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GENUINE last won the day on June 16

GENUINE had the most liked content!

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  • Business Name
    Genuine Automotive, Inc.
  • Business Address
    4350 MISSOURI AVE, ALORTON, Illinois, 62207
  • Type of Business
    Auto Repair
  • Your Current Position
    Shop Owner
  • Automotive Franchise
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    Napa Car Care
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  • Certifications
    ASE, AAA Approved Repair Shop, NAPA Auto Care Center

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  1. AutoZone doesn't!!! LOL (That's the tiresome refrain around here) I've said it before, AZ has done more damage to the automotive repair industry than anything else in the last 30 years. Hatred for this company pales when describing my feelings for them.....
  2. Hello @JustTheBest, Thanks for your response as well. You and I have spoken in the past and I do appreciate your insight and experience. Let me pick your brain just a little more, and maybe throw my details out there for public input! Hopefully someone can see this from the outside and offer me an insight that I'm missing. "Can't see the forest for the trees" scenario. I built this shop in 1998 (was operating out of another facility "in town" since 1989 before this). This was literally a brand new, "state of the art" shop (now built on the outskirts of town), on a main thoroughfare (17,000 car count per day) connecting the major metro of downtown St.Louis (5 miles west-I can see the Arch from my lot) and several thriving, prosperous communities 5+ miles to the east. We are 1/2 mile off of an interstate running north and south as well. BUT, the dilemma is what lies within that 5 mile radius. The local community that we are within, is literally one of the poorest communities in the state. Median annual income well under 20k. We knew this when building but had a plan. We had served - for a decade prior - essentially the same community at our other shop IN the heart of the city. While sustainable, we felt that we had maxed out our potential for any growth and were bound by our location. We were not going to be able to draw customers from surrounding, more affluent areas, INTO this poor, dangerous city for auto service other than our personal friends. The surrounding communities had plenty of shops. Our strategy was, building on this main thoroughfare (less than two miles from the other shop) we were close enough to retain our current customer base AND grow exponentially from being located where 17,000 + cars would pass us each day. Very convenient, optimally visible, easy and ideal for commuters passing by to and from work. On paper it looked great. Since then we learned several things. Here's the consolidated situation 1) Less than two miles is sometimes enough to prompt many customers within our current customer base to NOT follow you. 2) Our local customer base was still working on the same, very low income and my competition locally is still the junk yard and the jack-leg working in his driveway. 3) This brand new, beautiful, clean building "Looked expensive" and kept many locals from coming in. New and existing customers both. I was told this many times. (and, yes we did have to adjust pricing some to afford this new facility). 4) The more affluent commuters that we were banking on, would NOT - despite the brand new, beautiful, clean facility - venture off of the main road to take a chance on this new shop in the "ghetto". We could not - and still cannot overcome that stigma. Over the next 20+ years the immediate community has dwindled - significant population losses - and exit, leaving many vacant homes and failed businesses. Within eyesight now are 3 "pay by the hour" motels, an ugly gas station, many vacant homes and lots, a closed school, and 2 salvage yards. For years we did what we could to fight both battles where it seemed most practical, but neither has been successful enough. Every day is still a struggle and no solution seems to work as intended. Several great fleet accounts have kept us going, but the battle is wearing us down. Just not worth the effort anymore, it seems. So, how does one market THIS situation? I am completely open to any and all suggestions and/or thoughts on this situation. 18 years or so ago, I spent almost $10k for a management course in California called Management Success ($8k + two trips to their place in CA) who said "every community can be marketed to - you just have to know what buttons to press". It sounded great, and that's the impression I get from many on here, but I still haven't found those buttons. As I said I am that one place in the Twilight Zone where nothing applies. My wife's solution: It's time to try and sell the place and MOVE. Let's try it someplace different or get out all together. I'm ready to accept her advice, but I'd like to hear some input from others who may have overcome similar odds. Thanks, all.
  3. Anyone have any first hand experience with this company? Rocket Level Marketing. Pushing hard on IG, looks legit but most do. Thanks in advance.
  4. Wow, so well said on every level ThetrustedMechanic. Thanks for such a well written reply! It doesn't help pay the bills but knowing I'm not completely crazy or alone in my circumstance does ease that "turnip stew" a little. And I have spoken with JTB - and have his book. Nice guy, well intentioned, and many of his methods may work in many places...I just can't explain it, nor does anyone believe it unless they've walked a mile in my shoes....I operate in that corner of the twilight zone where things just do not react like the rest of the world. I'd pay dearly if someone could come in and change it and prove me wrong! I'd like to retire on an up note! Best success to you as well.
  5. Hi all! Lots of interesting scenarios unfolding here, and most all are very valid. BUT, all work great in a perfect world. As someone above stated, "until techs all get on board like plumbers, electricians etc"...THAT is the key! In a community where ALL the shops abide by this policy - charging fairly for their diag time - it works great. But unfortunately, especially in low income areas, it just doesn't work that way. AUTOZONE becomes the diagnostic place and any guy on the street will attempt to replace any part they say is needed. When all that fails (and we all know it will) THEN they end up on my door, broke, angry, and expecting me to gladly pick up the pieces! Now, in addition to the original problem, I have to address all of the other stuff that someone has done. It's the nature of the beast trying to operate a legit business in poorer neighborhoods. So sometimes it's easier to play their game, agree to "include it in the cost of repair" and not have to deal with the jack legs getting in there first. Truly it is a lose lose. A reminder to the wise when thinking about getting in this business.....LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION has never been truer!
  6. I'm surprised this topic went dead. 8 years later and I still struggle every single day with "but you take the diagnostic charge off of the repair if I fix it, right?" or the one that burns me up is "________ (insert competitor down the road) only charges $50 to diagnose it but not if he fixes it". Where do we go with that? Again the AutoZone mindset of everything is free and easy. How do we combat this mindset that has been created by these huge corporations catering to the DIY's? And we feel that we must jump on board because we can't advertise like them to change the mindset. Now - 8 years later - multiply that with the parts pricing ability on every customers phone, and Youtube where even the most difficult repair is done in 30 minutes or less with tools you have around the house.....where is this industry headed? I know some of you are blessed, but in the vast majority of the blue collar and lower income areas, it is truly almost impossible to make an honest living in this business. It wasn't the same 30 years ago when I decided college wasn't necessary.
  7. That, in my opinion is "very well"! I can't imagine how you pay a tech 80K/year with a labor rate as you stated of $74ish. How is there any left for you or expenses? Next question; Are you hiring? lol.
  8. I know I'm late to the conversation, but I'm surprised that it's still going on. This seems to be an issue that never ends. Price vs. Quality. While in theory it sounds good, there are parts of the country where the theory of "provide a superior service and the good customers will find you" just isn't true. I am in that part of the country. WHY am I...? Well that's a different story for a different thread, but bottom line is poor decisions, trusting the wrong people (read: family) and owning property (vs renting or leasing) - when poorly located - is not always better. I would have closed the doors years ago if I could have simply walked away with my tools and skills, but can't when you own the property. But my point is, the high and mighty who say "I am the best and brightest and I can demand my price because ____ fill in the blank, and if a customer can't see that well then I don't need them" are a very exclusive bunch. MOST shops simply cannot say that - we DO need them, unfortunately, and sometimes even they are hard to find and get. Wow, I dream of being able to say that, but the truth is some/many people just CAN"T afford your "best and brightest superior skills". That location and community of customers is a dream for many of us, so we really cant relate. It's the same reason there are Thousands of Wal-Marts for each Nordstroms. As quoted on here somewhere, Mr Walton saying people will travel to save money. Heck how many of us will pick the gas station a mile down the road to save .02/gallon! The ad for the $99 brake service is so common around here in Metro St. Louis area - EVERY chain had a similar promo. Midas, Meineke, Car X, Firestone, Dobbs....They ALL cater to the price shopper and then switch it up. Customers have been trained to consider this normal. Just like Auto Zone has convinced the customer that everything can be diagnosed - FOR FREE - by simply plugging in on the parking lot and POOF- diagnosed. People have been trained, and they walk in EXPECTING that we are going to conduct business the same way. "Brakes are how much?!" and "You charge to diagnose it?!" One independent shop - in most cases - cannot change an entire culture. MOST customers really look at one thing - weather buying toilet paper, a new roof for their house or brake service, and that's PRICE. All of these things are commodities to them, not luxuries. Despite our inherent need to justify our blood, sweat, tears, training, tools, sacrifices, etc...MOST customers just don't care. They want the best price. And for most of us, as also noted on here, even getting a fair markup on parts is becoming nearly impossible as customers literally google parts prices WHILE your going over the details of the repair with them. It's amazing. And, many customers WILL drive away over the cost of a repair if they think you're too high. And that will be what they tell their friends and their neighbor - as he's installing the water pump for them in their driveway that they went and purchased at Auto Zone for less than half of what I would have needed to sell it to them for. They simply don't understand overhead, expenses, training, insurance, work comp, taxes. They just don't. And, likely they'll be in the next week, with bolts cross threaded, pump leaking, still broke, wanting me to "fix" his "repair" because they don't want to go back to him, and I have to tactfully refuse in most cases. It's a lose/lose - first I was too high, now I'm an arrogant jerk for not helping them. If you're in a niche market that can support superior, excellent service and you can send the price shoppers away - be thankful!! Some must play the game that has been so heavily marketed to our customer base - like it or not, some of us must find a creative way to deal with it and eek out a profit. It isn't easy, And many fail, but it is a necessary evil for many of us, or just like the brick and mortar stores of all kinds that have gone away, we will be next.Granted, as stated I am in the absolute worst possible location in America to operate a legitimate business - 31 long, hard, lean years now has proven that,so I am jaded, and I've finally convinced myself it might be time to let go and come to work for one of you guys who planned and located better, but surely I can't be alone in my position. The pie in the sky Apple, Starbucks, etc philosophy just doesn't always work. At least not here. So we keep on keeping on trying to do the right thing while playing the game that's been forced on us until we can find someone to buy our property.


  10. I am in the same situation just in a different part of the country. But that is the best way to describe the situation...."no on here truly understands the cost of staying in business". When your biggest competition is the local junk yard "fixing" cars or the "shop" that will only install parts if the customer brings them with him, or the out of work neighbor who is a "mechanic", it's a tough nut to crack. My stupidity for picking this location but the challenge has proven to be overwhelming and so hard. Needless to say, I am currently looking for other locations to move and intent on selling this building. Glad to see I'm not alone in the customer base I have gifted myself with.
  11. It seems I'm finding myself sourcing parts more and more from the dealer for a variety of reasons. I always find it difficult to work these into my standard automated price matrix markup. Margins are typically list less 20% for us for from most dealers - some 25%, but when I plug that into my matrix it usually bumps the sell price well above the dealers "list" price. How do you guys calculate parts from the dealer? Can you comfortable charge above dealer list or how do you make dealer sourced parts as profitable as a normally sourced parts repair? I don't want to hear "you're charging more than the dealer" for that part. Thanks
  12. Always curious how others do things. Do most of you have a set price or menu price for a "standard" evac and recharge for a car that comes in and the system is just not cooling sufficiently but the compressor is on? This has always been my starting point as it allows me to confirm the proper amount of freon is installed, fans working, condenser's clean, etc. I also add dye at this point, especially if it was low, giving me the ability to locate leak if necessary at a later date. I can then assess pressures and advise of condition overall and if additional service or repairs are needed. I charge $139.95 for this service (up to 2 lbs. - extra for high capacity front and rear systems). Wondering how some of you approach it. Oh, I know NAPA has 30lb's on sale for $99.99 but I just purchased 3 tanks from a local independent wholesaler at last years price of $79.00 but was told that prices are going up when they get their next order. Glad I saw this post as I wasn't aware that 134 price was on a significant rise. Thanks guys.
  13. I have in the past. Radiators and condensers seemed ok, never had issues but they were somewhat "generic" in their fit, Fuel pumps...that's a different story, multiple failures, tows, and frustrated customers put a stop to that quickly. No more fuel pumps.
  14. @thetrustedmechanic Thanks for that. Interestingly, I too am the owner, tech and service writer (although my wife does work the front about 30 hrs a week) so I do, as you said, know who I do and do not want to work for in most cases. We also have a grading system for customers that we note discreetly with their information to help "remind" us how good or bad of a customer they are, even when they call in. An "A" customer gets priority over whatever and an "F" customer gets moved to the end of the line - even if there is no line! This does help me make the most of my time and focus on profitable work that I know I'll get as opposed to telling some guy what's wrong so that his neighbor can fix if "for a lot less". My "B" or "C" customer is likely the one that I would send an offer like that to. I have tried the lost customer letter in the past, but like some on here have mentioned, I too probably fall short on the hard sell when they do come in. As far as location, I have great visibility on a busy highway, beautiful, clean shop and lot, but it is on the outskirts of a very "sketchy" part of a very poor community. My challenge since day one has been, my local customer is for the most part that "D" or "F" customer that I referred to...and the "A" customers that I NEED pass by me commuting every day and can't overcome the stigma of my area, turn off of the highway and patronize ME when there are shops closer to their home where they aren't afraid to try. It's been a real challenge. Some good ideas here as always though that keep me thinking....Thanks all.

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