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TheTrustedMechanic last won the day on May 28

TheTrustedMechanic had the most liked content!

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About TheTrustedMechanic

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    Experienced Poster

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  • Business Name
    MOORE Automotive
  • Business Address
    123 Fourth St, Anytown, Alabama, 12345
  • Type of Business
    Auto Repair
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    Shop Owner
  • Automotive Franchise
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    Napa Car Care
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  • Certifications
    Master ASE
    Master State of Michigan
    ASE Certified Service Adviser
    Certified Undercar Specialist

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  1. @dfrisby I agree 100%. In your situation, with this customer, I probably would have done exactly the same.
  2. @dfrisby You can always find a reason to install customer supplied parts and examples of how it works out. But in the end, it is nothing but a problem. What if this customer, after you installed the hood release cable and then quoted the other work, he asked to buy those parts and have you install them too? Where does it end? When I first opened I thought I would win customers by agreeing to install their parts the first time. I can't remember the only customer who converted from parts supplied to parts buyer. With that said, I will install certain parts for certain customers, such as the one who wanted a back-up camera and monitor that was a gift from a family member or the fellow with the 1960 Thunderbird that needs a wiper switch that he has already purchased. But the person who calls up and asks, "How much to install tie rod ends? I already bought the parts." is a BIG no!
  3. I used to stock Interstate batteries. NAPA tried soliciting my business with a free battery rack with a 10 circuit maintainer if I changed. Because I had been very happy with Interstate batteries I declined. But not a month later warranties started coming back. Within 2 months I had replaced no less than 10 Interstate batteries that were less than 3 years old, most were around 2 years old. My final straw with Interstate was when the route driver told me that only one of the batteries was actually faulty, that two just weren't charged fully. I knew that was B.S. First their branded battery tester was nothing more than a Midtronics MDX-300 with a built in printer, my tester was the MDX-350P with printer, so it was the exact same test protocol. Second one of the batteries he told me was good but not fully charged had been charged with my Snap-On computerized battery charger that has a programming mode. I fully charged the battery overnight and left it disconnected from the van for about 6 hours before testing. The battery tested bad. When a battery tests bad, I always disconnect it and test it again right on the terminals or with lead test posts. When Interstate wouldn't admit their failed batteries I decided to rid myself of the problem. Thankfully my local NAPA jobber pulled some favors and got me the free rack with maintainer and put in NAPA Legend batteries. I have had them in stock for more than 3 years, always sold NAPA batteries when I didn't have Interstate batteries in stock and I have had no more than 12 NAPA battery warranties in 14 years of business. My only complaint is that the pro-rata warranty is ridiculous. Many times by the 5th year (60 months into a 75 month warranty), the pro-rata cost for replacement is more than the wholesale cost from my local supplier. That is my ONLY complaint but like I said, I have less than a 1% warranty rate. Not so with Interstate. I have had some NAPA Legend Batteries still test with 80% of the CCA rating after 8 years.
  4. @[email protected] - Make sure your battery tester has a printer. It seems so stupid but I have found that customers are far more likely to believe a piece of paper than they will their trusted auto repair professional. I have a like my Midtronics MDX-350P (printer). I bought a Snap-On (Midtronics) tester with a better, more graphic printout but I can't remember the model number.
  5. I use AllData Manage Elite local installation (NO cloud based anything) and it will integrate with two of the three major local parts sources I use (NEVER AutoZone) but recently it stopped allowing me to do electronic ordering. I can look up parts, add to the invoice and check stock but it returns an error when I try to order. However my main parts catalog is NAPA ProLink. It is the hands down BEST online catalog and has been the benchmark for years. I do have to manually transfer prices, part numbers and description but splitting the screen to have both Manage and ProLink side by side makes it just a minor inconvenience. Because there is nearly zero support or updates for disc based Manage Elite I am seriously looking into a different shop management program. Only this time it will interface with ProLink.
  6. So am I correct, this is cloud based software? Why? The problem with cloud based systems is that the owner of the server owns the data, NOT the customer/user who created the data. And as the owner of the server and the data that entity can do with the data as it wishes regardless of any "privacy" policy/statement to the contrary.
  7. I joined the NAPA AutoCare Center program as soon after opening my shop as I could. There is an annual membership cost but the quarterly volume rebates usually more than pays it back. Add to that the Nationwide Peace of Mind warranty that is recognized as the gold standard and you have real value for your customers. The local shop reimbursement program pays 75% of the labor guide at your current shop labor rate up to $250.00. It's not great, but it's better than nothing. Meanwhile I refuse to utilize anything from Advance Auto Parts because of their "Warranty" reimbursement, which was a joke at best. Meanwhile, my experience with the labor warranty reimbursement from my local independent parts suppliers is like yours. Wait for months, then get denied because it's "never" the part's fault. Or like the last name brand fuel pump installed in a P30 van there was only one labor guide time and then it was for a van with an access panel in the floor. The labor time to remove the tank was more than to replace the fuel tank. And guess what the parts manufacturer wanted to pay? With NAPA it's no problem. Well, almost. I have had only one, a clutch and the labor time was something like 4.5 hours. My first call was answered by someone who was either new or didn't want to be bothered. He flat out denied the claim because the labor amount was above their limit. I called back and asked for a supervisor. He wanted to find a solution. He told me that they had the $250 limit, that 75% of the labor rate I was requesting was something like $272. If I was willing to accept the $250 he'd approve it without a problem but that was all he could do. Well $250 was a lot better than $0 so I agreed and thanked him for trying to find a solution instead of simply saying "no" like the first guy. Add to that, Sonsio, the company that administers the NAPA Peace of Mind Warranty also administers the CarQuest warranty as well as Federated and other warranties. Since none of those brands have a presence in my area, when they have a nationwide warranty claim, Sonsio calls my shop to ask if I will help, which I always say yes to. But like Joe said, make sure your profit margins are sufficient to absorb the costs of the inevitable warranty claims. No matter what supplier, no matter how skilled your technicians are, mistakes happen, defects slip through, that is why there is warranty.
  8. As a consumer, the more ways a proprietor puts in place to escape their warranty the less that business builds value or credibility. If I was at the front counter of a shop that said "We warrant our work and parts for 12 months only unless you actually drive your car," I would not go back and I don't believe that shop would retain a good reputation. If my shop suffered an excessive number of warranty repairs I would no longer be LYING to my customers by telling them I was using quality parts. I would not put the liability or responsibility on them for the poor quality of parts that my shop was choosing. Now I do offer economy parts and I do make the customer aware that they are not of the quality I prefer but as a cost concern option they are available . I cut my 24 month/24,000 mile warranty for economy grade parts down to 12/12 at most and that is disclosed at the time of offer, not at pick up. I also don't go to lengths to blame others and pretend it is the customer's fault because they don't want the cost of the original equipment part, which in my area are only covered from the dealer with a 12 month or 12,000 mile warranty. And they are very strict about not only the time/mileage limitation but also actually warranting the part, because, well you know original equipment parts don't have defects. Bottom line, my warranty is 24 month, 24,000 miles to the original owner family, subject to the part manufacturer's warranty stipulations. As a NAPA AutoCare Center those conditions are pretty simple, the warranty does not cover accidental or external damage, modifications, installation in applications not listed in the application catalog or incidental or consequential damage, pretty typical warranty conditions. As for commercial applications, most parts do not have an exclusion or reduction. In short, the warranty conditions and application seek to be as customer friendly and accommodating as possible.
  9. My thoughts too. About the only thing that concerns me is the cost for the equipment to service the increasing complex technology. For an example, just look at the glass companies and how complex just replacing a windshield has become. We all know the expense of new equipment and how often the manufacturers like to change their scan tools. I think it will get to the point where small general service shops, such as in rural areas, small towns and tech turned shop owners will struggle to be properly equipped. Make no mistake about it, much of this specialized service technology versus generic standardized technology is intended to do only one thing, FORCE consumers back to the dealerships. In smartphone operating systems we have basically two, CRapple iOS and (You have NO privacy) Android, with PCs we basically have Windows and CRapple iOS and (You have NO privacy) Chrome. But with only a few choices most software has a version for both and it's relatively cheap to set up shop to develop software programs in each. But in our profession we have as many different "operating systems" as we have manufacturers, which is far more than three.
  10. I am the only employee and own my own embroidered uniforms. The only drawback I can think of with a small operation owning their own uniforms is the size/name issues if you don't have loyal long term employees. But if you have a washer and dryer on site, the time required is pretty minimal since once you load the washer it's pretty much on its own until it's done. If you don't pull the uniforms out and throw them in the dryer until the next morning, who cares? The biggest time suck I find is pretreating the stains. I am NOT recommending nor not recommending, but I have the Red Kap Downshifter shirts, both long and short sleeve. But now they call them "Motorsports" shirts. Mine are red and black. I find that the red portion of the sleeves will get stains and if not pretreated they will look dirty and grungy in a short period of time. But a high quality detergent, a stain fighter in the wash and a pretreatment stain fighter and they come out nice and bright. The seller's website gave care instructions to HANG DRY, do NOT tumble dry or any stain will be set and can't be rewashed with more attention to the stain. So that's a pain the butt. However, even as a small shop it's possible and economical to have your own uniforms and wash them yourself. I happen to do mine at home but again, I'm the only employee. I have heard of shops making their employees wash their own uniforms at home but giving them a stipend. The only problem I see with that is if they don't use a high quality detergent or pretreat them, you will be replacing them more frequently than necessary simply to keep your image clean and professional.
  11. If I understand you right, you are asking IF high school auto shop classes are still important because of the advances and innovations in the automotive industries. IF the classes are teaching students the skills and knowledge that the auto repair industry needs. Estoy usando un servicio de traducción, no hablo o Leo español muy bien. Si te entiendo correctamente, estás preguntando si las clases de taller de auto de la escuela secundaria siguen siendo importantes debido a los avances e innovaciones en las industrias automotrices. Si las clases están enseñando a los estudiantes las habilidades y conocimientos que la industria de reparación de automóviles necesita. I believe the value and quality of high school education classes for automotive techs is and will be directly connected to how involved we as an industry are with the curriculum and how well the classes are funded. In years past, at least into the 1980's auto shop classes were where the "dumb" kids were dumped. I mean how hard is it to pull bolts and change an alternator, right? Well today, it can be a major project and the electrical testing to verify it's the alternator and not the PCM is not simple, it only seems that way to experienced techs. But a professional grade scanner is required for proper diagnosis. And those scanners are not cheap. The auto shop class MUST have the resources (money) to invest in modern equipment and updates in order to properly train the students and render value and relevance to our industry. That requires tax money and we know how people "think" we are taxed enough already. (that is another discussion for another time) If we continue with OUR ignorance of thinking our taxes are too high and expecting the government to do all of these things for us with less and less revenue (relative to the actual increasing costs of everything) we will never see the value that the government COULD provide much less have auto shop classes that are properly equipped to teach and train our future employees. How valuable is a student leaving an auto shop class that only had a red brick scanner? Incapable of teaching bidirectional controls on a late model car? Any capable, competent full function scanner-only tool will cost around $3000 (or more) plus periodic updates, that is $3000 TAXPAYER dollars. If we as an industry get involved, have a voice, are paid attention to and PAY for the value we expect then high school auto shop classes can have great value. The students almost certainly will NOT come out fully capable to start work unsupervised, but at least we won't have to teach them to push a wrench with an open hand instead of wrapped around the tool to smash their fingers when it breaks loose or to start all bolts before tightening the first one. When we ask them to install a vacuum gauge or a cooling system pressure tester they will know how to do it. When we teach them, as we would even with a technical school (college) graduate the high school auto shop graduate will at least have an understanding and know what they are looking at when they learn something new. For instance, when we teach them voltage drop they will know and understand how the meter works and what we are testing, maybe not WHY we are testing this way. If we think that high school auto shop classes have no value or are "for the dumb kids" then we are selling ourselves short too. Just as we sell our customers, VALUE is not a cheap price, it is the benefit you get from the money you spend. To get true value out of our schools, not just auto shop class, we MUST spend money, we MUST invest resources including our time. If we put into it what we want to get out of it, we will see value in high school auto shop classes. But if we ignore the teacher, the curriculum, the students and the school, we will see and realize only failure. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mean give the school a blank check or quit your job and become a teacher or spend every day bugging the teacher, but be available to offer guidance, to give unsolicited suggestions and yes, to pay taxes to support the school that you and I and all Auto Shop Owners members benefit from the students that are educated there. What I mean is like in your business, you invest in tools and equipment that you think will grow your business, increase your revenue (and hopefully profits) and the same goes for the school, INVEST in the students so they can be of value to your business, even if it's only as an educated, income earning customer. If you don't see a value or benefit from the high school auto shop classes, if you haven't been involved, then you are part of the problem and could be part of the solution. If you don't see a value or benefit from the high school auto shop classes and you have been involved, then maybe it's time to ask for advice from fellow colleagues on how to try and change the curriculum, approach the board or change the board so they are responsive to the needs of the industry their classes are supposed to be benefiting. And of course coach the board how to spend the money they have for auto shop class tools and equipment more efficiently to gain the most value from it, just like you do in your own business. The underlying theme, if you haven't guessed, is industry involvement, as a resource for not only knowledge, guidance, finances and emerging trends/needs. I know I touched the third rail here so if anyone disagrees with me, please make your replies IN CONTEXT and well explained so we can understand your viewpoint and its foundation and maybe engage in more than a "witty one liner" discussion. Thank you.
  12. When I first opened I was willing to spend the time to research parts, labor and work required and call back with a price. I spent a lot of time for very little return. But there was some return. Then I read advice that a shop should never give a price over the phone but instead encourage the caller to bring the vehicle in for an inspection. So I stopped giving prices over the phone, even for the exact job I had just completed for a different customer. I booked exactly ZERO appointments/inspections. Then I decided to take a new approach, to research the required work, the parts and labor and then call the potential customer and talk with them. In the first call I would almost always ask them if they had had the vehicle inspected already. I know that I can trust the diagnosis of most of the shops in my area. We really don't have any incompetent or dishonest shops anymore. But by talking to and LISTENING then EDUCATING them about what the repair, the PROPER repair I have closed many jobs. What I do is answer Joe's complaint and example of the timing belt, explaining to them the difference between doing the job and doing the complete job and why it is in their best interest to do the complete job instead of the minimum job. And then like newport5 wrote about the customer multiplying their costs with inspection charge on top of inspection charge. I have very often heard from people that called for prices that I treated in this way that I was NOT the cheapest but because I took the time to explain to them the process and why they should do what they should do, I made them feel like I cared and at that point price didn't really matter. What mattered is I built trust with them by actually doing what they asked, see beyond the question they asked, "How much" and answering, "What needs to be done, why does it need to be done, what does it cost, why does it cost that and what are my options?" The customer who calls and asks for a price is RARELY just asking for a price. They just don't really know how to ask what they really want to know. By refusing to engage with them and giving them a price, we are dismissing them and disrespecting them. Why should they trust us then? And like in original post, the dentist would likely not give you a price over the phone, but they wouldn't just say, "Come in, pay us for an office visit and some x-rays and then we will tell you hos much it will cost you." What they will probably do is ask a few questions, talk to you and have a better idea what they need to plan for when they offer to set an appointment for you. You educate them, they educate you and then you both can work together to meet your, the customer's needs.
  13. There is no excuse for any repair shop in Michigan to operate without licensed mechanics. Sure some of the certification areas require retesting but the mechanic certification is only $20 per year. There is no reason that a mechanic can't maintain their certification if they are competent and worth being employed. The shops were willfully not in compliance. I am glad they were shut down.
  14. It has been a couple decades since I have had any experience with Cintas. I have had my business for 14 years and the previous three employers that had used Cintas all dropped them for the same reason, service failures, poor quality and even worse customer service. They solicited my business to use them and when they told me it was a minimum 5 year contract I told them that was all I needed to hear and we were finished talking. They of course wouldn't take "No," for an answer and tried to "give" me stuff but it really wasn't truly free. I currently own and launder my own uniforms but should I decide to go back to a laundry service I can guarantee you, based on my previous experience, I would NEVER consider Cintas, especially not under a long term contract.
  15. Hello Matthew, You do know that in order for any business to survive that they MUST attract new customers, right? No matter what business you are in you will lose customers to attrition, whether it's by death, or moving or they become mad at you for some reason. So the appearance that we should avoid marketing to new customers is ludicrous. We MUST attract new customers whether it is when we are first starting and growing or to maintain our customer base to remain in business.

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