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About nge

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    Occasional Poster

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  • Business Name
  • Business Address
    1130 West Club Boulevard, Durham, North Carolina, 27701
  • Type of Business
    Auto Repair
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    Shop Manager
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  1. nge


  2. Thanks everyone! Appreciate the feedback. I signed up for Optimize Social Media late last week. I'm looking forward to seeing their work. Thanks again!!
  3. Can you share some more details about how you factor it in? Right now are tires are a flat markup. What is your markup like on tires and then how do you factor in the road hazard on top of that into the tire cost?
  4. We have been growing tire sales for the last few years and have considered offering in house road hazard warranty. For the shops offering road hazard was curious what your pricing model is and how your claim process works. Any insights would be greatly appreciated!
  5. For the shops out there using Facebook ads I’m curious if you are managing your own ad campaigns or if you have a company doing it for you? i tried a few campaigns on my own that charged per like. I found that even though the region and demographics were clearly set there were people far outside my target area which ended up likening the page. If you have someone managing your campaign can you let me know what company you use and if you do it on your own what are your tips or tricks and what is your specific call to action?
  6. Hey all, I am looking into the RAP service (remote assist program) for reflashing and programming pcms and modules and weighing my options. We currently don't have the equipment to reflash and typically sub those jobs out to the dealer. I was wondering how do you all charge for reflash services? I have generally seen the out the door price around $200 which would be about 2hrs bill time for us but wanted to see how that stacks up. Also in the event there are repairs done that require the reflash are you charging the full reflash fee in addition to the parts and labor time or do you discount the reflash fee? Thanks!
  7. Thanks for all the feedback! Using this approach (windshields, bodywork, trans work etc all come to us) how do you handle estimates for these items and do you tell your customer you are subbing out the work? For example, a customer comes in for body work and wants a price. You call the vendor and they need to see it before they can give a price. How do you handle that? Do you have the customer leave the vehicle with you and then take it to the vendor? Do you tell the customer that you sub it out incase they come by your shop and don't see the vehicle? And do you offer this for all customers or just existing customers? So if I have never been to your shop before but come in for a quote for body work then what? In case we were to tell the customer that we sub out the work and they leave it with us for quote & repair I do like Dan's approach with adding value in the warranty. We did experience with subbing out alignments at one point and we would take in waiting customers and then drive the vehicle to our vendor and usually informed the customer of what we were doing. I often felt like that was a strange situation when a customer brings their car to you and you drive it down away to get repaired.
  8. Just wondering how many of you all sub out jobs vs recommending other shops and if you do sub it out how do you markup the service? For example, we don't do transmission work at our shop and have a trusted shop that we refer all of the work to. The only time we sub the work out is for our fleet account and we just do a flat $ markup which is decent in my opinion. We do send that shop a lot of business but not sure I want the hassle of being the inbetween person and potentionally impacting my shop reputation based on someone else's work (no matter how much I research and trust a shop). At the same time by not subbing out I feel like I am leaving money on the table. Currently we refer most transmission, intensive electrical and exhaust work out to local specialty shops. A shop owner friend of mine on the other hand handles everything car related for his customers. From windshields to wheel repairs, electrical etc. His philosophy is he wants to be the only shop his customer needs to know about for anything car related even if he makes no markup (not sure how often that happens) and he is a very successful shop making over $1mil a year. I get the concept but for me to be involved I want to make some money on it and if its something that requires diagnostic not sure I would want to be the middle man not knowing a price to tell the customer from the get go. For some of these situations I know he just wings it. (For example he had a customer with an electrical issue and just told them it would be $800 not knowing what was wrong. He took it to an electrical shop and the problem was fixed for $200...good profit for him.). He also subs out motor jobs and pays $500 for the install but I know of some instances where he had comebacks and it ended up costing him. Curious how you all handle sub work, how you mark it up and if the risk is worth the reward?
  9. Awesome. We handle some of the things in a similar approach but I like the idea about only setting appointments on the hour and may give that a shot. To your question on inspection volume, we have 2 types of inspections: safety and OBD. Safety is for vehicles 1995 and older or a vehicle less than 3 years old and we can charge $13.60 of which we profit $12.75. To check everything the state requires us to it takes about 9-10min but the we have been advised that anything less than the 15 min state benchmark sets a "red flag." For vehicles 1996 and up we charge $30 and we profit $23.75. The process is the exact same expect for OBD we hook the state computer to the vehicle which takes maybe 1 minute tops, all the other checks are the same. As for follow up work we don't get a lot. A vehicle fails with a check engine light on and most people know that so they don't bring the car in unless the light is off but we do get some repairs from that. Other than that it's smaller items : i.e. Wiper blades, bulbs, tires etc. Insoections don't fail for brakes unless they are metal to metal but we still inform the customer of those things when the vehicle is there and we do get some oil changes as upsells as well just by noticing the service sticker. The issue is that given our location to the DMV and the state requirement that your car be inspected before you can renew your tags, of those 175 very few become return customers but instead just come for the quick inspection so they can go right back and get their renewal. As to hiring another tech my current car count is around 12-15 cars a day with 2 techs of which my quick tech is doing probably 75% of. On busy days I am no doubt losing money because we often get walkins who can't wait with our estimated wait time (from the booked appointments we have and the walkins we are already managing) and even though we try to schedule them for the next day they are usually looking for service now and 99% of the time these are new customers who I know probably won't come back if we couldn't help them the first time they came in. If my A tech is not busy but my quick tech is he helps out on the oil changes but when both are busy walkin customers leave. One thing I am looking to implement is some way to track exactly how many customers are leaving and why so see if I can justify a 3rd employee. My concern is that there are still days and sometimes weeks where I have more employees than work and bringing on another hourly quick tech would just cost me more money so I want to measure to see if the good times and lost revenue from the busy days would hold that 3rd employee through the slow days.
  10. For those of you who have a second location, when did you decide it was time to open another shop? Was your 1st shop at capacity? In my area there are very limited auto spaces for lease and even less (close to 0) which are on a main thoroughfare. We currently lease our location but we are on a month to month lease with the landlord not open to signing a longer term lease. We have been operating like this for probably at least the last 15+ years but with the area growing and continuing to change I always have the lingering thought in my mind that we could "be gone tomorrow." I know this could also be the case if we had a lease, the property could still be sold but you walk away with a little more but the location is a prime spot, our customer based is well established (the business has been here for 40+ years and we are located accross the street from an nice community where a larger amount of our customers can walk home when they leave their car. We are also infront of the license plate office which helps drive our 170+ state inspections per month. We have a customer who owns a vacant shop about 10 min away. The shop has been empty for several years and prior to that was a rent a bay location so there hasn't been an operating shop there for well over a decade. She has been asking us to consider leasing from her and is open to various lease options. Including free rent for x months, fractional lease and % of sales until we decide, try out option with no strings attached etc. She has not been publicly advertising the space is for lease and I always considered that as a backup option if something happened with my current location however; last week she was in and told me she was going to start advertising it and may even be open to selling it in the future. If I had a "guarantee" on my current location for some period of time I don't think I would open a second location however; with the lack of certainty I have considered opening it primarily so I can still keep it as an backup plan. The location is on a very busy street and according to her traffic data is >120k cars per day. It would take some updating to get it to the value my current location offers. Some of my other issues with the property is the difficulty to get out of the parking lot (4 lane road with 120k cars per day), and a dated less than perfect cement slab for minimum parking in the front and a grass lot behind the shop as a backup which I would have gravled but I have heard that there is data supporting less customers with a gravel lot. My overall question is what thoughts do you all have about this and how would you handle a similar situation? More specifically, for those of you who have a second location: 1. How did you pick your location? 2. Did you initially fully staff and fully equip the second location? Considering the proximity of the 2 shops I thought about only purchasing the essentials and letting the shops share the resources until I was certain the second location could self sustain. 3. How did you staff the location? Did you hire all new people or did you roll out some of your employees from the first location? And similarly how did you maintain your culture between the 2 locations? My current location is staffed with people I completely trust and who have been with me for years but when they started new I had veterans there who I could rely on the keep me informed and up to date if I wasn't there.
  11. My shop and process is very similar to jfuhrmad. But I have a question, you say you have 2 techs (as do I) and that you schedule appointments for 1hr (I also do that but for state inspections as well. We currently do about 170 inspections per month.). My techs seem to have the biggest issue with the appointments. Say you have a walk in come in at 8 and you are doing their service and find upsells and you have an 8:30 appt and the 2 begin to overlap. How do you handle that situation? Simply put, how do you manage walkins and appointments for the same tech? I have considered hiring another quick tech but am worried the demand may not always be there.
  12. With an older fleet have you ever had any issues with the loaner breaking down on a customer and if so how did you handle that? Even with a well maintained car we can expect things to go wrong like starters, fuel pumps etc so curious how you manage those situations if that has happened. Obviously newer cars don't remove that risk completely but just curious. Do you advertise on the vehicles? i.e. Decals, wraps, magnets? Also a shop down the road from us had a similar agreement drawn up that customers have to sign but he has had a handful of incidents where damage was done to the vehicle but the customers insurance would not cover it even with the signed agreement. In one instance it was a DUI and the customer just paid for the repairs out of pocket but curious if you have any similar situations and if the customer's insurance actually covered it?
  13. I pay my A tech a salary and a % of upsold services. My question is about the quick service tech. I normally start around $15/hr for that position but want to find a way to incentivize that role as well for the upsells. In the past, I tried to pay a % of the upsells the tech made but that became hard to track because each checklist had to be held out and it was cross referenced with the customer request to verify it was an upsell and given the car count for that position it became a logistical nightmare on payroll night. When I don't have the incentive there I find that the guys start off strong then continue to go through the motions with little end result. How are you all handling the bonuses for quick service?
  14. Jay, it's interesting to see the rapid expansion and wish you the best of luck. Just curious as to how you are finding enough people to staff all your locations? We had an opening last year that took almost 10 months to fill and that was just for a general service tech. I talk to other shops in the area and they are also challenged with finding solid talent for any of the positions.
  15. We actually just switched to Vonage business in October and it has been a good experience so far. We too had phone numbers that had been in use since the 60's and Vonage handled the porting over etc. We kept both phone lines and got 3 handsets. Each handset rings when either shop number is called and each set also has its own direct number so it's almost like we went from 2 lines to 5. The call waiting like feature is that you can receive several calls to your number at a time. I don't know the limit but I know we have received up to 3-4 simultaneous calls to the same number and it still rings all handsets. The one learning curve was with transferring the calls since you can't just put a call in hold and pick it up anywhere, it actually has to be transferred but that is no longer an issue. We have set up a hold system as well that allows users to continue holding or leave a message and we also have after hours prompts set up as well. You can also manage from anywhere so in cases of inclement weather etc you can record a temporary message. Overall the switch has been a good one. Unfortunately we had to keep 1 analog line since VOIP does not work with our state inspection machine which still goes through dial up in NC but for everything we have it is $120 per month and well worth it.

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