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Everything posted by bantar

  1. In another forum someone noted the backlog of containers at the Savannah, GA port. Where's Waldo. Zoom in to find your back-ordered parts. Waldo is much easier to locate for you tire guys: Brace yourselves, this isn't on a path to correction. However, Savannah has a better chance of catching up than any of ports in California. Word is that the CA ports are going to start 24/7 operation, but this doesn't address the real problem: Truckers and Trucks. Here's a Savannah article on Trucker Shortage. Also, who knows how many truckers will be displaced due to the vaccine mandates? I'm sure that they would just switch to a new role somewhere else with such demand, if it's not a statewide mandate that prevents that. It's even worse in CA. CA has banned any trucks older than 2011 from operating on their roads. Wonder what the average age of the fleet is? Further, CA's AB5 law bans Owner/Operators from operating in CA (but order stayed, in Supreme Court now). Lastly, even if they had truckers to haul containers at night, from the port, the distribution warehouses aren't running night shifts to accommodate. It is a supply chain with many links. Here's a good article that many factors causing the disruption . Sal Mercogliano has a surprisingly interesting YouTube series about container shipping. And when there's a shortage of truckers, a hike in gas prices and other inflation (tires, etc), then there will be stranded containers because they are offering bargain rates for expensive hauls. Who's going to haul at a loss? There was a recent video that I saw detailing a stuck cargo container, for many months... that may still be there... in Galveston that the owners could not move to Pennsylvania because they didn't allocate/have enough funds to/for the transportation costs. I wonder if the ports hold Auction Wars? All of these increased shipping costs will be hitting us soon. Offshore manufacturing may get bested by shipping costs... bringing some manufacturing jobs back to the US. Last point to ponder.... How many very necessary repair parts for these trucking rigs are stuck in these shipping containers?
  2. I've analyzed this to death and the results are surprising! I started another thread a while back with the title Dirty Tricks because I couldn't tell who was telling me the truth and who was lying. They are all lying (thru confusion, omission and complexity though) as well as telling the truth. There are SO MANY numbers to review. I've tracked these numbers extensively. Lets start by describing the charges. There are 3 main charges: Interchange, CardFees and Processor Fees. The Card Fees is a collection of charges that hit both Debit and Credit charges. The only fees your processor can manipulate are the Processor Fees. All else is determined by your mix of CC and Debit charges. I don't have enough time in the day to separate the Card Fees from Processor Fees, but overall the fees are a small percentage. Year CC %sales Debit %sales Processing Fee = Interchange + Fees 2021 53.2% 42.0% 1.60% 1.16% 0.44% 2020 52.3% 43.1% 1.59% 1.12% 0.48% 2019 59.1% 37.3% 1.77% 1.18% 0.59% When I look at these numbers above, I see that my total processing fees are more closely tied to the mix of CC and Debit sales. This is why having my CC terminal default to Debit is a great feature! I read the above as I'm paying Interchange + 0.5% in fees. I believe the card fees to be approximately 0.40 to 0.43%, which means that my processor fees are 0.07 to 0.10%. This is the surprising part. The processor isn't making much. Since you are hovering at 2.2%, then you potentially have 1.04% of fees to consider, assuming interchange of 1.16%. There is room for improvement. For grins, assume that card fees are 0.4%. Your processor is making 0.64%. Ouch! High rates and lots of junk fees likely. SpotOn is offering you a fixed rate, when in reality, you are better off with Interchange Plus (fees) pricing. Spot on is saving you about 0.2% if there are no other hidden fees. This is still too high (depending on volume). While it may be taxing, get more quotes, including an Interchange Plus quote. Your Processor Fees of per transaction and % of transaction are the variables that swing with sales volume. I'm currently paying: Credit Card Rate - 0.05% + Interchange (all cards including AMEX) Debit Card Rate - 0.00% + Interchange Credit Transaction fee - 0.05 cents per transaction Debit Transaction Fee - 0.05 cents per transaction I did save some money with my last switch, but now, I'm not sure that I can save much more now. And I'm happy with my processor, so I'm staying put.
  3. Interesting. It took me a long time to wrap my head around premium OT when it was in the same pay period... the easy kind of figuring. I did not even consider the longer term problem, (but then again, I don't have such bonuses currently). I may change my payroll label to Premium OT as well. Right now, it's just a different pay rate that the employees don't really understand, but also don't complain about. Thank you. This was very helpful and insightful. And I'll admit that at first, I assumed that my payroll company was taking my input and generating the correct output. Once I understood the issue, I could then see that they did nothing to help. Garbage in, Garbage out. I quit feeding it garbage.
  4. Question... When you pay your Monthly and yearly bonuses, you recompute the effect that these payments had on OT hours worked during the covered period (month, year)? So, you'd pay Bonus + OT makeup wages as a result of this bonus? Is this correct?
  5. Started a new thread based on a comment from: Are you paying your employees what they deserve? Thanks to CTC who warned that we need to be Compliant in our pay plans, I called the Dallas Office of the Dept of Labor Wage and Hour Division to check on my compliance. Very friendly and knowledgeable. Didn't even ask who I was. I encourage you to call. However, what she said was super-complicated if it's the first time that you've heard it. It still hurt my head on today's call. The goal of this message is to explain OT calculations and then to explain the flat rate pay as related to OT. I'm only presenting this to give you background before you call W&H yourself. I'm not an expert on W&H. This focuses on non-salaried employees who are eligible for OT payments. Background: In general, OT pay is more complicated if you have variable pay plans (bonuses or extra payments). Regular hourly folks working OT get 1.5 times their "regular rate" (which is the same as their hourly rate). If they don't get any extra pay, this is easily computed. When variable pay is involved, we need to know how much the employee is really making this week. That is, we must calculate their "Regular Rate" because the variable pay (bonuses) increases their normal hourly rate. When we pay OT, we must pay 1.5 times their "Regular Rate". This is a protection for the employees to ensure that they are being fairly paid even though their pay rate varies week to week. Regular Rate Computation: Figure out the employee's total compensation for this week (we are ignoring OT for this calculation). Divide this by the total hours worked this week. This is their regular rate for THIS week. For example: Joe makes $10/hr and earned $100 bonus this week while working 50 hours. His total pay for the week is $10 * 50 hours + $100 bonus = $500 + $100 = $600. His Regular Rate is $600/50 hours = $12/hr. When you pay him OT, you will be paying him 10 hours * 12 Regular Rate/hr * 1.5 = $180. This is added to his base rate of 40 hours * $10/hr, so this week, he makes $400 + 180 = $580 + $100 bonus = $680 total pay. There is a shortcut to computing regular rate that I find faster to compute. Just take the variable pay (bonus) and divide it by the hours worked. $100 bonus/50 hours = $2/hr Joe's Regular Rate is $10+$2=$12/hr. His overtime rate is $12 * 1.5 = $18 (instead of $15). Using ADP (and other payroll systems): For employees that are getting OT with variable pay, I create a separate pay line in my payroll. Line 1 is 40 hours at their normal hourly rate. Line 2 is OT hours at Regular rate. The payroll software multiplies the regular rate * 1.5 to calculate their OT pay. Regular Pay Line: 40 Hours @ $10/hr OT Pay Line: 10 Hours @ $12/hr Flat Rate: Per W&H, Flat Rate still requires OT pay if more than 40 hours are worked. Therefore, we are required to compute a "Regular Rate" to pay OT. This means we need time clock records. W&H suggested a few different ways of computing it for Flat Rate employees (one was a weighted average, but I didn't dig into this). Also, minimum wage must be adhered to as well. I threw a few examples of pay (flag bonuses, incentives, make-up hours, etc) at W&H and in the end, it didn't matter what the mix of payments were. All payments are combined to compute a Regular Rate. This can be bonuses for flagged hours or bonuses for sales or it could be 20 hours of flag and 20 hours of guaranteed pay (to equal 40 hours). What mattered was how many hours did the non-salaried worker work? What is their regular rate? Pay OT using the Regular Rate.
  6. Great feedback. Thank you!!! I called the Dallas Office of the Dept of Labor Wage and Hour Division to check on my compliance. Very friendly and knowledgeable. Didn't even ask who I was. I encourage you to call. However, what she said was super-complicated if it's the first time that you've heard it. It still hurt my head on today's call. I think I can explain it, but it belongs in a separate thread. I will post that shortly.
  7. Makes sense, but I believe that this is an implicit belief that the independents are cheaper than the dealer. As they say, Perception is 9/10's of reality. When you compare door rates and the dealer is cheaper, then there is a natural inclination to think it's a better place to take your vehicle... They know my vehicle very well and are priced right. This is when rate alone is considered. You said "and getting things done faster and less expensively." Labor Rates <= Dealer are easier to understand. Labor Rates > Dealer are tougher to explain. Some actually understand that independents are working in their best interest and value this over rate. We are less expensive when we are not selling them unneeded services, but not all customers recognize that as a needful concern. Often, over/pushy sales is the impetus to abandon the dealer. And there's a group that just hates the dealer, so we win by not being the dealer. I meet a lot of people that do ALL of their services at the dealer. Occasionally, we are given the opportunity to be the first one with whom they "cheat" the dealer. These folks are often nervous and need reassuring. I'm in alignment with the spirit of your message. I'm doing my part to win over as many customers as I can, knowing that I have to sell against giants.
  8. I've not had a single negative reaction to our labor rate rise. We're higher than one of the local Honda Dealerships and some others too right now. It did enable me to pay enough to steal a shop foreman from a local dealer. Deal is done, but not consummated yet (vacation, and notice standing in the way). I'll remain nervous until he's on board. Having great people further supports our labor rate. Price is only one variable in the value equation. I did raise my European lube prices. I'm only seeing reactions from 8-9.5 quart VW owners so far and had but a few declines. Frank, $125 sounds the same as $129.99. Push it a little more.
  9. I'm getting paid for used oil, however, we have negotiated pricing thru our local buyers group (club). A provider might be paying one shop and yet charging others depending on the deal struck. Pricing changes as the market does. I'm happy with $0 and above, Where are you located? TX or CA?
  10. I'm interested in understanding this more. There must be some mitigating factors that make this stand out and it may very well impact us directly, but as written, I don't understand it. There's a real caution in your note. Can you elaborate more on the specifics of the law or rule being violated? It'll be easier to probe our local labor boards with a known concern. I've been on many bonus plans that were based on numerous "if you do this, you get this" criteria and some "if WE do this, you get this" too. Examples: No Individual Contribution: If business exceeds $X revenue or $Y in GP, then you will get a bonus. Individual Contribution: If business exceeds $X revenue or $Y in GP, then you will get a bonus, but it will be factored by your Review Rating (Bonus * Ind Factor) It can be greater than or less than the full amount. 5 = 125%, 4 = 100%, 3 = 75%, 2 = 50%, 1 = 0%. If you complete Project X in 6 months, you get 2 times $Y, in 8 months, you get $Y and if >8 months, you get $0. This bonus only applies to Project X. If you are working on Project Y or Z, there is no bonus plan. If you complete Project X with < 50 mistakes, you get $Y, < 25 mistakes, $Z, and <10 mistakes, 2 times $Z. Multifactor Bonuses: On Time > 95% of the time = 25% of your bonus, Have a good attitude 25%, Team completes Project G in 3Q 25%, You also complete Project X by Jan 3, 25%, with a chance to earn 2x 25% if completed by Nov 30. All Bonuses are Cancelled (except) Plan: Director level and above will get paid 50% of your normal bonus, but all lower levels are being paid at $0 because we missed our revenue targets. Yep, I was on this plan too. Bonuses are often designed to encourage a desired behavior or outcome. Often the right behaviors lead to the best outcomes, so they are related. In this business, we are saying that we will pay you a percentage of sales for every hour of sales that you personally work on. Frankly, the criteria is only that you performed the work. Our desired behavior is to encourage productivity and also to reward you for your contribution to the business. If you are a 2x producer, you get 2x the reward.
  11. We started with 1 Tech, then hired another after 6 months, but not because we were so busy, but more to cover more shop open hours, bursts of work and illnesses and vacations, etc. Now mind you, during this time, we're not selling 100% of our hours, but my techs were being paid for 100% of their time. This was a conscious investment. Didn't hire the 3rd until the 4th year. Each hire was an exercise in waiting for sufficient pain before hiring, followed by panic of whether the timing was right. While we were growing, beginning of 2nd year, I had a copycat competitor open up 1 mile away. They were heavily-capitalized. 7-8 months later, they shut down and then it reopened 7-8 months after that under a new name. They ran heavy staffing and had way less business than we did. But high expenses wear down big balances fast. Again, I was in a panic, because I didn't know how they would affect my business while I'm just trying to survive. I kept service levels up, expenses down and outlived them. On rent and landlords, this is not my expertise. I know a little from my friend that owns and leases shopping centers, office buildings... Free rent is calculated as such.... He want's 100K in free rent. I want 8% return on my money and want it back in 3 years. Calculate the needed return, increase the base rent.... forever. Next question, what are his odds of survival and how much can I collect if I have to sue him later for unpaid rent? This is factored in too, with less free, or higher rent or both. Make sure you find out about TripleNet, or whatever the lease terms are. What building expenses are you responsible for? Your rent might or might not include property taxes... My annual tax bill is huge. It can devastate your cash balance. Tax man doesn't care if you are making money or not. I'd say the tax payments were my biggest panic moments. Letting go of so much cash felt uncomfortable. You are looking at rent between $30K to $45K monthly. These are big numbers needing big sales. How many of months of cash do you need in the bank? There's no right answer. It depends on how fast you can grow to cover it. So far, I've followed each plateau in earnings with an increase (investment) in expenses... new people, raises, benefits, equipment. We're still growing and I don't expect to level off for another 2-5 years. See the theme? Startup = Panic. At least for me. How do you know if any decision is right? I'm still in startup mode, but I've managed to replace PANIC with worry. Here's an interesting story. A car wash opened up next door to me and I talk with the owner monthly at least. During his first 3 years, he lived in a constant state of Depression and Anger over the challenges of getting his business up and running. It never rains here in the summer and yet he opened up to a 2 week monsoon... which meant he was closed during his grand opening. I talked with him a few days ago and the depression is gone, but anger remains. He's starting to get close to his revenue goals, and about 2 months ago, a sign went up for a new car wash about 1 mile away. He told me that they will just go broke... there's no way to make any money here! Who knows.... but he too had to carry this business for quite a while before breaking even. Although, I'm not sure that he's done that yet.
  12. Startups are hard. We're in a trust business and it'll take a while to build volume. Your rent will start on day 1, whether or not you are selling hours. I thought I had more than enough cash to make it and it was dicey for a while. At the end of year 3, is when I went from wondering about success to wondering how to handle increased volume with reasonable turn-around time. Ignoring mortgage, I broke even in 6 months on operations only, but was managing staffing levels and inventory and tools purchases closely. I'd say, don't focus on profit.... focus on survival. Assume the worst and plan for even worse. Goal #1 is to survive. Goal #2 is profit. They say cash-flow is king and they are right. I'm on prime property... a very busy intersection in a Neighborhood Market Walmart anchored shopping center (still waiting on it to be built). This delay killed expected traffic and thus car count. (BTW, sadly, I didn't plan for this). In one sense, the increased visibility born by increased building cost is a marketing expense. Personally, I think it has tremendous value, but.... It helps, but you'd be surprised to know that I have people drive thru my firelane to reach the Walgreens next door and 2-3 years later, they finally realize that I'm here. We're often invisible until needed. Maybe when they drive thru my other fire lane to reach the Walmart, they will see me then.... or not. I too don't see many businesses, etc while I'm driving, but dang, they should take notice of MY business when they are driving, shouldn't they? I'm also in a wealthy community. Too much wealth is bad as they can either fix this car or just go buy a new one. But, on the flip side, everyone in the family has a car or 2. And let me finish with a note about my ProForma projections. They were wildly optimistic. Yet, I planned them as a pessimist. As it turns out, I was a lousy pessimist. I made some bad assumptions. I missed many big expenses, such as city mandated inspections, fire, water. But I had to live with the hand I was dealt. Hope this helps some.
  13. Now that we are doing my new C Tech's first payroll, my manager just reminded me that he is $15/hr + $5/flag hour. This is better as we did want to maintain a competitive rate to reduce turnover. My previous pay plan was Wall Time or Flag Time whichever is higher. My new pay plan is now Hourly + a Flag kicker.
  14. Big balls, little brain. Not sure which is more impactful in my decision making! 🙃
  15. I just hired a new C tech at $15. He finished tech school and is overall a good C Tech and limited tools. My old B ($22) and C ($18) techs both left to take a job paying $1300/week with 50 hours required. Given this, it would seem we have a local market range for C Techs of $15-$24/hr.
  16. I've increased my labor rate by $20/hr yesterday. The main reason for doing this is to pay the best technicians what they are worth and maybe a bit more than that. Related, but a whole different beast is that I'm about to significantly increase my Quick Lube pricing. This one will be harder to implement as it's somewhat of a commodity with many other nearby competitors that may or may not follow. I've absorbed many COGS price increases without increasing the oil pricing in 4 years. My strategy is to let gasoline pricing hit $3/gallon (not there yet here in Texas... about $2.75/gal). Once it hits $3/gallon, we can commiserate with our customers about those high gas prices... "it's the reason" that we had to raise our prices. My goal will be a big enough bump to last 1-2 years (but with this rampant inflation, it might be short lived). I'm somewhat nervous about this move, but it has to be done and it will be done.
  17. We certainly send people to the dealer for Warranty work, recalls and difficult jobs that need one-off specialty tools. I've generally felt uneasy doing the latter, but I like how you framed this.... "Let that frustration and expense be associated with the dealer as opposed to me." Thanks! We're still a startup, wrapping up year 4 in a few more months. As a manager, I've always believed that great people, hopefully people way smarter and more talented than me, are the key to success in any field. I've been in shops with these such tenured folks and was trying to figure out what we should be doing to accomplish longevity. I recently lost 2 apprentice techs to a huge pay raise elsewhere, but I didn't see value in keeping them for a few reasons. They needed to earn their pay and studying new technologies, etc instead of just wanting it all now. However, my shop foremen is 3 years in and it was time to reward his hard work. I bumped his pay by 40%. His attitude and ethics are great, so I want him to stay for a long while more. I'm blessed to have found another L1 Master Tech, who worked 15 years at his last shop (which sold), and a new B/C tech (still deciding). Since Techs are in short supply. My advertising approach was to let the candidates know what's in it for them. In the end, they need to like coming to work everyday and there are tons of miserable jobs out there competing for the same position. We have a great team, good overall vibe, so we touted it. The L1 tech starts on Monday. Well, big raises don't come for free. To stay profitable, I bumped my labor rate by $20/hr yesterday. As I learned here, labor rate is derived from operations costs, but only supported by reputation. I don't expect this to matter much, now that we have built a good reputation. I'm sure I'll lose a few folks, but that's ok. There are a lot of things that I'm doing wrong (or could do better), but my focus on people is spot-on! This thread has been great! Thanks to all who have contributed!
  18. I looked at your website to see what's there...... but there's nothing to see.
  19. Well, I've done a bit more digging. I had my tool guy reach out to RobinAir to check on those items in the video above. They only have one machine in the US that supports this connection and it's not a popular item. Further, the H2N2 Forming gas is also readily available in Europe, in disposable cans, but less so here. You can purchase it in a 300 CCF cylinder from AirGas as a special order. This size would be an Inheritable supply. However, I overlooked a 6th method for leak detection: 6) Shop Air and Soapy Water 150 PSI of shop air and soapy water looking for bubbles However, you are introducing moisture into the system. Is this a best practice? Is this a bad practice? It's a free test. Instructions here: Stepping back from tooling, the question is what problem needs to be solved? Some leaks are bi-directional and can be found with either a vacuum test or a pressure test Some leaks will pass the vacuum test, but will fail under pressure We want to find both leaks. Ideally, we should run both types of leak tests in an AC Service. The low cost of R134a, the availability of dye and the vacuum leak test of the RRR machine allows for a reduction in overall testing. In other words, we can skip the pressure test. How many leaks will only be caught with this test method? This reduces the cycle time and labor involved to the customer, keeping the service prices reasonable and allows the shop to remain profitable. R134a, $3/lb with dye finds pressure leaks affordably. Customer drives away and returns for a complimentary leak check. Our material cost is about $5 and the labor cost is near $0 as the car leaks and dye shows where it is. The higher cost of R1234yf begs the question, do we add in the pressure testing step to every service? This costs the shop extra labor that will need to be billed to the customer. Service pricing increases. R1234yf pricing is about $60/lb. So, our material cost is about $100. Is this an acceptable shop cost for leak detection? Should this cost be passed on to the customer? Technically, it is only a burden to them if we didn't find the leak with the RRR machine. The RRR machine only does a partial R1234yf charge and stops for you to execute a Manual Leak Test using a handheld scanner Since this step exists, one can ask if it is an acceptable leak test? The ability to find a leak is dependent on the quality of the tester and the skills of the technician in operating the unit and the leak size. At this point, you don't know if you have a leak, so you are scanning for a potential leak. How much time do you invest in searching for a non-existent leak? No leak is good. Would an impatient technician pencil-whip this test? Who loses money if it's not found with this type of testing? Let's say we detect a leak, how do we find it? We need to inject a detectable agent. At this time, it seems a partial charge of R1234yf is a viable solution. RRR machine comes into play again Back and forth equipment setups increases the overall time and labor costs for this job Again, I'm approaching this from a HOW TO PROVIDE THIS SERVICE PROFITABLY perspective. These are my thoughts as of today... Equipment exists that will definitively tell you if you have a leak. This lowers my risk of both costs or hits to goodwill R1234yf service cost is going to be higher everywhere. Machines are more expensive due to the purity testing function Cycle times are longer for the same job (machines are slower) Refrigerant is currently more expensive. Will the customer notice adding in an expense for leak testing? They'll already be in sticker shock. Makes sense to burden in a material and labor charge for pressure leak testing now It provides a more consistent pricing to the customer vs letting them pay for lost refrigerant Probably .5 - 1.0 hours Fieldpiece Digital Manifold with a Nitrogen setup will give a definitive leak result. I like this because you can read the answer. I like it because it frees up the RRR machine for overlapping jobs (only an optimist would go here) Plan to use my IR Leak Detector, but have to inject R1234YF into the system If a leak is found, then additional labor to find the leak, fix it and another leak test to confirm I do not intend to equip for handling contaminanted (refrigerant) vehicles and recycling thereof. I'm thinking out loud. It would be good to hear from someone that practical experience. I've talked to a few folks that are just using the RRR machine with a No-Warranty clause on the refrigerant. I'm not expecting that this level of leak testing will be the most popular practice in the US. It's all fine and dandy until it's not and somebody will be eating lost refrigerant cost.
  20. There should be nothing illegal with the use of nitrogen. (Non-auto) HVAC professionals flood their systems with nitrogen when the braze the lines. They too utilize multiple methods of leak testing. I've been looking at the testing aspect. What is clear is that pressure leaks are costly. I've found a few primary solutions: 1) Nitrogen Testing with an ultrasonic leak detector NOTE: When nitrogen is used, it is Dry Nitrogen. I called my AirGas supplier and they keep getting requests for it, but don't stock it or he doesn't know about it. I have another supply house that I can check. Ultrasonic Leak Detector: https://smile.amazon.com/INFICON-711-202-G1-Whisper-Ultrasonic-Detector/dp/B000TRJA8M To me, looks great for open spaces, but may be challenging under a hood. 2) Nitrogen Testing with a Leak Down Test gauge set: NOTE: Dry Nitrogen is recommended Digital Leakdown Test with Software pressure compensation due to temperature changes. Very accurate. https://smile.amazon.com/Fieldpiece-SM380V-3-Port-Refrigerant-Manifold/dp/B07QJ7P63Z See button Test Tightness - Timed leakdown test with digital readout. Can detect very small leaks. NOTE: Same test can be done with a regular manifold test for large and maybe medium leaks, but there's no way to find very small leaks, as you don't have the detailed resolution in your gauge set. Nice thing about this test is that is independent of your RRR machine. Testing is 30-60 minutes or overnight. 3) Hydrogen Tracer Gas Leak Detection - 5% Hydrogen / 95% Nitrogen testing (Mixed gas) This test model relies on being able to more easily detect escaping hydrogen. Called Tracer Gas or sometimes Forming Gas Much data here: https://schoonoverinc.com/hydrogen-leak-detection/ Testers seem to be expensive. This method seems to be popular in Europe. 4) Combo Leak Detection: Nitrogen followed by Tracer Gas Looks like Robinair has a solution: Leak down test with Nitrogen, followed by Sniffer testing with Tracer gas. ACS Nitrogen Kit EN 86447 - can't find it, so what's in it? Tracer Gas Leak Detector: https://www.amazon.com/Robinair-Tracer-Leak-Detector-Service/dp/B07V5WS9R9 about $700 However, watching this video: They use Nitrogen to determine if a leak exists, then tracer gas to locate the source. I'm going to guess that the tracer gas is more expensive than Nitrogen. The disadvantage to this system is that your RRR machine is now tied up for much longer. Already 1234yf is way slower than 134a. Add in this new step and it could tie up the machine for half a day or more. I'm unable to locate this test setup here in the US, but have not called Robinair either. 5) 1234yf Gas Leak Detection It seems that Auto HVAC experts on IATN flag the very expensive Bacharach PGM-IR - About $3598.59 https://www.mybacharach.com/product/pgm-ir-portable-refrigerant-monitor/ It has expensive consumables too, so he seems to suggest using a regular leak detector for larger leaks, then break out the big gun for pinpoint accuracy. Regular leak detector: https://www.mybacharach.com/product/tru-pointe-refrigerant-leak-detector/ Or others such as Robinair, Infinicon, etc. Nitrogen Setup: For nitrogen testing, you need a cylinder, a pressure regulator and gauges. You can buy a ready made kit such as: https://www.amazon.com/CPS-Products-CPSNITROKITG-Nitrogen-Regulator/dp/B009M9WKO4 Nitrogen cylinder pressures are about 2000 PSI, so it can definitely pressurize the Auto AC system. A high quality gauge set and regulator are necessary to not blow holes in the AC system. On R123a cars, nitrogen pressure testing is done at 175-200 PSI. Exceeding 200 PSI, you can create new problems that didn't exist before. On R1234yf - 200 PSI should still be ok. We keep talking about Dry Nitrogen, however, our RRR evac process should boil out any moisture introduced by using regular nitrogen. It appears that not introducing moisture is a better first step. I don't think it matters, but if the costs are similar, Dry sure seems a better first step. Please be aware, I convey all of this information without any credibility myself. I much prefer to seek out experts and repeat what they are doing. Finding a true expert is difficult, but internet data is plentiful. I'm sharing what I've found with the hope that it helps others recognize the need for a solution and find a way to remain profitable with the very expensive 1234yf gas.
  21. We're still waiting. We only turned away 6 jobs last year. When it makes sense, I'm ready to buy the machine. It might be this year, and if not, definitely next year. Do you have a nitrogen setup (gas and nitrogen leak detector) to pressure test the AC systems now? For us, we could afford to recharge a system if it left with an undetected pressure leak (aka return for a dye check). With the cost of 1224yf, we will need a different model of operation. We need to find the pressure leaks via nitrogen and bill for the refrigerant each time it is installed. We don't charge by the oz today. AC jobs with 1234yf are going to double or more on cost. I'm interested to hear how others are dealing with 1234yf pressure leak detections. I'm expecting to buy both the machine and nitrogen setup at the same time.
  22. I was recently kicked off of Google My Business.... twice. They delisted me ("... your Business Profile on Google has been suspended because it was flagged for suspicious activity.") and then invited me to reapply ("If you’re sure your profile is compliant, submit it for reinstatement and our team will review your request as quickly as possible."). No reason was given. Both times, this happened the day after I responded to a batch of reviews. Other than review responses, I don't make changes to GMB. When you are kicked off, you cannot be found with Local Searches! All reviews are gone. It's a total wipe-out. It's stressful. I'm still not 100% positive, but it appeared to happen as a result of me changing my website from HTTP to HTTPS in January. I had an online marketing company pushing out GMB updates, for hours and basic data. I forgot about this and updated GMB directly after setting up HTTPS. The marketing company then reset it to the old website value. I didn't make this connection until the 2nd suspension. We updated the online marketing company to have the right HTTPS and 5 weeks later, I've not been kicked off again. It sure would have helped if they gave some explanation. They just say: "Your Business Profile on Google is live" When it is restored, all data (reviews, etc) is returned as if nothing happened. For reinstatement, they suggest you provide supporting documentation proving that you are real, e.g Sales Tax ID. For the first reapply, I sent the Tax ID. For the next one, just an explanation of me talking about reviews. You can't talk to anyone. They refuse to provide information to you, so it's best to avoid being kicked off.
  23. Not sure if I have this right, but I read this as.... to remain competitive, I must consider other shops in the area with lower prices. We can be at the top with pricing, but not way over the top (of the median area pricing). The median price needs to go up; otherwise, we suffer. Did you know that large apartment complexes update their pricing as often as daily? They will survey prices in a 10 mile radius and compare their rates against their comparable class (A, B, C, D). Smaller operators will not have the resources to do such dynamic updates, so their pricing may change less frequently. Maybe there is a business case for a pricing aggregator service that provides Market research data. I know of a local well respected shop, with low labor rates, because his overhead is low. He could charge more, but doesn't. Complacency with earnings? I know of others that focus on being the lowest cost as a strategy, but can't afford tooling. Education? When you are first starting out, your schedule is a giant hole and not worth populating because any and every time will be open. You don't want to turn any business away. You are scared that no one else will fill this void. Then when business starts getting better, you don't want to "rock the boat" with pricing changes for fear of taking a step back. I think there's a bigger newbie challenge: How to bill for ALL hours used. What is the difference between Win Some, Lose Some outliers and we just estimated wrong? How to tell the difference between technical efficiency and unknown job complexity. Does the bill suddenly jump to compensate? Can you explain it to your customer and not look bad? Or do you just eat it? These are natural survival instincts. (I had all of these phobias and I can't say they're gone, but some are repressed! 🙂 ) The best shops have much of this already figured out. This forum is one such place to learn from other successful leaders. Personally, I see the repair business as a Trust Business. If you are really Trusted, then, here are the keys. Fix it. I sometimes cringe internally when I'm asked about my labor rate, but 99% of the time, they just say, Oh. My cringing is pointless. It's not the cost that matters... it is the value received.
  24. I received an email today from a Consumer stating "Your price is too high, so hell with you sir!" in response a marketing email inviting him back for his next service. My initial reaction was uh-oh, quickly followed by "Why am I not hearing more pricing complaints?". This is quite interesting as we were in a discussion last week, talking about our prices being too low. We are priced competitively in the market, but with a higher service level, likely, we should be able to earn more with a higher pricing. I remember reading somewhere that if you don't have enough complaints of your price is too high, then you are priced too low. There is a balance in pricing. On one hand, we have price leaders nearby (, with prices so low that they would go broke quickly if they were honest) that will rob the price shoppers blind when they visit as well as other reputable shops with various pricing levels. I operate a combo lube and repair shop. My repair labor rate is a premium to the area and we have talented technicians that rate this premium. I'm at a small premium on the Lube, but believe it should be higher and . After having a chuckle on today's email, I figured it would make for a good conversation. What is the right Price-is-too-high-complaint rate? 1% 5% 10%? We might get a 0.5-0.3% abandon rate at the counter over pricing. I'm sure that there is a silent minority that just doesn't come back, yet makes no noise.
  25. Not sure I can offer advice, but I can offer encouragement. Based on what you've said, this is a gift from heaven. Ultimately, if the stress doesn't kill you 😬, you will have a bigger shop to sell and would likely reap bigger rewards when you sell it. Ignoring capital costs, once you scale, your fixed costs won't increase significantly, which should help your bottom line. It seems that you'd be crazy not to accept this gift. I'm guessing you are not the type of guy that sits still for long? Am I right? Ready to retire? Likely you are still 50 at heart. Go for it! I can't tell from your messaging whether or not this would be two separate buildings. If so, put the ones you trust the most in that secluded building! It'll be the party shop otherwise. With hiring, this is easy. You stroll into other shops and solicit their employees == stealing. You advertise and put the word out that you are hiring and other shop employees apply == recruiting. Everyone got to my place by quitting somewhere else and for sure, they will quit here to work elsewhere in the future. Good Luck! .... (and congratulations too)

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