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Showing content with the highest reputation since 07/16/2019 in all areas

  1. 6 points
    My Thoughts on the Coronavirus and Business In my 40 years in business, I have lived through many economic downturns. From the stock market crash of the late 1980’s, the housing bust of 1990’s, the tragic event of 911 and the great recession of 2008. This is different. The fears and the realities of the coronavirus has affected us all. And some areas of the country have been hit harder than others. In all other situations, I fought like hell to make a difference and beat the circumstances. Again, this is different. I am not an alarmist, not a defeatist and I do not get sucked into the sensationalism of the press. Just today, I heard a sports announcer on a talk radio show advise her listeners to stay at home, don’t go to work, don’t go to the movies, don’t go out of the house and isolate yourself from other people. Is this rational? I can’t do that. I am an automotive shop owner. What I do matters to my family and the community. I…WE….need to be there to ensure that the doctors, nurses, police, public officials and everyone else has their transportation ready to perform. Stay home? Us? Is that an option? But again…this is different. This afternoon, I was getting ready to go to Church; 4:00pm Mass, when my wife got an alert that Church as been canceled. Wait; let me say this again real slow…Church… has…. been…canceled. Fear has a way of eating at the fabric of our rational being. I fully understand the reality of what is happening. This virus will take people’s lives. But, do we run away in the face of a threat? Is this who we are? What do we do? Close our businesses for a few weeks? A month or two? How many of us can afford that? We all know the answer to that question. As automotive shop owners, technicians, service advisors and all the other valuable employees of this great profession, we need to take the proper precautions. Do all you can to protect yourself and your family. If you decide to continue to operate your shop during this challenging time, have a meeting with all your employees. Take the proper steps to protect yourself, your employees and your customers. Business may get ugly for some. My company has taken a 40% drop in business the past three weeks, directly contributed to the coronavirus outbreak. I write this to tell you how I feel; not to decide for anyone what to do. I will not force my employees to do anything they feel would put themselves or their families in harm’s way. For me, I intend to fight. I will take care of myself, take care of my family. But there are too many people depending on what I do, and way too may years behind me to hunker down and wait this out. Stay safe, stay healthy. Take this situation serious. But please don’t give up. We will prevail and we will get through this together. We are the hardest working, most resilient, toughest people on the planet. Let’s show the world and this virus who we are!
  2. 5 points
    Joe, this one really hits me as "off". If I've done my job as a sales person, and established right setting from the moment I spoke with them on the phone, or engaged with them at the front counter, they wouldn;t BE looking up a part on their phone. I am a solution to their problem, not a mechanic, not a whatever. "We've identified the problem with your vehicle, it's going to be XX time to repair and will cost about XX out the door. I'd like to get everything on order ASAP and keep you moving towards getting your car back and mobile again." If I'm answering questions about parts costs and why I don't install Rock Auto deliveries, well I haven't done my job at all. You shouldn't be selling when the diagnosis is done, you should be closing. The selling is established way earlier.
  3. 4 points
    This might not be popular.... No masks required at our shop, nor are we wearing masks. We see about 40% of our customers coming in with masks and very few (1 per week maybe) ask for us to wear gloves. And many of those with masks will take them off or have them on incorrectly or take them off to talk, but wear them when not talking. Most wait in the waiting room, but we have a handful that are waiting outside. Give it a few more weeks and this will go away as the Texas sun pops out. We do have hand sanitizer on the counter and keep our waiting room clean, even before this virus. We wipe down frequently used surfaces, but, IMO, this is largely a feel-good farce. We can't hide from a virus unless we behave like an operating room and are completely fastidious, wiping everything and changing gloves and masks after everything we touch. (My repair business is mostly drop-off. The waiting room is generally filled with waiters for Quick Lube Services). I've changed my marketing to call out our clean facility. We generally get compliments on cleanliness. Many are changing their marketing and some are opting for a higher-level of cleanliness such as seat covers, surface wipe downs, etc. I'm not seeing much of a call for this. Dealers were advertising this heavy on TV, yet they laid off almost all service staff. It didn't seem to bring the nervous folks forward. I know some shops that are selling a $50 sanitization service. We do our best to respect the wishes and needs of those that grace our doors. When people call in that sound worried, I generally recommend that they put the service off until later. In reality, I would not want to disappoint someone that truly needs or expects a higher level of safety than we can provide. I have noticed that those whom are more concerned will sanitize their cars themselves. They have wipes in the car and will wipe it down to be sure that it was done correctly. In truth, this is likely the best model for true personal safety. We assume that everyone wants social distancing and try to respect their space. I shake hands with those that are comfortable and this is more than you would think. To me, it seems that there 3 types of people: 1) Live Free or Die, 2) Cautious and 3) Scared. Personally, I won't go in a place the makes me wear a mask. (Ask me why I still need a haircut). Ever since the restaurants have reopened for dining in, we've started patronizing them. No longer patronizing take-out only. I fall squarely in the Live Free or Die camp. Luckily, I'm under no local rules that mandate social distancing or other behavior.
  4. 4 points
    With Mother Google literally tied to our hands, through our cell phones; are part margins becoming more difficult to achieve? Traditionally, shops use a 50% part margin, which they deserve. But, we live in a world today where part prices are so transparent that maybe we need to rethink this. Consider this: What if we concede on prices? Hold to a suggested list…BUT…raise our labor rate to offset the loss in overall profit. In other words, keep your parts prices at a margin the consumer will not question, but raise your labor to make up the part profit? This is being discussed around the country and there are shops that have implemented this strategy. We can’t give up our overall gross profit, so is this a viable option? Your thoughts?
  5. 4 points
    Raise your prices and eliminate the bottom 20%. Work less make the same amount of money is one thought on how to move forward. Maybe your labor rate is way too low?
  6. 4 points
    The other day, a local fellow shop owner, was complaining to me that his plumber just charged him $225 labor for a house call. My response was, "And why do you have an issue with that?" I know this plumber; he is very successful, in high demand in the area, does great work and provides a VALUBALE service. Does this sound familiar? You bet....sounds like you and your business!!! When the day comes that all of us truly know what we are worth and charge for it, that will be the day when all us raise the level of the auto industry, begin to attract more people to us, pay our employees better, build for our future and go home with the pay we deserve. I know this is going to cause controversy....so let's start the conversation.
  7. 3 points
    Sometimes I feel like I’m alone on a deserted island. I charge for diagnostic analysis. Why? Because I know what cost is to buy the tools, equipment, information systems, training and pay a technician to professionally and accurately diagnosis a check engine light, air bag, ABS or any other complicated problem. But, I feel a lot of shops are willing to give this up in hopes to get the work. In my opinion all they are doing is digging themselves in a hole. And, I have heard all the reasons: “If the customer gives me the job, I waive the analysis”. “I package the analysis into the repair, so the customer does not see the diag charges” “I will lose customers if I charge analysis” And the best yet: “It only took me 10 minutes to diag the O2 sensor, so I can’t charge diag labor”. Waiving the analysis is the same as a doctor waiving the x-rays and blood tests. They don’t do it, we should not either. I will also challenge those who “package” the analysis into the repair. You mean to tell me that after taking 1 hour to find a faulty mass air sensor, you will add the 1 hour to the 5 minutes it takes to install a new mass air? Come on, we all know the truth. And let’s address the 10 minutes it took to find the failed O2 sensor. Did it really take 10 minutes? NO, it took years of training, years of experience, the investment in the right equipment and the investment in the right information systems. Why we sometimes diminish what we are truly worth is amazing. No other profession does that. Sorry for being so tough on this topic, but business is hard enough these days and people question everything. If shops don’t realize what they are giving up, it makes it bad for all of us. Please tell me what you think. Agree? Disagree? Or any other thoughts....
  8. 3 points
    We use a wall mounted cell-phone locker to put keys in for after-hours pickups. SA will text the customer the lock combo.
  9. 3 points
    I have begun to plan the next 30-60 days from a staffing perspective, making the assumption that we will receive a PPP loan that will cover 60 days worth of payroll and some expenses. I wanted to find a way to do some "what if's" as it applies to staffing levels during the 8 week "expense period", that any PPP Loan forgiveness, will be based. I suspect we will be be funding our PPP loan by the end of this month, since the time between receiving a loan number and funding of the loan has been set at 10 days maximum. I expect the banks will use up 5 or more days of the 10, just getting loan documents together. It will probably happen pretty fast. I tried all the calculators below and attached. Each has some strong points. I suggest starting with the Inuit (quickbooks) link directly below. I suspect they are the most likely to keep this tool up to date. Might help with planning, as your PPP loans start to get funded If you are looking for forms, notices and/or policy documents, the link at the bottom has a good assortment It does not sound like forgiveness is going to be a "gimme", and will require above average record keeping. The professionals I listen to daily are telling the same message as we heard on the IMDA webinar. Keep the funds segregated and make transfers or transactions in such a way as to make them easily match to qualified expenses. My guys are telling me that the funds from the PPP Loan should have their own bank account or at least sub account, to transfer funds out of. It is the banks we borrow from that will be setting bar, and it sounds like they will be setting it hi to cover their ass, and make sure they get paid. Does not sound like the banks are going to stick their necks out at all, if we haven't done our part. It is sticky enough that CPA's are being warned against acting as "agents" on PPP loans on behalf of their clients. Getting a PPP loan may be a "no-brainer", getting forgiveness, likely not. Intuit® Aid Assist: Navigate Government Relief Programs Intuit® Aid Assist: Navigate Government Relief Programs A free tool that helps small business owners navigate the complexity of federal relief to get access to help whe... Other calculators and lender list below. Fairly well done, excel based calculator attached https://growthzilla.com/covid-ppp-loan-forgiveness-calculator https://www.calconic.com/calculator-widgets/sba-loan-calculator/5e8069a85d2cd70029057ecb https://smartasset.com/insights/ppp-loan-lenders Forms, Notices, Policies https://sescomgt.com/services/covid-19 Accounting Tips https://evergreensmallbusiness.com/ppp-loan-accounting/ Randy Lucyk Midas Kalkaska 231-258-2889 PPP-Loan-Forgiveness-Calculator w example.xlsx
  10. 3 points
    AutoZone doesn't!!! LOL (That's the tiresome refrain around here) I've said it before, AZ has done more damage to the automotive repair industry than anything else in the last 30 years. Hatred for this company pales when describing my feelings for them.....
  11. 3 points
    Joe, I agree with your comments 100%. For most, it's the FEAR that's driving them to make decisions that don't make sense. They PANIC. Now, the drop in business is real, but like most others, it's a bump in the road. If we all simply rely on the hard facts (like WHO information) and stay away from all the FEAR and PANIC, we'll do fine. I posted about this too with the best advice I've got. You can read that here: Thanks again for your calm sensible approach and comments. Matthew "The Car Count Fixer"
  12. 3 points
    Alex, we have seen a 40% drop in business the last three weeks. The worst drop in business in my 40 years. I made a post, by the way, under Joe's Tip. Here's is our plan: We have daily meetings with emoloyees to maintain our aim to keep oursleves clean and our customer's car clean We wipe down customer's cars before we get into them. The areas we are in contact with. We launched more radio spots to let people know that we are taking precautions, we will santize your car before and after we work on it. We are also promoting that we will pick up and deliver your car if you wish not to come out of your house We are offering a Deep Cleaning of the HVAC system at cost, $39.95...Usingb BG Kits. We purchased cases of small hand sanitizer and are gvivng them out to our customers No overtime and we may need to cut hours. No non-essential spending I have advised my employees to also not to spend any money now, unless necessary I have some employees take vacations now, We need them when business returns Don't panic Stay postive PRAY! Let's share our ideas and beat this thing!!!
  13. 3 points
    I have always wanted to ask this customer, "And did they fix the problem? If so why are you here?" Because you know that the shop either did NOT waive the fee or they didn't fix the problem or they don't want to deal with this customer any longer. I have also wanted to ask the customer who asks me if I do "Free Inspections" if they are willing to work at their job and not get paid for it. If you think about it, the customer is really our boss, on an average day we will have 2 or 3 or 5 "bosses". What they are telling us here is that they want us to do work for them for free. But let their boss ask them to come in and work for an hour or two and not get paid for it and what do you think their answer will be?
  14. 3 points
    I keep it short and nice. I tell people I have to pay the technician for his time spent working and testing for the correct repair needed to your vehicle. If I don’t pay him, he wouldn’t work here. I haven’t got any bad mouthing from it, but sometimes they just say OK thank you and hang up.
  15. 3 points
    It disturbs me to hear that you were ganged up on Facebook. We are professionals and need to conduct ourselves to a higher standard. We can all share and learn from each other. If someone disagrees, that's fine. But we need to be civil. I have been around for over 46 years in the auto business, forty of them running my own company, and I can tell you, the auto repair world has changed and we will see even more dramatic changes in the next five years. Sadly, for the most part, most shop owners have not gotten the income they deserve and it points right back to labor dollars; which has always been an issue. But now, it's the difference between keeping your doors open or shutting them down for the last time. Achieving your labor dollars to attain profitability is the only way to remain in business. We do more diagnostic testing than ever before in our history. And think about the jobs you do that require little to no parts: Removing a bumper cover to replace a side market bulb, Removing the bumper cover and radiator support to gain acces to a leaking 50 cent o ring at the receiver dryer. There is no way any shop can charge thier standard labor and remain in business. Let's please have an open and honest discussion and move forward!
  16. 3 points
    The ability to profit on parts started to erode in 2008, by 2015 we basically gave up on it, in 2018 in we streamlined our parts matrix to reflect higher labor vs higher part margins... 2019 was our busiest year yet.
  17. 3 points
    I believe tech pay will be going up rapidly, but so will shop labor rates. With the low unemployment currently, wages are going up in every industry. With the average tech pay of $41,000, if a tech was at work 40 hours a week all year he's only making $19.71 an hour. While that's a decent wage for many, most techs have to invest in a lot of costly tools. I was in a McDonalds a few months ago and saw signs all over the store advertising for employees with starting wage of $14 an hour. Of course my breakfast there gave me sticker shock also. The same will have to happen to the automotive repair industry or there will be no more techs. I see shops all around going out of business. It's not because of it being a profitable business. It's because the shop labor rates throughout the area are to low to be able to pay techs well enough to attract them and keep them while most customers gauge the cost of one shop vs. another entirely on the shops labor rate. Hands On says we have to have the same knowledge base of a doctor. Considering they only work on one make and two models, I'd say we may have to have a larger knowledge base in our profession. If we operated as doctors, we would also have a specialist for heater blower motors, and a different specialist for hood release cables and yet another specialist for brakes. The same tech that replaces the spark plugs wouldn't even consider working on the exhaust system. If we are going to keep techs coming to our industry, it will not be long before it will have to be an 80K or better per year profession. That will be achieved as shops either raise the average shop labor rate significantly or go out of business placing more demand on the shops that survive.
  18. 3 points
    Tech pay is determined by the profits generated by the repair shop. Too many repair shops struggle and want to remain competitive, but don't realize that all too often we compare our prices to the masses that undercharge their services and repairs. I have seen this time and time again for decades. It has changed somewhat since I started in 1974, but we need to go further. Sit down and do the math. Determine all your normal costs of doing business: Your rent or mortgage, insurance, workers comp, utilities, tools, equipment, computer programs, training, advertising and all other ordinary expenses. Then add up all those monthly costs. These expenses occur without even making a sale. AND, you haven’t even factored in payroll yet, or payroll costs. Once you have this number, you will then have a better understanding of what you need to charge in order to pay all your expenses and to generate a profit….yes…a profit.
  19. 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
  20. 3 points
    The issue I've had recently is people ordering their tires online, and then wanting us to drop everything to install them today. My tire prices are competitive with all other shops around and even the big box store. I can't and won't attempt to compete with online prices for the tires. My mount and balance price is $80 for a set of 4 plus disposal and valve stems if required. My markup on automotive tires is a minimum of $20. When they buy online, they are in turn taking $80 away from me. Yes, I'll still install the tires. No, I won't drop everything to do it. Schedule at least a day or two in advance to drop off car and it'll get done same day. I'm not going to move a profitable job to the side for a customer that wants to bring his own steak to the steakhouse to save a couple bucks.
  21. 3 points
    Matthew, all great points. Which I do agree with. Before I would even entertain a price match, let's match it line by line. In the 40-plus years in this business, I have never seen a job matched up the same exact way. There is always something left out or the parts are not the same, or the warranty is not the same, or there's something else that makes their job different from mine. We all know how so many play the game. ABC Auto gives a customer a price for a water pump, thermostat, hoses and labor. The customer calls a competitor and asks, “How much is a Water Pump?" (Neglecting to mention all the extras) The competitor gives a down and dirty price on only the pump and labor. Which makes the "perception" that ABC auto is priced too high. With tires is worse. This particular company advertises online pricing for the tires only. When you book your appointment and arrive at that tire store, they then explain the labor to install, and upsell the wheel alignment. Often making thier price higher than mine or other shops. Here's the bottom line for me; I don’t sell parts and labor. I sell relationships and trust. And through the years, I have been successful with that strategy. I learned a long time ago that If I want to have a quality shop and afford to pay my employees a very good wage, I need to attract the consumers that appreciate the work that we do. Now with that said, if I get an objection about price, I will offer options. I find that when people are left in control and decide between A or B, and not yes or no….A Sale is Made. Thank you for the great conversation! This is how we learn and grow! Joe
  22. 3 points
    First off let me say there is a lot of good information from the previous posts. A little about myself stated working in this industry in early 80's as a apprentice for a German Car shop after completing the training I work for the shop for a few years. I started my own shop in1987 specialzing in only German cars at the age of 27 I knew how to work on cars but no idea on running the shop, it was a 5 bay shop on a busy street in a small beach town, the entrance was small and speed on the road made it difficult to enter and exit safely. Also I had to come up with $65k to buy the business, big mistake, never buy a business and if so the customer base in the automotive repair business is of no value, depending on the equipement it's pennies on the dollar at best. After a few years I had the opportunity to move to a different location about 4 blocks south, The shop was a bit smaller rent was less but the building did not face the street, plus I was sharing the building with other tenants so parking was a issue, Still struggling due to low car count, buying diagnostic equipement and lack of education on running the business and marketing. In 2000 I moved out of the area and closed the shop, I found a shop in my new town, which was a piece of crap with a crazy landlord but it was the only place available that fit my wants I was there 6 years and build a good reputation and applied everything I had learned earlier from running the shop to marketing. In 2006 I found the shop of my dreams 7500 building 1500 sq of office 6000 of shop space at first it was pretty good my landlord was sharing the shop space so rent was god and it gave me time to build the business, the building was awesome but it was a warehouse and not a auto repair shop so it had to be permitted here in California that set me back 30k but I was grossing 500k with 2 guys and myself so it was ok. Once the landlord left and I assumed the entire rent it became harder especially when a the would leave or I would have to let them go. Also due to the location of the shop it was hard to get customer to come in. I was not on a main road, there was a main road just down the street but still did not help me with drive by traffic. In 2009 the landlord sold the building to a group out of Korea and I was on the hunt again. I found my current shop a 5 bay shop on a busy road with easy ingress and egress. I have 2 techs plus myself, one tech is still learning but getting better he came to me with little training but over the last 2 years he has come a long way, the second tech had his own shop but got tired of all the B,S so now he is working for me which is great. At the current shop my landlord is great that's a big deal for me, he painted my building a barn red so you can't miss it coming up or down the street. which has increased my bottom line. So some of the hurdles I have run into that you need to consider Money, how much in reserves do you have, you will need it to buy what ever this shop does not have, parts and equipment lifts, filters, fluids, air compressor diagnostic tools especially if you want to specialize. Plus all the licensces requied,, shop insurance workman comp ect. Techs, really hard to find good techs they all say they can work on cars, but as someone said if they make a mistake it could cost you your home, your business. You need to do extensive back ground checks. I've had tech steal from me lie to me walk out on me, I've had them disaapear come in wasted do not stand for any of that. Shop management tools there are a lot on the market you need to find something that is easy to operate and keeps in contact with your customer base. I use Mitchell shop manager with a few add ons this send out reminder text thank you text automatic but at a cost. You will also need either Alldata or Prodemand in helping with repairs Mitchell has labor and maintance programs build in to help with pricing. Insurance and workmans comp. Very important if you get caught without this fines are $1500 per employee in California Paying techs there is flat rate and hourly. In flat rate the tech gets paid on how much he can produce. If a job books out at 2 hours and the tech does it in 1 hour everyone wins but if it takes him 3 hours he looses. Flat rate is tough, the tech is working against the clock, especially when it come to diagnostic stuff or if there is no work he does not get paid. Hourly is tough on the shop owner because if the guys are sitting around waiting on parts or no work then they are burning your money, but at the same time a good tech and busy shop will more then pay for himself on a hourly system. Here in Ca it is not legal for techs to be on a flat rate system, they must have a min. of $1600 take home every 2 weeks. for a 80 hr work week. Shop is your shop currently zones for automotive repair best to check with the local city planning department. At my current shop that has been a auto repair building for 20 years I went to apply for a license at this shop and was told it was not approved for auto repair, I was shocked but after going through some old documents at the permitting department I found paper work stating that it was allowed. Advertising there are plenty of things out there they all say they will increase business but the truth is 99% IS A WASTE OF MONEY. Things like cheap oil changes free tire rotations brake specials will bring in cheap customers one time and will only return when you have the next special. I use a company called WOW cards this advertises to my customer base which you want to do when you get there. Very affordable and great results. Mudlick mailiers expensive but they send mailers to a specific area and or car type. Of course a good website is important too There are plenty of shop management training classes be very careful of these, they promise a lot and deliver a lot less then promised plus very costly. Most will offer a free seminar which are usually very informative also some of the suppliers like World Pac offer classes on car repair shop management ect Hire a good book keep and accountant, I have a bookkeep that comes in 2 to 3 time a week to input to quicken and filing then once a year send everything to the accountant. Also do not fall behind on any state local or federal tax payments Coming from a DYI background is hard but not impossible, you will have a pretty sharp learning curve, try and find good techs, buy good equipment, and good tools that will last you10 15 years, find good suppliers extremely important and keep the shop and office and waiting area as clean as possible goes a long way with customers especially if your a new shop . Good luck
  23. 3 points
    We've been busy working on several specific features and enhancements over the last month. We have a few items that will be released between now and Mid-November. Looking forward to sharing that with everyone. We are also removing the free plan. If you signed up for the free plan, it will still be available to you. However we will not be allowing new accounts to use the free plan. We are working with a few members on getting their accounts setup and moving into the platform. With that has come months of use and product training that we have provided to them. So anyone who is seriously interested, we are able to provide you with several months for free as we prepare you to switch over. We are grateful for the members that have given us a chance here, even if you didn't sign on. Every relationship has proven invaluable in fine tuning our product for the better.
  24. 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.”
  25. 3 points
    You have to be as smart as an electrical engineer, with the knowledge base of a doctor, working in conditions similar to a garbage man, for the same salary as a garbage man.
  26. 2 points
    A ride to the Mall with my wife today (yes, I went to the Mall, got a problem?) gave me assurance that things are really getting back to normal. The stores were full, the roads were packed and expect for the masks people are wearing, you would think it's just another ordinary summer weekend!
  27. 2 points
  28. 2 points
    I believe we all WISH there was a system that worked! My suggestions: Schedule Mondays and Fridays light, for the breakage over the weekend and the need for their cars for the weekend. When making appointment, look into recommendations: such as, pads at __ % or __ mm. Check mileage for spark plug replacement. Get tentative approval for the above when they drop off their car to keep your tech busy. Include extra time for check engine lights for diagnosis and parts replacement time. Try to get some cars for 2 days so you can juggle.
  29. 2 points
    We just got our money too! We have two local banks and I applied through both. One came through with the paperwork within a day while the other did not respond until the money was gone. That bank just sent an email that said we could pre-apply in case the SBA added more funding! We are thankful. The bank highly recommended paying payroll and utilities straight out of the account they set up which has been a little stressful since payroll is Monday but I think I can swing it. This will be a huge help during this time.
  30. 2 points
    By now, the dust is settling a bit with regard to the COVID-19 crisis, and we are well into making the adjustments needed to save our shops. There are many shops around the country that have not been affected, and there are many that have been devasted economically. Being from New York, I can tell you that the last 8 weeks have been tough. With sales down more than 50%, I had to make a lot of tough decisions. The good news (so far), my family and myself are all healthy, and none of my employees have contracted the dreaded coronavirus. I pray each night that it stays this way. Now, I look beyond the virus. I need to rethink my goals, my financial expectations and feel confident in the fact that we will beat this, and believe that we will be better and stronger when this is all over. I know many of you are seeking help from the SBA, negotiated terms with your vendors, have worked our deferments with mortgages, loans and insurance payments. And I know that many of you have made the needed adjustments to payroll and staffing. All these things are essential, but the most important factor for you to survive and thrive will be how you handle yourself and your leadership in the coming weeks and months. You must believe in yourself. Trust you gut and move forward. Remain positive. Shop owners are the most resilient business owners on this planet. Don’t forget that. Move forward starting today and look beyond the virus!
  31. 2 points
    Good morning, With business slowing down for most, we feel that there's never been a better time for shops to take advantage of online training. We know that everyone in our great industry is in this together, and want to help shop owners in any and every way that we can, so have decided to team up with Jasper Engines & Transmissions to make our Online High Impact Customer Care Sales Course available to the industry at no charge. The recordings for this 4-part online sales training course are usually sold for $179, but the below link will provide you with complimentary access. You'll see that the page also provides access to an Action Plan that you can follow to help you navigate through the coronavirus pandemic. As you take on this challenge, please don't forget that you're not alone, and that this pandemic will pass. If there's anything else that Elite may be able to do to help you, please feel free to Contact Us, or give us a call at 800-204-3548. Click Here for complimentary access to our Online High Impact Course and COVID-19 Shop Owner Action Plan Wishing you the best, Your Friends at Elite
  32. 2 points
    I have been contacted by many shop owners about the decision to close or not. In most cases across the nation, Auto Repair Professionals are considered essential workers. Which means that we can stay open for business. However, even though we are essential, I personally will not demand my employees to come to work. If business fails because of this virus, it will fail in the short term. We will all eventually find a way to come back and rebuild our businesses. Things are changing by the hour, and that makes our decisions as leaders even more difficult. I don’t want to get sucked into panic, but I don’t want to turn a blind eye to the fact that we are in uncharted territories and that we are all learning from this crisis together. The decision to close your business is yours. There is no wrong or right decision here. The safety and well-being of our families are our number one concern. If it makes it any easier, make your next decisions from the heart, not from a business standpoint. Be strong, be a leader, and know that we will get though this. When the dust begins to settle, we will have learned a lot about business and even more about who we are are as a culture and a society. I cannot tell you what I am doing tomorrow. I plan on having a meeting with my staff, and a decision will be made to stay open, cut staff, cut hours or perhaps another scenario will surface. I will keep you updated and try to bring a little sanity to everyone during these crazy times. You are all leaders; you are automotive shop owners. You are the toughest of the toughest. I know you and I will prevail through these troubling times and I look forward to the future when we can all look back and say…”We may it through, and we’re better off for it.”
  33. 2 points
    "My banker just told me that 1099s don’t count because 1099’people are eligible to apply themselves. I had quite a bit of 1099 last year and it don’t count." Exactly, I was never a Banker, but I am an accountant by profession and Business owner/Mechanic by trade. therefore we should focus on how justify/paper trail to our expenses.. Tell your accountant to run your 2019 P&L and look at your expenses and go down the lines.. if u get the loan, that's whats going to cover along with payroll if any employees. That will give you and idea. Also do the pay roll for those that are employees, just to get an idea and be familiar with what the banker is going to request. if you keep receipts it's justifiable, Ex: lease agreement, utilities at the time, the Bankers are still getting familiar on the process itself. I bank with Wells Fargo and my banker didn't know much. I knew more than him... The process it's barely going to get in place/done by the government and then given to implement to the banks and then to us... In my humble opinion, we might get the EIDL first than the PPP We have to be Patience JP
  34. 2 points
    During the 1918 Flu pandemic historians said it took people 3-4 years to get back to "normal". I am staying positive but I'm concerned. I think if everyone goes back to work in a few months it will be a miracle. I'm thinking 12-18 months minimum. I'm hoping that there will be school in September but I'm not even too sure about that at this point.
  35. 2 points
    Whatever your normal advertising and marketing strategy is, now is the time to tone down call to action advertising and promotions and communicate your brand to your community. In times of crisis, it’s crucial that your customers and community know what you stand for and there to help if at all possible. Contact your customers by phone, email, text, etc. Not to sell them anything, but to ask if they are ok. Let them know that you are thinking about them. Connect with them emotionally, like a friend or family member would. For many shops across this great nation, there will be significant sales drops. With the new financial package, there will be help on the way. Contact your accountant, payroll company, financial advisor, bank rep and find out about the help that is coming your way. We will get through this together.
  36. 2 points
    Hello everyone. First and foremost, we hope that you, your family, your team members and your business are doing as well as one can expect in this new reality that is taking us down an unbelievably difficult time in our history. We have some updates and some news we want to share with you. News: While the world has come to a halt, we have certainly felt the change in direction at our facility in Linden NJ. However, the average RO numbers we are seeing, are nothing short of remarkable for the work we have put into this endeavor. We are the least expensive system that offers the ability to invoice customers (Digitally and Paper) with a full DVI system attached to it. Our plans start at $69.99 and $119.99 for a 5 team member facility. You will not find a better value anywhere in the industry for shop management than what we offer with one system. Updates: Removal of Completed / Completed & Paid From Plain View: When you press the dashboard icon, you may notice that you are missing a bunch of Service Requests. You're not missing them, they have been hidden from plain view and can easily be brought back. Notice anything new, like that red line of text? Note: This list EXCLUDES Completed service requests. Clicking on it will cause it to turn green and read: Note: This list now INCLUDES Completed Service Requests. Hours & Minutes: Jobs that run over 24 hours, no longer display "Days" that correspond to hours. Easy Check - Add New Customer: In an on going effort to improve our process, we have added "Add New Customer" to the "Easy Check In" flow. This will allow you to add anyone not on the platform, and then proceed to add their vehicle and start a service request or make a future appointment. Administrators Can Now Delete & Reopen Service Requests: Based on learning more about how we each function every day in our facilities, we have decided to add the ability to soft delete service requests from appearing in the list that employees see. With that also comes the ability to to correct a mistake on an invoice, without reaching out to us. A snapshot of the service request is taken prior to being reopened. CAR Mobile Display: We've been working really hard on our mobile display as well. There are no pages that should require you to pan right anymore. Everything should be contained within the window you are in on your mobile device. We are continuing to make significant strides in our product, through your crucial feedback. We appreciate every bit of advice you give us on how to make CAR better for you and the community overall. Please don't hesitate to share with us.
  37. 2 points
    My location is in Bergen County NJ about 25 minutes outside of NYC. Statistical reports released today show that NYC has the highest number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the USA. Our county has the highest number of confirmed cases in NJ. The severity of the situation in our area has prompted authorities to invoke travel curfews and close all non-essential businesses. Gas stations and vehicle repair are both considered essential services. Examples of non-essential services which are now closed are: malls, gyms, bars, barber shops, nail salons, clothing stores, movie theaters, wedding venues, department stores, gift stores, card stores, toy stores, furniture stores, shoe stores & most corporate offices. Pre-schools, public & private schools, colleges, churches, mosques, synagogues and public playgrounds are all closed. Eating in restaurants is not allowed but take out, curbside pick-up or delivery is allowed. The entire state and neighboring states are on a tight lockdown leaving most streets and highways quiet with little or no traffic. One of my techs is 67 and my brother/partner is 70. We decided it was best if they both stayed home because their age predisposes them to a possible worse outcome should they contract the virus. Both of these key people decided to stay home as bay work slowed down which worked out well. We have gas and repairs and our gas volume has dropped about 75%. I have several attendants that requested a leave of absence due to age, pre-existing medical conditions and also family pressure/fear. The loss of gas attendants came as gas volume eroded so that presented no problem. The closing of all non-essential businesses caused a self regulating slow down of both available business and available staff in a very timely manner. The authorities in our area are predicting that things will continue to get worse in the weeks ahead so I certainly could see the need to reduce hours or possibly close as less and less people venture outside their homes. I am having a meeting with my staff tomorrow and I will give them the opportunity to weigh in on matter. If my remaining staff members are willing to continue working and our customers continue to need us I plan to remain open.
  38. 2 points
    Read my negative fb or Google reviews they are all because I charged someone to "just look" at their car. That's why people are shy to do it. I charge for diagnosis. My doctor charges me for it. My dentist charges me for it. My electrician charges me for it. Every professional on earth charges for their expertise. I do the same. Toughen up folks.
  39. 2 points
    The BEST thoughts on this subject to date. My sincere compliment for a well written, heart felt message that both touched and inspired me. Thank you.
  40. 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
  41. 2 points
    Just had one yesterday... Why are you charging me $230 just to look at my car? Well, the technician had your car on the lift for 1.5 hours identifying all types of problems or safety issues. The service advisor then spends at least 1 hour researching and putting together your estimate and communicating everything to you. So we have ~3 hours of work into your vehicle and have provided a comprehensive estimate with labor times, parts and part numbers. You can now take this information and make an educated decision on whether or not your vehicle is worth fixing. Information you didn't have when you dropped the car off for "low brake pedal". You were also charged for 2 hours when we spent much closer to 3. Do you show up at work and work 3 hours for free every day? **Silence falls over the room**
  42. 2 points
    All in, my guys get over $80k per year. That includes the whole picture, salary, tool allowance, health care, IRA contribution etc... We're in Westchester County NY and the labor rate is 113 and going up. I can't seem to attract techs either. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places, maybe not offering enough, maybe no one is out there... I wish I had the answer. One thing i do know... my labor rate will be higher this week and I'll be paying closer attention to parts margins.
  43. 2 points
    I started out as a technician in Virginia and I was a VSP licensed Safety Inspector for 3 years. The program has a lot of problems as you mentioned. Some places will put a sticker on anything. When you reject a sticker the customer is mad. When you require a repair for a sticker, that is almost always your best sales tool ever. I always felt good about making the roads safer. The price for an inspection is below what it costs to pay most technicians, but that was generally gained back in repairs to pass. I took issue with the dealership method of inspections. There was only 1 inspector on a team, who wrote stickers for everyone on the team, for cars he never looked at. That was a job requirement if you were an inspector, despite it being completely against the law. I left that job and later found out there are entire dealerships with only 1 or 2 inspectors writing stickers for more than 50 inspections in a day. The state police support varies by location. In Virginia Beach, our station assigned trooper was trying to bust us and shut us down. In Newport News, our trooper was actually trying to improve vehicle safety and would back us. Now working as a technician in Tennessee, I see a large loss of sales for legitimate safety related repairs due to there being no safety inspection requirement. I see many vehicles that would fail the Virginia inspection and I am horrified when I can do nothing about it. Whether or not the safety inspection has an impact on safety involves statistics I do not have, but I can say with certainty that while i was a Virginia Safety Inspector I rejected and repaired many unsafe vehicles and felt good about it.
  44. 2 points
    Right on CAR!!! This is the way to do it! The POS industry should be enhancing their core platform rather than abdicating the creation of these features to others. I abhor overlay software systems. When you use a 3rd party software package, they have to store data in a separate database, while at the same time communicate with your POS system. Now you have twice the chances for something to go wrong as either can have a bug that breaks the system. If you terminate the service of an overlay program and keep your POS, the historical data in the other database is now gone. Please note: I'm not critiquing any of these overlay software products. They add value for some shops. I only have one software vendor to contact when I need help and this simplifies my life. Instead, I'm critizing the POS vendors and/or recommending selection of a modern POS system. The system that I use has customizable DVI, but no ability to store pictures. They integrate with a 3rd party overlay system(s), but, IMO, the fees are insane compared to the value provided. Our system makes it really easy to capture needed work and present it to the customer.
  45. 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.
  46. 2 points
    I don't think all of auto repair is a commodity, even though I agree with your assessment that customers treat it as a commodity. To be really clear, here are the commodities that I see within what we do, that translates into price shopping: Tires - There are a plethora of competitors in the space, what advantage can the small shop have? You have to actually install them regardless of where they are purchased. Smaller players have an insanely difficult if not impossible time trying to compete here. Brakes - Long been a safety item that was commoditized by cheap materials providers and the marketing companies that operate in our space. Nearly impossible to compete here as there is no telling how low anyone is willing to go. We have a car wash that advertises pads and rotors for $225 down the street from us. Oil Changes - Another item that was commoditized by quick service facilities. Although, if you do some homework these days, you will find the quick lubes are the most expensive game in town and their entire game is upselling. Customers are starting to notice this. Exhaust - Used to be a serious commodity where a lot of small shops would lose out on the sale to a Meineke or Midas with pipe bending equipment... but better materials like stainless steel, hit these businesses with abrupt changes in market dynamics and many of them found it difficult to initially find their new position in a post exhaust service world. This is happening to the Quick Service routine and that is why you are seeing the Quick Service facilities become the one stop shop for all commodities within our industry; Tires, Brakes, Oil Changes and now even filters (cabin & engine). Everything else, although treated like a commodity, it really isn't much of a commodity. It's more a service calculation, or lack there of. What makes them a commodity in the customer view is that a large portion of the industry is in the business of undercutting everyone for the quick sale instead of trying to build long term value. This is a pain point that will likely never stop happening in our lifetime. Especially as the cream work starts to dry up and shops begin to suffer from not staying current with tools and procedures. For example, the A/C work you did... A/C is far from a commodity, especially when vehicles have a smaller version of a house system, wrapped up between the front and rear bumpers. You wisely made a choice, likely based on local competition and your local market to address it in a manner that would bolster your credibility. Your choice may also have been a result of having the right equipment and experience. But each market is different, even though customer behavior is not. We get plenty of calls for "water pump" or "radiator" or "hose" quotes. We're just not interested in competing in an arena where we are blind bidding based on what one person may have indicated is wrong with the car. We also don't subscribe to the logic of, "Give them a cheap number to get them in the door and then we can adjust." We think that is the most deceitful of practices and participating in it, makes you complicit in what ruins this trade. We are also seeing interesting shifts in consumer behavior where customers want to fix older vehicles that we advise them not to. Not only do they want to, they are insistent that you help them get this sorted, because we're the local expert they rely on. We've had to get really crafty in how we procure parts and negotiate the price for said parts and then the selling angle to the customer. We had to get crafty, because we knew if we weren't... we would lose a customer for life. Personally I think that customers have too much of a choice in parts these days as there are too many combinations of good, better, best... and they aren't all interchangeable and even worse... we're seeing even the better and best parts have poor quality which is leading to higher failure rates. But customers don't see your side of the headaches, they just want their car fixed for the least possible price and if you don't help them fulfill their needs... someone else will. It's also hard to explain to all customers that they maybe making a poor choice trying to save $200 on materials, only the ones that really trust you understand. Sometimes, even the ones who really trust you... are going to learn the hard way. When that happens, you may have lost that customer for good... even if you end up being right. The worse is, when they get lucky and their gamble pays off... you will always be the one who tried to rip them off. It's not easy and the only advice I have is... talk to your customers, educate your customers, and treat them how you would expect to be treated if you were in their position. Second, be very thorough in everything you do. We've gone to great lengths to make sure customers are satisfied. Up to and including, making appointments at the dealer for recalls and getting them done for the customer while the vehicle was in our possession. "I know a shop owner who basically locks himself in his office and let's the service advisor handle customers - even when they ASK ABOUT HIM!" With regards to this... A shop owners time is the most critical element in his entire business. The entire point of the service advisor is to act as a buffer, while it may be overdone at times... I can only tell you that it is immensely difficult to focus on a task at hand when you are stopping to treat every customer personally. A good team helps you carry this burden and as they successfully do so... they become the face of service alleviating the pressure on the owner to still be at the forefront of operation. No business in this industry can grow to a million in sales annually with the owner trying to grow the business and personally attending more than 30% of workflow and depending on the goals... even 30% might be a lofty number. With regards to standing out, there are a myriad of ways to do so. From thank you cards to follow up phone calls to holiday appreciation. Standing out helps you stay on your customers mind... but it does not do much to mitigate the price wars we are all facing. This industry is shifting from a high parts margin business to a full rate for service business, where parts are going to be a nice supplement but labor prices must pay for everything and have a net profit built in. Customers are wiser and even when they aren't... they have access to parts cheaper than you do all too often. All of which is designed to sell product and ruin your reputation if you are working on becoming the lowest bidder vs the place that fixes it right the first time and prevents come backs. I have dozens of examples of jobs that we were able to sell, because I would rather make money on labor than parts.
  47. 2 points
    Joe you are so very true. Did you guys know that you can use your home to get between $10k-$20k in business expense deduction on your taxes every single year. And I'm talking about the home office expense deduction.
  48. 2 points
    It's been 20 years since I did mine. It was beautiful for several years. Slowly over time wear and tear do get to the paint. It was a 2 part epoxy I believe made by Devcon. I recommend staying away from the water base stuff. I did my waiting room with it a few years ago and it didn't last very long, and the clear coat bubbled up. Here is what I can tell you. If you do any welding or cutting with a torch, it will burn holes. It will chip if heavy things are dropped on it. If you drag things across it, it will scratch, and it will yellow, and stain over time. For some reason washer solvent causes it to dry up and crack. Mine is looking pretty rough now, but it was great for many years. Scott
  49. 2 points
    Advertising is one of the biggest heartaches for many automotive shops. Their are many questions that swirl around the idea about advertising. How much money do we need to spend? Who is our target? How do we know if the advertising going to work? Their is no right answer to the advertising question, but the answer does lay with your customers. Simply put, there is three generation of customers; past, present and future. The past customers already know you and know the customer service that you provide, in return they send word a mouth to other friends that need repairs. These customers don't go un-noticed, they are your behind the scene advertisers. They are the ones that you send special support to, such as, gift cards, thank you cards, free oil changes and so on. They will continue to feed your business. The present customers are your referral customers. They require a little more attention and communication so they know they can trust you as a reliable automotive shop. Making sure that you spend the time explaining what is wrong with there vehicle and what the recommend repair is and the options they have. With these customers you add a key chain to there rings, you give them a oil change sticker on the windshield, you give them a cool looking decal. Something that they can walk away and say I went to THIS SHOP to have my truck repaired. The future customers, is our future customers. We rely on past and present customer to continue to feed our shops with work. Most important thing that many people forget is that you are AIMING for the FUTURE CUSTOMERS "Gen Z, iGen or Centennials" these are the social media, internet advertising customers. They don't deal with direct mail or hassle with emails, they scroll through social media and look at pop ups, they google business and look at reviews. To answer your question, invest in SEO if you want to continue to build your business. Conclusion, I took over a 40 year old transmission shop 12 years ago. It is still family owned and operated and houses excellent talent and knowledge in the field of transmission. I noticed that we were loosing customers and things needed to change. They were still advertising with phone books and newspapers. But we were in the middle of change in society with social media picking up speed. I saw it coming. I quickly changed direction and started focusing on the "Future customers". We started to focus and research the SEO world. What did it have to deal with me. The more I learned the more I realized that we all do the same thing. You go on vacation and you have a breakdown, where do you turn to? The internet. When you have problems with your car and who do you take it to? You look on the internet. Currently 60% of our new cliental come from the internet and reviews, 30% from word a mouth and 10% all others. There is not a right way or wrong way to advertise, you just have to look into your community and see where your greatest strength are. Hope this post helps someone. Have a great day.
  50. 2 points
    I like to say online parts are for do it yourselfers. You can do it yourself cheaper than we charge. There's no sense in denying it.

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