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Everything posted by bantar

  1. 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.
  2. 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%
  3. Well, I put together a spreadsheet to track my payroll spending. The payroll spending starts after funds have been dispersed. I need to spend a minimum of 75% against payroll After 2 pay periods, I'm in trouble! Not spending enough. I've recalled a furloughed worker and he's balking.... "I have a weakened immune system", "I'm not feeling good right now", etc. Another isn't being recalled. I've immediately boosted everyone's hours, and have hired a new guy, made an offer to another and will likely replace my furloughed worker. The good news is that I'm spending all of this on my employees! They are getting a boost and I'm using the PPP as it was intended.... for them. I was surprised that I was running so far behind. It's but a small 8 week tracking window, so I only have 6 weeks left to make adjustments. All my advisors are stating that we need to track our expenses very closely, so I'm doing this.
  4. First the good news.... We went to Plucker's for wings last night and were able to dine in the restaurant! Was nice. 25% occupancy allowed, was full, but no line, so this says that many are still waiting a bit more. Now, the great news! Another week of car count increase. Week by week actuals (percentage of expected): 3/15: 63% 3/22: 39% 3/29: 42% 4/05: 37% 4/12: 57% 4/19: 63% 4/26: 85% Car Count for March was 67%, as it started off strong, then nose dived Car Count for April ended up at 55% Revenue remains weaker percentage wise than car count as the jobs are not the best of the litter (not a usual sales mix). Also, Texas has reopened for business 25% occupancy for non-essential. I have one person furloughed that I need to rehire. This week trend is giving me confidence that it's time, but may still wait a few more days.
  5. Two weeks in a row of an increase. Went from 41% for about 4 weeks, to 57% last week, to 63% this week of normal. Regular street traffic is up. I found myself being frustrated having to share the road with other commuters, but then realized that it was actually a good thing. I listened to the DFW Radio show, Wheels, and all of the car dealers on today's show were reporting increases in traffic. Mind you, many of these same dealers laid off many technicians. Here it seems that car sales have been doing ok for being down (they do state numbers sold on this show). However, they were noting that the used car market was upside down due to a weak auction scene, so some mentioned that they were sitting on trade-ins waiting for a chance to unload them. Of course, couple this with Texas starting a limited restart yesterday. Dallas car dealers are by appointment only and in our county, they were not required to shut down. We do have 1 nail salon in Dallas open defying Dallas' shutdown order. We do have one suburb city, Colleyville, that opened restaurants with social distancing (this city is in compliance). On a brighter note, I had one lady spend her $1200 stimulus check and a bit more on a long-overdue timing belt and repairs. We were appreciative of being stimulated.
  6. Good idea. You can use a Realtor style lock box that can be purchased ($32) at Home Depot, such as: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Master-Lock-5400D-9-6-cu-in-Set-Your-Own-Combination-Portable-Lock-Box-5400DHC/100124915 The combination can be readily changed, but test well after changing the combination!
  7. I've stayed open and at least one day per week, I would see a spike in car count and I was hoping that it was an indicator, but then the next day, right back down. Nothing consistent, since about March 15. Running about 41% of normal car count, but total revenue is lower than that. This week, we've been consistently up.... about 57% of normal car count. But I'm now gun-shy and not sure whether or not this is a sign. Next Friday, Texas is starting to open up. I doubt that this soft opening will help much. We need to fully open up and get people back to work.
  8. A big shout out to Elite for making this training available. Lately, there's been some idle time in my schedule and what better way to use it than training. THANK YOU! I found this useful.
  9. SBA Training Powerpoint Released on April 3 2020 https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/articles/EIDL_and_P3_4.3.2020_COB.pdf NOTE: On slide 15, it says this about the EIDL quick advance / forgivable payment: Up to $10K depending on # of employees
  10. I do remember reading that some businesses are already engaged and making progress, but I don't remember the specifics. Here's another resource that is chock full of information from other small businesses of all types. Check it out: https://www.reddit.com/r/smallbusiness/ I did at least find someone who has completed the process: When the Disaster loan website started, the process included creating an account, then providing all documents. Later, the business would receive an email with some confirmation that it was received. I guess this was overwhelming. They've changed it to download the applications and submit it "blindly" by uploading your documents. The latter process is not sending out emails. Someone posted a note about not using the blind upload process, but instead suggests mailing documents to [email protected] : It may not really be necessary to panic because one person answering the phones at SBA didn't understand how the blind upload queue is being handled / processed. All in all, things are moving so fast, that clarity and surety are both lacking.
  11. Agreed. We'll come back strong. Here's another angle on Corona Virus impact.... I needed to send out an (Westcreek) finance application for a customer's large repair bill today. Tried to do it and found that they are not accepting new applications. Finally read their notes and they are saying two things (my reading in-between the lines): 1) Your credit score today is NOT an indication of your ability to pay. We can no longer reliably judge/predict your creditworthiness. Maybe you were laid off yesterday, etc. and 2) We might soon have a cash flow problem on our already outstanding loans and need to keep a hold of our cash until we understand the impact. I would guess if these guys are pulling back on credit, others might be doing the same. New car loans?
  12. Our March was super strong thru about March 13. Then I noticed about a 20% drop for 2 days. Then on Monday March 16, we dropped 80%. This kept up until Friday, then only down about 20%, then down 90% for 2 days, and on Monday, back to just a 20%-30% drop. We have a local radio show Wheels with Ed Wallace. He always has dealers on and they were discussing their repair business and it was pretty much mirroring what we saw. The drop-off seems to coincide with the Shelter in Place order issued by Dallas County (our local news source), as it was announced many days before taking effect. Our county, north of Dallas, is acting more sanely and issued a "Work Safe" order... aka social distancing. Regardless, auto repair and parts sellers are considered an essential businesses. I was contemplating shutting down Tue (today), Wed and Thur, but given yesterday, I'm open today. Not sure what comes next.
  13. The link is private to you. Can't click on it. Wow, $20 for 40 minutes is terrible. We're $25.50 for 15 minutes. Add extra 5 minutes for failures and an extra 5 minutes if they are first time visitors (and an extra 20 minutes if I'm flapping my gums). Our association is working on trying to get a small fee increase, but it'll be tough. For sure, we meet many people as a result of this program. Some become customers and some are consumers passing thru. For as many as we fail, it's refreshingly surprising that most folks are chill about it. But, it recently garnered me a 1 star review because "we turned his check engine light on" during the inspection. We declined to start the inspection upon seeing it and he left owing no money, yet were graced with a review. As a low end service, we somewhat dislike this offering, but from a marketing perspective, it's a gold mine.
  14. Phew.... Till next year. Our legislature only meets every 2 years, so we get a longer break. How tough is your inspection process and what does it cost?
  15. We're at $130 and on our invoices, I don't print the rate or hours (not required to). We simply quote a labor charge for the job. I have a shop near me with a labor rate of $99, but job for job, his labor charges are same or higher than mine - using additional labor hours. We pad for our persistent negotiators to have room for them "to win". If asked, we share the labor rate. We start with a base diagnostic of $99.95 for the 1st hour. While working on this, we fail to always charge for longer diags. Sometimes it's lost and sometimes we factor it into the rest of the job when building the quote. Even when we're asked the labor rate, we haven't received any negative feedback on it. We build value / trust which helps on approvals. If we don't close a deal, it is usually related to cost-of-job vs value-of-the-car OR cost-of-job vs down-payment on a new car. I get more vitriol for having the audacity to charge for diag. If I get a pure price shopper, I quickly dismiss them saying we won't be the cheapest.
  16. Right on CAR!!! This is the way to do it! The POS industry should be enhancing their core platform rather than abdicating the creation of these features to others. I abhor overlay software systems. When you use a 3rd party software package, they have to store data in a separate database, while at the same time communicate with your POS system. Now you have twice the chances for something to go wrong as either can have a bug that breaks the system. If you terminate the service of an overlay program and keep your POS, the historical data in the other database is now gone. Please note: I'm not critiquing any of these overlay software products. They add value for some shops. I only have one software vendor to contact when I need help and this simplifies my life. Instead, I'm critizing the POS vendors and/or recommending selection of a modern POS system. The system that I use has customizable DVI, but no ability to store pictures. They integrate with a 3rd party overlay system(s), but, IMO, the fees are insane compared to the value provided. Our system makes it really easy to capture needed work and present it to the customer.
  17. Hi Mark, Texas was under the gun to cancel our inspection program and before doing so, they commissioned UT to perform a study. Their results are public. We had on state representative in particular, who was pushing to get rid of it, living in my district, and we voted him out. Still had more. There were a total of 5 bills in this legislative session that were killed by our lobbying group. I can provide a bit of data that might let you see how Texas handled it and provide contact information of our lobbying group. Hope this helps. Some background on our Safety inspections. We are not that tough. Brakes, tires, lugnuts if visible, wipers, lights, horns, power steering, 1 mirror and exhaust leaks. No inspection of front windshield unless it is really bad. No disassembly is allowed, which implies no racking of cars, which means that we won't generally spot and eliminate rust bucket cars. So, braking test, then visual inspections of all other systems while on the ground. Tires are 2/32" (we've only heard rumors of snow elsewhere). Brakes must stop the car and no obvious safety issue noted. Much discretion allowed to the inspector, so if something is bad, it can be called out and the car blocked from passing. It could be over-ridden by a regional State Inspector Supervisor if protested, but they tend to do the right thing. All of this is done for a whopping $7. If you live in a SMOG county, then $18.50 more to get an ODB readout and a gas cap leak check. Annual cost here $25.50. News link: Study Results: And you may already know our lobbying group: Texas Vehicle Inspection Association 6101 Long Prairie Rd Ste. 744-240 Flower Mound, 75028 --brian
  18. Integrated ordering within your POS is the way to go. Check availability and pricing online. Get online ordering rebates. When we order online, my PO is automatically filled out for me, so that when I receive the parts, there's no additional typing to do. If I have to pick up the phone to order, we have to manually type the description, part numbers, pricing, core, etc in. Very error prone. Frankly, I order less from WorldPac because of it's poor integration with my POS. It takes longer to use WorldPac, so it is shunned. Now, it is technically integrated, but it pops up their SpeedDial interface. I make my selections and they are sent back to the POS, and ordered online from the POS, but this is clunky. Moral of the story: Best Integration, with the parts that I NEED, gets the most business. However, NEED trumps speed. I rarely price-shop even though I can as I take a more relationship-based approach with my suppliers.
  19. When I said: I intended to say.... I've not tried "doing nothing", so I have no way to compare "nothing" with what I'm doing. I believe that doing nothing would be bad and therefore don't have plans to test it.
  20. As a consumer, this is a non-starter for me. As a business owner, I would not be charging my customers 3.5%, but would absorb this cost as we do today. Now, my credit card costs have just risen. I don't see this as a positive.
  21. I have 4 main campaigns going and some other things. One hits 45K homes every 3 weeks, one hits about 10K homes every 5 weeks (overlaps), one is direct mail to people that have never visited my shop and then other reminder marketing. What I did was to align myself with a small business marketing company that specializes in automotive. I get lower pricing thru him than I would going direct to the mailing companies because of his total volume. Actually, the direct mail and the reminder marketing are done thru two other companies that specialize in those types of marketing. I track all of these very carefully to monitor success rate. In spite of that, frankly, I couldn't tell you for sure that it works versus doing nothing, but I do believe it helps get the word out that we exist, which IMO is my biggest barrier being relatively new. I'm still doing it and have no plans to stop. I'd be happy to share contacts if useful. This is costing me about $2500 monthly. They say that you need to be seen 7 times with advertising to be "known". I had significant heart-burn deciding to do this and didn't want to do what I'm doing. I'm mailing much wider than I want to because of how the postal / advertiser routes are structured. If I want to mail across the street, I have to accept that whole area. Kind of frustrating, but I'm hitting my target areas.
  22. Well, I'm not having a problem today. I see a post box there now and I expect that it would work. I didn't see one previously, but I can't promise that I wasn't blind on that day. Indeed this was a response to that article and belongs there.
  23. Hey, thank you for the guidance. We did try to remove it with fingernails, but this blemish was under the clear coat it seemed. Body shop told him it needed to be repainted. I told him that it wasn't our doing and was subsurface. He left (back in April), was a reasonable guy all things considered, and I've not seen him back nor heard from him. Hopefully this is over at this point. Just yesterday, we received a threat to call the police for damage to a car while in my care. We reviewed the security camera footage and I had video of her driving away with no damage. She did have real damage - a glancing blow to the rear bumper... just not by us. Explained this to her, gently and calmly and I think this one is done too, but video is archived just in case. And a few weeks ago, one of my guys "stole" some paper plates out of a car. These plates were on a different car later that day on the tollway and photographed. After some digging, he called me back and said that the last digit was garbled and he was charged by accident... we didn't take the plates. Again, he was really just giving me a heads up of possible shenanigans, but it's nerve wracking. On the flip side, if we had been responsible, I would want to know about it. Sadly, I can keep going.
  24. Some of the large business campuses here have concierge services for: 1) Car Washes, 2) Gasoline Fillups. I think they might even offer oil changes. With as many broke people that I meet daily, I'm surprised that these services are a hit. But it probably explains some of the broke problems. Some of my less well-off employees don't think twice about ordering takeout from DoorDash or the like. So, there is a market for convenience. I also meet DIY-ers that would DIY, but their apartment won't let them do it onsite. Now, how do you reach your customer base? Who knows that you exist? I would expect that you will meet even broker people on Craigslist that I usually meet. If you can sign on with a business that will do concierge, that would be good as they advertise internally to their tenants. I would guess that the drive time between jobs and the back and forth to the parts store will kill any efficiency that you might have. And what if the part won't be here until tomorrow? Florida isn't much cooler than Texas and I would not want to be working out in the elements. This sounds like a tough way to start. But, there are folks doing (trying) it. Good luck.

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