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TheTrustedMechanic

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TheTrustedMechanic last won the day on February 19

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About TheTrustedMechanic

  • Rank
    Experienced Poster

Business Information

  • Business Name
    MOORE Automotive
  • Business Address
    123 Fourth St, Anytown, Alabama, 12345
  • Type of Business
    Auto Repair
  • Your Current Position
    Shop Owner
  • Automotive Franchise
    None
  • Website
  • Banner Program
    Napa Car Care
  • Participate in Training
    Yes
  • Certifications
    Master ASE
    Master State of Michigan
    ASE Certified Service Adviser
    Certified Undercar Specialist

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  1. Or, the merchant could just be upfront and tell the customer that using a credit card will incur a 3% surcharge. Then the merchant would actually be saving the customer money and putting $1462.50 into their pocket for every $50,000 in credit card charges. Something for the merchants to keep in mind is the reason why you charge them 1% + 25¢ for debit cards is because you are limited by law as to how much you can charge debit card transactions. So the merchant will make up what you can't charge the customer.
  2. I don't really know what heading to put this under, but I see this as a marketing advantage. I am the first shop in my area to have a no-charge loaner car program, but now I am one of two. So it's really a marketing advantage, so here I am, posting under Advertising and Promotions. I am in the process of replacing my loaner car. I would like real world advice from my fellow techs and shop owners. We all have our preferences and we all see certain vehicles in our shops more than others. Shop A might see very few imports while Shop B might see a mix. So Shop B could have more insight into what imports have problems and what those problems might be than Shop A. Okay, now the conditions I have for my loaner, I have wanted a minivan since I put my first loaner into service. I have had a very few customers decline the use of the loaner because they needed more than 5 passenger seating. I have had customers decline the loaner car because their driveway was uphill and we are in Northern Lower Michigan where snow is a consideration, so I have wanted AWD too. My first loaner was a Mercury Sable, replaced by an immaculately maintained Honda CRV so I at least got the AWD I wanted, even though it was not a important while I have had it as it was when I had the Sable. I know that anything I have will be a compromise for my customers at times. Even if I had a car, a truck, a minivan and a full-sized van, all with AWD, chances are the specific one the customer would want would be out, so compromise it will be. That and I am too small to float the expense of too many loaner cars. So what I am asking is, within the following parameters, what would each of you recommend for a reliable, low cost of ownership vehicle? What would you put into your fleet if you were working within my parameters? I want to spend about $10,000 No new vehicle leases NO, and I mean NO European brand/influenced models AWD would be preferable but not required Easy to understand operation of such things as lights, windows, ignition, etc. My current CR-V has window switches on the dashboard instead of the door, the ignition has that funny turn-off, stop, push in and turn to lock and the rear hatch has to have the glass released then the door opens like a door. All of this confuses some customers. My average loaner car usage is between 6,000-8500 miles a year so a higher mileage specimen would not be out of the question. Thank you for all for your time and suggestions.
  3. I like a lot of what you wrote. From the way you structured your scenario that I replied to, it sounded like you did all that work and then handed them the bill. I couldn't figure out at what points you contacted the customer for additional approval. For my misunderstanding I apologize, but I NEVER intended any disrespect. I agree that documentation and explanation are key. My best customer is the educated customer. Not college or higher learning, but the one who is aware of what I have done, what needs to be done and why it needs to be done to achieve their objective of a safe and reliable car. I feel it is my job to educate them on these topics so they can make an educated decision that hopefully is the best decision for them and their family. So documentation is key. You really caught my eye with your line, "When you treat someone like a friend and respect their hard earned money..." because that is exactly how I treat my customers. I work hard for my money and demand value for what I spend. I expect to provide the same to my customers. And above all, I fully realize that I am spending my customer's money when I recommend a repair. I understand Genuine's position and I fought the same fight, people claimed they didn't have any money. And during the recession or the beginning months of the year, that is true, many people are barely getting by. But building a relationship, if you can, is the key. Out of 100 customers through the door, you might only retain 20 and only 10 become long-term customers. But building relationships and adamantly demanding honesty, knowing when to turn down a job because it's not "right" is the best way to conduct business I believe. We all hear, "But I'm going to be selling the car soon," as a ploy to get us to 'band-aid' a repair. What happens when we do? A year later the customer comes back with, "But you just FIXED it." But did you really fix it or did you just band-aid it so they could sell the car like they swore they were going to do? Or you put the cheapest part on because anything was better than the bad on that was on the car. One year warranty you tell them but that won't matter because they are going to sell the car. Two years later they come back, "But you just put that on, now it's bad again. I shouldn't have to pay for it again because YOU put a cheap part on." It took me about 3 years to finally figure out how to call the "But I'm selling it" customer a liar without being offensive and to REFUSE to do anything but, "The right job, the right way, at a fair and honest price." Now when I hear that line, unless there is literally a For Sale sign in the window, I do NOT believe it and I NEVER compromise my quality and integrity in order to meet their expected low price point. I have built a reputation and most of my customers simply say, "Fix it, I trust you." But that is of course after I explain, what went wrong, why it needs THIS specific repair and how much it will cost. But the bottom line is, I hope you did not feel that I was disrespecting you, or if you did that you understand now that I was not. I just didn't know where in your scenario you made your calls for additional time and repairs.
  4. @CAR_AutoReports With all due respect can I ask how you can run the clock and then hand them the bill? I am not saying you are doing anything wrong or shouldn't do as you do, I like how you do it. But do you just have the customer sign a blank check or do you have them approve a couple hours and then have them approve more time as needed? Here in Michigan we have to have a signed work order authorizing a certain amount and if we exceed that amount we must have verified approval of an additional amount. Unlike a plumber or carpenter or doctor we can't just do the work, hand the bill and expect to get paid regardless of what the amount is. If we want to charge for 6 hours we must either write the estimate/work order at the outset or get approval along the way. I'm just wondering how you handle the approval process if there is one.
  5. I have always wanted to ask this customer, "And did they fix the problem? If so why are you here?" Because you know that the shop either did NOT waive the fee or they didn't fix the problem or they don't want to deal with this customer any longer. I have also wanted to ask the customer who asks me if I do "Free Inspections" if they are willing to work at their job and not get paid for it. If you think about it, the customer is really our boss, on an average day we will have 2 or 3 or 5 "bosses". What they are telling us here is that they want us to do work for them for free. But let their boss ask them to come in and work for an hour or two and not get paid for it and what do you think their answer will be?
  6. Not being a smart-A, but can you give an example of how you think we add value to the brake job so we can charge more? If the dealer is offering OE pads and rotors, it's not in the quality of the part, because the customer still sees OE as higher quality, just more expensive. We can't offer it necessarily on warranty, because the dealer offers a warranty too. So just what do you think that we add to the equation that the dealer does not? I know my customers prefer my shop over the dealers or national chains because of the personal relationship. They are dealing with the owner and my sense of morals and ethics not a soulless business operating under "business ethics." "Because we add value" is a nice buzzword phrase, but as Genuine wrote, most customers simply do not care, they look at the bottom line. Yes we need to build a sense of value in their minds, but just how do you propose to do it? Not theoretical, abstract, generic allusions, but specific examples please.
  7. @GENUINE - I work with JustTheBest and I can tell you that he knows what he is talking about, but I also know that you are 100% correct. Good customers are not everywhere, some places do have too much low-ball competition and there simply are not enough good customers to go around in some areas. You presented your REAL WORLD facts and JustTheBest presented fancy buzzwords but you are both right. For example, on the point of Henry Ford, his words were correct, but he operated a business on a far grander scale than most of us will ever achieve. And that gave him great opportunities that we will never have. I know two things from experience, 1) You will get a lot of "hate" and negative feedback telling you that you are wrong, that you can change your situation and your customers if you want to, if you try hard enough, if you put in enough effort, if you try this latest fad advertising. 2) I have been exactly where you are and deal with exactly what you express that you deal with. I have overcome some of it, but some of it I simply do not have the means, methods, opportunities or privileges to use to overcome. So in some ways, I can, in other ways, like you, through situation and circumstance, I simply can't. Not because I think I can't but because I do not have the means, opportunities or privileges to do so. For example. let's say even though you own your property, let's say you are renting, as I am, even if you wanted to move and you have the money to move and the bank approval for a purchase price that is at a level that is competitive, ALL of that is you thinking that you CAN, However, if there is no property available to buy that will allow your repair shop business (in my community it is not only "industrial" zoning but it also has to be approved for auto repair) then you CAN'T. You CAN'T not because you think you can't but because you do not have the privilege or opportunity. Sure, you "can" move your shop 100 miles away where there are buildings for sale, but that is not a wise opportunity or truly feasible unless you truly want to start over from scratch. However that was of little concern to Henry Ford, he didn't have to move his family or his business, he just moved a manufacturing facility or a dealership or an office complex, he moved a fraction of the operation, not the entire operation. That is where you are 100% correct, "The pie in the sky Apple, Starbucks, etc philosophy just doesn't always work, not at the small level of most independent repair shops. At least not here." And no matter how accurate JustTheBest and Henry are, it does not apply and does not change anything in your situation. I have worked with JTB for several years and he and I have disagreed on things and I had doubted other things would work but tried them anyway. The things I tried usually worked and had positive ROIs, some much to my surprise. Some didn't work very well (only X/10% ROI positive) while others worked extremely well and were 10, 20, 30x ROI positive. I have flat out refused to try some things because they cut against my personal beliefs. While I would not say they were dishonest, they were not consistent with who I am. Other things I have declined to try simply because they are not conducive to my business, like pushing LOFs HARD. I lose money on every one compared to selling that rack time for a full rate parts & labor job since I am a one man shop. If I was a big enough operation to have a dedicated LOF rack and tech, it would be a different deal, but I am not. So I "can" push LOF's hard and fill my day with oil changes, but I CAN'T make any money at them. That is not me thinking I can't that is just cold hard reality, Just like it is with you in your situation. So I suggest you "man up," put your flame suit on and be prepared to get torched with all these "The pie in the sky Apple, Starbucks, etc" philosophers. Not all are that way, but enough are and they are happy to tell you, "You can, but only if you are willing to work hard enough," not recognizing that you are working hard enough, you just don't have the right resources to draw from or build with. Others will tell you, "I was in your shoes, this is what I did and it will work for you, but only if you do it EXACTLY AS I DID." You and I both know that just because it worked in their shop doesn't mean it will work with yours. But there is still a great deal of knowledge here and JustTheBest has a lot of great ideas and systems to try, some you will stick with, others you might try and decide you either don't have the time to work or the interest in spending the money for help to do. But don't give up. You can't get blood from a turnip, but that doesn't mean you can't make it into a decent meal.
  8. @dfrisby I agree 100%. In your situation, with this customer, I probably would have done exactly the same.
  9. @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!
  10. 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.
  11. @[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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.


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