company goals is also aligned with achieving their personal goals, you have commitment. And commitment equates to success. Communicate the goals of the company often. Communicate what success looks like and how we are going to attain it. Create a workplace where the goals of the individual are aligned with the goals of the company. If things get off track, just look in the mirror. If you want to blame someone, you might want to start with yourself. This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on December 3rd, 2019
  27. 1 point
    A few years back, my service advisor, Tony, was trying to sell a customer a new battery. Let’s call this customer Ed Jones. Here’s how the conversation unfolded; “Mr. Jones, my technician completed our 21-point inspection on your vehicle and everything checks out fine. However, I do want to discuss the battery. Your battery was tested with our Midtronics digital battery diagnostic tool, which is a very accurate piece of equipment. Your battery is rated at 575 cold cranking amps, and your battery tested at 300. Would you like me to replace the battery today?” Ed Jones looked at Tony, and three seconds later said, “Thank you for the information. Let me think about it.” I know Ed very well. The car we were servicing that day was his daughter’s car, who was home from college for the Christmas holiday. Ed’s daughter is in her first year at Plattsburgh University in upstate New York, which is about a five hour drive and near the Canadian border. I could see the frustration on Tony’s face, so I gave him a little advice; “Tony, ask Mr. Jones who drives the car. After he answers you, ask him what the car is used for. Listen to his answers and then use that information to sell safety and peace of mind, not a battery.” Five minutes later, Tony reported back to me excited and amazed; “Joe, great advice! He authorized the battery! I guess you knew he would buy the battery with the right questions?” I replied, “You were trying to sell Ed Jones a battery by pointing out the technical process we use to determine the health of the battery. What you need to do is reach the customer on an emotional level. The questions I recommended you ask made him realize that it’s the welfare of his daughter he was really buying, not a battery.” Now, let’s clarify something. Tony didn’t say anything wrong with his sales presentation. But he got the process backwards. He was leading with logic. If you’re trying to sell something by using logic alone, you are going to struggle. People make buying decisions based on emotions. To make a sale, you need to connect with the part of the brain where emotions reside, and then back it up with logic. Bombarding the customer first with facts and features tends to confuse the brain as it tries to make sense out what you are saying. That can be difficult because the technical information is usually not fully understood by the customer and the confusion usually results in the customer saying, “No.” Let’s review the conversation when Tony asked the right questions; “Mr. Jones, who drives this car?” Ed replied, “My Daughter.” Tony continued, “And what does she use the car for?” Ed replied, “She uses it to go college at Plattsburgh. She’s home for the holidays and goes back to school on Monday.” At that point, Tony realized why I urged him to ask those questions, and continued with, “So, your daughter drives this car back to college, and leaves on Monday. She goes to Plattsburgh, which is near the Canadian border. Mr. Jones, it’s wintertime and that’s a long, lonely drive. Her battery tested weak and may fail without warning. For peace of mind and your daughter’s safety, wouldn’t it be in her best interest to replace the battery before she leaves?” Ed now makes the emotional decision, “Yes.” Here’s the bottom line. First, know your customer. Build rapport during the write up process and find out all the details of why the car was brought in for service. Second, tone down the technical side of what you do. That’s not to say it’s not important. But, before you give the technical facts, reach your client on an emotional level. Ask questions to find out as much as you can about the customer, and then direct the conversation to the reasons why what you are trying to sell will benefit the well-being of the customer and/or the customer’s family. Remember, decisions are easier to make when it has meaning to them or a family member. In Ed’s case, not replacing the battery would have been unsettling to him. Tony’s recommendation to replace the battery is perceived as the right decision because it promotes the safety and well-being of his daughter. Humans are driven by feelings and make emotional decisions, then justify it with logic. Next time you are trying to sell anything to a customer, ask yourself, “Why should the customer buy what I am trying to sell?” The answer may surprise you. This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on November 1st, 2019
  28. 1 point
    I just helped your review score. I find most of my 1 stars are totally undeserved and come from scumbags and people who want something for nothing.
  29. 1 point
    I'm in the same boat. I like the Hawkeye elite with the tire clamps and fast setup times, but the $40,000 note is intimidating.
  30. 1 point
    I have not needed any repairs at this time. One reason I bought the CEMB is that the USA headquarters is in Gainesville, GA in the Atlanta Metro area. The folks there have been really helpful when we've called for any info.
  31. 0 points
    In regards to what is out on the market now, I would not buy any of them other than hunter hawk eye elite. I had struggled with camera based systems in the past and they are pure junk. Don't waste your money, just get hunter.

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