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CAR_AutoReports

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CAR_AutoReports last won the day on September 4

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About CAR_AutoReports

  • Rank
    Experienced Poster

Business Information

  • Business Name
    Complete Auto Reports, LLC
  • Business Address
    701 North Stiles Street, Linden, New Jersey, 07036
  • Type of Business
    Auto Repair
  • Your Current Position
    Shop Owner
  • Automotive Franchise
    None
  • Website
  • Logo
  • Banner Program
    None
  • Participate in Training
    Yes
  • Your Mission Statement
    To provide the auto repair facilities with a simple and mobile way to work.

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  1. I've been using Interstate for 3 years, no warranty issues although we do see more warranties than one would expect for the prices they charge for their batteries. Had Delco batteries for a long time, but due to poor business decisions on the Delco part we stopped carrying their line altogether. With all of these crazy specs on batteries these days, we are finding we use OE on more applications than we ever thought we would. Proving to sometimes be the better decision for the customer, vehicle and our profit.
  2. I'm not really sure how much I'd be willing to divulge to someone I don't have a relationship with. I'd like to be sure I'm tracking with you fully, is your recommendation to go more main stream versus more niche or simply not to enter the industry at all? All I'm stating is that starting this business, is very difficult for someone vested in the industry. I would imagine it can be harder for someone with only DIY experience. Having business experience helps, but in this business... it's cheaper to hire someone to teach you business than it is to hire someone to teach you proper vehicle service and repair procedures. Each business has it's benefit and it's drawbacks. Real estate is a lot about managing processes and meeting people's expectations, vehicle repair is both of those things while trying to fix a car. You are right about other industries suffering the same fate with hiring talent. The main difference is that a mediocre HVAC technician won't have the ability to question the safety of a customer and his family while driving down the road at 75mph. A vehicle technician does have that responsibility on his shoulders and that responsibility falls forward to the owner of the facility. Hire a mediocre manager and a sloppy tech... and things can get hairy really quickly. I've written an article about things you need to understand when opening up your own repair facility. Feel free to add it to your reading to get an understanding of things you may not be accounting for at this time or maybe use it as a roadmap. A,B,C 's Of Opening An Auto Repair Facility You are also right about the opportunities in the market. Years of horrid business practices have collided with the internet and those that have been a disservice to their customer base are feeling the pain of those choices now. However, what's not known easily is that a lot of them also went out because of failure to adapt to an ever changing environment. Any recommendations as far as how best to go about finding a true industry expert who would be willing to work with me? There are several people on this forum available for hire, I do not have experience with any coaches I can recommend. Maybe if you're really serious about opening a shop, you should go work in one. Learn what actually goes on at a small facility every day and the challenges they face and how you would do things differently from that perspective. Because without having the ground level experience, a team that is experienced in repair, and only access to capital and statistics.... it's going to be a long road if you want it to be a successful one.
  3. I think you have A LOT of research to do, especially if you want to open a shop catering to high end vehicles. Being a DIYer and servicing BMW, Audi, Porsche, Mercedes, Lexus, Infinity, Jaguar, etc. for profit is a pretty stark contrast in daily life. You're going to run into issues with: Tools and equipment Storage of supplies and vehicles Finding and keeping qualified technicians - There is no time to train a tech. Everyone who has an interest in mechanics is a master tech in the making. Some take a year to get it, some take 10. Finding and keeping qualified advisors - The average time to train a novice advisor is at least 24 months till they can stand on their own two feet without everyone wanting to kill them. This is a really hard business to walk into from people who come from the industry already. I would assume it to be exceptionally harder for anyone not in the industry everyday. I would probably be doing some recon work on the businesses already in place, evaluating them, seeing where you can make your difference and how. Because without it, you're about to invest at least $150,000+ into a gamble. I would invest in some statistics for your area on demographics to know what kinds of customers you may have and I might even hire a business coach to help you put a plan together. If you're up for some seriously hard lessons and really long days for the next 3-5 years... then you're on the right path. There's a reason even the MBA number crunchers don't buy shops to run them, this is seriously hard work that requires extreme dedication to yield profit from.
  4. Hey everyone, sorry for the delay. August was a little crazy for us. We've had several updates come live over the last 45 days so we will combine them here for one round of updates. Customer App V2: We've upgraded our customer facing app. Feel free to check it out here for iOS and here for Android. This is what your customers see when working with your shop if you use our business platform. Status Enhancements: On The Lot - Added a triple filter. Checked shows all "On The Lot", Dash shows all open tickets that are not "On The Lot". Waiting For Parts - Also a triple filter, we think the name is rather obvious in it's function. Accountant Verified - Also a triple filter. This status was a request from a subscriber who has an bookkeeper verify each and every Service Request. They wanted their bookkeeper/accountant to be able to mark off which Service Requests had been completely verified. This feature is available, but it is a special request module that is not included in our standard pricing. Internal Notes: Send notes to your team members, complete with notification reminders. Assign it to the appropriate team members and have everyone on the same page. Desktop Display: Mobile Display: This feature is available, but it is a special request module that is not included in our standard pricing. Service Request Notes: In addition to "Internal Notes", we now have a similar feature that will allow you to write notes for any Service Request. The notes will also function as reminders and can be assigned to anyone on your team. Desktop Display: Mobile Display: This feature is available, but it is a special request module that is not included in our standard pricing. We have enhanced our Dashboard Display overall: Desktop Display: Mobile Display: We are also working on a partnership with a highly sought after vendor. We can not release any more information at this time, but this relationship will truly help us provide a better service to all of our subscribers.
  5. Sorry for the delay, August was a little crazy. Getting back to normal now. As for mobile calibrations, Autel recently unveiled a mobile calibration frame for windshields. Really curious as to what cars can be done with it, especially considering the ones that I've run into where "You had to in an area with no outside light.". With the complexity of these procedures, does anyone have a feel for how the dealers are pricing / handling ADAS reprograms? - Have not seen dealer prices, but I've heard there are very few techs that can do them at dealers and even fewer dealers with equipment to perform the work. Lastly, the ones that do... keep the vehicle for much longer than a week in the experiences I've been told about. What prices would the market bear for such services? - We are defining the market as we speak. Prices are according to the cost of equipment plus the years of experience it took us to learn how to program a car in several hours, not several days. You mention that you are getting paid for documentation. Sounds like the ADAS services are time and materials charging. Your car didn't program in the typical 45 minute drive cycle, so you are charged extra. I think I remember reading about some complex procedures that were in the 10 hour range? Any comment on typical job sizes? We have not run into many problems with extended programming time, we have run into access problem with specific manufacturers. Which is another problem for the aftermarket and if we're not prepared, it will delay jobs significantly. I think the days of programming cars that took 10 hours, are behind us for the most part. But that doesn't mean a headache wont' come rolling in the door. With new technology, they are all headaches at first. So track your time and bill appropriately. Lastly on charging, I can see people throwing fits on such "frivolity" (anything you don't fully understand must not be important). "If it's that much, time to get rid of the car!!!!" This will be the opportunity creator for vehicles to be sold much cheaper in the short term. Or cause customers to drive vehicles with Christmas Trees on their dashboard. Anyone who tries to pay for accidents out of pocket, is in for a rude awakening when the accident involves and ADAS enabled vehicle. Looks like this could be a single specialty shop offering - B2B only. - Maybe for now. In ten years, everyone who has a shop, will have to have some variation of the hardware and software. Or they won't be in business. This will be the equivalent to having a scan tool in your shop in the next 10 years. Don't have a scan tool, can't work. Can't recalibrate a module or vehicle? Can't work. Are there generic tool kits that work with multiple car lines or is it one tool kit per line? - Autel has the first functional unit for sale that does A LOT. Any idea of the types of such kits and their costs? You mentioned $20K toolkit. I'm over $25,000 already and that doesn't include specialized equipment or programming equipment. If access to OE Information is mandatory this may also impact which car lines are selected (as one may not want many subscriptions, even if temporary). - It's not mandatory, but strongly suggested. Can we perform an ADAS impactful repair, but then sublet to the dealer for the ADAS reprogram (or other local shop)? Is this a good strategy or not? - In my opinion, this is the future of repair. If you don't learn this in the next 5 years... you're either retiring or the market will show you the door to retirement.
  6. Another acronym being thrown around is ADAS, short for Advanced Driver Assist Systems. I think everyone is stuck staring at those four letters without understanding the liability that those 4 letters represent for the future of the automotive industry, regardless of how much safer they make vehicles on the road. As one of the first facilities in NJ to purchase and utilize the ADAS calibration system from Autel, we have some really unique experience with it and want to pass on some information you should be aware of when considering whether or not you want to jump in. Facility Is Too Small - Size matters, A LOT with ADAS calibrations and if you have less than 2500 sf of space with a booming business... chances are you don't have the room to perform calibrations. Your exact business configuration will help determine this, but you ideally need a location where you can pick up 10 feet of open space all around a vehicle for most calibrations, but some calibrations may require 20 feet or more. Floor Isn't Level - If your floor is uneven, you can't perform ADAS calibrations, period. Can't Program? - If you are not experienced with programming modules or updating vehicle modules, you will not be able to perform a fair amount ADAS calibrations. Can't Diagnose? - If you don't have a team that can efficiently and accurately troubleshoot the vehicles already coming into your shop, ADAS isn't going to be any easier, it's going to be significantly harder. Who Needs OE Information, I have "X"! - Replace X with All Data or Mitchell or even the instructions in your scan tool. What happens when the manufacturer updated the information on the procedures yesterday and they didn't share that information with anyone yet? We've already encountered steps missing from the Autel scan tool... Minimum Insurance Policy Is More Than Enough - We have more than double the minimum and we are worried it's not enough. With lawsuits that settle into the tens of millions of dollars, we're not sure what enough is anymore. Don't Document Your Process? - This is where a lot of people will scoff. Who has the time? Save pictures and files, where am I supposed to do that? Who's gonna pay for this? We've figured this out and more importantly... we get paid for documenting. Do you? Mobile Calibrations? - Besides the fact that you're trying to transport $20,000 of equipment needed for calibrations in a van, this one is so serious... we couldn't give you a 2 sentence paragraph, read below. How are mobile glass services, like Safelite, performing calibrations on the go? We don't know, but we have A LOT of questions surrounding this. A recent calibration of a 2019 Toyota C-HR, after a windshield replacement, has some really interesting requirements. Requirements which we are used to, but we want to know... how is a mobile tech handling this? These are the requirements that must be met prior to starting a calibration: It is our experience that once a windshield has been replaced, the vehicle should not be moved for a period of at least 2 hours (weather dependent) in order to allow the glue to harden properly. So, what's going on? Is the mobile glass tech filling up the vehicle prior to replacing the windshield? How many of you had a windshield replaced and a vehicle calibrated with a fuel tank that was not full? We don't know how many corners are being cut and where they are being cut... but what we do know is that the above requirements have been there in every vehicle we have calibrated at this facility thus far. Lastly, pay particular attention to this requirement in this photo... *Calibration should be performed in a window-less environment with no bright lights or reflective materials. Ensure no other black and white patterns similar to the calibration pattern should be behind the calibration pattern. In a world where reducing liability is at the forefront of most public discussions, there are sure a lot of companies undermining their insurance policy in the field.
  7. Another acronym being thrown around is ADAS, short for Advanced Driver Assist Systems. I think everyone is stuck staring at those four letters without understanding the liability that those 4 letters represent for the future of the automotive industry, regardless of how much safer they make vehicles on the road. As one of the first facilities in NJ to purchase and utilize the ADAS calibration system from Autel, we have some really unique experience with it and want to pass on some information you should be aware of when considering whether or not you want to jump in. Facility Is Too Small - Size matters, A LOT with ADAS calibrations and if you have less than 2500 sf of space with a booming business... chances are you don't have the room to perform calibrations. Your exact business configuration will help determine this, but you ideally need a location where you can pick up 10 feet of open space all around a vehicle for most calibrations, but some calibrations may require 20 feet or more. Floor Isn't Level - If your floor is uneven, you can't perform ADAS calibrations, period. Can't Program? - If you are not experienced with programming modules or updating vehicle modules, you will not be able to perform a fair amount ADAS calibrations. Can't Diagnose? - If you don't have a team that can efficiently and accurately troubleshoot the vehicles already coming into your shop, ADAS isn't going to be any easier, it's going to be significantly harder. Who Needs OE Information, I have "X"! - Replace X with All Data or Mitchell or even the instructions in your scan tool. What happens when the manufacturer updated the information on the procedures yesterday and they didn't share that information with anyone yet? We've already encountered steps missing from the Autel scan tool... Minimum Insurance Policy Is More Than Enough - We have more than double the minimum and we are worried it's not enough. With lawsuits that settle into the tens of millions of dollars, we're not sure what enough is anymore. Don't Document Your Process? - This is where a lot of people will scoff. Who has the time? Save pictures and files, where am I supposed to do that? Who's gonna pay for this? We've figured this out and more importantly... we get paid for documenting. Do you? Mobile Calibrations? - Besides the fact that you're trying to transport $20,000 of equipment needed for calibrations in a van, this one is so serious... we couldn't give you a 2 sentence paragraph, read below. How are mobile glass services, like Safelite, performing calibrations on the go? We don't know, but we have A LOT of questions surrounding this. A recent calibration of a 2019 Toyota C-HR, after a windshield replacement, has some really interesting requirements. Requirements which we are used to, but we want to know... how is a mobile tech handling this? These are the requirements that must be met prior to starting a calibration: It is our experience that once a windshield has been replaced, the vehicle should not be moved for a period of at least 2 hours (weather dependent) in order to allow the glue to harden properly. So, what's going on? Is the mobile glass tech filling up the vehicle prior to replacing the windshield? How many of you had a windshield replaced and a vehicle calibrated with a fuel tank that was not full? We don't know how many corners are being cut and where they are being cut... but what we do know is that the above requirements have been there in every vehicle we have calibrated at this facility thus far. Lastly, pay particular attention to this requirement in this photo... *Calibration should be performed in a window-less environment with no bright lights or reflective materials. Ensure no other black and white patterns similar to the calibration pattern should be behind the calibration pattern. In a world where reducing liability is at the forefront of most public discussions, there are sure a lot of companies undermining their insurance policy in the field. View full article
  8. We might be the only ones to have a different outlook on this... but in general... when the "product" is free... you're probably the product. I think what amazes me more about this is that CARFAX is directly competing with the SMS products that it has relied on for years to provide them with information. Which brings about a different set of questions. How will any SMS continue to export information to CARFAX knowing they are actively trying to take their customers away? I know of another large scale company in this industry that was once threatened with, "Do not put this product in the market or we will remove you from all of the shops that use our product with access to your daily business...". To clarify our stance on the "free" version of what we offer. The free version won't always be free. It's being used at this time to entice shops to try the product and upgrade. But once we reach a certain amount of subscribers, the free plan will likely cease to exist for anyone who didn't sign up and use it while it was available. We have plans to replace it with a low cost entry price that will still make sense.
  9. My entire concept of this business changed the day I was forced to move the first time, about 8 years ago. I learned that every tradesman gets paid, but us. That was the day I decided that things have to change if I wanted to achieve success. To give this some context, we have new lifts and equipment installed in a building we moved into across town. While having some problems with the heating unit, which was brand new at the time, I was billed something along the lines of $225 for the first hour and then $1xx for each subsequent hour (forgot exact number but it's not necessary for the lesson I learned here). When I asked about what I thought was exuberant pricing, the explanation given to me was... "My guys need t want to come into work in the morning, in order to do that I have to properly motivate them. In order to properly motivate them I need to pay them. In addition to paying them... I need to make a profit." Regardless of how wrong he was in this scenario, because we were discussing new units that broke.... he was right about one thing. That's the price that his business needed to thrive, not survive. It lead me to embarking on a journey of asking a lot of tradesman what they charged and about their business. The most successful ones, with the most overhead... didn't play games. They had serious prices, because they had serious responsibilities to adhere to. Most of the ones that didn't, had little to no overhead. Once I decided what kind of business I wanted to run... the rest started to follow suit.
  10. When zoning laws start getting strictly enforced... or worse yet... some poor guy gets hurt doing a job in a corporate parking lot... Things will change because that's what it takes for things to change, someone getting hurt and someone getting sued. If there are any mobile guys reading this, I just want you to know that this isn't personal. But when I applied for my business license in my town... I was explicitly told that I would be given citations for working on the street in the area in front of my business. So it burns me a little to pay taxes, be legal and get these kind of limitations thrown at me and have to adhere to them. I wouldn't even work outside, because it's just not what we do. But to have that limitation thrown at me and have it become a business model all around the country... seems like a point waiting for friction.
  11. One thing I never understood... why a mobile mechanic tries to provide the same level of service as a shop... on the road... for less money. Basically undercutting their own ability to earn for a more specialized service that you couldn't pay me to do personally. Additionally, if you knew the rates they have to pay to companies like "Your Mechanic"... it would further make you question the whole movement. I understand the hustle, but I don't understand delivering what your client wants, when your clients wants... for less than a shop. Especially considering you are working in an open environment where the weather is just as harsh as customer expectations.
  12. With the cost of a reliable loaner getting down to affordable loaners, we've opted to turn old customer vehicles into loaners instead of the Uber route. While Uber is useful for the one day turn around, it leaves holes on how the customer is going to get back to your shop and what happens if you need their car for more than a day? We started with one loaner and we now have 3. All are inexpensive, older vehicles that we acquired for a nominal fee and put in less than $2,000 to make them road warriors. Insurance is cheaper as a loaner than I presently pay for insurance as a driver... let that sink in for a minute. With three cars, I now use one as a daily commuter unless it's needed by a customer. With the loaner, the pressure from the customer to get the job done right instead of rush the service, is noticeable. Plus, it fits in with our model of "please schedule non emergency services" and if they want a loaner... they are on the schedule nearly all the time. Helping us provide a better service and more stability to the shop.
  13. This is driven a lot by surrounding demographics. Getting your car count to 150 in a densely populated area might not be that hard, but it will surely require a monthly advertising budget well over $1,000 a month your first few years. Then comes the question of, are you doing 150 oil changes or 50 oil changes and 100 other services that lead to real profit and growth for your business. I think guys focus too much on things like car count and not enough on providing a good service in a facility that is designed or flowed to handling this volume of work. If you want to build a serious business, calculate how much work you can take on a day and actually finish. In this calculation you have to remember that the things you advertise your business does, is generally going to lead to high volume, low margin work with really stiff competition. Because we're all advertising on the items that draw int he most amount of people... tires, brakes, oil changes. Build on reputation and level of service and live mostly ignoring things like "car count". Car count in theory is important, as it draws on the assumption that to raise revenue you need more cars. While that is true, so is the service model. Provide a service that people are impressed by and rely upon... and your car count starts to matter a lot less. Even though proper execution on service will lead to an increased car count based on the hidden brand building you're doing with that model.
  14. When we started to think about how we would handle this... we came up with this... For $37, you get an OE level tech that you can ask a bunch of questions to. If you spend 1 hour chasing your tail, at $100 an hour, you've now wasted 61% of the customers money and 100% of your time. We spend the time documenting everything and relying on the experts to guide us. It also gives us a couple of hours to work on other things while we are waiting for a call back. Sometimes that break of walking away from a vehicle and clearing your head, will also lead to better thoughts on how to tackle the problem. It's truly been one of the best moves we've made as a business. When we call them now,half of the time it's to confirm our diagnosis and thought process and the other half is really hard things that we have little experience with. As an ADAS shop, we're running into the hard things as the learning curve has been steep.


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