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ScottSpec

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ScottSpec last won the day on January 2

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About ScottSpec

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    Experienced Poster

Business Information

  • Business Name
    Scott's Automotive
  • Business Address
    11804 Coakley Circle, North Bethesda, Maryland, 20852
  • Type of Business
    Auto Repair
  • Your Current Position
    Shop Owner
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  1. I added a Hard Drive to mine as well. I wanted the max I could get, which is about 3 weeks with 2nd HD and constant recording. I too have thought about having it store to a PC to extend the history, but have not had a need to go back farther than 3 weeks yet.
  2. I upgraded an older system a few years ago. I went with a system from Lorex https://www.lorextechnology.com/. I think my system was around $1500. I wanted the highest resolution cameras I could get and I would never go wireless. I wanted to be able to capture as much detail as possible, so we had the best chance of capturing tag numbers and possible damage to vehicles. The system has paid for itself many times over. First, there have been several hit and runs in our parking lot that the cameras have captured. This alone has saved me thousands of dollars. If a customer makes a claim, that damage was done while there car was with us, I can quickly look at the video to see if the damage was there when they dropped off. I trust my employees, and never put cameras in the shop with the old system. With the new system I did. I realized there were a lot more benefits to having them there. When the cars come in and out, you get a better look at any possible damage, and we have 6 loaner cars that are always being recorded. We have not had any issues, but if a car were to come back damaged, we would be able to quickly check to see if the damage was there before or not. Then there are a number of different scenarios where the cameras have been useful. Can't find a key, look at the video to see who drove the car last, and what they did after. A car sitting in the parking lot for days who's origin is unknown, just look at the video. The guys are always coming to me asking me to check the security cameras for these types of things. I would never trust wireless cameras. I would do as we ask most of our customers to do, and focus on performance and quality over price, and make sure the Hard Drive is big enough to capture several weeks on continuous recording. Which is the mode that I recommend. If you run them on activation mode, you run the risk of missing something valuable. Scott
  3. This has not been much of a problem for us over the last 30 years, but right now I have 3 cars sitting on my lot that have essentially been abandoned. One of the customers passed away unfortunately while the car was here. After about 9 months, I filed for mechanics liens. The first thing the lien companies do is send out a certified letter. Quite often, this alone will motivate people to come get their car. If they don't, the car becomes yours to do with as you please. I don't necessarily like doing this, but there has to be a limit to how long I will keep a car around. I make sure I have given them every opportunity to get the car, and use liens as the last option. Scott
  4. 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
  5. Ricardo, I believe you and I have exchanged a number of thoughts over a period of time, and I always thought our philosophies were similar. I hope I didn't come across as adversarial. Scott
  6. This may not make me the most popular here, but I get so tired of hearing shop owners complain that they can't find good techs, and that the industry is facing a tech shortage, or that the ones they hired turned out to be crooks selling unnecessary work, and then go on to talk about how all their techs are on commission, and if they don't work, they don't eat. Wow, that sounds so appealing. I can't understand why people aren't knocking down the door to take advantage of that opportunity, and why techs sell unnecessary work. This industry does not have a tech shortage, this industry has a technician pay structure, and technician pay shortage. If technicians started getting paid, and provided benefits that were inline with what they could earn with their skills in other industries, there would be many more reputable technicians. Now, my comment above is not to blame those shop owners, as we are all struggling with the high cost of providing automotive and trying to make a profit. I just want some honesty about the reality of the issue. It's an industry problem. Customers are only willing to pay so much, and there is almost always someone out there that is willing to do it cheaper. Yes, we can sell them on the value of our shop over the guy down the street, but that only goes so far. I pay all my employees a flat salary plus a commission on the gross sales of the shop. Yes, this can be painful during slow times, but my employees don't have to worry that they might not eat this week, or be able to pay their mortgages. It's amazing how much more productive and committed employees are when they are not living with that fear. I can go away for weeks at a time, and when I come back ,it is no different then when I left it. With the commission component, they also know that the more the shop produces as a whole, the bigger their paycheck is. This also encourages them to work as a team, and not fight over the "gravy" tickets. I currently have 4 employees. The first tech I hired 30 years ago is still here. The service manager I hired 20 years ago is still here. The technician I hired 11 years ago is still here, and I hired a young guy about a year and a half ago and I don't think he will be leaving anything soon. In fact, while I have fired a few techs, I don't recall ever having one quit. I also offer paid time off, a 401k, and pay portion of their health insurance. I used to cover the whole amount, but it got too expensive. Now, you may be curious about how much they get paid. I don't want to give specifics, but I assure you that they can all make more money working some place else. I know for a fact one of them could be making twice as much as I pay him because a friend of mine is doing just that at a shop around the corner, and he works shorter hours. I understand that this pay structure may not work for a lot of shops out there, but it does illustrate my point that a more traditional employee pay structure, one that they don't have to worry about being able to eat or not, or have to sell unnecessary work to eat, does breed commitment, motivation, and teamwork. Scott
  7. Ricardo, The part I shared from that article was just to shed some light on the role law has on dictating warranties, and the fact that you can't just write a disclaimer on the invoice and think you have no liability. I'm sure if we dig through Maryland's consumer laws, we will find a more in depth explanation, that is if we don't fall asleep first. An implied warranty is essentially what a consumer can reasonably expect (yes, pretty vague, and I'm sure is different for everyone). There is a pretty good description here: https://consumer.findlaw.com/consumer-transactions/what-is-an-implied-warranty-.html With your regard to the what if on the junk yard motor, from what I have read, you just have to pass along the same warranty the provider of the part offers. So regardless of new, used, rebuilt, or other, you just have to extent the same to your customer. You can't use any disclaimer to change that. This of course is Maryland law, which is where I am located. My understanding is that the same would apply to a customer supplied part. So if you bought a used engine from a salvage yard with a 3 month warranty, you would have to provide the same 3 month warranty to the customer if they bought it themselves at the the same salvage yard. It sounds like you and I have come to the same conclusion though, and that is we are ultimately responsible for any work we do on a customer's car. If we use our supplied parts, or we use their supplied parts. And while the laws are a bit vague, as you say, I don't think that really matters much any more, because if there is a problem, it will always come back to the fact that you and I are the professionals. Customer's are allowed to be ignorant, but we aren't. It reminds me of NTSB airplane crash investigations. I don't fly anymore, but I used to. One of the guys I work with is also big into aviation and we used to fly together a lot. We joke around about this quite often, and that is the fact that the NTSB almost always sites pilot error when a small plane crashes. Wing falls off, "pilot error" engine grenades "pilot error" bird strikes "pilot error". As I say it is pretty comical at times. My point is that it we will always shoulder the responsibility. We very rarely install a part without doing the diagnostic work first. But when a customer has a stalling, not starting, or some other serious issue, and we cannot find the cause because we are unable to reproduce. then we don't object to trying something if the customer wants. That is as long as they fully understand that is essentially a guess, and a way to eliminate a possibility. Scott
  8. Car, You are correct that you can refuse service to anyone you choose, and warranty different types of parts for different periods of time, but you are incorrect about the law not being able to dictate how long you warranty something. See https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OCP/Resources/Files/Licensing_Forms/Auto_Repair_Shop Introductory Letter.pdf It specifically states "Maryland law does not allow implied warranties to be disclaimed or limited in any sale of goods or service to a consumer, so an invoice you give to a consumer should not contain language like “seller disclaims all warranties.” Another example of the law dictating warranties, is the lemon law. https://www.peoples-law.org/marylands-lemon-law The law forces a manufacturer or dealer to purchase back a vehicle. In Maryland, they get one chance to fix a safety related problem before you are entitled to a refund, or replacement vehicle. We all take risks every day. It's part of being in business. The main point I want to get across is that every shop owner should make sure they fully understand the risks of installing a customer supplied part. I think a lot are under mistaken, or misunderstood beliefs. Just like you with regards to the law and warranties. Some believe their insurance will cover them. Mine will cover up to $2500 in liability. Some believe a disclaimer, or release of liability will protect them. This has been proven over and over to provide little to no protection. I actually just lost a court case earlier this year despite the customer signing a disclaimer. We didn't install their part, but we did replace a Cam Position sensor at their request. We stated on the invoice that we were unable to reproduce her symptoms, and that we replaced the sensor based on her request. Then when it didn't fix her problem, she decided we did an unnecessary repair. The judge sided with her as we are the professionals. Some believe that a customer will appreciate your installing their part, and would never try to hold you responsible. People's attitudes and approaches can change pretty quickly when things don't work out as expected. Scott
  9. We don't see it a lot, but when we do, we keep it simple. We tell them that we cannot install customer supplied parts, that my insurance company will not allow it, and that would put my business licenses, as well as a number of my relationships with outside organizations that require insurance, at risk. It completely eliminates the steak and potatoes conversation, or it's variations like bringing your own needles or stitches to the hospital. It also eliminates the I have to make money conversation. None of those usually go very well. It shows you are open to discussing it, and the customer will see that as an opportunity to sway you their direction. When they can't, they will experience it as a failure. Joe, in your opening post, you stated: "I review all the benefits of me suppling the part, the warranty and the fact that if the part is wrong or defective or fails in the future, he will have no recourse and will have to pay to have done all again." You may want to check the laws in your area. There have been quite a few legal cases that have established that you are just as responsible and liable for a customer supplied part as you are for a part that you supplied. You may have to provide the same warranty on their part as you do on one you supply and sell. That's right, you may end up buying a new part out of your pocket, and providing the labor to install it. Even if a customer does not pursue legal actions, they almost always expect that you will "help" them out with the cost of replacing their part, after all, they "already paid you for the repair". For anyone who is still installing customer supplied parts, I suggest you check with your insurance agent to see if you have coverage should the customer supplied part fails. Don't waste your time having a customer sign a waiver. These will never hold up in court. This has been battle tested. The courts hold you to be the expert, not the customer. If you agreed to install it, you have given it your stamp of approval, and now it is your responsibility. There is a more complete article here: https://www.searchautoparts.com/cust-supplied-parts-liability-again One interesting extract from that article is: "I know that in my home state of Maryland and many other states, there also is an issue of parts warranties not being transferrable. In Maryland, any installed part has to be given a minimum 4,000-mile/90-day warranty, and any repair facility would be on its own if a customer supplied part fails. Those implied warranties are very serious business, with all of the risk and liability that comes with them, including such little gems as responsibility for property damage or bodily injury. Install a customer supplied part at your own risk." Maryland also happens to be where my shop is.
  10. ScottSpec

    ScottSpec

  11. I recommend you talk to you insurance company, and your lawyer. There is nothing you can do to limit your liability. You are just as liable for a customer's part, as you are for a part you purchased and installed. I think you might also find it difficult to offer different warranties for the same part. These are not just my opinions, they have been tested in court. Scott
  12. Yes, customers will always find something to complain about, and the approach I am thinking about is not without its risks. In fact, what you just asked was the first thing my service manager said to me when we discussed it. We have been moving away from having a posted "labor rate" for a while. We have a "labor rate" that we use to calculate the labor for a given job, but we always present the the total labor for each job to the customer. This makes it a bit more difficult to make an easy comparison. I also find it much easier to address higher labor, then trying to get a customer to understand that my business model requires me to double the price of a part. Labor charges are very subjective, while parts prices are objective. Each of our shops is unique, no one else can offer exactly the same service, and the customer has no idea what it cost to produce the labor. You can easily differentiate yourself, and therefore justify a different labor rate. When a customer tells you he/she found the same OEM part online, for 1/2 the cost, there is nothing you can do to differentiate the part you are selling, from the part found online. You are now in a position where all you can do is try to get them to understand that you have to mark parts up to stay in business. A lot of customers do understand this, but each one has a different idea about what constitutes a reasonable markup, and what is excessive, leaving them feeling ripped off. Whenever I discuss this idea, I feel the need to add my disclaimer. While I do continue to like the possibilities of conducting my business this way, I still have not tried it in my shop. So, I do also have some serious reservations about it. Scott
  13. For about 20 years, I would get those money cards, and put $20's in some and $100's in others. I would give the mailman, UPS driver, FedEx driver, Parts drivers, etc. the $20's. The $100's would go the the main parts guys we ordered from. There was always a lot of appreciation. For me, the Auto Repair business had been less and less profitable over the last decade. I had to cut this practice from the budget as well as Christmas bonuses, a yearly company event, and a number of other expenses. I agree, if you can afford it, these gestures go along way toward building loyalty. Scott
  14. Newport5, I know your question was meant for someone else, but I thought I would throw in my comments. I think selling and advising are 2 very subjective terms. We are all always selling customers on ideas and beliefs. We sell customers everyday on why they should chose our shop over others, why they should trust us, the value of quality parts, and maybe why are prices are higher than the shop next door. We sell these ideas by the appearance of our shops, the certificates on our walls, our websites, our online presence, and our words. I think quite often when we think of "selling" automotive service and repairs, we think about the shop or dealership that is selling work needed or not to maintain their numbers. Quite often using "scare tactics" or bait and switch. In my shop we do thorough evaluations on just about every car that comes in. We report the findings, the recommendations, and the cost for those. We answer any questions the customer may have, take them into the shop so they can see what we are talking about if needed, then we ask them what they would like to do. I tell them our job is to give them the best assessment of their vehicle, and there job is to decide what they would like to do. I think this would be labeled "advising", but make no mistake about it, this is still selling. I'm not evaluating, estimating, educating, and advising so they can take the car somewhere else to have it serviced. I think the word "selling" has 2 very different meanings. When you sell a customer a service or repair that benefits them by extending the life of their vehicle, gets them back on the road, or corrects a safety issue, "selling" is a good thing. When you sell 10 fluid flushes everyday to meet a quota, brake rotors when only pads are needed to boost your average RO, or tell someone the car is unsafe to drive so they have to have work done at your shop, "selling" becomes ugly. Scott
  15. Ricardo, Try Volvo Repair Rockville, BMW Repair Rockville, Audi Repair Rockville, MINI Repair Rockville, or VW Repair Rockville. We'll come up on the first page for all of them. These are the vehicles we want in our shop. Having said that, I stopped chasing SEO a year ago. I found no measurable benefit to our business being on the first page. The direct mail has been most effective advertising for us, which is why I have committed such a large portion of our advertising budget to it. Before we started 3 years ago, I thought direct mail was dead. In the those 3 years, direct mail has generated $250,000 in sales. I guess it shows what works for some doesn't necessarily work for others, Scott


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