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Joe Marconi

Management
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Joe Marconi last won the day on May 6

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About Joe Marconi

  • Rank
    ASO Staff Member

Business Information

  • Business Name
    Osceola Garage
  • Business Address
    44 New York 118, Baldwin Place, New York, 10505
  • Type of Business
    Auto Repair
  • Your Current Position
    Shop Owner
  • Automotive Franchise
    None
  • Website
  • Logo
  • Banner Program
    Tech-Net
  • Participate in Training
    Yes

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  1. Memorial Day is a time for barbecues and parties. However, it’s also the day in which we remember and honor those who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Please take time this weekend to reflect and honor those that sacrificed their lives for this great country!
  2. Banner programs are good. And the strategy behind having a few main suppliers is not a bad idea. And don't forget, being part of a program does not limit you to buy from whom you choose to, just as long as you adhere to the program guidelines.
  3. After nearly 40 years in business, I can tell you that there is no real solution to this problem. I gave up on labor claims years ago. I would wait months to hear back from an engineer's report, only for the report to say that somehow my tech installed the caliper wrong and that's why if failed. I don't want to sound negative, but that is a reality. Joining a program group, like TECH NET, that pays labor is perhaps the best option. Also, document all comebacks: The brand, the store you bought it from. Look for trends. Then, sit down with your parts supplier and work out a deal. No one wants to get rich over a comeback, but the truth is comebacks kill. Lastly, make sure your gross profit on parts and labor is in line and factor in a percentage for warranty issues. No company is perfect and no tech is perfect. Hope this helps.
  4. Frank, thanks for the feedback on a very controversial topic. Many companies are a waste of time. And we have had denied claims too for reasons I am not sure. The teardown issue is another topic that is ridiculous. It's the company's way of pushing the expense and liability to the customer. That's why we make it policy to discuss everything upfront with the customer. Ethics and morals win out each time.
  5. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to give a price on a radiator to a customer at the service counter, while he's on his phone searching for the part! Here's what I do when I get a customer that tell me he can get the part cheaper....I agree with him! I let him know that he can get the part cheaper, just like he can buy a steak and potatoes cheaper at the super market too. But he'll pay more for the steak and potatoes at a restaurant. And then in a calm manner, I review all the benefits of me suppling the part, the warranty and the fact that if the part is wrong or defective or fails in the future, he will have no recourse and will have to pay to have done all again. For most, it works. For many it's all about price. Now Most IMPORTANT IS THIS: The reason why you don't mind spending more for a steak at a restaurant is because of the experience. So, make sure the customer experience clearly demonstrates the value of why people need to do business with you. When Value goes up, price becomes less of an issue. Hope this helps. Let's hear from you on this frustrating topic!
  6. With Mother's day approaching soon, plan on a Mother's Day promotions. It could be an individual flower, like a rose, to all the Mom's a few days before Mother's day, or little boxes of candy. It does not have to be a big deal, just something that tells your customers you are thinking of them. So, think about a small promotion and trust me, it will be a hit. Another marketing tip: Father's day is coming; so don't forget the dads!
  7. “Your labor rate is too high. If you can’t negotiate your labor rate, I will have the car towed from your shop to another shop in your area that will do the work at the labor rate we want to pay.” Those were the words spoken to my service advisor a few weeks ago from a claims agent at an extended warranty company. The name of the company doesn’t matter. What does matter is what would you do when faced with this situation. Here’s another scenario you’re probably familiar with: After diagnosing a failed steering rack, the customer informed us that she had an aftermarket warranty policy. She asked me if I could find out if the steering rack is covered. I said, “Sure, I will be happy to help. But, just to let you know, most of the extended warranty companies I deal with have their own labor and parts pricing policies, which may not be aligned with our pricing. So, whatever they don’t pay, you will be responsible for. Are you OK with this?” My customer said, “Absolutely. I understand. I appreciate anything you can do for me.” I thought the hard part was over. What came next was bizarre. The insurance adjuster I spoke to authorized the repair, told me the labor dollars they will pay and then said, “OK, it looks like I have a used rack in a salvage yard in South Carolina. I can have that rack to you in two days.” I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t in a weird dream. Used steering rack? Salvage yard? Is this guy for real? I quickly shot back and said, “Let me ask you a few questions. First, where does is state in the contract that your company will supply a junk yard part for your insured? And why in the world would I remove an old worn-out steering rack from my customer’s car and put back an old used rack from a junked vehicle? Is that really in the best interest of the customer?” The claims adjuster replied back, “Well, shops do it all the time.” I said, “I don’t think so, and I won’t do it either. Let me tell you how this is going to go. I am replacing the rack with a quality part, and I will make sure that my customer gets the best job possible. So, please give me the authorized amount and I will let the customer know what the balance is that your company will not pay.” He said, “You can’t do that.” I said, “Yes, I can. My customer is already briefed on the situation.” He reluctantly gave me the authorization number along with the dollar amount. I relayed the story to the customer. My customer then called the insurance company and gave them hell. They did end up authorizing additional money for the part I installed. Before we continue, I want to be fair and balanced. There are some extended warranty companies that try to offer their customers a peace-of-mind policy, and do pay a good portion of the repair. However, far too often, it’s a struggle to get an extended insurance company to agree to our labor and part prices. Here’s the deal. If you’re like me, you have spent countless hours understanding the numbers of your business. You’ve also spent a great deal of time and effort to put the right people in place, develop the right pay plans and have created the systems to run an efficient business. You know the balance between being competitive and profitable. When you consider all this, we need to carefully consider how negotiating our prices will affect our bottom line. I understand the reality too. Sometimes, you really need the work. You don’t want to lose the job. And settling for something is better than losing the job. I have been there. But the truth is that negotiating your prices, in the long run, will not only hurt you, but will also hurt our industry across the board. By the way, my service advisor never did negotiate our labor rate. He simply told the agent, “Our labor rate is non-negotiable. Do you have any other questions?” The agent eventually backed down and paid us the job at our labor rate. Be upfront with your customers. Clearly explain to them that their warranty policy may not cover the entire repair and come to an agreement with your customer before you call the warranty company. Lastly, make sure you know what it takes to earn a profit. Profit is needed to pay your expenses, put a little money aside for the future, pay your employees a decent wage and also pay yourself the salary you deserve. When you really analyze the bottom line and what’s really left over, do you really want to negotiate your prices? This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on May 1st, 2019 View full article
  8. “Your labor rate is too high. If you can’t negotiate your labor rate, I will have the car towed from your shop to another shop in your area that will do the work at the labor rate we want to pay.” Those were the words spoken to my service advisor a few weeks ago from a claims agent at an extended warranty company. The name of the company doesn’t matter. What does matter is what would you do when faced with this situation. Here’s another scenario you’re probably familiar with: After diagnosing a failed steering rack, the customer informed us that she had an aftermarket warranty policy. She asked me if I could find out if the steering rack is covered. I said, “Sure, I will be happy to help. But, just to let you know, most of the extended warranty companies I deal with have their own labor and parts pricing policies, which may not be aligned with our pricing. So, whatever they don’t pay, you will be responsible for. Are you OK with this?” My customer said, “Absolutely. I understand. I appreciate anything you can do for me.” I thought the hard part was over. What came next was bizarre. The insurance adjuster I spoke to authorized the repair, told me the labor dollars they will pay and then said, “OK, it looks like I have a used rack in a salvage yard in South Carolina. I can have that rack to you in two days.” I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t in a weird dream. Used steering rack? Salvage yard? Is this guy for real? I quickly shot back and said, “Let me ask you a few questions. First, where does is state in the contract that your company will supply a junk yard part for your insured? And why in the world would I remove an old worn-out steering rack from my customer’s car and put back an old used rack from a junked vehicle? Is that really in the best interest of the customer?” The claims adjuster replied back, “Well, shops do it all the time.” I said, “I don’t think so, and I won’t do it either. Let me tell you how this is going to go. I am replacing the rack with a quality part, and I will make sure that my customer gets the best job possible. So, please give me the authorized amount and I will let the customer know what the balance is that your company will not pay.” He said, “You can’t do that.” I said, “Yes, I can. My customer is already briefed on the situation.” He reluctantly gave me the authorization number along with the dollar amount. I relayed the story to the customer. My customer then called the insurance company and gave them hell. They did end up authorizing additional money for the part I installed. Before we continue, I want to be fair and balanced. There are some extended warranty companies that try to offer their customers a peace-of-mind policy, and do pay a good portion of the repair. However, far too often, it’s a struggle to get an extended insurance company to agree to our labor and part prices. Here’s the deal. If you’re like me, you have spent countless hours understanding the numbers of your business. You’ve also spent a great deal of time and effort to put the right people in place, develop the right pay plans and have created the systems to run an efficient business. You know the balance between being competitive and profitable. When you consider all this, we need to carefully consider how negotiating our prices will affect our bottom line. I understand the reality too. Sometimes, you really need the work. You don’t want to lose the job. And settling for something is better than losing the job. I have been there. But the truth is that negotiating your prices, in the long run, will not only hurt you, but will also hurt our industry across the board. By the way, my service advisor never did negotiate our labor rate. He simply told the agent, “Our labor rate is non-negotiable. Do you have any other questions?” The agent eventually backed down and paid us the job at our labor rate. Be upfront with your customers. Clearly explain to them that their warranty policy may not cover the entire repair and come to an agreement with your customer before you call the warranty company. Lastly, make sure you know what it takes to earn a profit. Profit is needed to pay your expenses, put a little money aside for the future, pay your employees a decent wage and also pay yourself the salary you deserve. When you really analyze the bottom line and what’s really left over, do you really want to negotiate your prices? This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on May 1st, 2019
  9. It was a busy Friday morning when Tom called me for an update on his vehicle. I let Tom know that his car would be ready at the end of the day. There was a pause, and then he blindsided me with this, “You know, Joe, I did a little research on that water pump you’re replacing on my car. I can get that same part for $30 less. Why does your part cost so much?” I fired back at him by saying, “That’s impossible; it can’t be.” I went on and on attempting to defend myself, but I could tell I wasn’t getting through to him. After a few more words back and forth, Tom finally said, “Look, you started the job, so you might as well just finish it.” You’re probably thinking Tom went online to check the part. Well, this happened in 1980, my first year in business, and years before the Internet, as we know it today, even existed. Tom simply called a local part store. The parts store gave him a discounted price and then figured he would challenge me. Consumers checking your prices is nothing new—it just got a whole lot easier these days with the world wide web. Now, let’s clarify one thing: I am not going to tell in this article that there is a foolproof way to train consumers not to go online to check your prices. However, what I can tell you with certainty is that if you continue to feature products and not the customer experience, you are telling people to please check your prices. Consider this: You’re out to dinner and you ask the waiter for the wine list. As you scan the list, you recognize a brand and then look to the right at the price. Do you Google the bottle of wine to check what you could buy it in the store? We all know that a $10 bottle of wine in the store can cost well over $40 at the restaurant. Here’s the bottom line: The restaurant is selling more than wine and food—it’s selling the customer experience. And if all goes the way it should, we pay for the meal and the bottle of wine, even when we know the wine is priced higher than we could purchase it at the store. And, we are OK with it. Our business is no different. We need to focus on the experience, not the products. Yes, we install water pumps, control arms and radiators. But, that’s not our main focus. Our focus is on the value and the benefits of doing business with us. Now, with that said, there’s a delicate balance between being competitive and being profitable. But, as value goes up, price becomes less of an issue. Here’s the difference between our business and a product-driven business. When you buy a product—let’s say a watch or a cell phone—the experience lives on long after the sale. Every time you put on the watch, or use your cell phone, you are continuing the experience. And if the product is high quality, the experience gets reinforced over and over every time you use it. With auto repair, in most cases, what we do, does not live on after the sale. Once a customer leaves with a new timing belt and water pump, there’s not much about that repair that lives on in the eyes of the consumer, except the customer experience. Your entire sales process—your marketing, the look of your shop, the people you employee and every aspect of your business that the customer sees—must tell the customer that what you sell is worth the price. Let’s remember one thing: Your prices will be challenged from time to time. So, here are a few more tips. Get the right training for your service advisors, especially in the area of customer service. Make sure your marketing and advertising communicates your brand and your culture, and please be careful with discounting. Claims that you have the best price on tires or brakes only results in consumers checking online to see if that’s true. Highlight your warranty, which has a lasting impression on the customer. Above all, communicate the benefits of doing business with your company. Let’s get back to Tom. After 39 years, Tom and his family are still customers. I have to believe it’s because Tom appreciates the level of service we have given him throughout the years and the relationship we’ve built. Tom has learned what Warren Buffet has often said, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.” This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on May 1st, 2019
  10. It was a busy Friday morning when Tom called me for an update on his vehicle. I let Tom know that his car would be ready at the end of the day. There was a pause, and then he blindsided me with this, “You know, Joe, I did a little research on that water pump you’re replacing on my car. I can get that same part for $30 less. Why does your part cost so much?” I fired back at him by saying, “That’s impossible; it can’t be.” I went on and on attempting to defend myself, but I could tell I wasn’t getting through to him. After a few more words back and forth, Tom finally said, “Look, you started the job, so you might as well just finish it.” You’re probably thinking Tom went online to check the part. Well, this happened in 1980, my first year in business, and years before the Internet, as we know it today, even existed. Tom simply called a local part store. The parts store gave him a discounted price and then figured he would challenge me. Consumers checking your prices is nothing new—it just got a whole lot easier these days with the world wide web. Now, let’s clarify one thing: I am not going to tell in this article that there is a foolproof way to train consumers not to go online to check your prices. However, what I can tell you with certainty is that if you continue to feature products and not the customer experience, you are telling people to please check your prices. Consider this: You’re out to dinner and you ask the waiter for the wine list. As you scan the list, you recognize a brand and then look to the right at the price. Do you Google the bottle of wine to check what you could buy it in the store? We all know that a $10 bottle of wine in the store can cost well over $40 at the restaurant. Here’s the bottom line: The restaurant is selling more than wine and food—it’s selling the customer experience. And if all goes the way it should, we pay for the meal and the bottle of wine, even when we know the wine is priced higher than we could purchase it at the store. And, we are OK with it. Our business is no different. We need to focus on the experience, not the products. Yes, we install water pumps, control arms and radiators. But, that’s not our main focus. Our focus is on the value and the benefits of doing business with us. Now, with that said, there’s a delicate balance between being competitive and being profitable. But, as value goes up, price becomes less of an issue. Here’s the difference between our business and a product-driven business. When you buy a product—let’s say a watch or a cell phone—the experience lives on long after the sale. Every time you put on the watch, or use your cell phone, you are continuing the experience. And if the product is high quality, the experience gets reinforced over and over every time you use it. With auto repair, in most cases, what we do, does not live on after the sale. Once a customer leaves with a new timing belt and water pump, there’s not much about that repair that lives on in the eyes of the consumer, except the customer experience. Your entire sales process—your marketing, the look of your shop, the people you employee and every aspect of your business that the customer sees—must tell the customer that what you sell is worth the price. Let’s remember one thing: Your prices will be challenged from time to time. So, here are a few more tips. Get the right training for your service advisors, especially in the area of customer service. Make sure your marketing and advertising communicates your brand and your culture, and please be careful with discounting. Claims that you have the best price on tires or brakes only results in consumers checking online to see if that’s true. Highlight your warranty, which has a lasting impression on the customer. Above all, communicate the benefits of doing business with your company. Let’s get back to Tom. After 39 years, Tom and his family are still customers. I have to believe it’s because Tom appreciates the level of service we have given him throughout the years and the relationship we’ve built. Tom has learned what Warren Buffet has often said, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.” This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on May 1st, 2019 View full article
  11. This is a tough situation, if you have no proof the damage was not there when the car was brought in, you may be responsible. People have an heightened sense of awareness when they pick up their car. And if this guy really loves his car and takes care of it, it just intensifies the situation. If you haven't done it already, you need to make it part of your workflow process to perform a walk around and document any damage. Many shops create video's of the car's exterior before any work is done, even before a tech gets into the car. You need to protect yourself. As far has any help with the exterior finish, consult a detail shop or body shop. I hope this helps and good luck. I have been in this situation, so I know what you are going through.
  12. The aftermath of the great recession, which caused many new car dealers to go out of business, has resulted in a new breed of dealers. They have come to realize that the lower margins on new cars, combined with the intense competition, means that their service and parts departments must become primary profit centers. Which also means that they need more customers beyond the warranty period …. and that means they want your customers. Ten years ago, I laughed at the attempts of the local dealers to try to steal my customers...but no longer. Smart dealers have 4 primary strategies: 1. Offer free oil changes, - some for life, some of a specific time period - And setting up the first oil change service at the time of the sale 2. Wrap future maintenance plans into the monthly payment 3. Sell maintenance plans at the time of the sale 4. Use recalls as a way to sell services and repairs. What are you doing to fight these strategies?
  13. Spring is here! Market you shop in your community. Dollar for dollar, the best marketing you can do is right in your own back yard. This is the time of the year when a lot of outdoor events begin: From youth sports to adult golf games. In addition, there are fund raisers each weekend. Find out what's going on in your community. Get involved. Sponsor a youth sport's team, sponsor a golf tournament fund raiser or other fund raiser events. Get your shop known for being part of the community, not just another repair shop. The more you stand out, the more people will take notice and stronger your business will become!
  14. Remember, each customer is a chance for a future sale. Make sure you take care of each customer, let them know of future needed services and repairs, and setup of future appointments at car delivery.
  15. Joe Marconi

    Joe Marconi



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