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About Mark

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    Occasional Poster

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  • Business Name
    Precision Tune Auto Care
  • Your Current Position
    Shop Owner
  • Automotive Franchise
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  1. All great leaders possess two things: 1- They know where they are going! 2- They are able to persuade others to follow! The best leadership book I've ever read is the 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell. That book had more of an impact on me as I've twisted and turned through this thing over the last 15+ years. But I've actually got a core group of books that I keep at arms length to help keep things pointed in the right direction, when you can't see the forest for the tree's. 360 Deg. Leader - John Maxwell Developing The Leader Within You - John Maxwell 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey The 17 Indisputable Laws Of teamwork - John Maxwell The Little Red Book Of Sales - Jeff Gitomer
  2. New attitude, new marketing, new advertsing, new employees...the remainder of 2010 will be AWESOME for this location!

  3. This article is interesting and to be honest I have mixed emotions about. What do you think? Link: http://autos.aol.com/article/fluid-flush-fallacy/ Article: If you take your car to a shop for a routine oil change you have a high probability of being told your car needs one or more of its critical fluids flushed, changed or serviced. This started originally at the quick-lube shops and spread to the whole auto repair industry, including the dealers. Part of the reason is technology. New machines have made it possible in most cases to change the fluids quickly and easily, or so the sellers of the machines say. But the real driving force is profitability. Today I'm changing a timing belt and water pump on a Dodge Caravan. It will take all of five hours of bay time, a lot of parts and a lot of potential liability. In half the time I could do a series of flushes with little effort or liability and make much more profit. Since most people, mechanics and shop owners included, respond to economic incentives, it is coming to pass that every car going to every shop needs every fluid flushed every day. In short, what is really being flushed is your wallet. It is straining the credibility of an industry that rightly or wrongly has always had credibility problems. The Four Flushes Old-timers from the '50s, '60s and '70s always knew it was a good idea to periodically drain the radiator, put a bottle of flush chemical and water in, run it a half-hour then wash it out again with plain water before refilling it with the proper mix of antifreeze and distilled water. Or if you wanted to do a really nice job you could cut one of those plastic flush tees from a Prestone flush kit into the heater hose, allowing you to hook a garden hose up and run a continuous flush. Now these old-timers are being told their transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and who knows what else must be flushed on a yearly, monthly, or even daily regimen. Strangely, their '77 Olds Cutlass managed to run 180,000 miles without all this attention. Now don't get me wrong. I am in favor of changing most fluids at 30, 60, and 90,000-mile intervals, regardless of what the owner's manual says. But that is not what's happening. These services are being oversold to a degree that is bound to damage the reputation of our industry to the net result that consumers will not believe any of us, even when we are telling the truth. The Rundown Let's start with the automatic transmission -- the most frequently flushed fluid besides the radiator. The advent of the transmission fluid exchange machine was a great step. In the past, automatic transmission fluid could only be changed by removing the transmission oil pan, which only holds three to six of the eight to 10 quarts in the transmission. The second you started the car, the new fluid mixed with the old, eliminating much of the benefit of the service. The fluid exchange machine, which some people choose to call a flush machine, cuts into the transmission cooler line at the radiator. As the car runs, old fluid goes out into the waste tank while new fluid is simultaneously pumped in. If the shop is really thorough, the car is lifted and actually driven through all the gears while the exchange is taking place. And if the service is done properly, the transmission oil pan still has to be removed and cleaned and the filter replaced -- a solid hour and a half of work. So if a quick-lube shop is offering it to you in 35 minutes, something's not being done. Now, as to checking the dipstick for color or smell to determine if your fluid needs to be changed: At the extremes (not changed for 100,000 miles or changed yesterday), you can tell. But as far as whether it was changed 3,000 miles ago or 20,000 miles ago, no one can know, and if they say they can, they are lying. Power steering fluid in general is not listed in most maintenance schedules as needing periodic replacement, although there are some exceptions. But we have a machine for that now too, so expect to be told you need your power steering fluid flushed. Look, if every three to five years (45,000 to 60,000 miles) you change your power steering fluid, that's not a bad idea. And replacing it with synthetic fluid, if allowable, is even better. But you certainly don't need to do it yearly or even every two years. Brake fluid lives in a sealed environment because exposure to moisture will ruin it. No one ever dreamed of messing with it until Hondas became popular, and Honda for some reason does call for brake fluid replacement. Now we have (you guessed it), a brake fluid flush machine. If your factory manual calls for it, by all means, change your brake fluid. Other than that, leave it alone unless you are having brake repairs done, in which case changing it may not only make sense but be necessary if the hydraulic system has been compromised. It is not enough that you are changing your oil every 3,000 miles. Now when you go for your oil change they want to hook up a motor flush machine to clean your oil system out. Strange, my '63 Valiant didn't need that. Look, this goes under the category "If you need it, it won't help" -- and thus sales are being encouraged on vehicles that really don't need it. If an oil system is dirty enough to have deposits of sludge forming, you're only going to get the sludge out by removing the valve covers and oil pan and scraping it out. Any stirring up of the stuff without removing it is likely to do more harm than good. Stocking Stuffers I had an oil-change guy who lasted about a month. Every time a truck or sport-utility vehicle came in (the only vehicles left with a classic differential), he would call me over, waving his finger at me after having dipped it in the differential oil, saying "it needs a differential service," as if he who barely knew how to open a hood would know. Evidently it was a service heavily pushed at his last place of employ. On a military 6x6 doing heavy duty in Iraq, differential oil needs constant attention. On a domestic SUV whose only off-road experience is driving onto the grass at the soccer field, just follow the owner's manual or change the fluid every 60,000 miles. The exception would be if you tow things or if you submerge the differential by backing a boat into the water. Oh, and the transfer case fluid need only be changed at the required mileage or 60,000 miles. Avoid the Wallet Flush The easiest way to avoid having your wallet flushed is to try to stay with one shop that you trust, and keep good records. Now I know that even my best customers occasionally go elsewhere for an oil change when my shop is not convenient. So if you find yourself in a strange shop being told that the very lives of your children depend on your getting a particular service at that moment, just walk away. Well, actually, that would be a tough one. But a new customer is often viewed as fresh meat, since all their existing customers have been flushed into the next galaxy. The harder the sell, the more you must resist. And believe me, the sell can be pretty rough. They can come at you with test tubes of fluid samples, and with pH strips whose color change indicates you are seconds from disaster (all provided by the flush machine manufacturers). Even my sister-in-law, whose toughness and command of Arabic swear words sent Egyptian border guards scurrying for cover, succumbed once. And to the people in my industry, the owners and shop managers, I say, "What is it going to take? Another '60 Minutes' or 'Nightline' exposé where they go shop to shop and find out how many flushes they need after chemically certifying the fluids as new? Do you know how tough business is gonna be after that happens? Try thinking a little farther ahead than next week's bonus check." Doug Flint owns and operates Tune-Up Technology, a garage in Alexandria, Va.
  4. Great Stuff! I would love to see the lesson plan! Thanks for the promo info as well.
  5. How did you promote it and how far in advance?
  6. I have joined in with a local food bank and it has been AWESOME! We have a great relationship with them and my employee's jump at any opportunity to volunteer or help. It's really brought the shop together. We also help maintain the vehicle from the foodbank which helps lower their cost. The customers have contributed in all kinds of ways from food, to their change, to actually volunteering wiht us. I'm so proud of this it brings us great pleasure to help our community!
  7. You can only change it every 13 seconds and it can't scroll, flash or anything of that nature. I'm beginning to think that "change" and "being eye level" are what's getting their attention.
  8. Sorry I didn't catch your reply until after I'd written the last one. I'm going to see if they will let move the LED sign down to where the banner is. I've got a huge investment with the LED sign and sure hate to see it wasted.
  9. Well I've got a couple of different banners that price point a couple of services and one that say's "We Do All Repairs" . What's become apparent as well is it doesn't really matter what's on the banner.. I have always known change is good and people generally see what specifically has changed they just notices something changed. But I've been doing this a long time and I've never seen it to this level. I've got alot invested in the LED sign and I've been contemplating seeing if the city (who don't mind collecting my taxes but don't want me to do anything signage wise that make my business more noticeable) will let me put the LED down to eye level. It's a weird one...
  10. I have run into a interesting dilemna. Let me give you the background and then the issue. Background I have many levels of advertising/marketing, from social websites to an LED sign at each one of my locations (5), all but 2 are in different towns and markets so they all have different strategies except they all have LED signs. They have become a very valuable part of the "campaign", if you will. I staggered purchase/install out over a 3 year period and have seen great results in all but one location (it's my toughest location, hit hard right now but my fixed exp are so low that it's still profitable). Issue The LED sign virtually is ineffective. It's like no one notices it. In an effort to change things up I got a sign permit ($20mo.) to put a banner out front and it blew up! I mean 40+ more cars a week and a great customer base. MIND BOGGLING.. But hey the "sign nazi's " (sorry that's what I call them, they are horrible to deal with in any town) said I could purchase the permit monthly and all is good. Except I've got LED this sign... hmmmm.. Of course, I go back to renew the banner permit and they tell me "since you have an LED sign you can't continually get the permit, this will be your last one". So I ride it out and take it down...car count and sales bottom out.. even my regulars.. MIND BOGGLING.. So in an effort to change it up, I call the city and ask if I turn my LED sign off, can I put the 2 sided banner back up. They say yes and we're off again! For some reason this is dramatically affects my business, even my best customers only show up when the banner is out front. What would you do?
  11. By the way my wife laughs everytime I call it "Adult Daycare". It REALLY feels like it some days...REALLY FEELS LIKE IT!
  12. My general rule of thumb and policy is "You don't have to like each other to work together, but you do have to work together" In my experience these situations generally arise from one of two reasons (sometimes both). Work and Personal Work : Generally if there is an issue it's either an employee isn't doing their job or someone "thinks" another employee isn't doing their job. Both are fairly easy to handle if addressed. Shop policy and procedures will eliminate most of these. If you don't have one...make one! Personal: This where it gets sticky. I genuinely want all of my employees to be successful, from the "greenhorn" to the manager so I will spend a little more time addressing these. And the infamous "sit down" can help but I have taken it a step further because I think it sinks in a little better. I will sit down with both employee's and mediate the issues (the best you can) and I will write down the issues and how they are going to be addressed from this point on. I will make a copy for both and have both of them sign them. Something about writing it down and signing it makes it more real. I will explain that ANY further disruptions will result in serious consequences because after all we have job to do and... "You don't have to like each other to work together". This process will weed out the person who genuinely wants their job and as unfortunate as it is you may lose the better of the two. But at least you know who wants to work and is able to put their differences aside. It's better to have one and it be productive than two and the whole shop going down with it. With that being said, all issues need to be addressed as soon as possible. I apply the same policy as I do customer issues...immediately!
  13. It is true that it's not for everyone. You will not hear me disagree and there are a million reasons why it isn't good for you. It looks like what you are doing is working for you and that is a good thing! I guess the issue I'm struggling with is the assumptions or perception within the industry. * Cheap oil and filters are used. I am fortunate that I have the buying power to get my COGS down but I can promise you it wasn't easy. Volume also dictates price in this area. * High Pressure Sales or Bait & Switch. Of course, we do take the opportunity to check a vehicle out. To be honest, I think it's a disservice to NOT check over my customers vehicle. But there is no high pressure, we just inform and educate, and the rest will come. It's a process and I promise you it takes patience and long term thinking. Interestingly enough my oil bays have become a great source for repair work, more so than flushs, add-ons, etc. Early on I resigned to the fact I wasn't going to "make money" on the oil change but I would in the long term, getting those 3-5 times a year to build relationships with my customers. Check out "Customers For Life" when you get a chance. It's a great read and although it's not directly related, you'll get the drift. Again this is just me and I have found it to be effective. I didn't start out doing things this way, in fact there was a time when I had maybe 10 oil changes a week.
  14. At this point, I am regretting using the "independent" thing in my first post, because to be honest it was meant to be funny sarcasm not derogatory. Sorry guys!

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