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Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/25/2010 in all areas

  1. 7 points
    I have spent the last 20 minutes looking at your website, advertisements, reviews, Facebook, google street images, and more. I have some definite profitable improvements in mind, and I am going to share them with you. If you have been there since 2000, you have lots of people that trust you, and you have plenty of room for much more profit!! You will want to build on that Big-Time!! "The shop has been known for cheap oil changes." *** How does the following sound? "My shop is known for precision front-end and undercar work and is a leader in computerized alignments." How about this?? "I know brakes and I perform long-lasting, smooth-stopping, and quiet brake jobs. "I can diagnose your "Service Engine" light for you and get it turned off after the necessary repairs and services have been completed." "We are known as the Go-To shop for Air Conditioning Service." Think about what it would be like to have from three to four alignments scheduled for one day, and you get them in and some need repairs and/or tires. I see that you advertise alignments and promote them on Facebook. When folks come in for an alignment, many times they are prepared to invest a lot to have their car repaired in order for it to drive and perform properly. When folks come in for a cheap oil change, their mind and pocketbook are on a cheap oil change. So....think about this!! Nobody else (I imagine) is doing $18.95 oil changes, so you need to up the price and add more benefits!! Walmart oil changes are about $35.00 and Jiffy Lube about $50.00. So when Miss Jones comes in for her oil service with safety inspection, you tell her up front: Miss Jones, you have been a great client of mine!! And I thank you for that!! I am going to give you better service than ever, because I have integrated a safety and maintenance inspection with our oil change services. I am going to use a checklist, inspect your car, and go over any needs with you. Your investment in this is only $29.95 plus tax. Please have a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while I'm bringing your car in the shop!! **** Note: 3 important sentences coming up: A client came in to my shop Friday with his 2011 Altima for an oil change service only. I told him that the factory maintenance recommended a belt, air filter, cabin filter, and trans. service. His invoice was $440.00. They won't all buy, but lots will, and that's what counts. Now notice that you didn't say that "oil changes" went up....you told her about the added benefits. ***PLUS most of the later model cars take 0W20 Synthetic motor oil and the Oil Change Services are usually $44.95 to $59.95. Be sure to ALWAYS SPECIFY the factory recommended oil because it's what the car and your cash register require!!! $$$ You will want to work on enhancing your train of thought from Cheap and Lowest Price to Precision, Performance, Smooth, Quiet, Vibration-Free, More Power, Long-Lasting, Straight, Hot for heat, Cold for AC. Practice selling the benefits and you will see MUCH HIGHER ARO'S, more satisfied clients, and MORE CA$H in the BANK!!! I'm ending for now, but please pay close attention to the above, start tomorrow, and have a CHANGED WEEK!!! I will be in touch!! Hi-Gear
  2. 6 points
    I figured I would share this and I don't believe it is covered enough in the shop owners circles and thats about leadership qualities and what it takes to lead. In my shop I am trying to change the culture where all of my guys buy in. I preach team work and education. We invest a lot into our people and I am sure you guys do as well. Recently one of my Service Advisers just graduated Elite's Master Course which is a 6 month intensive service adviser / writer's course. The transformation I have seen from my guy is nothing short of amazing. It has been a group effort from management down to the technician in increasing our sales, adjusting our work flow policies and implementing all the crazy ideas I have. In passing his final exam I promised my service adviser I would take him out to an expensive steak dinner. After thinking long and hard about it I decided I was not doing the right thing. The other employees may see this as favoritism and as a "reward" which is not the intention of passing his course. Instead I made a decision to invite my whole staff to a dinner on us. In the invitation I took the time to acknowledge everyone for the good work they have been doing and that the reason why I wanted to invite everyone was not as a reward but as a celebration. We are a team and our successes and failures are shared as a group. I emphasis that everything they achieve in their professional and personal lives that make a positive impact are important to me and important to our company. Does it cost us money to invest in our team? Absolutely, this dinner alone is going to around $1000. Will it pay dividends in the future, for sure. It also feels really good to do for others. I believe acknowledgement, appreciation and team building is sorely lacking in our industry. One of my goals is to make our company the best place to work in the industry. Take care of your employees and your employees will take care of your customers. I am grateful for the amazing people I work with and I hope its an attitude that everyone strives to share.
  3. 6 points
    Ok, I am back. Like I was saying, Do not expect anyone to help your vision if they don't understand it, or if you don't communicate it. Set realistic expectations, there are only 24 hours in a day, don't overextend yourself or your resources beyond their capabilities. Comprehend that there are bad people out there, bad as in malicious, predatory, evil, don't put up with them, avoid them if you can. There are also toxic people, just like you would not let a thief into your home, do not let toxic people's ideas and attitures pollute your mind, or steal your dreams and ambitions. Do not spend time on idle thoughts, grudges, or ill desires, they will harm you. Commit to your cause, and do not look back. You are a leader, you must lead, those that will follow you - need you to lead. Know that knowledge is potential, it needs action, to make things happen. On the other hand, action without knowledge is dangerous action. In sum, choose to be successful, think successful, act successful. Your attitude is the engine that powers the outcome of your actions, knowlege is the potential, action is the consequence of your thoughs. I hope these words help to alleviate your burn-out. -Harry
  4. 5 points
  5. 5 points
    I think you're nuts!! I think if I looked up ADD ADHD in the dictionary your picture would be there.....please.....don't take that the wrong way. I can appreciate your youthful enthusiasm but as I follow your posts your going off half cocked all the time. It's like you cant focus on one thing and you allow every thought that crosses your mind to become a reality. In one post you go from one shop to three, then back down to two, next your thinking about a tow truck.....discussing how to get proper gp and now selling trinkets....I get tired just reading your posts.....(they are interesting) I suppose one day when you're on the cover of fortune magazine I will be able to say I interacted with him on a message board for a while....good luck.
  6. 5 points
    I got a call the other day from a shop owner who happens to own a repair shop in the town I live in. He told me that a new Advance Auto Parts store has opened up down the road and they want him to buy from them. I asked him how he felt about buying from Advance Auto Parts. He told me that he really has an issue due to all the signage in front of the store: Free Wiper Blade installation, Free Battery Testing, Free Battery Installation, Free Alternator Testing and Free Starter Testing. There’s even a sign that says, Loaner Tool Sets Available! I don’t know how you feel, but as a shop owner I cannot align myself with a company that devalues the work we do. It’s hard enough to generate a profit these days, but to compete with the same business that wants me to buy from them? That’s insane. Advance Auto Parts claims that they target the DIY, not my customers. But the truth is, everyone sees and hears their advertising. So my customers here the “Free message” over and over. And, let’s not kid ourselves: If Advance Auto Parts can convert a few motorist to try to do auto repairs themselves; that would be just fine for Advance Auto Parts. All at the expense of the auto repair shops. The bottom line here is truly the Bottom Line. Advance Auto Parts has to answer to Wall Street and its investors. I have to answer to one person…myself. And I will not compromise my beliefs for anyone or any company. So Advance Auto Parts and Tech Net, say goodbye to someone that has been a life-long friend.
  7. 5 points
    Car repair isn't a glamorous job, in fact it doesn't rank very highly as a career choice (ask any high school counselor) But, it is a way of life and a career for a lot of people, including myself. I enjoy it, still to this day. ASO is one place where you can talk shop with like minded people in the business. They're technical wisdom, stories, and passion for this trade is evident in the pages of ASO. If you read a few of the topics from all over the country, you'll find that passion, that drive, that "want to do it better" atmosphere of helping people with their car problems. We just don't fix cars, we fix people's faith in the automotive mechanic too, and that's what you'll find here at ASO.
  8. 5 points
    Hello all! New to the forum but would like to chime in. Our shop has only been open for a year but we do alright. Here is my advice on what I am finding to be the most important, most of which are marketing (an aspect most shops neglect): 1) Logo and Branding - our logo was professionally designed to look modern yet sophisticated and will stick longer in a person's head. Our shop walls also match the color and all of our documents have our logo. We were lucky that my cousin is a graphic designer so didn't spend much on this but I know there are a lot of reasonably priced designers out there. We get so many compliments on our logo/branding....which means so many customers want stickers, windshield banners, shirts, etc...its all advertisement and then people will start to hear about your shop from random places and remember seeing that logo. 2) Updated Website - I see a lot of auto shops that have very outdated looking websites. However, websites are usually the 2nd thing new customers will look at when they find you on yelp or Facebook first. We use our website to showcase our shop, lobby/office, let customers request appointments and quotes. We get most of our appointment requests via our website, which is awesome because it gives us time to come up with accurate quotes. Also use our website to show what events we're going to, post blogs of photos of past events, show all of our pricing, show our bios and photos of us. I find that people like transparency....there are reasonably priced sites that have beautiful templates: Wix, Squarespace, Shopify. 3) Clean & organized shop - First thing new customers say when they walk in is wow, your shop is clean. We make sure we set time each day to clean and organize. Our clean floors make any photo of our shop look great. Customers think if we take care of our space like this, we take care of the cars as well. Also our office is modern with plants, TV with Roku, Wifi, coffee machine, free snacks, car books to read, phone charging station, we bought a cheap counter top and brackets from IKEA to put by the window so that customers can work on their laptop while look into the shop. 4) Social Media - we are very active in social media and we dont spend a dime on it. Instagram: great for photos, and tagging...just had a new customer come in today and said he found out about us on Instagram (tagging works!) Facebook: we get a lot of engagement here. Post photos of cars we're working on, blog entries that link to our website, events that we are going to, we message customers here if they do that to us first. We tend to get a lot more likes when we are more personable, show them that we are humans 5) Network like crazy - we go to a lot of events, and we host a lot of events/BBQs as well. We work on a lot of track cars, so we go to the track a lot. We paid about $1k for a canopy, large flag, and tablecloth with our logo on it. That was kinda pricey but it made its money back. A lot of people say they knew about us first because they saw us at the track. Some people walk up to us just to ask what we do. So even though we're there to have fun and track our cars, we are still advertising. If not track, we go to meets, drives, car shows. 6) Treat everyone (including vendors and other shops) with respect, regardless of the car they drive or how much money they spend at your shop. One customer said he comes back because he gets better vibes from us than any other shop. Another customer tried to tell us we should try to takeover another shop's customer base and we replied that we're not about that, and we are all just car enthusiasts trying to make a living--there are enough cars to go around--that customer replied well, thats why i love coming to you guys. Always stay humble, never bad-mouth anyone and people will always remember that. Hope that helps!
  9. 4 points
    A good way to price your labor rate is to take your most expensive tech's pay rate, then add in uniforms, benefit costs, FICA, workers comp, etc until you have the loaded cost of having a technician. From there multiply that number by 2.5 to get to a 60% profit margin. For example a $30.00 tech probably costs you about $39.00 per hour, times 2.5 is about $98.00 per hour labor rate, at the least.
  10. 4 points
    I had a business coach (John Wafler (great guy, made it in R&W a few years ago)) who told me to implement the '300%' rule. 100% of the cars get 100% inspected and present 100% of the findings. I didn't like the idea at first. I felt I would be running off my customers. I thought it would come across that we were just trying to sell extra work. Turns out he was right and I was wrong. Customers love it. I've actually got new customers because they heard about how well we do inspections. We use tablets with Bolt-On to do digital multi-points. Like Jay Huh said, it does make the oil changes a little longer, but most customers are understanding that we're not just doing an oil change, but an actual service. Obviously, ARO went way up. From the month we started, we blew every previous month out of the water. It's a no brainer
  11. 4 points
    This is very true and great point! If you can reduce expenses elsewhere to compensate then you can certainly pay your techs more. It is more of a rule of thumb however it is important understand the WHY. In this business, your payroll is probably the biggest cost and is rather constant. For this reason there is a lot of emphasis placed on paying an appropriate wage so that the employee makes a good living while the business also stays profitable. Another good point is that techs are harder and harder to find these days. This is however a dangerous line because many owners get it into their head that they are almost held hostage to pay their guys more and more just to keep them when they may not being doing their business a service and also keep on guys that aren't worth the higher wage. Even though techs are harder to come by these days, it is still a big ocean out there!
  12. 4 points
    So funny because this is something I was just thinking about. We were a bit light on appointments going into the end of this week and our next week looks a bit thin on appointments. "Slow Days" should most certainly be a procedure that is strategic and ready to be implemented. Morale can most certainly be affected when cars are not coming through the doors. Along with what Joe had mentioned on his list, it is also a great time to knock out the things that you haven't gotten around to doing. Cleaning, maintenance of equipment, painting, team meetings, filing paper work, putting together marketing plans, going over your budget and see where you can cut the fat, training, etc. The list goes on and on. I am going to personally put together a Slow Days list and also a Slow days procedure that is written on paper. I urge you guys to do the same!
  13. 4 points
    30k/mo as a single man shop is phenomenal! Kudos to you! For me it wasn't as simple. Between answering the phone, selling jobs, and turning wrenches, I came to realize that I needed help to turn out an acceptable service. Being the type of man that I am, I sat down and made a list of things I needed to do, and what were my expectations to give my customer an excellent service. I made a revenue projection and at a worst case scenario, I saw that I could hire someone even if I had to do all the work. I gave myself three months to try it out. I would like to tell you that the first guy I hire was a complete success, but it was not. The numbers held true, and he did make me money, but there came a lot of aggravation for not knowing how to have done a proper screening. Hiring is more than just making the numbers work. I now check references, I ask about the attitude and willingness to learn, I rather take someone with less experience and teach them my process if they have the right attitude and willingness to learn. I also keep in mind their personal relationship with their significant other in their lives, if their spouse is difficult, that will find a way to pollute into their work environment. my 0.02¢
  14. 4 points
    Thanks for writing. I was one of those kids that wasn't a bad kid but took woodworking starting in the 7th grade and then other "shop" classes until my junior year when I could take auto mechanics. I never planned on doing it for a career, I just wanted to keep my junk running. It had its benefits as I worked on the principles and vice principles beaters. My shop teacher was a German guy that had a transmission shop and loved airplanes. I spent many hours helping win on the weekends with various projects and even went up in one of his planes a few times. He even let my fly. It was a great experience and am grateful for what I learned. I went to work as a diesel mechanic right out of school and hated it. Crap was too heavy and the smell of diesel in the am wasn't my thing. So after 2 years of being out of high school I went to a 2 year electronics trade school offered through Texas A&M (yes the greatest school in the USA). My grades in high School wasn't so great either. Funny thing is that all those classes I just couldn't do, or get interested in during high school came real easy and wasn't so hard when I was paying hard earned money to learn. I went on to work on IBM mainframes and all kinds of other electronics. Problem was I like to see outside and suits and ties just wasn't my thing. I was helping a guy in a new body shop on the side and ended going to work for him. People thought I was crazy to give up a job working on computers in the 80's to do collision repair. It was a great decision and did it for 10 years but started teaching all kinds of repair topics in the evenings and decided to start a company specializing in restraint systems and automotive electronics. Learned to write Visual Basic while developing a management system for the business then sold the business. Took off some time then went to work for a consolidator in the Collision Industry but really my desire was to learn as much as I can from them and then go open a shop in my community so I could perform my number one job of being the best father and husband I could be. Didn't need the biggest shop but wanted to be present in my children's lives and not miss any activity they were involved with. I started a small collision operation with 14 bays and then added a general service operation after a couple of years. I love what I do, I love the employees that work for me and I love our customers.. I still take lots of training, read lots of books, listen to lots of podcasts. I spend a minimum of 2 days a month out of the business doing some kind of training for my own growth. I tour at least one business a month that is not in my industry for ideas. I never missed an event my kids were involved in and still travel to watch my son play college football. I have a great staff that allows me the luxury of being able to leave at will. I encourage each employee to not miss their child's events even if they are in the middle of the day. I tell them just let us know about it and we can schedule around it. We're not doctors and nobody is going to bleed out or die on the table if they are out for a couple of hours. All of this to say I wasn't "College" material by the high school councillors. I believe in education and place a high value on it, but just not the route most councillors are pushing on all kids.. I write this on my iPad mini as my wife and I are driving back from a football game. Her driving style leaves a little bit to be desired. So excuse the typos and grammar but keep in mind I'm not a college graduate either.. Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  15. 4 points
    For me it is pricing. I think as an industry we are too cheap for what we do, what we need to know and how we service our customers. Labor charges has to be more in line with today's demands on overhead, tool expense and training. Plus, we will always battle the tech issue until we can attract quality people. I am not saying it's all about money....but it does factor into it. Collectively we need to convey to the customer value, not price. We need to deliver world class service and not lead with price or market our business by price alone.
  16. 4 points
    I wrote this a number of years ago as a tribute to not only my father, but to all who work in this industry. Joe Marconi MEN OF STEEL Some of my fondest memories as a young boy in the 1960’s were the Saturday afternoons I spent with my father at Babe’s Body Shop in the Bronx. Babe and my father were old army buddies who served together in World War II. They grew up in the same neighborhood and remained friends their entire lives. I never knew his real name or his last name, everyone just called him Babe. As my father and Babe would talk about the old days and the War, I would wander off and watch the men in the shop perform their magic. I can still remember as if it was yesterday. I watched in amazement as these men took a wrecked car and pounded it back into shape. In those days, you didn’t just replace a fender or quarter panel, you fixed it. These guys had the strength of Hercules and the skill of a Michelangelo. I remember on one particular day, my father noticed how fascinated I was watching the guys in the shop. He knelt down beside me, pointed to the guys and said, “I call these guys, Men of Steel. These are tough guys that work hard each and every day. They can take a crumpled-up fender and with hammer in hand, work it back into shape just the way it looked when it rolled off the assembly line; and all by eye”. Before we left to go home, my father and I walked around the side of the body shop and pulled two sodas out of the Coke Cooler. Then we would sat down on a bench seat taken from of an old Desoto and finished our Cokes. Could an eight year old ask for a better summer Saturday afternoon? For many of us, childhood memories have served to create pathways to our careers. The auto repair industry is filled with shop owners and mechanics that draw upon past memories to shape their lives. The auto repair industry may have changed a bit, but we still perform magic every day. We are a dedicated breed and should be proud of what we, as a group, have accomplished. My passion for this business was born watching those “men of steel” back in the 60’s. I knew from a young age what I wanted to do in my life. I feel lucky that way. I often wonder how many people go to work every day hating their jobs. I am a mechanic and a shop owner. It’s the life I chose and it’s the life you chose. We all have a special bond. The glue that has bonded us together is our past. That same glue will help secure our future. My father encouraged me to open my own shop and we shared some great times before his passing in 1986. You see, he was also one of those “Men of Steel”. I’m not one to live in the past, but I would give just about anything to have one more summer Saturday afternoon, sitting on that bench seat behind Babe’s Body Shop sharing a coke with my Dad. Happy Father's Day!
  17. 4 points
    I took a boot camp from ATI and I gained a lot of information that helped. I could not see spending the amount of money they want for the full program. I also took a class from Vin Waterhouse thru NAPA, and that was a great class too. One thing that rings true, no matter what or who gives the class, is that you have to know your business inside and out. Numbers do not lie. Another thing, this is a process that takes time and changes should be made slowly so the results can be measured. It takes time to know what will work in your business and your market area. Everyone wants the silver bullet, but the fact of the matter is, you already have the answers, you just have to take the time to know where you stand and where you want to go so you can plan how you want to get there. I recommend going to a variety of classes and take the pieces and parts that you can use to develop your own key to success. You also have to be brave enough to believe in yourself and your decisions to lead with your mind and not your heart. This is a hard thing to do when you care about people, but good employees will work hard for a goal if they know what your expectations are. Know your numbers, set goals for minor improvements until your objective is met. Let everyone know what you expect. coach and counsel your employees, reward good behavior and celebrate milestone achievements.
  18. 3 points
    I’m not just selling radiators. I’m diagnosing, repairing, inspecting and warranty-ing cars That is, Rock Auto can’t inspect the customer’s car. Nor diagnose their problem. Nor can they replace the part. I’ll bet those same people bitch about $7 for of a beer when hanging with friends. “I can get a whole six pack for that price!” But they don’t think about all they get for that $5 markup. They get the experience of hanging with their friends at a fun place, away from the distractions, worries, and commitments of home (no kids or dogs), with sports on the TV, music, the ability to laugh and joke out loud. No preparation (house cleaning) and no clean up after. Not bad for $5. For our markup, I read we’re supposed to deliver a great “the customer experience,” but most articles leave it at that, with few suggestions. Oh, a comfortable waiting room. If that’s all it took, I’d be calling an interior designer to increase my car count. Or, “exceed expectations,” again with few suggestions. How do you exceed them at the second and third visit? I talk life with my customers, because they know that their car is taken care of: I’m going to fix it, at a fair price for both of us, and check out the rest of their car – like I’ve always done. I ask: “So how are you? And the family? And life?” Which I think is a big part of the “experience.”
  19. 3 points
    After years of work to get to this point, we are finally opening the doors to my new shop on Monday. I did a small friends and family test on Friday. We stubbed our toes on all procedures but the actual shop work. It was horrible, but a great learning experience. Most issues were procedural in nature, so this weekend was procedure repair. We really weren't ready to open, but it needed to happen. Still not ready on all fronts. My website is built, but awaiting my detailed review to go online. It'll happen in the next day or so. We're still buying shop tools. Many are in, but I wanted to let my staff be part of the tool choices. (Yes, we're going to have to pare back some of their big wish list). Hiring is still ongoing. I had my 3 critical positions covered for a while now, but I still have more left to hire. I chose Protractor as my SMS. I'm mostly happy with this decision. My biggest gripe is that the software is unforgiving of mistakes and new users make many mistakes. I now need to learn how to undo my mistakes so that the accounting part remains accurate. Today, my entire computer network went down and it took us over 2 hours to get it back online. Next on the list is to practice recovery procedures. One of my major marketing spend items was to be on a busy corner. It appears that this may indeed work out for us. We serviced about 9 cars on Friday and turned away about 15 drive-up customers. Have 1 appointment booked for tomorrow. Wish me luck!
  20. 3 points
    National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, also referred to as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Day, is observed annually in the United States on December 7, to remember and honor the 2,403 citizens of the United States who were killed in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Let us never forget!
  21. 3 points
    Happy Thanksgiving Simon! ASO members are the best! Happy Thanksgiving to all but especially Alex, Joe, and Gonzo.
  22. 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
  23. 3 points
    (Warning and apologies for the long post) As you can see by my profile, I’m pretty new to AutoShopOwner.com but after browsing around quite a bit and communicating with @Alex and a couple of other leaders around here, I figured it would be worth the investment to become and Advertiser Member for the purpose of introducing our service and getting some feedback. It is not my intent to bombard with promotion but rather provide information about a capability that few realize is even possible. I’d like to start this introduction with a couple of statements. It is becoming increasingly difficult and frustrating to reach customers by phone since they often don’t answer the phone and often don’t check their voicemail. Most people text more than they talk these days. If you agree, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to TextBox! TextBox was conceptualized back in 2012 from this video (See YourCarIsReady Video) Following are some of the capabilities we offer along with comparisons to other text messaging options we have encountered. Text Enable Your Existing Shop Telephone Number TextBox- Text-enables your existing shop telephone number. Your telephone number is part of your brand and part of your value. TextBox leverages the value of that number by opening up the text communications channel. People are probably already texting your number… they’re just not getting anywhere. Adding ‘Call or Text’ to your shop signage, website, Facebook page and any other marketing materials that include your telephone number will enhance those marketing efforts and provide more leads. Frequently, when you call somebody they text you back. Likewise, when you text somebody, they may call you back. Since TextBox uses your existing phone number. Both of those work! Others- Some use a shared 5 or 6 digit short codes. Some require you to introduce a completely new number that might not even be a local number. Some use email-to-text which requires you to find out what carrier the customer uses. If somebody calls the number you text them from, usually, the call goes nowhere. Not a very good customer experience. If you call a customer from your shop telephone number and they respond via text, the text goes nowhere. True Two-Way Texting TextBox- TextBox offers true two-way texting from the comfort of a full size keyboard and computer screen and keyboard anywhere you happen to be. You can name and tag contacts and review unlimited conversation history. Others- Many are one-way only. If a customer replies or initiates a text, the text fails and you never see it. Many don’t have an interface where you can review previous text messages in a conversational thread. With email-to-text, each message is a separate email message. It’s almost impossible to keep up with. Most Shop Management systems that have a text module are one-way only. Multiple Interfaces TextBox- The most used TextBox interface is through a small app that is installed on Windows computers and/or laptops. It automatically starts when the computer starts and pops up to alert you when new texts arrive. We also provide tablet and mobile apps that allow you to see and respond to TextBox messages wherever you happen to be. Others- Most require you to remember to open and log in to a web browser and remember to check the page to see if any texts have come in. Very few also have tablet or mobile interfaces. Cost TextBox- Most shops don’t need anything more than our $49/month small business plan. Larger shops with multiple service advisors with direct numbers can text-enable each additional number for only $29/month. There are no contracts or term commitments. We even offer a free trial and don’t even ask for billing information. Others- We have been surprised at some of the services that appear to do less but cost much more. Frequently Answered Questions: Will it mess up my phone service? NO. The voice and text networks are completely separate. Can multiple people use it? YES. And everything is automatically synchronized. How long does it take to get set up? Usually fully operational within a few hours. Are there any contracts or term commitments? NO. Service is month-to-month. For those who have taken the time to read all the way down this far, we’re making a special introductory offer hoping you will provide feedback here on the forum about your experience with the ease of getting started, the power and efficiency of TextBox and our outstanding customer service. The first 10 members here who PM me here or contact us directly and mention AutoShopOwner.com will receive: A completely no obligation trial from now to the end of March 2017. An automatic free month every year if they sign up for service after the trial. Of course, I’d be happy to answer any questions in this thread, via private message in this form, buy phone or… by text. John Fabrega Founder Line1 Communications & TextBox 850.205.1111 (Call or Text)
  24. 3 points
    Very interesting read. I also have been doing inexpensive oil changes, and I consider it to be successful. My shop is in it's 6th year (brand new shop), and we have grown in gross sales an average of 30% a year for the last 4 years. We currently do a semi-synthetic oil change for 29.99, which is 5 qts and filter, including inspection and battery test. Full synthetic is 59.99, 5 qts with a premium filter. Most European is a separate price on an individual basis. Our car count is 250-300, and we've been averaging 100-120 oil changes a month. We average 15% of oil changes are new customers. So far this year we average 17 new customers a week, and the ARO on new customers is higher than the ARO on existing customers. Overall ARO for the last quarter is $454. We have struggled with ARO and GP% but with training, solid goals, and pay plans we seem to have gotten over the hump. I've had interesting discussions about this subject, and seem to be going somewhat against the grain, but I haven't been able to convince myself to change strategy. My goal was to get my existing customers to come to us for routine service, not just try to remember us if they have a problem. Since only 15% of oil changes are new customers I think we've accomplished what was intended. The low oil change price has also attracted new customers, but since most of our new customers come for more than that, it isn't currently a big new acquisition strategy. One thing the oil change price is a part of, and that is developing a good value reputation. We watch closely those things we consider comparables, like oil change, brake job, trans service, and make sure our prices are at or below market average in our area, then charge a good price for everything else. I know we're one of the highest priced shops in town, yet we regularly get good reviews about how reasonable our prices are. Still open to ideas about this, but I'm not currently convinced to change, and it's encouraging to read Anderson's experience.
  25. 3 points
    Gonzo I love the article. Great insight and analogy. Glad you survived and I wish you great success as you move forward with a new stage of your life.
  26. 3 points
    You are welcome, Gonzo! Hope it cheers you up, even though I hear you are tough as nails. Keep your spirits up, and we are asking and praying the good Lord gives you and your family strength, wisdom, and love to endure this test. Hugs and cheers form my crew, family and I, be well buddy.
  27. 3 points
    Today, I actually made all day with no pain pills. Who hoo! More walking and more activities is the key. Can't work, still can't stay upright that long. Probably weeks until I'm allowed to drive anyway. Slowly healing, keeping up with posts, and everybody's comments. Thanx for ur thoughts. It really makes my day to hear from u all.
  28. 3 points
    It looks by the "likes" that the man himself has made a return to the forum , Welcome back Gonzo !
  29. 3 points
    I received a call Monday from a customer whose son had brakes replaced at a different Car-X in November while away at college. The car had sat for some time and when the grandfather had driven the car he thought a front brake was locking up (I think all it was was noise from the rust coat after sitting). He proceeded to take the car to a shop near their home. This shop looked at the brakes and told the woman a bunch of stuff about how it looked like the rotors were never machined and that it was not professional work, etc. She called me asking me what to do? I told her that all of the work done in November would still be under warranty and that if there was any problem it would be fixed at no charge unless we ran into something new like a locked up caliper. I proceeded to call the shop where the worked was performed and had them fax me a copy of the paperwork so I would be prepared when they came in. Later in the morning the car came in and the woman told us that when she picked the car up the owner of the shop that had raised all the red flags told her there was no problem with her car. The brakes were fine and the person who had called her should not have told her there were any problems. The other shop had created a problem where there was no problem at all. I personally looked at the brakes and it reflected what was shown on the paperwork which was new pads and rotors on the rear, new pads and machine the rotors on the front. You could tell by the rust on the rotors that it had been sitting for a while. This other person created a problem where there was none, upset this woman, caused me to waste the other shop's time and my own time, and in the long run he only made their shop look bad. Often shops like to degrade other shops thinking they will get ahead. I have always felt like we all lose when this occurs because it just make consumers more distrustful. The good shops in our town I consider to be friendly competition. If I run into a situation where there is a problem with their workmanship and the customer is returning to their shop I try to give them a call and an explanation of what we have found to be wrong and to give them a chance to be prepared to deal with the customer.
  30. 3 points
    Semper Fi Bob was well into his late 80's when I met him. He's quite the talker, and he'll never run out of things to tell you. I like old Bob. We have a few things in common, not much because of the years between us, but just enough that we can relate on quite a few subjects. We both served in the USMC. Of course, the years we served were decades apart, but even with the differences in time served, we still could "talk-the-talk" like two old veterans who just got their discharge papers. Bob had a problem with the horn buttons on his '92 Buick. It was the kind of horn that has its buttons and the air bag all built as one piece. He didn't have the money to replace the entire airbag, but he did want to get that horn working somehow. I thought I could get it to work even if I had to "rig" something up, but that was OK with him. With his advancing years catching up with him, his hands weren't the best. Most of his strength had faded with time, and so did the ability to straighten his fingers all the way out. I had to come up with a way that he could hit the horn button with the palm of his hand, rather than with a finger tip or thumb. Not a big deal, actually if he didn't mind the look of an old style horn button attached to the edge of the air bag (so it didn't interfere with the air bag operation) it could work just fine. Now Bob, being Bob, talking was his gift, and finding somebody with a little military background, and stuck in the driver's seat of his car was all he needed to tell one of his stories. Bob hopped in the back seat and leaned over to watch what I was doing. As I worked on his new horn button, he told me all about his time in the Marine Corps. Fascinating story; I could have listened for hours. In fact, I made sure I took long enough for him to tell his story in full and without any interruptions. He told me about his time in Korea, in Inchon actually. It was a cold winter when he was there. A bitter cold wind and heavy snow was only part of the horrific condition he had to deal with. He went on in great detail how he was just a young kid who didn't know a thing, and how you would be talking to someone one minute and the next minute the fellow Marine sitting right next to him froze to death. When he told me that part of his story I had to stop and turn to him to ask, "That really happened, just like that, Bob?" With a stone cold look on his face he said, "As sure as I'm sitting here talking to you, my friend." I don't think he was kidding. He was dead serious, but it was as if he was telling me a story from a distance, but at the same time, a story where he was actually there in the mountains of Inchon still fighting the bitter cold. I think it's a way for time and age to allow a person like Bob to separate themselves from what was probably a terrible event in their life. I certainly have never experienced some of the things he was telling me about, like the chow, the hours of watching for the enemy, or how his boots didn't have much in the way of insulation, so you put on as many socks as you could along with any straw or grass you could find. Bob made a point to tell me that if you needed to run to the "head" (bathroom for all you none GI type) … well, you tried to wait as long as you could, because exposing yourself in that kind of cold could be the end of you… and I don't mean just "your" end that's exposed. I finished up my little project and gave it a try. It worked just fine. "Hop up here Bob, and see if you can make it work like this," I told him. Bob made his way into the driver's seat and gave his new horn button a try. A gleam came over his face, beaming from ear to ear. He had to try it a few more times, and each time the smile kept getting bigger and bigger. "Don't you know I needed that horn! Mercy, there's some little kids in my neighborhood who get out in the street to play, and I just want to toot my horn to let them know I'm coming. Thanks partner, ya done me right." The old Marine got out of his car and opened his wallet, "How much do I owe ya?" "Bob, it was an honor to do this job for you. I can't take a thing." "You most certainly are, Marine!" he said to me as he palms a twenty in my hand. "Thanks Bob, I appreciate that, but I really appreciate the stories. You know I write a column for a magazine, and I think I'd like to tell your story if that's OK." "Sure, not a problem. Go right ahead. I think I'd like that." You don't shake hands with Bob, because of his crippled hands; his way of shaking hands is to "bump" knuckles. Good enough for me. It's the thought that counts. Then Bob turns to the car sitting in the bay just in front of his car. With whatever strength he had, he did his best to straighten one finger and point at the car in front. "I'll never get over seeing this," he said. It was a Kia Sportage in for a no start condition. I made the assumption it was because it's a Korean car, and I thought it must be bringing back some of those painful memories he had as a young man. "I understand where you're coming from Bob, it's a Korean car. I understand completely; it's something your generation had to deal with on the battlefield where your friends had died. I'm sorry it brings up some bad memories for you." "That ain't it," he said as he walked closer to the car, and pointed directly at the name branded on the back door, "Killed – In – Action." I think my knees buckled a bit when he said that. I didn't know what to say next. Bob waved good-bye, and pulled his car out of the shop, and tooted his horn as he made his way down the street. I see old Bob once in awhile, still driving the same car, still tootin' his horn. I don't think I'll ever forget his story of how he served our country. He's one of the last of that generation, a much simpler time, before computers, before cell phones, and when KIA stood for only one thing. I'm proud to have served my country, I'm even more proud to have met a great man like Bob. We should all be as lucky, and we should all remember what his generation and many others have done to keep this country free. So the next time you see a Kia, think of it as something other than a car, think about my friend Bob. Then, say this to yourself: Semper Fi, Bob, Semper Fi View full article
  31. 3 points
    I don't want to turn this into a pissing contest, because this is one argument that is not profitable for me to spend my time on. But I will bite for the hell of it. 1. 37% is impressive, but 37% of what dollars in revenue? net profit? car count? etc. 2. 317K again, is impressive, but are you sure you are not double counting your net dollars if you are taking your shop's net into account into the LLC's? And that 78K is it not a part of the cost of which you made that net 317k? I think you need to talk to your CPA. 3. I won't even mention the car, because BMW. 4. Now, I give you this, you are right that emotion should not play a part in marketing decisions. And you know what, you are right about Kohl's and their Kohl's cash, they have a great system there, the way they use their coupon and discounting with their Kohl's cash, very nice way they keep their customers coming back and lowering their customer acquisition cost. But that is the thing, by your own example, it took you four years to lose a bottom feeder! That means your own systems are not running up to par to fire unwanted patrons! 5. Regarding the article, I took from it what it benefited me and discarded the rest, you may be right the author may not be doing what he preaches, however, I did find his take useful from what he gave in that article. In other words, acquiring knowledge is like gold mining, you find it in nuggets at a time, but you have to sift through a lot of ore.
  32. 3 points
    One can often make more money charging what you are worth on fewer cars than giving your work away and hoping to make it on volume. IMO No skilled customer service driven shop should be charging less that $125.00 per hour and less that 75% mark up on parts, period. On higher cost parts it should be the shop owners decision on the mark up. Alway's give the customer their car back with the complaint fixed, washed,vacuumed and a discount card with a $2.00 bill under the fuel fill lid.
  33. 3 points
    Not saying I disagree, but I just opened an automotive repair shop that is spray foam insulated, brand new bright epoxy coated floors, crazy bright lighting, air conditioned to 75 degrees, and specialize in high end Asian vehicles so the techs see the same cars over and over again and has very little learning curve. I mark up my labor guide 21% (except for maintenance), I pay for their first ASE test (regardless of if the pass or fail), give a $200 bonus if they pass, a guaranteed raise if they pass, provide diagnostic scan tools, provide uniforms and cleaning services, 5 paid holidays a year, paid training, paid sick time, multiple production incentives, and both techs working for me got paid what they were asking for on their applications. They get parts for their cars at cost, have an employee break room with a refrigerator and microwave, free sodas and coffee, provide work gloves, donuts/breakfast for our Wednesday morning meeting, and both have brought family up here to show off where they work. That being said, the applications that I see coming across my desk are pathetic. I've advertised on craigslist, told all my vendors I'm looking for another tech soon, and I'm getting ready to fund a raffle on the Snap-on tool truck for technician contact info. I've even offered a $1,000 finders fee if one of my vendors bring me a good tech. Still, the turn out is meh.
  34. 3 points
    Just a thought.. Giving a fresh look to a waiting area isn't necessarily a big spend. A fresh coat of paint, and some other little details could go a long way. I would look for great condition office furniture on Craigslist if I wanted to furnish it better. Assuming you have internet at the shop, go ahead and turn on free WiFi for your customers, and if you don't have a beverage bar, maybe consider a Kuerig or similar. You can stock something like that pretty economically at CostCo or Sam's Club. Just a couple ideas.
  35. 3 points
    I have been dealing with a woman today that is really weird. Her car has a misfire on cylinder #2. Probably needs plugs and maybe a coil. She keeps acting like we should have found this problem when we did a used car inspection prior to purchase. THat was in August 6,000 miles ago and it wasn't missing then. She acts like a $40 prepurchase inspection should guarantee she would never have another problem with the vehicle which is a 12 year old car with 146K. Some days are like that.
  36. 3 points
    Thinking Outside the Box An 04‘ Ford pickup came into the shop with a non-functioning cruise control system that had already spent some time at a couple of other shops. None seemed to give the customer any kind of answer as to why the cruise control wasn’t working. And, like many of these types of jobs I get in from those “other” shops, they all eventually come to the same conclusion as to what’s wrong with the vehicle. You know, the typical bail out answer for a problem they couldn’t solve. They’ll tell the customer, “It must be electrical”, and of course, they don’t do electrical. Seriously, what isn’t electrical these days? A lot of times I find the term “It must be electrical” is just an excuse from these other shops to throw their hands up and send the customer down the street. They either don’t understand the diagnostic procedures or have already spent way too much time swapping parts and components hoping they’ll eventually run across a solution rather than actually diagnosing the symptoms. I’m not one to shy away from some “electrical” problem. I’m more than a bit bull headed and stubborn enough to stick it out to the very end. Even if that means going to the extreme to diagnose a given problem. This one was no different. But, first things first, as always, verify the customer’s complaint. So, off on a test drive I go. Sure enough the cruise wouldn’t engage. There was no green indicator on the dash and no signs of any action taken by the PCM to engage the cruise. Now, it’s back to the shop and grab the scanner. Codes were absolutely no help. No codes were stored and no history to see. Which, is probably where these other shops stop testing things and came up with their conclusion, “It must be electrical”. For me, codes are only step one of many to solve an electrically related problem. Let’s face it, codes are not the defining answer. Today’s cars have so many different methods of watching the various components involved with each system that it just makes sense to use the scanner as a tool to aide in diagnosing, and not just simply for reading codes. For this problem using the scanner to look at the PID’s (Parameter Identifications) was going to be more than a bit helpful. As I’m sitting in the service bay watching every function involved with the cruise (according to the operation description), I did not see anything out of place or giving me incorrect readings. Everything from the emergency brake signal to the BOO (Brake On-Off) signal were correct. There didn’t seem to be anything standing out as the culprit, but there had to be something, something that everyone else has overlooked. Sitting in the service bay is not where the cruise control does its job. The vehicle has to be brought up to speed, before you can rule out if all the various components are actually working according to the manufacturer’s specifications. So, it’s back out on the road, but this time with the scanner installed. The safest method is to have a co-pilot watching the laptop screen. With the truck moving down the road there was only one item that didn’t act the same way it did when the car was stationary, and that’s the BOO signal. As we drove around the BOO stayed ON all the time. It never switched from ON to OFF when the brakes were applied. It’s back to the shop to try this whole thing again. This time I left the engine running and watched the BOO signal. As I pushed the brake pedal down, the signal switched back and forth from OFF to ON just as it should. Now what in the world is going on? I know I saw a constant ON signal while we were driving, but it shows ON/OFF as we are sitting still. That’s when I reached over and dropped it into drive and allowed the truck to roll forward just a bit. Well what do ya know, the signal never switched anymore. But, in park it worked just fine. I tried the same thing over and over again, and every time I had the same results. It can’t be the brake switch, I’m not changing anything there. The only thing that’s changed is the gear selector. So it’s got to be something with that. Could it be the TR switch? (Transmission Range) Nope, it’s working perfectly. So, what else can it be? I went back to the description and operation page of the service manual, but even after reading it a second time nothing seem to make sense as far as what I was seeing on the scanner. But, there was one thing I thought might be involved that the general description page didn’t mention anything about, and that’s the shift interlock switch. According to the wiring diagram there is a signal for BOO at the shift interlock, but only briefly mentioned as a possible cause of loss of BOO signal in one of the sub headings regarding the diagnostic procedures for testing the brake switch. Still confused, but willing to go with the “It must be electrical” as the primary cause of the problem, I decided to check further into the shift interlock switch. This time instead of driving it or spinning the roulette wheel of possible components, I’m going to pull the shift interlock and check it myself. From the outside of the little box everything looked great, all the connection are solid and there were no signs of something that might have been spilled into the console. The circuit box was not glued together and could easily be taken apart, and I had a pretty good idea it had to have something to do with the BOO signal going awry, it seemed like the logical thing to do. After I opened up the box, all I could say was, “Holy cruise controls there’s the problem!” A transistor had a burnt terminal. Now I’m more than confident this is the problem, time to order one. After installing the new shift interlock I took it down the road for a quick test drive. The green cruise indicator light came on, it accelerated, resumed and functioned just as it should. The shift interlock was definitely the problem. Of course, just to prove my hypothesis that it was the cause of the entire problem, I had to perform the same test I did earlier by placing it in and out of park and letting the truck roll forward while watching the laptop. The BOO signal was doing its thing. ON then OFF just as you’d expect it to do. It’s not the first time I’ve run across a diagnostic situation where all the PID’s or information given wasn’t in plain English. Sometimes what you have to do is go that extra step and follow your instincts as to what you believe is the problem. I’m sure another sharp tech would have a completely different way of coming up with the same answer, but in this case, this is how I came up with it, and it worked. That’s what counts in the end. The customer is happy, I’m elated and you can be sure I’ll be watching out for the same kind of problems in the future, too. Even though my diagnostics information didn’t have all the answers laid out with pinpoint accurate details the answers were still there. Ya just had to dig them out from between the pages of the diagnostic manual. As with a lot of today’s electronic mazes, you might find yourself having to solve a problem that wasn’t a problem just a few years earlier. I mean seriously, who would have thought a shift interlock would have something to do with the cruise control 20 years ago? Or for that matter that you could look at so many different sensors or components all at the same time on one tool. At times it does seem like an uphill battle to keep up with all the changes in the modern mechanics field, but at the same time very gratifying when you overcome a problem that seemed impossible to solve. Sometimes, ya just gotta think outside the box or in this case… open it up and look inside. Click here to view the article
  37. 3 points
    We decline jobs quite frequently.. We don't need to be the "hero" and repair cars that other shops haven't been able to repair or take the tough jobs that are non-profitable and tie up stalls and techs while the good profitable jobs get put off. It never fails that when you might be a little slow and you just need to get a job that it's the one that spurs on 20 new jobs. Then you're spending all this time on that one job while scratching your head wonder why the heck you took that job.. It's no different than all the "good" opportunities that present themselves to successful (and not so successful) business owners. You spend your time and resources chasing good opportunities and then aren't able to act upon the great opportunities.. It comes down to disincline on our part. We also really try and vet our customers as we want those that are close by and ones that can and will tell others about us. I don't like those tow-ins at night or on the weekend that when you arrive at the shop on the am they are camps out on your front steps, thinking they got there first and there repair is the most important one of the day. We try and accord ate them but if we have a full schedule we just let them know that and refer them to another shop for their one time repair that takes to long and is too expensive in their eyes. Spread the wealth and let the guy down the street be the hero... While he's struggling with those jobs you take the great ones.. Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  38. 3 points
    If you live in a highly populated area (in or close to a city) where you have a lot of people engaging on yelp, it might not be a bad idea. The other key to this formula is to have a great online reputation. I would say spend time to build up that reputation or repair it if you have several bad reviews. It would be completely useless to you to promote a business listing that has a bad reputation. The magic happens when you have a great reputation, you'll see a lot of leads and a lot of business come through the door
  39. 3 points
    Frog, As I have said on this forum before I am not a Certified master tech, We have been at this location for 55 years. Dad opened it in 1961, I started in 1975 at 15 years old, I still love it. Not being big headed, my customer base is the best ever. I have customers look at me and go this is unreal. I just sat in here and talked to a lawyer a doctor a housewife and a garbage truck driver. I am nice and honest to people, It is not that I am honest it is just who I am, I see some estimate's occasionally from other places that blow me away. I actually almost interrogate new customer's before I start work on there car. I have recently had to separate myself and a tech from my business, he has been with me 30 years, since he was 16. He is so talented it is heartbreaking he was starting to do some questionable things, and my friends , unethical business practices I do not tolerate. I know enough about this business to go look at a car and see whats going on , I have this sense when I look at a one of my techs estimate if something is not right. I am now looking for a tech and have found a 16 year retired military guy that I think is going to work out. You should see, as I think another poster has spoke about, some of the so called tech's that walk in my door, I almost laugh in there face , the job jumper. I have learned so many things on here from these guys just by reading there hiring practices, I would have to tell you , this guy I am talking to now, I would have probably overlooked, If I did not really read his resume and really went over it, I called him at 7 PM the first time just to sorta see his reaction. Another thing that gets me , is I called a few places about previous employment and some applicants and the business owner blows you off. If someone calls me I tell the truth about previous employment, we should all do that. This forum is all about us making our profession look professional and making more money. I was joking with one of my real good Doctor friends and customers the other day. I said to him, you guys are to dang expensive , he says man I went to school 12 years for being a Urologist, I said to him, I got a couple guys that have went to school 15 years and our patients "cars" keep changing , I said a good tech should make more than a Doctor, he looked at me and said Dave you got a point. I see such bright days and years ahead and really think if you do and run a ethical business and have a passion for it, you will make it , the money always takes care of itself. We must educate the consumer about how difficult cars are to repair today, sure you can through parts at cars all day but is that really the way to do it. I am going in this morning and show a new ,tech school trainny, tech how to test a crank sensor with a meter and show him how we came to the diagnosis late last night. This forum has taught me so much in such a short time that I have been on here, most all these guys are very knowledgable. You must get involved with the local tech schools, they have already ask me to be on the advisory board , I meet with them Thursday, man what I have seen they are so far off base with there curriculum , I guess the State has slashed there budget they are using outdated stuff, I am going to corner my Napa Owner and Snap On guy about this as well, actually you cannot teach somethings in a school, they do not even talk about ethics and just doing good honest business, that flabbergasted me. I am going to speak to these kids in the next few months and lay it out to them with facts, mostly, from what I have found here about the state of our industry and just the facts of doing good ethical business and passion . As you can tell I love this profession and I have a passion for it. You can always remember if you do the right thing nothing generally goes bad. I am not saying it is always a rose garden, I had the first small claims case against me 2 years ago , I got a lawyer buddy and went in and proved there was no way I scratched the wheel in this location with my machine , it does not come close to this area, these were 3 piece defective slow leaking wheels around the sealed centerpiece area. I mounted a used tire on the car, lady judge had no idea, I walked out of there and fist pumped my attorney buddy, I get a letter a month later from he judges ruling, the judge basically says you could have dropped something on it while it as at your shop. I did not pay the $1300 and never will . I know we did not do it and I am standing by on my principles. I have also now posted signs and make people sign a document to this effect we are not responsible for wheel damage.This guy has dogged me out bad review after bad review , even a "ripoff report .com" I did try to mediate initially. I am convinced the public and the judges think most all auto repair shops are a a bunch of crooks, we have to change that perception in the US. Forums like this does help tremendously. I personally think that the small independent is where it is at today, the dealerships are still sticking there foot in there mouth, the box stores are jamming people up, most all on this forum here and see the same horror stories I do daily. Get Involved with the local schools educate people and lets get this stigma turned around. I also did a NAPA TV show ,they begged me to do it, I just do not advertise much , I do not have to, I did this show, no charge to me, I spoke on ethics and PM service, that was a hit. Had a guy call me from NAPA headquarters and thank me and said no one has ever touched on the issues you did, I responded, Times Are A Changing. Thanks again for all you guys insight. You guys have a great day, I gotta go make some people HAPPY!
  40. 3 points
    It’s not what they say, it’s what they said. “Take your time, I’m in no hurry, I’ll be back tomorrow, I just want it to last until graduation, or, Let me get your number and I’ll call you back” are just a few of the common phrases you’ll hear at the repair shop. At first, you might be inclined to believe they’re expecting no less than what they actually said, but I’ve learned over the decades of being behind the service counter a lot of times the real meaning is far from what actually comes out of their mouths. One of the most popular phrases I seem to run across is, “Take your time, I’m in no hurry at all.” Pretty straight forward request right? I distinctly heard them tell me that I don’t need to be in a hurry… at all, and that I can take my time getting it done. But, after the third or fourth phone call since they dropped off the car, or the second trip back to the shop to wander around their car while it’s in the service bay, you soon realize they didn’t mean for me to take my time … at all. I used to think it was me, and that I wasn’t hearing them clearly, but after a few years I figured it out. It’s all in the “phrase” and not the actual words. What they really meant to say is, “I don’t need it back right away, but I don’t want you to do some sort of sloppy repair either. So, I’ll be checking on ya with random spot checks just to keep you on your toes and to observe the progress.” Then, there are the callers who ask numerous questions about their problem, and by the time we get down to the cost of the repair (based on the information provided) they can’t commit to an appointment. Instead, they give me this phrase, “It’s going to be a couple of weeks before I can get it to you.” Even though in the beginning of this whole conversation, they made it very clear they were in dire need of getting the car back on the road as fast as possible. I know, they were just trying to be polite and courteous, and they said it would be a couple of weeks before they could bring it in. But, in real time terms they rarely show up a few weeks later. What they really meant to say was, “I got all the info I needed from ya, so I can tell my “mechanic” what needs done, (or I can now fix it myself) … thanks.” On the other hand you’ve got the guy who comes in and asks for a specific test, such as a pressure check on his radiator. “I just need a couple of things done first. Shouldn’t take you long, so I’m sure it won’t cost much.” The clincher was the phrase he used. “Just a few things done first.” By now the warning lights are flashing in my head, the sound of the “whoop-whoop” sirens are in full on mode, because more than likely there’s something he’s not telling me. Sure enough, there was. Seems he’s been overheating for the past week or so, and he already had it checked at another shop. They diagnosed it as a bad headgasket that had also caused the radiator to rupture. A pressure check wasn’t going to do much good in this case, but… that “phrase”, that little bit of information made me suspicious something worse was lurking under the hood. So, what was he really looking for? He was looking for a second opinion to either confirm or denounce the first opinion. Now, why in the world didn’t he just tell me all that in the first place instead of asking for a specific test? Maybe what I should do is have a psychologist on staff. You know, one who can evaluate the responses, maybe even offer a little sidebar counseling. I already have a hard time keeping up this trade, learning the new technologies, the tools, and the techniques, now I’ve got to decipher phrases too?! The hard part is dealing with the unknown factor of the repair process, and these catch phrases that have some sort of double meaning make it even more of a challenge. Believe me, I’ve looked long and hard through every repair manual and it never once found an answer for these double meaning phrases. Ya just have to learn how to decipher them as you go. Another thing to consider is the completely naive type of car owner who knows nothing except where the key goes and where “D” is. They’re usually the same type who assumes all mechanics are just alike. Some of them believe the guy who put air in their tire last week can also figure out a complex multitasking electrical system, too. Say for instance, this type of person went back to the guy who put the air in the tires and asked him why their transmission seems to be acting up, and the guy starts talking about space aliens and sun spots as the cause. He might even insists you leave it with him so he can hook up his particle beam separator and realign the trunion springs to the galvanic isolator. Even though you might not know anything about today’s cars, you’re pretty sure the time vortex has nothing to do with your transmission. You might be inclined to use one of these phrases. “Can I get back to you on that? I can’t leave it with you right now.” Or, “Are you open tomorrow? I’ll bring it back tomorrow.” I know, you’re just being polite, but what you really were thinking is, “This guy sounds like a complete idiot. I need to find somebody else to work on my car.” Sometimes, these phrases are used from the other direction too. Like the mechanic trying to be somewhat courteous and diplomatic. Such as when the mechanic says, “Why, yes I’ve seen this before.” If not handled correctly, this can open up a whole new set of phrases and problems, such as, “It sounds similar, but I’ll still need to check it out properly before giving any kind of estimate.” Or “I’ve seen lots of cars with this same kind of problem, but I’d rather check it out than take a wild guess at it.” What is the mechanic really saying? Probably something like this, “I know exactly what is wrong, or at least I have a pretty good idea, but if I say anything more about it you’ll then ask me the next proverbial question, “How much?”. Then, I’ve got to dig up the prices, find the cost of the parts, and tell you all the above… but, if I’m wrong and it’s something completely different than what you’ve described, you’re going to keep bringing up what I originally thought it was or find another mechanic. I’d rather be sure than to guess at it. So, my hearing isn’t the problem; it was my understanding of these “phrases” that have double meanings. I’m sure, somewhere there is this highfalutin psychologist who probably has an answer for all these quirky phrases, and there’s probably some scientific name for the condition or situation. I’m no psychologist, in fact I’m more likely to be a patient of an Ivy League graduate with one of those fancy lettered pieces of sheep skin hanging on the wall. I’m just a mechanic, nothing more. All I’m trying to do is comprehend what my customers are telling me without having to go through years of psychoanalysis. Because the one thing I’ve learned, it’s not what they say, it’s what they said. Click here to view the article
  41. 3 points
    In my senior year of high school, my guidance counsel told me my grades were too good not to go to college. Well, after 2 semesters, I quit to pump gas at min wage in the Bronx. THE BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE. The world is slowly changing. I am involved with the local high schools and trade school, and I can tell you there are a lot of parents who followed the College route, only to end up in a job they hate. I think this article is so important, not just for our profession, but for all the trades. If there is going to a turnaround it must come those still in the trades. Thanks Gonzo for bringing this to the forefront. It's something wonder if ASO can get invoked with.
  42. 3 points
    Just yesterday A gal came in with her girl friend and baby in the car for a check engine light diagnosis and the front brakes were metal to metal and they thought I was the ass hole buy not releasing it back to them. It was fix the brakes or tow it home. "Well my husband does all my work," is what she said. So it was towed home, and there is a nice signed and printed name next to notes that say they understand whats going on and we are not responsible if they drive it and crash and die or kill someone else.
  43. 3 points
    I have a good 8" grinder with a coarse wire wheel next to my tire machine. Tire comes off, wheel gets grinded shiny clean, bead sealer applied, new tire on, balanced, rolled to car. 4 minutes tops. 35" super swampers take more time because they're heavy and require the cheetah but a regular 235/60r18 takes 5 minutes done. 195/60r15 takes like 2 or 3 minutes. Like I said your guy needs to be faster than the machine. When the wheels are off look at the brakes, once they are torqued check the tie rods etc. I've had guys take over an hour to do a set of tires, they were lazy plain and simple
  44. 3 points
    The dignity and the care that many of our professional people out there that deal with the sad/bad part of our community is overshadowed by a few. Stories like this should be promoted on every network and local news. Less bad news and sensationalism and more stories like this. I'd rather hear about a boy scout helping an old lady across the street than I would about someone killed over a bad drug deal. Just sayin' Good news is good to hear. Thanks for posting this Frank. U da best!
  45. 3 points
    We use Sure Critic as part of the Mitchell Manager programs: http://www.surecritic.com/reviews/aj-foreign-auto Even the not so nice reviews are meaningful, usually means we did not explain things very well! The ones that kill me are the ones where they say we did a great job but they couldn't give us a 5 star review because they never give anyone 5 stars!! I think they have a complex, just like I do . Dave
  46. 3 points
    Many of you know that I write a monthly column in Ratchet + Wrench Magazine. The magazine feature articles on shop management and business related articles. In my opinion, as shop owners we need to read publications such as Ratchet + Wrench. I think too many of us tend to maintain our technical knowledge, but may fall short with regard to the business side of the of running a shop. Ratchet + Wrench has great articles and also feature actual shops across the country. If you do not subscribe to the magazine, the link is below. And to be fair and balanced, there is another magazine, Shop Owner Magazine that is also dedicated to business, and is worth reading and subscribing to. Here are the links: http://www.ratchetandwrench.com/ http://www.shopownermag.com/
  47. 3 points
    The first five years in business I gladly worked on anyone’s car. I had to. I was young, just starting out and anything in the bays was better than nothing. For me back then, a customer was a customer. But I soon found out that I was spending way too much time trying to please people that, quite honestly, were too hard to please. These people would argue over the price, want the job done yesterday, never took proper care of their car and would only come to me if I offered them a discount. I began to realize that dealing with my better clientele, the people that came to me, not for a discount, but for a quality repair, are the people that I SHOULD be spending my time with. These are the people that I should be targeting. And you need to do the same. Build a profile of your top customers. The people that truly are a joy to work for; the people that don’t argue about price and appreciate what you have to offer and those that listen to your recommendations. These are the customers that will build a long relationship with you. They come to you not because you advertize a discount, but because they trust you. Create your marketing, your advertising and build your entire business around them and what would please them. Before any marketing or advertising is created, ask yourself, “Who am I targeting?” If it doesn’t target and describe your key profile customer, it’s probably wrong. Trying to be everything to everyone, ends up pleasing no one, including you.
  48. 3 points
    I know many shops that need car counts and are still feeling the effects of a rough economy. It's hard to say no to a job, any job, at times. So, when a customer arrives at your service counter with a set of pads and rotors on a real slow day, it's hard to say no. But, the truth is, as an industry we are hurting ourselves in the long run. We survive on profit from parts and labor. And what about part quality or warranty? We are still responsible for the job we do. Try explaining to a judge that it was the customer's "Part" and not your "workmanship". And unless you are willing to boost your labor by 50% or better, you are losing big time by installing the customer's parts. Like I said, I know it's hard at times, but we would all be in a better place if we stood together on this one.
  49. 3 points
    Visual inspections I do not charge for. If it is an apparent problem without any lift time or any diss-assembly I usually give those away all the while explaining to the customer that we do normally charge for our diagnostic work as it is usually extensive with our equipment being used but we don't think its fair to charge for something that we can catch within 10 seconds. They usually appreciate that. I guess that would be similar to the first Level. If you ever get trapped up with "oh i got a noise, id like to get the car up on the lift and check real quick" type of nonesense, its easy to dismiss this type of service as almost complimentary. I try to charge at least a $50 lift fee. Sometimes I call it a diagnostic fee (of course we are diagnosing and/or inspecting for the customer), other customers that don't like to pay for diag I explain to them that it takes time out of my techs day, takes up space in the bay, time to rack the car as well as have the car on my expensive Rotary lifts so I have to charge a lift fee. Most don't have a problem. The ones that do have a problem, throw them out, nicely.
  50. 3 points
    BAIT AND SWITCH!!!! HAHAHA, I kid, I kid... kinda Give them a 'best case scenario' quote. I feel I run an honest business, but if a customer is calling and price shopping, you know they are looking for the 'best' price. So I give them a 'best case' price. e.g.: 'How much to replace an oxygen sensor?' '$xxx.xx, but I might be able just to repair the wire to it and save you a bunch of money! Or it could be a fuse! Bring it in and I'll see if I can just solder the wires back together.' 'How much to replace my leaking steering rack?' '$XXX.XX, but I might be able just to replace the boot for a lot less, and it would be a lot quicker too. Bring it by later today and we'll see what we can do.' Once it's in your shop and on the rack, then sell your value. Walk them out under the car, show them the leak, the broken wire, the bent exhaust, coolant hose swelling, etc. Then show em your certifications on the wall, butter em up with how you only work on BMWs or whatever, your an expert, a professional, yes ma'am, no sir, please and thank you, and here is some free coffee, etc. After that, mention anything else you find on the car, because your a BMW expert and know what to look for on these cars. But, you can have it fixed in no time, because your a BMW expert and know these cars like the back of your hand. You might even have the parts in stock, because you specialize in BMW, and that's all you do. I think you get the point. If nothing else, you get added traffic into your shop, customer information for future advertising, and it could all turn into a lot bigger job than you think. If nothing else, at least you're not having to tell a potential future customer 'no, we don't do that' right off the bat.

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