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Charlie

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Charlie last won the day on January 30

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About Charlie

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  • Birthday 10/31/1966

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  1. We've been in business since 1995, steady growth year over year by doing what we know works. I also am aware it can be a mistake to do the same thing, over and over, just because it works without being open to change. Late last year my son joined the company as General Manager. He graduated from Virginia Military Institute with a degree in economics in 2014 then worked for the Target Corporation to develop his own style of leadership. When he joined American Pride Automotive he immediately looked for ways to implement meaningful change. After reading an article in Ratchet & Wrench he came to me toi discuss selling annual service packages to customers. Has anyone had any success selling such packages? If so, what is the incentive to the customer? I learned many years ago that two things motivate a sale, price or terms. We don't want to erode our margin but some say this idea has merit, hopefully we can learn a lesson or two from you other shop owners.
  2. Funny you mention this. We sold used cars for the past 15 years but closed down that division (after much deliberation) in November 2017 for that very reason. Advertising these days is tied directly to several online companies: Autotrader, Cars.com, CarGurus, Craigslist and Ebay to name a few. Each of these companies earn revenue exclusively from the dealers yet to the public they pit the dealers against each other and make them compete on price. Then you have CarFax that again charges the dealer and is free to the consumer. They have trained the consumer to search for 1 owner, low mileage, accident free cars with extensive service records. What about the other 85% of inventory that costs the dealer daily. In a nutshell there are easily a dozen companies dipping into the flow of revenue and the poor dealer at the end is left with little to no profit. New car dealers today suffer the same consequence. Each new car dealer has 4 profit centers: New car sales, Used car sales, Warranty/recall work and service. What I have learned is that 70% of a new car dealers profit comes from general service and they can only hope to break even on new car sales. This is why you see dealer group consolidation and expansive service facilities. And ultimately this is why WE are not each others competition, our #1 competitor is the new car dealer.
  3. I'm pleased to see the passion behind how we all run our businesses, it's that individual passion that has gotten us to where we are. The reason for this post was to raise awareness on a possible shift in our industry that I believe we need to build a collective passion to fight. That impending change is these lead generators that will only erode our profits, and as a result, ability to grow. As we know, there is no quick fix. I think we all agree that the most important visit to our shops is the customer's next visit, the customer who is there today. Word of Mouth is a terrific driving force creating first time customers and that WOM promotion happens through outstanding experiences with our existing customers. The Repair Pals, Openbays and Blockchains out there will disappear without us doing the heavy lifting - we do not need them. CarMax is being smart, they pitch their sales customers that CarMax has a national network of shops, at the ready, performing warranty work. They are paying these 'opportunity generators' to have access to this discounted network only to aid in closing the sale....giving their buyers a false sense of security. We are not each other's competition. The competition is the new car dealer, the Wolf in sheep's clothing are the companies aiming to profit off of our hard work and reputation - they are not our friend.
  4. Here is a perfect example. How would you price a spark plug change on a 5.4 Ford? Keep in mind, you are providing this quote to a price shopping customer and the price you provide will be discounted by 13% (26% GPM) by the 'opportunity generator' OpenBay.
  5. Is it just me? or does it seem that lately there are a lot of businesses being started that insert themselves into the flow of existing transactions only to harvest your profits and lesson the margins of those doing the work and accepting responsibility (us). I am referring to technology companies: Repair Pal, Openbay, CarFix and now Blockchain to mention a few. It is frustrating to me after having built a business (brick and mortar), purchased equipment, hired employees, provide training, accepted full responsibility and risk, supported my community only to have a startup backed by money hungry venture capitalists attempt to erode our profit margin. I find the statements from co-founder Vladimir Lupenko of Blockchain in this months Ratchet & Wrench extremely arrogant: "The repair industry is huge, and people always get cheated" "We use reputable and undisputable technical data to set the market and price rate". Vladimir goes on to say "Based on our contractual agreement , the repair shop will have to provide the service at the price we have calculated". As good shop owners, protective of our future, we best rally against this technology, this Wolf in sheep's clothing. My research of these companies leads me to believe that no good will come from their involvement in our businesses. We, as independent shop owners, are operating in an industry some see as ripe for consolidation and this technology is just one of the signs. I ask that anyone reading this post refuse to participate. The involvement of these companies is not a 'quick fix' for a shop needing car count. Their intention is to drive down your prices, recruit price shopping customers only and mine your data base for their benefit. If our industry sees their existence as a threat and together, refuse to become a member of their organization, they will disappear. Without shops to refer to they lose all value to the consumer and will not be able to return a profit to their investors. To read the complete article, follow this link: https://www.ratchetandwrench.com/articles/5504-how-blockchain-technology-could-affect-your-shop To support this research here is a seperate article from this months Ratchet & Wrench magazine discussing how to price your services for long term health and growth: https://www.ratchetandwrench.com/articles/4841-how-to-price-to-gain-customer-loyalty?utm_medium=email&utm_source=utm_code
  6. Consider Joining Family Service Day!

    Joe, The culture of your shop as well as your giving nature made Osceola Garage the perfect Family Service Day partner. Suzanne and I have heard from many of the families in the community you serve and it is clear they see you not only as a supportive business but also as a friend. You hit the nail on the head when you said "As small business owners, our biggest advantage is our ability to impact our communities". As independent shop owners our direct competition is not each other, it is the new car dealerships who are seeing no profits from new car sales and are currently growing their service departments to work on all makes and models. As small independents we have the ability to connect with our communities and enter the hearts of our everyday customers on a level the dealers never will, it just takes a little creativity. Hearing success stories from shops across the country has been very rewarding, we are excited by the future. Thanks for all your support! Charlie
  7. Consider Joining Family Service Day!

    Joe, I will be sending you great vibes. Due to scheduling conflicts American Pride will have our day of service on May 13th to honor Mother's Day, our chosen Non-Profit partner is Child Development Resources - they're terrific. Family Service Day gives our shop an opportunity to alter our pace, adjust our attitude and re-evaluate who we are in the community. I find it to be a great 'reset'. Looking forward to hearing from you post event. Charlie
  8. Consider Joining Family Service Day!

    Joe, you are so right. I was reminded of this fact on Friday when I was logged into an industry specific BWG conference call which included independent shop owners as well as franchise dealers across the nation. The call was mainly about retention, profit margins, competitive advantages etc. We as independents have a distinct competitive advantage against our direct competition (Franchise Dealers) and that is an opportunity for intentional community involvement. For my shops as well as many others across the country Family Service Day has given our retail customers something meaningful to talk about and the conversation lasts for months. At FSD we have found many shop owners across the country to be very giving men and women. Holding a day of service, carefully paired with a strong local non-profit and supported by area businesses rewards these top shops for doing good. While the benefits are many it all begins with a willingness to truly serve the members of our communities who could simply use a hand up. As shop owners we have a unique opportunity to create positive change in the lives of many by simply sharing our talents. Our sponsors over the years have been tremendous and extremely supportive - Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Advance Auto Parts, Auto Vitals to name a few. As always I am available to share my FSD stories from here in Virginia as well as other shop experiences in more than 20 states. We are very excited to see the magic this Mother's day at Osceola Garage. Charlie
  9. Consider Joining Family Service Day!

    Thanks Joe for sharing your excitement for Family Service Day, it has been an honor to be involved with this initiative and watch it become a national movement. In business, timing is critical, a good idea today may not have worked 5 years ago. As a shop owner I have seen our industry shrink due to consolidation as well as new car dealers realizing the profits in general repair are viable, thus becoming our competitors. Consumer behavior has changed driven by Google, Yelp, Open Bay, True Car, Auto MD, AAA and Repair Pal to only name a few. These distractive resources interrupt customer loyalty and if we aren't careful, erode profits. The timing is right for us shop owners to be a force within our community, the best customers respond well and loyalty is deepened. There has also been a lot of talk lately about the younger generation (Millennials) questions of how to reach them as customers and what motivates them as employees. This generation searches for meaning in what they do and where they spend, a well organized cause marketing initiative such as Family Service Day moves that needle. Shop Owners naturally do good deeds every day, as shop owners we come in contact with a lot of people and we know who need our help. At Family Service Day we see our members across the country 'Doing Well by Doing Good' and I would be happy to answer any questions directly where answers are not found on the FSD website. My direct email is [email protected]
  10. It looks like you are doing a lot right. Your website looks good, it has multiple call to actions, you have claimed your place page and you are staying current with Yelp. These days it's not 'one thing' that works it all things working together and for that I would encourage you work with a group that can provide individualized attention. Are you seeing increased activity from your Google Analytics page? The dashboard there is invaluable and once you learn how to navigate within it you will find opportunities to increase it's effectiveness. However, AS is correct, it takes time to build a presence that Google respects. After all, can you imagine an industry that promises 1st page results to everyone and delivers? Can you imagine how big that first page would need to be? I'd be happy to refer you to those who have helped my company.
  11. Family Service Day started with our company in 2009, in 2013 we formalized into a benefit corporation and gained sponsorship from TECHNET making their network of over 7,000 shops exclusive service providers for Family Service Day events across the country. We just had our national day of service last weekend where FSD events were held in 16 states across the country. We expect FSD to be a true asset within the tools available to TECHNET shops helping them sustain and grow. I would be happy to explain it to you in greater detail by phone.
  12. www.americanprideautomotive.com
  13. We pay a Hybrid program that is based on 20 years of experience. Each of our shops has two service writers, gross revenue per shop is between 80 and 120 thousand. Each shop has a manager and a writer (basically they are both writers but one has more authority). We pay a base pay of 700 to 800 weekly with a 4 point monthly bonus. Both writers will get paid 1% of their gross for having 52% of total revenue in labor, 1% of their gross for having a 50% GPM, 1% of their gross for having an average ticket of $275 or above. The second in command also gets 1% of total company GP to ensure teamwork while the manager get's a healthy bump based on total gross revenue tiered by GPM. It sounds more complicated than it really is, what it does very well is train the guys to focus on the metrics that matter while rewarding for success. A service writer should make between 47,500 and 55,000 while the manager should make about 70,000. This plan puts our expense above the much talked about 8% but my goal is to have quality people in place that allows the business to operate well in my absence. I think where you are in the country can make all the difference and every shop is different. I'll be glad to spend extra time with whomever if you would like further descriptions.
  14. Telephone Systems

    Here is some good information for research: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6780-best-business-phone-systems.html


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