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JimO last won the day on May 13

JimO had the most liked content!

Business Information

  • Business Name
    D&J Valero
  • Business Address
    375 Chestnut Ridge Road, Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, 07677
  • Type of Business
    Auto Repair
  • Your Current Position
    Shop Owner
  • Automotive Franchise
  • Banner Program
  • Participate in Training

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  1. I have always tried to hire staff members that are knowledgeable for the work that we routinely do and share my same values and principles. General internal medical doctors send patients to specialists when their patients illness or symptom exceeds their knowledge base or experience level. The sign of a good doctor is that he/she sends you to a specialist when needed as opposed to trying to solve a problem without the proper background, training and or equipment. Can I possibly afford to hire a staff and set up a shop that could profitably repair any problem on any vehicle? The answer is that I could try but I could not accomplish this profitably. Recognize you shops ability and comfort level and NEVER allow your pride stand in the way of sending a job to the dealer. In general I think that too many shop owners feel that sending a customer to the dealer for a repair is the same as losing a customer. I know from experience that a trip to the dealer for an odd or complex repair increase our customers allegiance to us. Let the dealer keep the vehicle for ten days, charge the owner $2,000 for the repair only to have the owner return the vehicle multiple times because the problem is not fixed. Let that frustration and expense be associated with the dealer as opposed to me. Lastly, run a clean, well organized shop which maximizes productivity.
  2. Joe managed to capture an accurate description of our lives in a few sentences. I bet everyone read his words and thought “Wow...that’s me....that’s my life”. Given that should we really wonder why our trade struggles to find qualified employees?
  3. As if getting Covid is not enough you also have to try your best to finish all of the “in progress” jobs and contend with being down for an unknown amount of time. Running a small business has it’s rewards but I bet right now you wish you could just go home and get paid for hibernating under the covers like the majority of the population has done. I wish you and your tech a quick recovery.
  4. Joe is correct that Covid-19 has affected everyone to some degree. Our gas volume is still off by 30-40% which is both a concern and hardship but repairs have been good so I feel very fortunate. There are a handful of varied businesses that have prospered during Covid such us drug chains, Urgent Care facilities, testing labs etc. Sadly there are so many businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters, hair/nail salons, catering halls, fitness centers, hotels/motels ..... that have closed up permanently. A shopping mall near me has a severe failure rate with 40-50% of the stores shuttered for good. A Hilton in my backyard closed permanently. Huge corporate office buildings in my area still lay dormant with all employees working from home. The overall business climate is still very poor in our are and concerns me. To answer Joe’s question as to what lessons I have learned - Adapt to change as quick as possible, do not financially over extend yourself, realize and react to untapped opportunities, increase and improve communication with customers and employees and be thankful to be able to come to work every morning because too many people are unable to do that.
  5. Can’t agree more. I have pointed out tires that are clearly worn out and the owners often respond by telling me “It’s a leased car and I am returning it in a few months”. I then tell them that they have two choices - replace the tires or park the vehicle and stop using it. During the depths of the Covid quarantine we noticed a sharp increase of rodent infestation in vehicles directly caused by vehicles being dormant for weeks/months. Great picture! Really depicts the importance of regular maintenance.
  6. I do not want to divide our group by introducing a social/political topic but the recent situation that occurred during a Goodyear training session is interesting. I assume most of you are aware but for those that are not this is the condensed version: During an employee training session a Goodyear employee utilized a slide presentation indicating that BLM and LGBT shirts/pins/hats are acceptable while at work but All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, MAGA and other politically affiliated slogans or materials are unacceptable while at work. Another employee took a picture of this training slide, released it to the press and ultimately President Trump retaliated with this Tweet - Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES - They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS. Get better tires for far less! (This is what the Radical Left Democrats do. Two can play the same game, and we have to start playing it now!) Again I do not want to divide us but I am wondering if any of you have been faced with a customer who declined a Goodyear tire purchase because of the above information. In my shop this past Friday a husband and wife came in requesting four new tires with “Anything but Goodyear” as their only requirement. I asked if this restriction was based on a past poor experience with Goodyear tires and they quickly referred to the training slide incident outlined above as being the reason. What have you experienced in your shops? NOTE - The the husband and wife mentioned above did purchase four Cooper tires from me on Friday for those that are curious.
  7. Any plan to pay a worker more money to stay home than what they normally would earn for working is a plan destined for unintended consequences and grossly unfair to everyone who goes to work every day. The excuse for wanting to stay home is fear of contracting Covid and there are certainly workers who have underlying heath conditions that predispose them to a poorer outcome should they contract it. How can anyone justify rewarding people who decide to stay home? If you fail to go to work for a justified reason you should receive benefits that are based on your current earnings (which the government has access to). Assuming you are afraid but otherwise healthy the benefit should be reduced for the following reasons: Since you are staying home you have no gas, tolls or bridge expenses. If you are staying home you have no child care expenses. Entertainment expenses should be zero since you are afraid to go to work you should also be afraid to expose yourself to what little entertainment we now have. Cell phones, cable tv (in particular all premium channels) are not essential and should be cancelled. Steaks, shrimp and lobster needs to be quickly replaced with rice, hot dogs and beans. The landscaper, window cleaner, painter etc. needs to be cancelled since you are home and have more than enough time to complete those tasks yourself.
  8. I have been using Bay-Master for years and I have been very happy. They have made many changes and improvements over the years as our needs have changed. Ability to email estimates and invoices, send canned text messages and mass text messages are a few of the features that help me daily. They always listen and respond to input from the end users (us in the field) which I think is one of their strongest attributes. There may be a shop management system out there that will allow me to write up invoices while tracking my caloric intake and graph the two over time but do I need that? I need a system that allows me to run my business efficiently without having to become a computer programmer or a full time data entry person and Bay-Master has fulfilled all my needs and more.
  9. I have no plans to install shields. Since Covid hit our area I changed our normal operating procedures to include writing up most work orders on the phone when our customers call as opposed to their arrival. Writing up before arrival minimizes the need of shields. After the phone write up a “canned” text is sent repeating verbal instructions given earlier for proper drop off procedures and also confirms date and time of appointment. I have found that when I follow the above steps very few appointments are forgotten or cancelled which is a hidden benefit. Upon completion of work a “canned” text is sent indicating cost of total invoice and that payment can be made by calling us with credit card information. Almost everyone calls in credit card payment and many request invoices to be emailed as opposed to hard copies which again reduces the need for shielding. The above steps work great to abide by our new Covid restrictions but I miss the face to face interaction with my customers. For that reason I try to briefly see customers outside during drop off or pick-up to retain a small portion of that personal touch. This adds some time to a busy day but a quick greeting or thank you (from an appropriate social distance) goes a long way. Utilizing my shop management programs ability to send canned text messages and email invoices allowed me to transition into the above “minimal contact” operating procedures quickly and efficiently.
  10. When anyone disrespects an employee it is time to step in and stop the abuse. You did the right thing and I am sure your employee and other staff members appreciate your response.
  11. I share Joe’s concern and believe that we will still continue to feel the economic turmoil that Covid has caused. To many variables in play right now with so many marginalized businesses that have tried to hang on but seem to be slowly dropping off and closing. I accept the fact that in many cases Covid did not directly cause the failure but in most cases it was the tipping point.
  12. I have three bays and three techs. For years we have scheduled using a desk blotter that has vertical columns for each day of the week. I write down the customers name and brief description or acronyms of the work needed such as OFL, ROTI for oil/filter/lube and rotate tires. If the job requires known parts to be ordered in before arrival then I write up the job using my shop management system, order the parts, print a work order, record the customer’s name on the blotter in the appropriate column and write “TIR” indicated a worker order or “ticket” is started already and in the rack. Other than that it is all gut feeling, experience and the ability to say “No” when your instinct tells you that taking on a prospective job that was not scheduled is a “bridge too far” based on current work load. Good communication with the customer concerning delays is a must. When the crap hits the fan and you know the vehicle won’t be finished call the owner right away and keep them informed. Waiting until the end of the day never helps that type of situation. Since Covid I have been sending canned text reminders for scheduled work the day before or the morning of using my shop management program which has helped to eliminate “no shows”. The canned reminder also contains instructions for a safe, minimal exposure drop off during Covid so it serves two purposes.
  13. We have been trailing NY by 1-2 weeks with everything concerning the pandemic and our indoor malls still remain closed at this time. Stores that are accessible from the street have recently reopened which does make me feel like we are getting back to normal as Joe indicated. My location is surrounded by corporate offices which also remain closed. I have been told that when they do get a green light to open that most will only allow 10% of employees to return per month. Most or all have also announced that it is ok to not return to the office and continue working from home. We may not see 50% occupancy at the corporate offices until December or later which is a concern.
  14. I think the responses to your post will mainly be predicated on the location of the shop. Areas not hit as hard as others will naturally have more relaxed standards. I am in NJ and the entire state is still shut down except for essential businesses. Every business that is allowed to be open has signs posted indicating face mask required. I have to agree with bantar’s post that most customers wear the masks incorrectly and they will partially or fully remove the masks when talking. Odd how people nationwide feel the need to remove the mask during the time when it is really required. I need to constantly remind people to “mask up” so in most cases I just ask them to step outside. I removed all waiting room chairs back in March and I have no place for customers to wait. Nobody wants to wait, everyone is still scared and on heightened alert. Occasionally during quick jobs some customers take a walk over to a strip mall behind us but every store is closed and they get depressed looking at shuttered stores.
  15. I have sent out three mass text messages using BayMaster which is my shop management system. Worked great, targeted all my customers and kept them informed that I am open and willing to help. Definite positive results and the cost is negligible. I am in New Jersey and it seems everyone has a friend or relative that Covid has taken. For that reason I do not send a marketing message since I have no way of knowing what the recipient is going through during these difficult times. Instead I send out messages indicating that we are available to help our customers even for non-automotive needs.

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