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bantar last won the day on December 22 2017

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About bantar

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  1. While this is not insurance, I recently learned of this healthcare insurance option. There is a company here called diamondphysicians.com that offers concierge medicine. I think it's under $100/month and then most medical issues are covered. Doctor visits are free, Lab work is about $7, xrays $30, etc. They have both GP's and some specialists on staff. I think an insurance agent can make a mint if they find a way to package major medical insurance with this type of medical care. One is not covered of they have a major medical issue or if you are in a car wreck. However, if there's a choice between no insurance and this only, it still has value. The person that told me about this has no insurance and a family with small children. He's a member of this network and at least he, his wife and kids are getting medical care. I had always associated concierge medicine with wealthy folks only. As you can see, this one doesn't break the bank. It looks like they might expand to other areas as it is a franchise as well.
  2. I think it's $350/month for 3 terminals and I know it's $399 for unlimited terminals. This one is quite mature - meaning many features and few bugs. For the (mostly behavioral) issues that I've found, they've added features to make it better, which both surprised and pleased me). They update every 1-3 weeks.
  3. Cloud software is typically safe, but I don't know anything about these guys. I'm using Protractor, which is cloud based. I'm sitting at home and accessing my system from my laptop. My software provider can see my data if they wanted to as they have a master password (but I trust them to play nice). Make sure that you use good passwords since it can be accessed from anywhere. And change them when anyone leaves. You will need a backup plan for when your internet dies. (This could be a Cradlepoint router or using your mobile phone to create a mobile hotspot). No internet and you are down.
  4. Finally opening the shop

    We turned away cars for "their own good". Believe me, my heart sank with each one. Surprisingly, a fair number returned vs going somewhere else. The first day and a half was a planned soft opening to work out the bugs in the process. The bugs in the process caused large time delays. This would have made for unhappy customers. I'm running a combo quick lube and repair operation. We need the lube lanes moving quickly. With the holiday week, we were open about 5 days and serviced 63 cars with most being LOF and/or state inspection. We repaired 3 cars, wrote up repair estimates on about 10 cars and have a few repairs booked for this coming week. We could have easily handled much more repair, but the lube lanes were running almost at OUR capacity. This is due to new guys, new procedures and new software and new customers (all require data entry vs repeats). As well, we're not fully staffed yet. At the moment, the goal is slow and correct, with rechecks. We want fast and correct, but it needs to come naturally. Here's one thing that surprised me. I've already been mentioned on one of the neighborhood facebook pages. One lady came in with two young children in tow and she had already heard that I have a playroom for the kids. It has gotten more use than I really expected. (She suggested adding coloring books, but I like my walls uncolored). I've been personally greeting each person that arrives at some point in the process. I remember one guy looking real nervous as I approached. After greeting him and thanking him for coming, his eyes lit up and he seemed shocked to receive such a greeting. I think he'll be coming back. It's hard for me to get "office" work done and talk with everyone, but I can always borrow sleeping hours to catch up.
  5. Finally opening the shop

    They have a demo version that you can play with. Before I do anything complex, I test it in their demo database, then do it live. And, you can always call me. I'd be happy to help if I can. The little things tripping me up have solutions as they explained today. Now, I need to go test, then fix my inventory snafu's. Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
  6. After years of work to get to this point, we are finally opening the doors to my new shop on Monday. I did a small friends and family test on Friday. We stubbed our toes on all procedures but the actual shop work. It was horrible, but a great learning experience. Most issues were procedural in nature, so this weekend was procedure repair. We really weren't ready to open, but it needed to happen. Still not ready on all fronts. My website is built, but awaiting my detailed review to go online. It'll happen in the next day or so. We're still buying shop tools. Many are in, but I wanted to let my staff be part of the tool choices. (Yes, we're going to have to pare back some of their big wish list). Hiring is still ongoing. I had my 3 critical positions covered for a while now, but I still have more left to hire. I chose Protractor as my SMS. I'm mostly happy with this decision. My biggest gripe is that the software is unforgiving of mistakes and new users make many mistakes. I now need to learn how to undo my mistakes so that the accounting part remains accurate. Today, my entire computer network went down and it took us over 2 hours to get it back online. Next on the list is to practice recovery procedures. One of my major marketing spend items was to be on a busy corner. It appears that this may indeed work out for us. We serviced about 9 cars on Friday and turned away about 15 drive-up customers. Have 1 appointment booked for tomorrow. Wish me luck!
  7. Probably because RO Writer corporate hated them. They bad-mouthed AMS when I spoke with them, making me think less of themselves as a result. AMS has a great online reputation for helping folks with RO Writer issues. I think that they were the last remaining RO Writer distributor. I'd imagine that AMS will offer great service for Protractor folks. I spoke with AMS, but they couldn't sell to me and handed me off to corporate. Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
  8. Who wouldn't want a better cruise control? But that's a far cry from giving up your car altogether. Unless you live in an area where a car is not required for daily living, I don't see this ever happening. Why don't we all car-pool? Where do I keep my toolbox (currently in my trunk) after I exit that taxi? Where do I keep the kid's favorite DVDs? How many taxis would you need for rush hour? If not enough, what's my average wait time? How can others see my ego, when I'm in an unremarkable taxi? "I bought that new Corvette to cruise low and slow, not cause it goes fast". (Not me, I don't have a slow gear). Speaking of that, I have to get to the airport in a hurry. "Go fast taxi!" Its programmed to obey the speed limit and thus goes slower than the prevailing traffic. Here's the best analogy that explains this. If you own a boat or have ever owned a boat, you know damn well that renting said boat would have likely been waaay cheaper than owning it. However, if you had to rent it every time, it might not get used as much. Personally, I would value each trip and ask if it was a reasonable expense for my budget on this day, week, month. It's why I quit flying - today's 1.5 hour leisure trip is just $150 (30 years ago). What's the value of this trip? This resulted in few trips, making me less safe due to less practice. It's far easier to spend 1000's upfront while it's shiny and exciting, but harder to do after a few nicks. Once you own it, you tell yourself that you must use it because you spent so much on it already. When's the next boat show? I'm ready (again). I have a friend with 7 different cars and just him and his wife. None of these cars are special (overly expensive, very fast or very pretty/sporty). But he got a "deal" on each one. He bought a truck, because... it's a truck. He'd never go rent a truck, and is paying more for insurance than it would cost him to rent it for the few times it will get used. But it's always there, always ready to be used, just like his airplane. Nuff said. We have cars for convenience. Sometimes, a taxi, bus or train is better, but not always.
  9. You're concern is fairness. How better to be fair than to use a 3rd party? You could pay for an appraisal, which will cover both the business and the real estate. I have a few samples, both over 95 pages. They are pricey - mine was $4K. It looks at the business in multiple ways, such as would the real estate be more valuable with a different business use. It compares all combinations of business and RE and creates a value. Probably pricey, but it is an arms-length transaction so it's fair. Another way to get a value is to go visit your local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) office and ask them for sales comps. They can provide sales multiples for actual sales that help you with the 3X multiple you suggested. This won't help with the real estate valuation likely, but it gives you a number. The SBDC is an arm of the SBA and will help you with these basic queries for free. Risk taking: There's no way to say this without putting my foot in my mouth, because nothing is ever black and white. This is a statement on perspective. If it was black and white, I'd say this: If you are currently giving your family members fair wages for their work, then they are contributing nothing to the startup of the organization. If they are taking less wages to help start the business, or similar, then they are contributing in some direct manner. Assuming no: They are not taking on specific risk, so they would not be entitled to anything (ignoring the many family nuances that might exist). They may be the best employees in the world and are helping you greatly succeed, but they are employees - not the risk takers. Therefore, you build a great business and sell a working / proven business to your family members. Buying a known quantity with a good reputation is immensely valuable to them. They will appreciate being the ones to continue the business. Don't feel guilty, feel proud! It seems like you are looking for an early exit or maybe family members expectations have been set wrongly. Why is this troubling you today? Hopefully, they know your timing on sale (e.g. 3-5 or 10-20 years from now). By then, with 3X, you'll be walking away with Donald Trump type of money!
  10. Cheap Chinese Equipment

    I've managed a team in mainland China for a number of years. The Communist culture encourages cheating, especially if it furthers their personal position. Unlike here, cheating is a proud accomplishment that you brag to your friends while at your local bar - to cheat and not get caught or have it matter. I also had Chinese working for me locally that "escaped" and they would tell horror stories and certainly knew who not to trust. They were my cheapest cost center, yet my most ineffective producers (oddly, they had terrific made-up status reports). Lack of production made them the most expensive in the end. We tend to think that quality issues are by mistake, but in fact, these are often by design. There's a huge difference between a Chinese Design and a Reputable Design (NA, Europe, etc). (Also, don't equate Taiwan to mainland China. They are both Chinese, but have different value sets. Taiwan has a better reputation and pretty much hates China).
  11. Did you manage to get any relief on their pricing? They are a bit pricey at $400/month and another $250/month for digital inspections? I like their base product, think I want to use it, but I am wondering about value? The one thing that Protractor does is update their software. They make updates every 2-4 weeks, adding new features and fixing problems, which I find to be a positive. Even though they are cloud based, Canadian law mandates that us users maintain ownership of our data. They allow you to download the database weekly and back it up in their cloud much more often. (With cloud systems, one always needs to ask about data ownership, because this is not cut and dried in the US). Also, Protractor is month-to-month, with no contract. They believe in themselves. I was ready to go with RO Writer, but I've started seeing a lot of internet noise regarding a total lack of response from their tech support on critical issues. When you couple this type of problem with their insistence on a 3 year contract, it seems very dangerous. Many using RO Writer are using their older software. I'm guessing the growing pains are with their new SQL system because the complaints seem to have ratcheted up recently. When I ask them about this issue, they dodge this question hard.
  12. Self-Driving Cars: Good News, Bad News

    My Mario-driving-style self is looking forward to these things. They should be easy to pass. If I want to get in front of one, I simply start pulling into it's lane. The computer will want to avoid my impending crash and will likely take evasive braking action, leaving me room to advance my position. Instead of hollering "Get out of the way!" to regular slow drivers, I'll be hollering, "Get a self driving car!". Of course, if I owned one, I would want to have a go-fast turbo mode, but then would need to hack the computer. It will be interesting to see if the software drives safely with the flow of traffic, or puts around doing the speed limit in areas where this is not the prevailing speed. Will it drive in the right, left or middle lane? Will it use its blinkers in Boston and thus never be allowed to merge over? Driving in Dallas, letting someone in your lane due to a blinker is not a miracle parting of the sea, but rather a gradual back off allowing just enough room to complete the maneuver. Or would the computer wait for a more inviting response and thus be making a correctional U-turn 10 miles later when an accidental gap appeared? If you are interested in some of the decisions that need to be programmed into the car, consider crash scenarios where there is no right or safe answer. Here's a scenario generator, "Moral Machine", that is interesting: http://moralmachine.mit.edu/
  13. Technician Pay Structure

    I just listened to this podcast yesterday. It sounds like it might resonate with you. He discussed getting his employees directly involved in the business numbers on a daily basis. Remarkable Results Podcast Episode 193: Kirk Richardson from South Street Auto Care
  14. I don't see this ever working in an environment that contains hammers. After a few arguments with this device, it would be dented and might not work as well as the factory model. But, this is just my take. Everyone else on this forum are way more patient than me. 😜
  15. Unfortunately, getting insurance quotes from industry veterans might be a bit misleading. You and I, as a startup operations, are inherently more risk to the insurer than these experienced operators. As well, I've found that our options are more limited with some insurers flat-out saying no thanks (this happens at underwriting, not necessarily at quoting). As a result, I've found a broker, with direct auto experience, that I trust who can match my needs with the market offerings. For now, these lower rates are a fantasy, but a cost to be managed with time and reputation. My broker indicated that 3 years of experience stops the teenage driving rates. For your planning, plan on the high side. Also, a semi-real quote seems to need 20 pages of Q&A along with driver's licenses, etc. To get around this, my broker brought me blacked-out (names, addresses) quotes for a few similar sized businesses to review. I don't see this mentioned, but depending on whether buy or lease the building and the terms of your lease will also impact your insurance needs. For instance, your landlord may impose additional insurance requirements on you. This matters in how you make comparisons as well.