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bantar last won the day on June 15

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About bantar

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    Kwik Kar at Craig Ranch
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    8990 Stacy Road, McKinney, Texas, 75070
  • Type of Business
    Auto Repair
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    Shop Owner
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  1. @TheTrustedMechanic You raise valid concerns. I believe everyone should make their SMS decisions with these concerns (Data security, ownership and privacy) front and center. This is a complex topic and hard to describe succinctly, but I'll try. Not really possible to be succinct, so... Data Ownership and Privacy are contractual which are easily addressed if the SMS creator agrees. One must ask questions and verify that the contract matches the answers given. I use a cloud-based SMS. I own my data. I am not subject to data mining. Data Security is actually easier these days than you believe. I can go into this in great detail, but will try to highlight some of the techniques employed. Cloud computing has fundamentally rearranged how software is deployed and scaled. It's completely different from the traditional client-server model of yesterday. In simplest terms, the software is deployed thru virtual servers. A single computer can host one or more virtual servers. This is a critical concept. A virtual server allows all software running in a virtual server to be ISOLATED from software running in another virtual server on the same machine. So, for instance, a virus could be running on the same computer in one virtual server and it would not impact the other virtual servers. A data center hosts many clients and one can be careless and get infected while the other is Professional and always remains isolated from others that share the same data center and same server even. Isolation created by virtual servers is a core security feature. If the hardware running your virtual server fails, the data center spins up a new virtual server on a different piece of hardware. Scaling of cloud computing works the same. Multiple virtual server software instances are replicated to meet a static load or scaled dynamically to meet a flexing client demand. It's easy to scale. In many cases scaling is automated.... only limited by how much you want to pay for each instance. You can even virtualize your server software across multiple data centers (e.g. East Coast and West Coast). Basically server software is now both disposable and easily recreatable all thru automation. The data is actually stored in a Database which is also scalable, recreateable and only accepts secured connections from known server instances. There is a whole world of backups, database replication, etc that make the super-critical data safe. Production Servers vs Development Servers - The software that executes your SMS is in a production data center and likely only accepts trusted connections from clients. No outside connections are possible, although the SMS creator can push new instances (software updates) to production servers. By only allowing pre-defined application transactions, at most a crook can do is to normal SMS operations (create WO, update POs, etc). Ransomware cannot enter thru these secured communication channels. A crook would have a much easier time to break into your shop and use your local computers to create new WO's, update POs, etc. The concept of attacking a "large data center" is largely meaningless. You have to attack each and every Virtual Server Instance and a large data center would have 100,000's of these. The software is placed on the production server at release time. The SMS vendor develops software in-house (on a development server) and then publishes software (sends it to the production server) to the cloud. Except for publishing, they do not touch productions servers. They remain isolated. Database: So, we've established that the server hardware is unimportant, the virtual servers are unimportant, the software instances running on these virtual servers are unimportant because of redundancy and replication. The most critical component is your data. And guess what, databases have been around for 50 years longer than cloud computing. Definitely not "shiny". Databases have varying levels of backups from every transaction being recreateable to a bit less. So, I'm not going to dwelve into this well-established system. Backups... Backups.... Backups.... This is critical and will vary from vendor to vendor. You'll want to know what they are doing with backups. We want frequent backups as well as off-site storage. If your Data Center blows up, at least your data is safely stored off site. It can be reloaded onto virtual servers in your new not-yet-blowed-up data center. I know that my data is backed up way better than it would be if I managed my own backups. I am a backup fanatic and I often fall prey to being too busy to do what needs to be done. And daily off-site backups? Yet one more task to forget. Of course, some of this can be automated even with local servers at a monthly cost. What is said above is what you would expect a Professional Software Development shop to do. Can they create software that is subject to Ransom Ware attacks? Yes, but I would remove the word "Professional" from their description. In your due-diligence of system selection, ask about their production deployment and data integrity. Believe me, as well as I understand computers and software, I'm not a trusting fool. I'm always the last to adopt new technology because we always learn something new with technology advances. I do believe that Cloud Computing SMS's safe to consider with some due-diligence required on your part. Security is never fool-proof. Instead, it is a series of layers of security features that provide protection. I'm sure that @CAR_AutoReports can add to this. Once you pick the right provider, the biggest concern with Cloud Computing remains with "the last mile". That is, the stability of your internet connection and worrying if the next car crash into a telephone pole (or back hoe). will take out your internet cabling. Lack of internet is a serious problem with Cloud Computing.
  2. Yes it is. And, surprisingly, we're still using it daily.... because it's there.
  3. Wow, an Action Movie without the cost or hassle of hitting the theater. Thanks! Also, I'm sold. Usually the crummy batteries that I sell must be replaced immediately after exploding. Looks like the DieHards are reaching peak performance after exploding.
  4. We are upgrading this tool to the latest MaxiSys Ultra. This 2.5 year old Elite is looking for a new home. Has a current subscription and the hardware is under warranty as long as the subscription is maintained (renews in December). Only thing I know about is that the battery life has shortened since new. Scuffs in picture are on the screen protector that we never removed. Listing this one at $1849 shipped. I saw a similar one recently sell on Ebay for $2K. (NOTE: This unit is not a Chinese knock-off also seen on Ebay).
  5. I also use Protractor and I have mastered their custom reporting system, which can be cryptic. Happy to share tips / tricks if it would help. Work that pain out!
  6. I can't speak with great authority, maybe I can point you in a general direction. I purposely selected my RRR machine (CPS FX134a) because it uses ball valves instead of solenoid valves and is much less prone to sealant damage. Downside is there are way more techs that can repair Robinair machines than CPS. AirSept makes a filter, called RecycleGuard, that filters out sealants. One of these filters can be seen here: https://airsept.com/Products/Details/12 With sealants, there is a seal swelling kind and a hardening kind. I think, but don't know, that most sealants sold today are the swelling version. The test kits should be able to test for the type of sealant. If the sealants are the reason for the failure, then replace everything (lines and all) is the solution. Otherwise it repeats the cycle after repair. It seems that only the hardening sealers are the machine killers. I've been looking for clear answers on the risks of proceeding with seal swellers, but there's no consensus. In other technical HVAC forums, I've seen the debate rage from change it all to flush the heck out of it and use the RecycleGuard to protect your machine. If you proceed, at least document the risks that the Stop Leak may cause a future unwarrantied outage. For sure, I wouldn't do this without changing compressor, condenser and expansion valve. Then flush the evaporator and lines thoroughly. Hope this helps a little.
  7. I don't sell tires, but we inspect them, so I'm always recommending tire stores that I trust, 1-2 times daily. Just Tires (Goodyear rebranded) was my first recommendation. We no longer recommend Goodyear / JustTires. I threw away their business cards. My main give back to the community is being a proud supporter of our Police. Their work is invaluable and we depend on them. I give all Police Officers significant deep discounts on their personal vehicles. We have officers from many local police departments, Texas State Troopers, Texas Rangers, US Marshall's, and so on. The undercover gang officers are incredible. They are in the thick of it all the time. It's probably not safe to rob us during business hours! Goodyear took a stand against multiple topics on their Diversity Training slide and the anti-police sentiment is not consistent with our values. It angered me greatly. Then they double-downed with their non-apology. It's a shame that some in our society anti-police. Without them, we would not have a civil society. I had one lady come in with a back seat full of freshly cleaned Sheriff uniforms for her husband. When I asked her about them, she was really nervous and didn't want anyone to know that she was a police family member. I took good care of her and thanked her for what her family is doing for the community. I've had a few discussions with police officers on this topic, but none from customers, as I don't sell tires. I've seen a number of forum posts and videos of shop owners with similar reaction to Goodyear's actions, including one guy taking down their sign and throwing it out. A bit off topic, but the Dallas DA is not prosecuting the criminals that the police are arresting, so one of the US District Attorneys has designated one or more sections of Dallas to be Federal Protection area (not sure of the terminology). Then, the folks arrested by the State Troopers in this area are getting charged Federally instead of locally in Dallas. This means 10-20 years for crimes that might otherwise be lighter sentences at the city / state level. The Governor / State Troopers / US District Attorney are trying to keep things under control even when the local jurisdictions are showing anti-police sentiment. Austin is about to be flooded with State Troopers given their defund-the-police actions & discussions.
  8. It's ok to consider cloud based systems. Internet availability has come a long way from it's beginnings and is almost as reliable as electricity and in some ways more reliable than electricity when considering concurrent mobile access. Cloud infrastructure has two weak points - each end. Typically, the cloud product is hosted in a professional data center with multiple ingress / egress points, so it has less chance of failure at the origination point. Then you have the "last mile"... your internet connection. It is most susceptible to a back-hoe digging or car wreck into a telephone pole or something taking out your connection. You can get a router that automatically switches from land-line internet to mobile internet upon land-line failure to help alleviate this issue. Just make sure that you DON'T have, let's say, AT&T, as your land-line AND your mobile carrier. Maybe AT&T for landline and Sprint, etc. for mobile and you gain excellent last-mile redundancy. Finally, there is one more worry point and that is the SMS Service Provider's commitment to uptime. In other words, how well do they manage their product / service offering? If they are always on call, able to respond to outages, then you are good. If you get one with weak back-end support, you could have an extended outage with no local control. You are at their mercy. Investigate their support commitment prior to purchase, known as Uptime SLA. Cloud-based SMS's, due to their unique design, have ways to recover back-end service failures quite quickly that keeps downtime short. They can survive hardware failures on the fly, whereas, your local hardware failure might stop you for hours or days. You technically have more control over your local hardware. But is it better? For US based companies, also ask who owns your data in the cloud. Most SMS's automatically grant it to you in your license agreement, but it's not to be assumed. The SMS that I use is cloud based. We have had a number of outages, but most were short-lived... 2-15 minutes. I've had the last mile collapse on me for the entire day and we reverted to mobile internet to survive, but my Credit Card terminal refuses to go mobile for security reasons (it requires a static IP address), so we revert to paper credit card collections when on mobile internet. AT&T had a fire in the local substation about 1 year back that took our (and most of Dallas) main internet connection down. Cloud advantages are: No Hardware to manage. They backup their data daily or in realtime. Access from anywhere. Typically, you get more frequent software updates because it's easier for them to deploy internally vs externally. Trivia: I personally backup my SMS data monthly, because: 1) It's good practice, OR 2) I don't trust computers, OR 3) both. I have Quickbooks running on a single server in my office and don't use the cloud version QB Online. I can use remote desktop to login if needed, but rarely do. Sadly, my QB data get's backed up less than it should. If I do a large batch of work, I'll do a backup, but there's no schedule. When I do back it up, the files are stored in 3 different locations. Backup complacency is a good enough reason to consider cloud. It's someone else's job and likely they've automated it.
  9. I'm intrigued at the "return at least twice". We generally ask the to return a week or two later for a single leak check. I'm guessing that you are just giving it more time to manifest. If you do find a leak in one of these checks and let's say replace a high side line, do you charge for the recharge a 2nd time? We bill for the new work only. We generally don't if it's in our leak check window. If they have a known leak, and they don't fix it, then the next recharge is on the customer again. What it interesting is that this method of pressure leak checking, waiting to see if a leak is present, is (seemingly) wrong for 1234yf as the loss of refrigerant is too expensive. I'm trying to figure out how we will approach leak testing for 1234yf. We currently utilize dye and a leak detector (sniffer), but don't currently use CO2 or Dry NO2 pressure testing. There seems to be risk with over-pressurizing, when improperly used, by a careless tech. I'm considering a service + refrigerant charging model to deal with leaks after service. Much more work, and more expensive machine, so the service should be priced much higher. I've been hearing a low of $350 on Honda's to about $600 on trucks. I do like your dual pricing model and might consider the same.
  10. We charge a flat rate of $129.99 for Evac and Recharge, which includes a 2nd Evac and Recharge for any repairs. Many around us have pricing ranging from $49.99-$89, either with 1 lb 134a included or none included. Many seem to charge twice if repairs are needed. Our typical COGS for R134a is about $5-7. From memory, I think folks are selling 134a for $3-4/ounce, but my memory on this is iffy. Frankly, I chose the flat rate model to reduce the accounting of the 134a used and the variable price points. We document our findings, but don't adjust billing. We do have to communicate well with our pricing seemingly higher than others, but we utilize the "one time charge" that helps to close it. Looking at the R1234yf, but demand is not there. We are up to about 4 jobs missed, but this doesn't yet justify a new machine. I'll reconsider when we hit 10+. We will then move to a service + freon model pricing for that service as the COGs is too high - $70-$120 depending on the car. Right now, I'm sending folks straight to the dealer for this service and the accompanying sticker shock. It won't hurt for them to get beat up on their new technology pricing.
  11. Thanks for the update @rpllib I spoke with my CPA yesterday afternoon and we're doing the same. 100% will be spent on payroll. We're ok on headcount. My CPA is still thinking that the taxes noted here are not consistent with the initial PPP desire to help. There's a chance they may review it later as the final 2020 tax rules are prepared. But for now, as you noted, taxes are due. Bad news for my guys.... the gravy train dried up. Even still, I'm happy as we've made their lives better with some "found money" (bonuses).
  12. I'm finding it difficult to hit the 75% spending. Many of my employees have been getting overtime and bonuses and I've not dented the under-spend much given some mid-cycle-yet-normal turn-over. I call them tool bonuses and encourage them to buy that tool you wanted or needed. But, they are free to spend their money how they want. We do have a number of new tools now in the shop. As long as I'm not giving myself a bonus, bonuses already confirmed as ok, just minding the total salary cap per person. I didn't start hiring again until PPP, but then it's hard to hire on a short clock and spend as needed. I'm ready to spend more than the 75% if I can get people on board. I was worrying about this last night and today, I saw this video on LinkedIn from Bryon Boyer , Attorney at Law, Business and Tax and Cryptocurrency Tax and Asset Protection. He gives a nice summary of the new PPP Flexibility Act of 2020. It was signed by the President today (6/5). He talks about lowering the 75% to 60%, but no forgiveness for < 60% vs a prorated forgiveness if less than 75%. I'm OK if the number is 60%. There's something about 8 weeks being extended to 24 weeks, but I'm not sure I completely understand this. I think it's to deal with folks that may still be shut down and unable to hire. Further, some forgiveness for folks recalled but not agreeing to come back (I have one of these).
  13. 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.
  14. Well, the euphoric rise has ceased. We dropped a bit this week. It's staying steady and cars on the road are increasing daily. Local car dealers are reporting good new car sales and are worrying about running out of inventory. This week they also reported a resumption of sales of used cars, when previously, it was dead. 4/19: 63% 4/26: 85% 5/03: 73%

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