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CAR_AutoReports last won the day on July 18

CAR_AutoReports had the most liked content!

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About CAR_AutoReports

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    Experienced Poster

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  • 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
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  • Your Mission Statement
    To provide the auto repair facilities with a simple and mobile way to work.

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Just realized this was about business coaching and not shop training. I'll leave it but have nothing to add about business coaching that hasn't already been mentioned. The most underutilized and underrated service to training while working is Identifix. Identifix is often used as a short cut method and when used improperly... it will lead to technicians starting to get lazy and develop bad habits. However, a few years back we adapted our Identifix strategy and instead of relying on short cuts, we rely on them to educate us in matters we don't know much about. The shop logic we have adapted here is: Everyone gets a certain amount of time to try and figure a problem out Within that time frame, certain basics are expected to have been completed. Things like - full code scans, freeze frame data evaluation when available, bulletin search for customer concern, and some form of basic diagnosis based on the repair information the code indicates. If no luck, we open up an Identifix ticket, we get 2 free per month... but in addition to that, we pay $37 for each additional call. Those $37 pay for themselves in gold and while we use them as necessary... we use them A LOT less as we interview the Identifix "fixer" a lot better than we ever did in the past. When we open the ticket, we relay all of our information to the Identifix Hotline. When their expert calls back, he will have usually taken a few minutes to understand where we are in our diagnosis and when he gives us information... it's either to correct us in a wrong path... or to have us continue down that path to further examine data and variables. The most important question we ALWAYS ASK to the hotline is "WHY?". Why are you having us do "X"? They will usually have a great explanation based on their years of specific vehicle experience that will help us better understand the vehicle logic we are dealing with. We document EVERYTHING in our shop management system, including all communication back and forth with the Hotline In 50% of the instances we actually uncover and determine root causes on our own, after Identifix helped us understand the logic we were dealing with through their experience. What has this done for us? Problems vehicles that would take weeks to determine root causes, have been greatly reduced to a couple days in over 80% of the scenarios we encounter now. We still occasionally hit roadblocks and when we do, we follow the same process forward. It still works great, but we have a major headache and it takes time to resolve them. We accurately track all of our time through our SMS and we bill accurately for diagnosis and have a really solid rate of resolving problems well over 95% of the time now. We are also fortunate enough to have a local vendor host learning classes each Spring & Fall in a variety of topics. To say that these two combined strategies have improved our business, reduced headaches and expanded profitability... isn't an understatement. It's how things work for us now and we couldn't be happier that we changed out mentality from shortcut to education opportunity. We have no relationship with Identifix other than paying for their service like everyone else. This is a completely unbiased post on how we maximize our use of Identifix. To put their service in perspective... we even acquired a dash harness from a 2014 Silverado with some modules... and had them help us get it working on a bench.
  9. Happy Monday Everyone! Hope everyone got a chance to rest up this past weekend. It's certainly been a crazy year thus far. Below are out updates that went live in July. Fleet Dashboard - For all of our Fleet customers, we have added the Fleet dashboard to accommodate your day-to-day needs. From here you have the ability to add "Preferred Contacts" that you can easily convert from your Business account. Fleet dashboard is an add on that is not included in our standard subscription. Minor Dashboard Adjustment - Small change in the "Under Process" tile. The tile now reads "Awaited", "Authorized", and then "Work in Progress". Access to Identifix.com from Service Request Page - Pretty self explanatory. Not included in our standard subscription. Dashboard Tiles added to Mobile View - Enhance the mobile view to make the cell phone experience a little better. Help Guide - We understand learning a new software can be challenging. We have made this adjustment easier with the "Help Guide" readily accessible on each CAR account. With our built-in tutorials, you and your team can get up to speed quickly and easily as you start using the platform. You can easily start a tutorial from any screen in CAR and minimize it to help you perform the tasks as you learn.
  10. We feel that we are reaching a point where our system really helps you perform your daily duties, faster and in a more efficient process all while "WOW"ing your customer without having to perform extra work. In this video, we are checking in a vehicle and adding a rejected service to the request and ordering parts in one fluid motion from our iPhone in 91 seconds!
  11. So towards the end of May, we had another round of updates that we pushed live, some items we feel will really allow shop owners to use our system and make their process much faster and efficient. End of May updates: Check for existing service requests : When opening a service request, you will now be prompted with a notification that lets you know if this particular vehicle already has open service requests! You will received a pop-up like this one: You can hover over any CAR ID on that list and it becomes click-able. Upon clicking, it will open a new tab with that service request for you to review. Additionally, when ignoring those prompts, it will provide the full customer balance when pressing submit, like so: Edit Title, Notes and Mileage from the Fill Recommendation Page : This one is pretty self explanatory. There is now a "red pencil" next to these data fields, clicking on any of them, bring up the following pop-up. Allowing you to make changes without having to do the "Edit Page". Copy Jobs : We are particularly excited about this update, which is the first of many to debut over the next 90 days, helping you save significant time. You can now go to ANY previous service request and copy an entire job and paste it into a new request. The easiest example is, let's assume you do an oil change. If, you build out the service request once with the correct oil filter, oil and quantity, as well as labor and other charges... you never have to type it out again. In order test this functionality, search for a previous service by license plate or part number. From the results list, pick a service request that contains the service you are now performing again. Open that service request, copy the job to the clipboard. Navigate to the new service request and paste it in. Request Categories Added : We are working on custom options for categories, however for the time being we are filling the missing elements based on user feedback. We have recently added: Heating & Air Conditioning - Heater Core Brakes & Traction Control - Hydraulic System - Master Cylinder Steering & Suspension - Steering - Steering Damper Steering & Suspension - Steering - Inner Tie Rod Steering & Suspension - Steering - Outer Tie Rod Engine, Cooling & Exhaust - Engine - Valve Cover Engine, Cooling & Exhaust - Engine - Valve Cover Gasket Steering & Suspension - Suspension - Front Lower Control Arm Steering & Suspension - Suspension - Front Upper Control Arm Steering & Suspension - Suspension - Rear Lower Control Arm Steering & Suspension - Suspension - Rear Upper Control Arm Steering & Suspension - Suspension - Trailing Arm Powertrain Management - Emission Control Systems - Mass Air Flow Sensor #16 - Sway Bar - Front #16 - Sway Bar - Rear #8 Drive Shaft - Front #8 Drive Shaft - Rear #8 Universal Joint - Front #8 Universal Joint - Rear #18 Transmission Line Info Details Picture Access : When clicking on a photo in the vehicle details pop-up, the photo is now displayed.
  12. Hi Alex, Thanks for the words of encouragement and advice. As we evolve, methods of exporting your data will evolve with the system. We will be exploring full methods to export to the system(s) that you choose. At this time, you can download each and every transaction at any point in time without any help from us. The export will include, customer, date, service performed, total cost, total cost minus tax, year, make, model of vehicle and license plate. As we continue to build, we will work on ways to export line items and jobs into the same file. The customer information can be exported to MailChimp or we can export it for you and send it over. The vehicle information with customer data attached to it, has to be manually requested at this time. We will also be working on ways to allow the daily dumps to be emailed to you so that they are auto sent without any interaction from the user and just becomes a daily, weekly or monthly exercise based on the options chosen.
  13. Cloud based software doesn't require you to kick the server, or even reboot it often... if and when there are scenarios that require immediate attention, there are sequences of events that happen to try to ensure the least amount of downtime is had. Like, performing major updates on late Saturday evenings for example. In addition, if a cloud based product is having a problem... it is very likely that everyone using it is having the same problem. So it's rarely just one outage. Without delving into specific systems, its impossible to really outline why cloud based computing is beneficial vs the alternative. But if you've ever used Mitchell, All Data or RO Writer... think about any time you required tech support and the hours you spent on the phone dealing with local computer issues that lead to the issues you were having. That doesn't generally happen good cloud based systems. There are many benefits to using cloud based software among them: Being able to use inexpensive but reliable hardware - Since we run off of a web browser, all you need is solid device with Chrome. We regularly buy $300-$600 machines when necessary and run them for 2-3 years. Mobility - Access your business from anywhere there is an internet connection and a fully functional web browser. Cost of entry - Inexpensive to start Scale - Inexpensive to scale your business according to your needs Ability to choose features you need - Part of what lead me on this endeavor was the lack of choice available. You had to buy the house just to get access to two rooms. Want a garage? That's an add on that costs another $500. With cloud based systems, a modular build allows you to choose the options that you need and pay for them accordingly. The largest drawback to cloud based systems from extensive research, is the data element. That's why I stand behind the commitment wholeheartedly and this will NOT change as long as I'm in charge. At CAR, your data is YOUR data. Upon request, what you can't manually export from the system yourself, will be exported by us within 48 hours of request. Our privacy policy outlines that we may use your data to help us build services, which we do. Copy Jobs is something that will only be enhanced with more user data, other enhancements will come from similar data sets. We are not interested in anything other than data to identify trends of bad parts, build better service writing capabilities, and serve your customers better so they keep returning to you. Anyone is welcome to visit me at my personal shop or schedule a call to speak about this. I do not take this subject lightly and data agreements with other companies are the largest reason I have taken the stance outlined above. Additionally, if you want a server all to yourself to use CAR... that is an available option. It's something we are negotiating with larger chain facilities and fleets. It just changes the price considerably, dependent on use. Then your data will still be in the cloud, but it'll be "your" cloud because you're paying for it. Although, we would still be cheaper than some brand name "mobility" services and legacy providers cost presently, per month.
  14. I think you’re basing the nature of your assumptions on that of other experiences. Yes we are a cloud based software and yes, we do host and hold all of your “data”. As a shop owner, this element carries a little more responsibility with me than it may with most. I am not interested in your customer data. I am interested in how to make the platform better for you and everyone else after or before you. How many desktop applications actually give you your data to access it and do anything with it, in a legible format. Not some secret database format. We at least make the promise to always export your data in a legible format so it can be plugged into a different system. You’re also a little mistaken on privacy policy. They are mandated for a reason. If we use your data without your consent in the policy, or worse... use an inkling of identifiable data.... the show’s over.

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