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88 Search Results for ""oil changes""

  • Elevating the Industry's Image Elevating the Industry's Image

    • From: FairwayCommunications
    • Description:

      By Gary McCoy, Fairway Communications

      Mike Bailey is the owner of Car Doctor, a repair shop in downtown Oklahoma City. The shop is located in an area of the city that is changing quickly and not far from the arena where the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder plays.

      Car Doctor dates back to 1983, and Bailey has owned the shop since 1995. Car Doctor is a NAPA AutoCare shop that offers complete automotive maintenance and repair for both foreign and domestic vehicles. Car Doctor does everything from oil changes to engine replacement.

      Bailey has been involved in the leadership committee of the Car Care Professionals Network at the Auto Care Association and has been an L1 Certified ASE Master Technician for over 25 years. He’s been the NAPA/ASE Technician of the Year in Oklahoma City for 14 of the last 15 years and a certified mentor for Oklahoma State University Protech. 

      I recently sat down with Bailey at his shop in Oklahoma City to talk about issues that small shop owners are facing.

      In this clip Bailey shares ideas for elevating the image of the industry.

    • Video blog post
    • 4 weeks ago
    • Views: 324
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  • Let Us Help Your Shop Become M Let Us Help Your Shop Become More Efficient

    • From: Bolt On Technology
    • Description:

      Have you been wondering what this button does or that does on your BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY applications?

      We realize that our automotive software solutions are all-encompassing and, for many customers, take time to fully realize all capabilities.

      Just like the applications that help schedule oil changes, text service reminders to customers, complete customized digital multi-point inspections and more, there’s an app, too, for customer assistance.

      It’s called our support team.

      Our staff of friendly and knowledgeable technical support folks is here for you, by phone or live chat to answer your questions, guide installations and help you to become proficient in our technology.

       

      We are just a call or remote chat session away and we always love to hear from our customers! Whether it's to ask a question, share feedback, troubleshoot, or offer suggestions for software upgrades, we appreciate hearing from all of you. 

      We pride ourselves on listening to our customers - it's how we create better products and become a greater company. Without you, there's no "us." 

      You can reach our support team Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST at 610-400-1019 or through our Web site here:
      http://www.boltontechnology.com/support.html

      Thanks for all of your support!

    • Blog post
    • 1 month ago
    • Views: 339
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  • Automotive Software Solutions Automotive Software Solutions Make Setting Vehicle Appointments a Snap

    • From: Bolt On Technology
    • Description:

      We make appointments for haircuts, teeth cleanings and health physicals. So why not oil changes, tire rotations and other car-related services?

      For auto shop owners, using automotive software solutions to advance schedule various services, including state inspections and emissions, is beneficial to the business and the customer.

      Auto shops can drive up revenue ahead of time by advance scheduling appointments while a customer is having other services performed. Think about it, customers and techs alike know that changing a vehicle’s oil every three months or 3,000 miles is a best practice. What better way to drive that home than to use software that looks at driving habits to predict when a customer should return for this common service?

      Shops need a means of recording and calculating reminders around each customer’s individual driving habits. Taking into account a vehicle’s age, history and recommended service based on mileage can aid in booking future transactions including tire rotations, state inspections & emissions, as well as coolant flushes and so on.

      Scheduling routine services ahead of time helps maintain manageable work flows and enables shops to determine how many walk-in customers can be added on any given day.

      Software developed with advance scheduling function features takes email, postcards and even phone call service reminders to another level. With everyone’s busy schedule, it helps to ensure that customers keep up with important vehicle services. To make that scheduling process seamless, customers can add their three-month service, six-month service, or even their annual inspection to their calendar in advance. As the appointment date nears, reminders can be auto-texted to customers.

      The process is hands-off, allowing shop owners and technicians to focus on other priorities, including performing other customers’ vehicle maintenance.

      From the driver’s perspective, scheduling future appointments at the time of service makes things easier in several ways. For one, this advanced feature ensures that customers will not forget to make that oil change or tire rotation appointment. People are busy enough. Having one less appointment they need to remember to schedule down the road makes things easier.

      In the end, customers save time in the future, by making plans today.

      Also, if they can look ahead to what their vehicle’s maintenance needs are, they will be less likely to decline service as they have had time to prepare financially.

       

      Just like dentists, doctors and hair salons, vehicle maintenance can be predicted and arranged ahead of time.

    • Blog post
    • 1 month ago
    • Views: 381
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  • Converting Leads Converting Leads

    • From: Kukui1
    • Description:

      A new customer will almost always call you before bringing his or her car into your shop. Converting these calls into sales can be tricky, but you can increase the potential for success by establishing a game plan before the phone rings. Here are some strategies to consider when formulating your plan. 

      The Greeting:

      There are tons of shops out there with employees who answer the phones sounding grumpy, disappointed or tired. You can get an edge on the competition by being friendly, which should lead the person on the other end of the phone to be friendly in return. In addition to setting a welcoming tone, your introduction should always mention the name of your shop, your name and the phrase: “How can I help you?” Remember to train your employees on this approach, so no matter who picks up the phone, the customer receives the same warm greeting.

      The Pitch: 

      We all know that customers like to price shop. Don’t fall into that trap. Giving a price quote over the phone can set up your shop for failure if the repairs require more time or additional parts you didn’t expect. Instead, sell your shop based on the value you provide - not the price of your services. If you specialize in certain makes and models, mention that expertise, as well as any warranties you offer for your work. Conveniences such as longer hours, oil changes under an hour or shuttle services can also make a difference. Don’t forget to offer a free inspection, so the caller knows you provide more bang for the buck. And last but not least, make sure you and your staff are familiar with any specials you might be advertising on your website. There’s nothing worse than looking uneducated about your offerings.

      Closing the Deal: 

      Your goal should be to schedule an appointment before the caller hangs up the phone.  Operate with a sense of urgency. Ask when a good time is to bring in the vehicle and provide specific options. For example, “Can you bring your vehicle in today at 2 pm or tomorrow at 9 am?” 

      Always ask for contact information, including first and last name, phone number and email address. Read the information back to ensure you have it correct for future use.  Give the caller clear directions to your shop, including the address, cross streets and any landmarks that might be helpful. 

      Finally, don’t be afraid to follow up if you don’t secure an appointment immediately, especially for maintenance services that may fall through the cracks. If you make the experience as easy as possible, you’re more likely to score a sale. 

       

       

      An automotive industry veteran, Todd Westerlund serves as president and CEO of Kukui Corporation, a maker of marketing software solutions. Todd has spent the bulk of his career helping to fuel sales for the automotive industry. His experience spans everything from repairing cars to teaching repair shop owners how to market through social media. Before joining Kukui, Todd served as vice president of sales for Shop Management Services, an exclusive distributor of the R.O. Writer automotive shop management software system. Todd began his career as an ASE-certified technician.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

    • Blog post
    • 2 months ago
    • Views: 1520
  • Does Malibu Ken Come with That Does Malibu Ken Come with That?

    • From: Lance_Boldt
    • Description:

      Malibu.pngBy Melanie Platte

      My first driving experience was when I was 14 and my best friend was 17. We were in her parents old Ford Taurus, and being the “big sister”, she thought it would be fun to teach me. I drove about two blocks down a street not too far from where we lived, but one that we knew nobody familiar lived on.

      I didn’t go very straight, and managed to hit the corner of someone’s lawn in the process. I don’t remember what the song on the radio was, but I remember it had the sound of sirens in the background, and they went off just as I was pulling off this poor person’s lawn.  I was sure I’d been caught! I was shaking for 15 minutes after, but I was giddy for a lot longer.

      Driving. Was. Awesome!

      Forget that I was too young, going a whopping  10 miles an hour, less than a mile from my own house, in a car that wasn’t mine, and that I was sure I’d be arrested for flattening that lawn; I was hooked! (When my mother found out about this when I was in my 20s, she still tried to ground me for it- I was married with a child at the time!)

      Fast forward two years. I now have my driver's permit, and I’m on my way to being a legitimate driver. My dad had brought home a little 1970 something Chevy Malibu. This car was MINE. Thoughts of freedom danced around in my head. I envisioned trips to the lake or San Francisco with friends on the weekends. (Did I mention I’m a dreamer?) Out my dad and I went to the parking lot of a nearby church for my first test drive. THIS is when he opted to tell me that it was a stick shift. I didn’t care, it was mine! We lasted about an hour together. He stressed out, I cried, he sold the car.

      I hated driving at this point. Everyone was watching me: the driving instructors, my parents, my friends’ parents, my neighbors, the stray cats on the corner. I felt scrutinized and humiliated if I did anything even a little bit wrong. “Brake nicer, turn slower, watch this, watch that.” This was HARD! Not the freedom I had once envisioned. After a few months of practice though, I got through it. I was rewarded with the ability to drive my dad’s old truck; a 1996 GMC Sierra. I LOVED that truck, and driving became fun again!

      Many years later, I became a parent. Those first few weeks and months were the most nervous I’ve ever had as a driver; That little baby in the backseat, so sweet and innocent, and all those other drivers out there aiming for us! I saw every pothole, every pedestrian, and every person on their phone as a potential threat to our safety.

      I now required that my car, a 2001 Ford Focus, be all that it could be. It had to be able to stop on a dime, be able to make swift lane changes, drive straight, be reliable, and avoid obstacles. Sure, some of this depended on my driving skills as well, but it was around this time that I truly became aware that my car needed to be taken care of, if I expected it to take care of me. I became religious about changing my fluids and getting little things I noticed addressed, lest it suddenly burst into flames, throw me off a bridge, etc. (Did I mention dreaming turned into worrying??)

      I have never known much about the mechanics of my car. I know when it “feels funny” or is making “strange noises”, but at that point, I take it to someone I trust, and I leave my fate in their hands. What I love about AutoNetTV is that our products create awareness!

      Someone like me who knows virtually nothing about my car can sit in a shop waiting for my oil to be changed and get educated on things like my brakes, power steering, or timing belt, and the importance of keeping them maintained. I know for a fact that knowledge is power for me, and money for my mechanic. I still love to drive, but as a “grownup”, it sure is a lot more fun when I trust the car I’m driving to get me places in one piece. And it’s even better if I get to drive with the wind in my hair and the music cranked up… as long as there are no sirens in the song!

      Melanie Platte is the Sales Support Specialist at AutoNetTV Media, Inc.

    • Blog post
    • 2 months ago
    • Views: 528
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  • Use Automotive Software Soluti Use Automotive Software Solutions to Combat Your Slow Seasons

    • From: Bolt On Technology
    • Description:

      Spring and summer months are historically busier times for auto repair shops. Of course it would be great to keep that steady traffic coming into your bays day in and day out, each and every day through fall and winter too. But, how do you do it?

      A stay-busy year-round solution is easier to attain than you may think.

      Dentists, doctors and hair salons all use advance scheduling to ensure their respective professionals do not confront empty appointment books. The auto repair industry should be no different. Repair shops can stockpile consistent business for various vehicle maintenance issues in the same way by employing help from automotive software solutions.

      Today’s cutting-edge shop management software programs incorporate features like customer driving history, vehicle age and recommended services based on specific mileage milestones to predict a service timetable for scheduling state inspections, emissions tests, tire rotations, lube oil and filter changes and other services, including coolant flushes. Scheduling these services in advance, while the customer is in the shop, can help businesses avoid the September (and February) slumps and ensure a consistent repair shop revenue stream.

      In addition, scheduling routine services in advance helps shops maintain a more manageable work flow- particularly during busy seasons-and helps shops to determine how many walk-in customers can be added on any given day. It also gives customers a greater opportunity to keep up with recommended maintenance while making it easier for them to take action on important vehicle services.

      Software developed with advance scheduling functionality capabilities takes email, postcards and even phone call service reminders to a whole new level. Using software scheduling tools allows shop owners to be proactive instead of reactive. Think about it, when does boosting business come to mind? Typically shop owners reflect on attracting more customers, or bringing back regular customers when business is down. Waiting until then may be too late.

      By implementing software that enables a seamless advance scheduling process for customers’ regular 3-6-month and even annual vehicle maintenance needs, shops will see far fewer slow days and will be less likely to need last-minute incentives to drive business.

      Another benefit besides keeping steady momentum is that as the appointment date nears, reminders can be auto-texted to customers, further freeing up shop owners and technicians to focus on other priorities, including performing other customers’ vehicle maintenance.

      To learn more about implementing advance scheduling software at your automotive repair shop, visit http://www.BoltOnTechnology.com, or call 610-400-1019.

    • Blog post
    • 2 months ago
    • Views: 434
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  • Asking the Right Questions Asking the Right Questions

    • From: MudlickMail
    • Description:

      I don’t know many shop owners who don’t want to grow their car count and increase their sales, but setting a goal to take your shop to the next level and actually making it happen are two different things. Failing to execute on such tasks as answering the phone correctly or delivering on speed of service could prevent you from reaching your goals.

      Here are some questions to ask yourself about how you handle sales and service that could help you determine if you’re making the right moves to grow your business.

      1. Are you diagnosing car repairs over the phone?

      Diagnosing a problem over the phone is impossible to do accurately. This approach allows your customers to shop around to see what competitors charge to fix the issue (likely a repair or service he or she might not even need). Instead, focus on getting the customer to bring his or her car in for a free inspection/written estimate by one of your ASE-certified technicians.

       

      2. Is your sales staff prepared to handle the typical customer objections?

      Training your sales staff  - by rehearsing and role-playing responses to typical objections so they become seamless in conversation - is essential. Consider these typical objections:

      I do not have the money

      I am just going to wait and do the repair later. 

      I am going to sell my car soon, so I will pass on the repair.

      Your price is too high. I am going to shop your price around. 

      I need to talk with my spouse and I will call you back.

      I will think about it and call you back.

       

      3. Do you pause when you give a price to a customer or do you use an “assumed close?”

      Always give a price and follow without hesitation, “We can get this service done for you today. Is this still the best number to reach you?” When you pause, you give the customer a chance to think about it and reject the service. This is not to say that some customers will say no regardless of your system, but if you are targeting the correct households with your marketing, you will get the yes you want frequently and that will give you some negotiating room for the customers who initially say no.

       

      4. How many oil changes walk in and out of your shop with no additional PMI service sold?

      You have to hold your service managers accountable to sell service. If we pay them $40,000 per year as an annual salary, then we better be selling $40,000 in service each month. If your car count is up but your sales revenue is down, then you have a“front counter” problem. If your technicians are pencil whipping the PMIs and are not writing up 60-80 hours ofwork that isneeded on the cars they see, then you have a “back of the house” problem. The pressure always should be on the front counter. They should sell all they can each day and hold work over to the next day if necessary.

       

      5. Are your staff members printing out the following for every customer they interact with? 

      Your profit could be walking out the door if you are not providing these items. Outlining all needed repairs and maintenance reminders could also set you up for future business.

      Maintenance Schedule for vehicle 

      Completed PMI Sheet 

      Written Estimate for all work found on PMI 

      Service Bulletins 

      Customer Histories (if applicable) 

      Repair Order with detailed notes on broke car items, PMI items and approved & declined service 

       

       

      Tim Ross is president of Mudlick Mail, a leading provider of direct mail campaigns to the automotive repair industry.  Mudlick Mail has worked with close to 1,000 automotive repair shops and transmission shops across the United States and Canada, helping them improve their car count and increase sales. The company teaches its clients how to understand consumer-buying habits and shows them how to create effective systems to maximize the value of their marketing campaigns. At the end of the day, Mudlick Mail wants to support shop owners in their quest to build long-term profitable businesses.

    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 1274
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  • MARKETING YOUR AUTOMOTIVE REPA MARKETING YOUR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR SHOP

    • From: HeatherMSumpter
    • Description:

      MUST-DO MARKETING ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR AUTO REPAIR SHOP

      Many repair shops today are owned by technicians or service writers who grew tired of the daily grind of working for someone else, and decided to go in their own direction. Oftentimes the shop is a family business that has been handed down for half a century. Yet some the most successful automotive repair shops are not owned by the best techs in the business, but rather, they are owned by some of the best business professionals and those with an eye for marketing. Why? Because although you may be  an ASE certified technician or Master Mechanic with 20 years of experience, knowing how to best market it can be an even bigger hurdle to overcome on the road to your shop’s overall success. Here are some tips on how you can get started or simply improve your shop’s marketing plans and start generating more business.

       

      Do your research!  Before you launch a marketing campaign, you need to first figure out who your customers are so that you know how to reach them.

      ·        Start by finding out who your potential customers are and learn everything about them—income, interests, habits—keeping in mind that they may be residents that are just down the street or commuters who work at a nearby business park. One shop was advertising on a male-dominated rock radio station and not seeing any results. Once they learned that more than 80% of car care maintenance/service decisions are made by women, they switched to a female-driven format and saw results instantly.

      ·        For established shops, use any and all data available to  you from your shop management platform to see where you may be losing customers, as well as what your “best” customers look like in terms of demographics.

      ·        Research your competitors and what they are currently doing to drive their business, including their rates and specials. Sometimes a simple drop in your labor rates or creating package type specials are all you need to do to get the bays filled.

      ·        Get an understanding of who your brand is, what you represent as a shop and what differentiates you among the others in your area. Once you know what makes your shop so unique, drive that message home in all you do. For example, if your shop is different because you have bi-lingual service writers key in on that and tailor your marketing message and medium accordingly. If you shop has a unique feature, such as shuttle service to a local shopping mall or an on-site  kids playground, use that to leverage your brand and show what makes your shop special in the eyes of potential customers.

       

      Take care of your existing customers.  Whether it be by creating a customer loyalty program or a e-mail/snail-mail database, offering bounce-back and loyalty programs such as these keep your customers engaged, thinking of you and wanting to come back.

      ·        Implement a hands-on customer follow-up program with your employees. After a car has been serviced or had repairs performed, personally call the owner to say thank you and to follow up on the repair to see how the vehicle is running.  This will help set your shop apart from your competitors.

      ·        Utilize comment cards. The best I have seen are postcards that hang from the rearview mirror. The cards feature pre-paid postage and explain why the customer’s utmost honesty and open feedback is far more helpful than sugar-coating their experience or simply not responding at all. If you can, use comment cards that offer a bounce-back reward to the customer as a thank you for their time and their recent visit.

      ·        Most shop management systems, such as Mitchell1 have CRM programs built in or available as an add-on. These CRM offerings typically come with automated email or postcard reminders for service that may be due soon, referral offers, bounce back mailings/offers, and even online account creation where a customer can keep track of their vehicle maintenance via an app or online account with automated email service reminders.

      ·        See if the customer is willing to schedule their next maintenance service before they leave, possibly at a discounted rate. This is similar to scheduling your next semi-annual dentist visit before you leave the office. No one enjoys having their vehicle maintained, so be willing to go above and beyond to simplify the process and make it automatic and pain-free for your customers.

       

      Take your shop online if you want to exist in the eyes of your customers.

      ·        It’s still shocking the number of shops today who still don’t have a professional-looking website. If you want to be found, you need to be online. Most people find a new repair shop via search engines, such as Bing or Google. If you don’t have a website, you are invisible.

      ·        Watch your online reputation. Even if you are not on social media or may not even have a website, your customers may still be talking about you, only you don’t have any way to track this or respond if the feedback is negative. Utilize customer online review sites, such as Yelp, Google+ and AngiesList.com. If you see bad reviews, ask the customer to call you directly and open the dialogue—do NOT delete the review! Customers see this as dishonest, and would much rather see the conversation’s resolution online to show that their opinion matters and your shop is committed to service and making the situation right.

      ·        Make sure you are utilizing social media as tool to not only build brand awareness and monitor feedback, but also as a promotion-based tool to directly impact sales. On Facebook, run a campaign that focuses on one specific service to see the impact to your shop’s sales. For example, in April focus on oil changes as your feature. You can post videos, tips, stats on the importance, and recommendations about changing your oil throughout the month. Make sure if you are running other types of advertising that you also include this there as well, so your campaign is fully integrated. 

       

      Use the resources and tools that are available to you from your parts suppliers. Many WD’s and jobbers offer car care membership programs’, most of which include valuable resources to help build your brand and increase your sales.

      ·        If you choose to join a car care center program, take full advantage of the program elements and use them to your advantage. Most platforms include shop imaging elements, POS signage, location finders, national advertising support, warranty programs, consumer promotions, and bounce-back offers. In addition, many come with amenities such as rebates on your parts purchases, discounts on CRM and marketing tools, deeper parts discounts and loyalty rewards, and access to shop upgrading resources.

      ·        Be sure you are familiar with Be Car Care Aware’s website, carcare.org, and all of the free resources that are available to your shop. There are many tips and ideas on the site that will help you create excitement in your area such as the twice annual check-lane events for car care awareness month.

       

      Be active and visible in your community via local events and media relations. People like to patronize businesses that they have not only heard of but who are an active part of their own local communities. Take this to the next level beyond sponsoring a youth baseball team by sponsoring or hosting some promotional events or making yourself available as a resource or expert for local media outlets, such as local news stations, bloggers, car clubs and radio shows.

      ·        Network at any and all community events to help get your name out and start to build your brand of a community partner and expert. This will help establish trust and open countless opportunities for you and your shop in terms of word of mouth referrals. Small business groups are a great way to start to build your network, as is LinkedIn.

      ·        Contact your local media outlets and let them know about your shop, not only with a Grand Opening announcement but also for any community events your shop is involved with and stay in touch with them! Many times if a station needs an automotive expert they will take the easy way out by reaching out to members already in their network or someone with whom they are already familiar. Be that expert! It could get you and your shop free mentions and exposure that is priceless to building your customer’s trust and your brand’s credibility.

      ·        Community events can be your sweet spot and typically not cost you a fortune to execute. Great examples of this involvement would be to host a car care clinic for new drivers, offer a women’s car care clinic, sponsor a local cruise in or car show, or volunteer your shop for service organizations or scouts. We had a car care center who partnered with a local church each spring for their youth group service project. Single mothers could bring in their cars for a free oil change and discounted wiper blade and air filter replacement, while the youth group washed and vacuumed the cars as part of their required volunteer service hours. Talk about a great way to get some free press!

      ·        Reach out to your parts suppliers for potential partnerships for community events. For example, our parts warehouse has partnered with a nearby repair shop to hold a community-wide toy drive for the holidays. We both benefitted from the free media mentions and combining forces allowed the charity to receive more toys for the worthy cause. Two locations, two Facebook pages, two marketing budgets meant double the impact for all parties involved.


      This post, written by Heather M. Sumpter, was originally featured at 23kazoos.com on April 5, 2014 as Wendy Kenney's guest blogger. Here is the direct link to the post:

      http://www.23kazoos.com/must-marketing-activities-auto-repair-shop/

    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 2576
    • Not yet rated
  • Making Money a Different Way Making Money a Different Way

    • From: MudlickMail
    • Description:

      Making Money a Different Way

       

      The auto service industry has changed tremendously over the last decade. With better-built cars on the road, the type of work shop owners do has shifted from repairs to maintenance tasks.

      In the past, 80 percent of the cars that came through our shops were broke cars, while 20 percent were there for preventative maintenance such as an oil change. Today, the mix has changed to 70 percent routine or preventative maintenance and 30 percent broke cars.

      The issue comes down to revenue and profit. For shop owners, it’s typically much more lucrative to fix a broken car than perform an oil change.  So, the question that remains is “How do we effectively manage our business and make money, considering the new market dynamics and industry challenges”? The answer lies in dedicating the right resources to converting those oil changes and other low-cost maintenance jobs into upsells with higher price points.

      The first step is to assemble a superior front desk team that is trained to make each transaction more profitable. To achieve this goal, front desk personnel must learn to say yes every time the phone rings. They should know that the shop is never too busy to service a new customer – even if that means pushing a broken car out of a bay to handle an oil change, which becomes a new sales opportunity. Instruct your front desk personnel on how to conduct user-friendly, “show and sells” where they can physically point out the items on the car that need to be fixed. Every customer interaction should also include a review of the vehicle’s regular maintenance schedule, to help clients understand the maintenance needed to avoid costly repairs in the future.

      On the technician side, hire mechanics who are efficient at doing the preventative maintenance inspections and adept at highlighting typical issues of a vehicle model that may or may not have been noted by the customer. Having these types of skilled mechanics will also help you ensure speed of service, another essential element for converting PMI jobs into higher sales. People are more likely to buy-in to an upsell if the additional services doesn’t demand too much of their time.  Getting customers in and out in a reasonable timeframe makes a great and lasting impression. 

      Finally, focus on communicating the unique features and benefits you offer. This is vital in distinguishing your shop from competitors and creates value, in addition to quality standard repair services. Here are examples of how I differentiate my service offerings and create long-term customer value:

      Offering longer transferable warranty periods of three years / 36,000 miles. This helps incentivize a customer to have a repair job done that he or she hadn’t planned on initially

      Providing specials such as five-pack oil changes at reduced prices, which encourage customer loyalty and create more opportunities for repair work. This approach provides you with an additional 18 to 24-month period of profit potential.

       

       

      Tim Ross is president of Mudlick Mail, a leading provider of direct mail campaigns to the automotive repair industry.  Mudlick Mail has worked with close to 1,000 automotive repair shops and transmission shops across the United States and Canada, helping them improve their car count and increase sales. The company teaches its clients how to understand consumer-buying habits and shows them how to create effective systems to maximize the value of their marketing campaigns. At the end of the day, Mudlick Mail wants to support shop owners in their quest to build long-term profitable businesses.

       

       

       

       

       

       

    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 722
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  • Good Old Days & a Gold Corvair Good Old Days & a Gold Corvair

    • From: Lance_Boldt
    • Description:

      1962 Corvair.jpgBy Dennis Emery, CFO, AutoNetTV Media, Inc.

      While driving in my car the other day, I found myself scanning through my XM radio stations looking for something worth listening to. I landed on a station that was totally dedicated to the 1960’s music. As I heard these old familiar songs my mind took me back to those “good old days” of high school. Memories of homework, dating, proms, Friday night basketball and football games and just hanging with friends flooded my mind. Another vivid memory of those days was the excitement of getting my first driver’s license. Getting that license was the gateway to a new found freedom of not having to rely on mom and dad for transportation.

      The process of getting the license seemed to take forever. First you had to take a driver education class. Once you passed the class you had get your parents to haul you down to the department of motor vehicles where you had to pass a written and a driving test. In order to pass the written test you could only miss no more than three questions. The pressure was on. As I took my completed test to the counter to have it reviewed by the examiner, my heart was racing. Did I study enough? Did I get more that 3 questions wrong? What will my friends say if I come home and have failed the test? Did I pass?? Then it happened…..PASS!! What a relief!

      However, this was no time to celebrate. There was still the driving test. But wait…. that meant the dreaded parallel parking part of the exam. Could I really do it without crashing into those orange cones strategically placed to test my parking skills? With sweat running down my face I maneuvered my dad’s car perfectly into the designated parking area and passed with flying colors. The result of all my blood, sweat and tears was the issuance of my “Learners Permit”.  For the next two weeks, I could drive a car, but I needed to have a fully licensed driver (over the age of 18) in the front passenger seat. I think I drove my parents crazy for those two weeks. I was constantly nagging them to let me drive. I circled the date of my two week probation period on the calendar and two weeks to the day, we headed back to the department of motor vehicles to make it official. They snapped my picture and issued me my first driver’s license. The best day of my short 16 year life!!

      Now that I had my license to drive, the only thing that I needed was a car!! While my parents were good at letting me take their cars, I longed for the freedom of not being restricted to using a car only when mom and dad were not using it. In my senior year of high school, my dream was finally realized. My first car! I purchased a used, 1962 Chevrolet Corvair from my uncle for $500. It was a gold color and was a 4-speed manual transmission with the stick on the floor. Life could not be better!!

      Since those days, a long time ago, I have had numerous vehicles in my life. Like most of you, I can remember each car, and they all bring back great memories!! Your first new car, your first family van, the neighborhood truck, and that little spots car you have always dreamed of.  Vehicles have always been and will continue to be a part of our lives. We count on them every day to get us and our families where we need to be. Just try not having access or using your car for just a few days. It is painful. Taking good care of our vehicles is more important today than ever before. Regular oil changes and following recommended scheduled maintenance will keep your vehicle in good working condition.

      During the next few weeks, I hope you will all take a few moments and reflect back on the vehicles in your life. Just like music, remembering the vehicles in your life will bring back those great memories of the past and might just bring a smile to your face as you remember the” good old days”.

      AutoNetTV

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  • Local Xpress Lube Service Cent Local Xpress Lube Service Center Locations Receive National Motor Oil Matters Certification for Commitment to Quality

    • From: mmolbogot
    • Description:

       

      Local Xpress Lube Service Center Locations Receive National Motor Oil Matters Certification for Commitment to Quality

      Three Xpress Lube Service Center  Installers Become 1st American Petroleum InstituteMOM-Certified Locations in Southern California


      Simi Valley, Calif. – January 8, 2014 – Xpress Lube Service Center is proud to announce that its three locations in Simi Valley and Ventura have become the first American Petroleum Institute (API) Motor Oil Matters (MOM) certified motor oil installers in Southern California.  MOM is an API program that identifies motor oil installers that adhere to the highest possible industry standards and deliver quality motor oils.

       

      “Since 1971, we’ve always prided ourselves on being a premium service, and when something comes along like this that brings even more credibility to what you do, it’s a great thing,” said Thomas Haugh, Operations Manager, Lube Pit Stop Inc. “We’re excited to be the first installer in Southern California to join the MOM program. The MOM seal lets consumers know that we are a company you can trust, and that we’re only pouring high quality motor oils into consumers’ vehicles.”

       

      In order to qualify for MOM, install locations are required to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to quality, prove their dedication to accurate record keeping and transparency and agree to random audits to ensure only quality oils are installed in consumers’ cars and trucks.  

       

      The three Xpress Lube Service Center locations have been recognized for passing these rigorous requirements.  

       

      “These Xpress Lube Service Center locations have demonstrated an impressive commitment to their customers by making sure they deliver only high quality motor oils,” said Kevin Ferrick, API’s Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System manager. “By achieving Motor Oil Matters certified status, all three of these locations proudly display the MOM certified symbol, an easily-recognized sign that assures consumers they will get the quality oils recommended by their vehicle and engine manufacturers.”

       

      The locations in Simi Valley and Ventura offer a full range of automotive services, including oil changes, power steering service, transmission service, fuel injection service, coolant services, and others.

       

       “We understand that it can often be confusing for consumers to get their cars serviced, with competitors offering unreasonably low prices for incorrect, low-quality motor oil that is not right for their vehicles, “added Haugh. “Consumers should only trust installers that are certified by the API, as we only pour the correct grade and correctly rated motor oils into consumer’s vehicles.”

       

      API recommends that consumers visit www.MotorOilMatters.org to find a Motor Oil Matters (MOM) certified oil change location near them, get informed about the vital role quality oil plays in their vehicles, and download the helpful MOM oil change checklist to take to their next oil change. Oil-change locations and motor oil distributors that share MOM’s commitment to high quality motor oils—and submit to independent, third party auditing— are the only locations that have the opportunity to be recognized by MOM through the Motor Oil Matters distributor and installer licensing programs.

       

      About Xpress Lube Service Center

      Established in 1971, Xpress Lube Service Center stores are a locally owned and operated family business, and have three convenient locations at 2170 First St. and 4560 Los Angeles Ave in  Simi Valley, Calif. and at 4624 Telephone Rd in Ventura, Calif. For more information, visit http://xpresslubelps.com/.

       

       

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  • FRAM Launches Filter Program f FRAM Launches Filter Program for Professional Installers

    • From: Greg_Miller
    • Description:

      FRAM®, a leading U.S. oil filter brand, today introduced the FRAM Pro Series product line, a set of specially designed oil filters that align oil filter selection with the specific oil – conventional, premium conventional and full synthetic – used most frequently by installers during oil changes. FRAM launched the FRAM Pro Series at AAPEX 2013 in Las Vegas and is currently rolling out the product line to professional installers nationwide.

      “When you look at the market trends, you see a clear distinction in the good, better and best categories of quality oil offered during oil change service jobs,” said Josh Gordon, director of marketing for FRAM Filtration. “FRAM Pro Series brings filtration back into that conversation around oil changes by providing professional installers with a first-of-its-kind product line that aligns the oil filter with the specific oil. We believe the FRAM Pro Series will be a major advantage in helping professional installers drive more business in the competitive environment we see today, as end consumers are making less frequent service visits.”

      FRAM Pro Series features three filter choices for the professional installer. FRAM Pro Synthetic® is engineered for synthetic oil with long-life protection up to 15,000 miles. FRAM Pro Plus is designed as a trade-up filter aligned with synthetic blend and premium convention oils for extended change intervals up to 10,000 miles. FRAM Pro® provides a quality filter engineered for vehicles that use conventional oil with more regular change intervals of 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

      “Your end consumer wants to know their car is being serviced by a quality product they can trust,” said Gordon. “FRAM Pro Series instills confidence in end users by helping them choose the filter that optimizes their engine oil.”

      FRAM Pro Series launched with more than 126 available part numbers. A comprehensive portfolio of online and collateral tools made available to professional installers and technicians by FRAM supports the rollout of FRAM Pro Series.

      For more information on FRAM Pro Series or FRAM® products, call 1-800-890-2075 or visit framproseries.com.

      FRAM Pro Series
       

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    • 6 months ago
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  • D-Patrick Body & Glass is a To D-Patrick Body & Glass is a Top Shop

    • From: ABRN_Top_Shops_2013
    • Description:

      ABRN Top Shops 2013Dealer with a difference

      D-Patrick Body & Glass returns as a Top Shops winner

       

      By Tim Sramcik, Contributing editor

       

      D-Patrick Body & Glass with Tire & Auto Care: OutsideA funny thing happened when Greg Hagan turned 18 and began a career in restaurant management: He actually started down a path that would eventually make him body shop director of D-Patrick Body & Glass, a Top Shops finalist for two straight years.

      Sound odd? After all, when it comes to managing the two types of businesses, food service and auto repair, there are plenty of similarities — but there are even more differences. Moreover, helping run D-Patrick poses a special kind of challenge because it’s a dealer shop for a business that sells and services nine different automotive brands, including luxury lines such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

      The former restaurant manager and the dealership developed a formula to make their relationship work. In the 12 years since Hagan first arrived at the Evansville, Ind.-based shop as a service advisor, he and the business have transformed a shop that once generated $300,000 in annual revenue to one that today makes more than $7 million a year, and includes four locations and 44 employees.

      Their formula for that success involves a combination of cutting-edge repairs, dedication to customer service, and a willingness to think outside the traditional “repair box.”  

      This Top Shop returns to ABRN’s pages having spent the past year riffing on that formula, building on what it does best with a few new twists.

       

      Top marketing

      D-Patrick Body & Glass with Tire & Auto CareSpeaking of the past year, D-Patrick spent part of it celebrating its 2012 Top Shop status. The shop made sure to include this recognition on virtually all of its marketing, including everything from its signage to its estimates.

      “When you receive national recognition, you shouldn’t be quiet about it,” says Hagan. “You should let your customers know what you’ve done and be proud of it.”

      D-Patrick invested a bit more in its marketing, especially its online efforts. The shop purchased the rights to the web address AutobodyEvansville.com. The website launched after what Hagan calls a year of “collaborative effort” from many members of the D-Patrick team.

      Previously, the shop site was just a part of the D-Patrick dealer site. Hagan says the change was necessary to help customers more easily locate the shop online. “We feel that by having all of our body shops on one site separate from the dealerships, it will break the ‘brand’ placed on each shop and the vehicle makes they are associated with,” he explains.

      The site also makes use of search engine optimization, utilizing common search keywords incorporated within the new site’s web pages. The shop also went one extra step and created a mobile version of the website to make it more accessible for customers looking for a repairer on a mobile device (mobile search engines are engineered to look first for mobile websites).

      The shop also invested in more traditional media outlets. It released several radio commercials have been released in the past several months along with recording updated versions of ads that will be aired in the coming months. These commercials focus on educating prospective customers on what to do following an accident, along with touting the shop’s repair processes.

      To help coordinate and carry out these efforts, the shop brought on a marketing intern, who helped with the website, promotions, social media and flyers. The shop also started attending news and networking events with the local Chamber of Commerce, sponsoring a booth at its Business Expo to help build corporate connections.

      It reached out to the community more than ever, with efforts aimed at advocating literacy and education. A local library celebrated its 100-year anniversary with an event where attendees could learn 100 different activities. D-Patrick sponsored a booth where it taught families the importance of regular car maintenance and then demonstrated how to check oil levels.

      Recognizing the importance of such personalized contact, the shop adopted a similar approach towards educating and getting to know D-Patrick’s car buying customers. This past year, it hosted its first new owner event, where new car buyers returned to the dealership for a dinner. While there, representatives from every D-Patrick service area met with the customers to familiarize them with their service options and to get to know them personally in a family atmosphere.

      Hagan says the event was so successful that D-Patrick now schedules them monthly.

      Even with these efforts, which are proving their worth, Hagan notes that “there’s no magic wand” when it comes to attracting new customers. The most effective marketing job starts when the customer comes to the shop. The service and work that follow are the best type of marketing.

      Together, all these efforts help D-Patrick reach its ultimate goal, “owning the relationship” with the customer. This means getting them into them back into a repaired vehicle they’re satisfied with or into another D-Patrick vehicle if their ride is totaled out.

       

      Certification challenge

      D-Patrick Body & Glass with Tire & Auto Care: Service bayThat’s one of the benefits of being part of a dealership – being able to satisfy customers with a variety of offerings. There’s also the matter of having ready access to the business’s customers.

      Of course, dealers often have better access to OEM repair information and certification opportunities. D-Patrick makes full use of these options. The shop is certified to work on BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen and Nissan models.

      Being able these repairs is a plus for any shop, but they come with enormous challenges, namely the cost, training and other investments that are necessary for maintaining certification.

      Equipment can be particularly expensive, especially the tools required to work on luxury automobiles. Maintaining the necessary training can involve going well-beyond the kind of commitment most shops are used to making. Hagan notes that D-Patrick soon will be sending one of his techs to Germany for training to maintain certification for one of its luxury lines.

      Even with these expenses, Hagan says the certifications are a necessary investment in the shop’s future and its customers. Moreover, he sees the industry heading in a direction where OEM training will become increasingly necessary.

      That doesn’t mean training D-Patrick dismisses training from other outlets. Hagan is quick to note that I-CAR training is a significant part of a shop’s training mix. In fact, he’s an I-CAR instructor and teaches several classes each week. 

      “We give our employees as many opportunities as possible to gain knowledge and information,” says Hagan. “Today, you have to know as much as possible and have access to the latest information or you’re not going to perform a repair correctly.”

      Hagan notes that just recently the shop was performing repairs on an older model BMW. Even though they had performed similar work on related models, they made sure to check the latest repair updates, which contained an all-new installation procedure for the replacement part.

      “It was a good example of the need to stay up to date and the need to be as thorough as possible,” says Hagan.

      D-Patrick Body & Glass with Tire & Auto Care: Greg Hagan at the service counterThe same lesson holds true for Hagan and D-Patrick management. They’ve been part of a dealership body shop 20 group for nearly five years now. The group shares ideas, discusses how shops should respond to certain business situations provides members with feedback on theories and suggestions to improve their shops.

      Hagan notes that he’s gained particular insight into lean operations and customer experience. Shop tours have proved especially enlightening. “We get to see others putting their ideas into action through practical means so that we can judge whether the changes are worth the time and effort,” he says.

       

      Looking back on a new direction

      D-Patrick spent 2013 placing that same kind of analysis on one of its own creations — it’s fourth location, which is not tied to any of the dealerships. It provides independent mechanical and collision work and tires all under one roof and under the D-Patrick name. The business took this direction as a new way to introduce the D-Patrick name to new customers and, according to Hagan, “to do something different.”

      In an industry where shops obsess over where every dollar is spent, taking an enormous risk for the sake of trying something new might seem wasteful or a poor use of investment funds. For D-Patrick, the risk is logical. They already know how to run a successful MSO. Now they’re leveraging that ability to build their business in a slightly new way. They’re a dealer shop and, at the same time, independent.

      Hagan says the risk is paying off as customers are finding their way to the business and revenue is growing. Just as D-Patrick took the time to grow its dealer shops, it will be patient so that it can better realize all the potential its latest venture holds. What could make more sense from a shop that specializes in the unusual?


      Top Shops 2013 Sponsors:

      ABRN Top Shops 2013 Sponsors 

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  • Sun Valley Imports is a 2013 T Sun Valley Imports is a 2013 Top Shop

    • From: MotorAge_Top_Shops_2013
    • Description:

      "2013 Top Shops"Giving a Little Extra Shines Through

      By James E. Guyette

       

       

      Being named a Motor Age Top Shop is icing on the cake for owners Steve Yacovone and Jürgen Ankert as Sun Valley Imports of Tempe, Ariz. also celebrates the shop’s 20th anniversary.

      “The 20 years went by like 20 days,” says Yacovone, marveling at their beautiful facility set amid a spectacular scenic backdrop.

      Sun Valley Imports: The whole team-Jürgen Ankert, Derek Lomax,Barry Breymeyer,Don Raymond,Steve Yacovone, Jared ChiefOverlooking a golf course and the famed Camelback Mountain, “the shop has views that everyone would die for in their houses – so there’s a ‘wow’ factor” as patrons bring in their high-end European vehicles for repairs, according to Yacovone.

      “We bought a body shop five years ago – it’s ultra-modern, and we bought it from the guy who designed it.” The collision repair element was at first retained on a sublease basis as the partners retooled portions of the building for mechanical work; later the body shop business was brought in-house based on Yacovone’s previous five-year stint at a major insurance carrier that had an extensive training program.

      Grossing $900,000 annually from eight bays averaging $540 per ticket, the shop’s walls of glass signal the full-service transparency that Ankert and Yacovone display when dealing with their customers.

      “Sitting in the waiting room you can see every bay in the shop,” says Yacovone, describing the clarity that the clientele experiences.

      “It’s just customer satisfaction. We’ve gained their faith and trust,” he points out. “We explain what happened, what needs to be done and we try to make the price palatable. We try to give them choices about spending their money because we’re consumers too. The job needs to be done right, and the customer needs to not have to do that repair again.”

      A core value at the company is to “Give a Little Something Extra That is Not Expected.”

      “To us,” says Yacovone, “good customer service means going beyond expectations. We train our staff that when they are servicing someone’s car and the door is squeaking, even if the car is there for something else, just put some oil on the door so it doesn’t squeak any more. That extra care is what’s going to make the experience beyond expectations. It sounds so cliché, but that’s what customers want and that’s what sets us apart. It’s the little things that make a difference to our customers. We strive to serve our customers to this level every day,” he elaborates.

      “Another core value is to ‘Educate the Customer.’ Many years ago I noticed that when a customer drops off his or her car for service and decides to wait, he or she often takes a walk around to the service bays to see what’s going on with their car. We started making it a practice to take the customers back to the service bay and point out where the failure was and what it would take to fix it. That wasn’t something that was common practice or accepted in the industry. But we took that to one more level,” says Yacovone.

      “Many auto repair shops have beautiful customer waiting areas, but few have a view into their shop,” he observes. “As far as I know, we were the first. It makes a great working environment, as a business can’t have unprofessional employees when there’s a viewing window. That is our philosophy; the customer should see and understand what’s happening. It goes back to our value of educating the customer.” 

       

      Sun Valley Imports: We take all of our customers out to the shop to show them what is going on with their car. Juergen here‘Doctor of Cars’

      Fit, form and function are prime priorities when components are being selected as the staff of six services nameplates that include Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, Mini, Porsche, Smart, Rover and Volkswagen.

      “We won’t use cheapie parts,” Yacovone declares, especially when German vehicles are on the lift.

      “My partner Jürgen is from Germany, and he likes to use parts from The Fatherland. We always joke around, ‘show me your papers,’” to ensure that a part’s quality is assured, he reports, adding that the shop does seek less costly alternatives when available. Two key German manufacturers routinely compete on price. 

      “With our experience, if there’s a part, and we can save the customer some money, we’ll use that part,” says Yacovone.

      “Jürgen had extensive education in the repair and service of German-made vehicles, having earned a Master’s degree in Automotive Technology in Sinsheim, Germany,” he notes. “I call him ‘Doctor’ because his Master’s degree is equivalent to a PhD in the U.S., and Jürgen certainly is our ‘Doctor of Cars’ with over 35 years of training and experience straight from the manufacturers.”

      Yacovone’s interest in European cars began as a youngster. “When I was in my late teens I bought an old Porsche as a restoration project. My frequent trips to the Porsche dealer for parts prompted them to hire me, and even though I was going to school to be a nurse anesthetist I succumbed to my passion for Porsche and continued night school in business while working as a service advisor for the Porsche dealership.”

      Ankert and Yacovone later became acquainted while they were both working at a family owned Porsche dealership in the Phoenix area. It became time to move on when the owners “sold to a conglomerate” that implemented a series of negative policies, according to Yacovone.

      “Our customers were the ones who started the thought process of starting our own business because they were not happy with the changes,” he recalls. “Our customers had had dealings with this type of business model before – it was profit-profit-profit. It was a drastic change. They went from a family owned facility to a corporate profit-making facility.” 

      The clientele “did not want to lose the personal relationship and level of service that we had been providing them. They encouraged, even pushed, us to open a business.” Thus was born Sun Valley Imports in 1993, originally located at a high-traffic auto mall site until the duo purchased the sleek body shop building. Customers and technicians alike have remained loyal over the years, following Ankert and Yacovone as they set about building the enterprise, which carries a Better Business Bureau A+ rating. 

       

      Daily involvement

      Out on the floor, they have emulated management procedures found in large dealership operations. “We use a dispatch system in the shop that consists of a wall-sized dry erase board with each job being followed through its various stages,” Yacovone explains. “We also utilize a technician time clock for each technician that tracks the job he is on and the ones he has finished. Estimates are accomplished by the shop foreman and service advisor. This helps to increase productivity with the technicians.”

      Sun Valley Imports: Waiting Area close up of viewing windowPotential equipment buys originate from the technicians with oversight by Ankert, who serves as shop foreman. “They have seen a need from their daily involvement with repairs. We then assess the frequency of use and return on investment before we make a purchase,” says Yacovone. “We have a separate savings account used for most tool purchases and then we purchase as-needed after doing our due diligence. We also utilize lease-to-own for some of our major equipment purchases. 

      Attitude is the main attribute sought when a candidate is being sized up for employment. 

      “I can look past a lot of things if a guy or woman is excited about coming to work here,” Yacovone says. “Sometimes I take someone without as much training because I train them anyway. I like people with a smile on their face who are eager to come to work – and the customers are glad to see them.”

      Air conditioning is among the most common repairs, as are problems created by the relentless sunshine that beats down in Tempe’s desert locale. “When I moved here 30 years ago you had to cover your dashboard because they would crack within a couple of months,” he recounts, adding that OEMs have since done much to develop components that can take the heat. And most motorists keep their vehicles garaged or otherwise in the shade. 

      Still, though, “rubber and plastic parts fail faster here than in other climates,” according to Yacovone. “A lot of times the check engine light is on because of a plastic part in the engine.”

      At age 63, Yacovone is contemplating retirement, and he encourages others in the industry to consider your own situation. “That has to be a thought even as you enter the business – how to get out of the business; it doesn’t go on forever,” he advises. “Jürgen and I have worked with an attorney and financial advisor on our succession plan, taking steps to protect each partner in case something were to happen to the other one and putting a plan in place for when we do actually retire.” 


      2013 Top Shops Sponsors:

      "2013 Top Shops" 

       

       

    • Blog post
    • 8 months ago
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  • Pellman's Automotive Service i Pellman's Automotive Service is a 2013 Top Shop

    • From: MotorAge_Top_Shops_2013
    • Description:

      Taking Lessons to Heart

      One of the most bandied-about phrases in the industry is working on the business not in it. Brad and Lisa Pellman were able to make that really happen in their shop.

      By Tschanen Brandyberry
      Managing Editor

       

      Few owners are able to say they’ve graduated to the point of working on the business rather than in it, but Brad and Lisa Pellman proudly can stake claim to that achievement.

      Pellman's Automotive Service: Brad and Lisa PellmanThe husband and wife team also can proudly call themselves owners of the 2013 Motor Age Top Shop. The business, Pellman’s Automotive Service in Boulder, Colo., has been in the top 10 for the last three years, cracking the top spot this year. The couple was ecstatic when they were told the news this fall, a testament to their hard work over the last 18 years.

      The Pellmans have, like many others in the industry, put their lives into the shop, starting from nothing and building a seven-bay location they improve regularly each year. It’s just one way those who have known the couple over the last two decades can see how they’ve been able to move to working on the business.

      “It’s definitely worth the hard work to get to this point by hiring the right people, training the right way, creating a team that works together and then honoring them,” Brad Pellman says. “You trust them to perform the duties they’re hired to do. … You then step back and try not to micromanage. Once you do that, and a lot of owners are afraid (to do so), but that’s the reason you hired and trained these people, so you can do that. That’s when you’re really going to benefit and you gain freedom.” 

      The Pellmans know what it’s like to be on the other side of the business, as Brad spent 17 years working in all facets of the automotive repair industry before they set off on their own in 1995. The road hasn’t been easy, as evidenced by the devastating floods the Boulder community experienced earlier this year. Thankfully, the shop and Pellmans’ employees all were safe.

      “We came in and opened the Saturday after the flood,” he says. “We knew we’d have car after car towed in. We were talking with all of our customers, trying to help them through the flood decision process. Everyone who works here knows someone who was flooded out, had car damage or who is homeless. It’s a tough time.”

      Because of the owners’ ability to look at the business from a high level, the shop had several cars they had been collecting throughout the year that were in good condition, but had slight problems. They are working toward fixing up the vehicles to donate to those in need following the floods.

       

      Pellman's Automotive Service: Pellman's Automotive Crew Getting to This Point

      The Pellmans both hold their AAM certifications from the Automotive Management Institute (AMI), training that adds to their ability to run the business effectively. Brad Pellman explains how both of them became to believe in training and took advantage of all of the courses they could while encouraging — and requiring — their employees to do so, too. He explains how credits began to build, finally reaching a point where they just had to take a customer service test.

      “I was very impressed I could get to that point, and it kind of happened automatically,” he says. “I have this diploma now that I really feel great about. It was just believing in continuing training; it was the final credential that you achieved a goal.” 

      Lisa Pellman adds that she still believes in the designation, as well as continuing training. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, while her husband keeps active his Master Technician status with ASE. 

      “I do believe that every technician should be ASE certified,” he states. His five technicians are ASE and MACS certified, with the sixth tech coming on just this fall. Even on the service side, his service manager and parts manager both are ASE certified, while two other service specialists still are new to the company and working toward it. “We’ve grown three or four techs from lube position on up. You shouldn’t be pigeon-hold that you’re my brake guy; to me it’s more of a building block. The more they know about cars, the better they’re going to be at (even just one service area).” 

      His wife adds that the technicians are proud of it, too. “We recently changed uniforms,” she notes. “They’re proud of their patches on their sleeves.

      The dedication to bettering himself, his employees and the shop is something Brad Pellman brought to the business from before day one. He recalls how when they started out, he saw many opportunities to improve on service to the public. He started in a dealership setting before working part-time at an independent shop while attending college.

      “It was hard to believe it was the same industry, because they had none of the same principles in place,” he explains. “It was cramped, dirty and you didn’t really want a customer to be in the office while their car was being worked on. There were a lot of things I didn’t like.”

      When the Pellmans ventured out on their own, he took those memories with him, making sure everything is clean from the equipment to the floors.

      “I don’t look at other shops around me as competition. If I’m going to view someone as competition, I’ll compete with the dealership,” Brad notes. “I think we’re a professional environment and highly skilled.”

       

      Cultivating the Right Team

      Dan Levin knows how professional and highly skilled the shop is and how far it has come over the last 18 years. He’s been there officially for 15, with three more before that as a customer. 

      “We just kind of liked each other right off the bat. When I opened a shop of my own, he was one of my first customers,” Brad Pellman says, recalling how Levin came to work at the shop. The service manager suddenly lost his job at a car rental business and asked what he could do to keep his bill at Pellman’s Automotive Service low. “I said you could help me do things and that will keep the price down. I got to know him and realized he had a pretty good mechanical ability on his own, because he was trying to save money. He’s a really likeable guy. He’s friendly, open, the kind of guy you want to hang out with.” 

      Pellman's Automotive Service: Our Technicians showing off their new uniformsThe business was growing and Pellman knew they needed someone in the office, as he was a full-time tech. He offered Levin the opportunity to become a service specialist. “I said, ‘I’ve been watching you work, you have mechanical ability, you have the right personality. I know I can teach you how to do this and you’ll be great at it.’ That was 17 years ago and it’s been great.”

      Levin knows he is allowed to make decisions for the company if the Pellmans are not there, and Brad’s reaction — whether it would or would not be what he would have done — is not as important as that Levin made a decision.

      There is a similar story with lead technician Eric Wright, who has worked at Pellman’s Automotive for 15 years. “It’s been the same kind of idea I want to instill in my employees,” Brad Pellman explains. “We’re all here to do our job, do the best job we can and serve the customer in the best way we can. If everybody’s doing that, I don’t have to supervise them that much.”

      Strong leaders like Wright and Levin help both Pellmans focus on their own roles and growing the business. The couple has been able to give back to the industry beyond their shop, too, maintaining an active aftermarket presence. They are a Tech-Net member since 2004, and have an active local Tech-Net group for which Lisa coordinates the meetings. They also have been on the CARQUEST National Advisory Council for multiple years. Brad serves on several national automotive association boards including the ASE Board of Governors and the Car Care Professionals Network (CCPN) Committee. He is also the current Mechanical Division president for ASA Colorado. 

      “I’ve always thought that our industry should be thought of better than it is, especially more so when I started back in the ’80s. Everybody hates an auto mechanic. It shouldn’t be that way,” Brad Pellman says. “We’re out here helping people every day, either to protect their investment or get to work. There’s no way we should be thought of in a bad light. We should be thought of at the same level as doctors or police. We’re out here to help the public.”

      That thinking is a main reason he became more and more involved in the aftermarket at a state and national level, which he says was a natural progression. He adds that while some owners claim they don’t have time to work outside their shop, there are large knowledge gains to be had by doing so. While you’re learning that the industry is bigger than just your little area, you’re helping to make it better and growing your own piece of the pie at the same time.

      “I saw it as a great way to move forward and maybe help me take my philosophies out to a higher level and promote us more in the industry and help make decisions to reflect the industry in a better light,” Brad Pellman says. “I think we’ve come leaps and bounds in 10 years. I’m excited about that. I just hope we can keep doing that. Being a part of AAIA and ASA, it’s an honor for me to be asked to do these things. It says to me that they respect my opinions about the automotive industry.”

       

      Encouraging Training and Feedback

      The national reach the shop now has helps make possible some great training opportunities, both locally and nationwide. For example, the Pellmans requested from their TechNet group a service advisor class. TechNet created the program with a pilot class in July, and a nationwide program launch in September. The couple explains that the class has a lot of information on interacting with people and customer service in general

      Pellman's Automotive Service: Pellman's Automotive Exterior.  Note the 194 Panel Solar Array“It really seems to be spot on with how I would like customer service to be run in my business,” Brad Pellman says. “This is the type of training I received at the dealership. It’s something that we in the industry haven’t had and it’s extremely important. It puts (service writers) on the same level as the technician in terms of ongoing training in our area.”

      The owners and all employees take advantage of a mix of training including in-house, online and off-site classes, and ask for what they need more of. The owners also have taken their team on the road to national ASA events and the VISION Hi-Tech Training & Expo in Kansas City, Mo.

      “We think it’s important for (employees) to invest in training,” Lisa Pellman states. “This is a career. When they interview, we tell them how important it is. Then we lead by example.”

      “There’s just no way you can be a professional technician today without training,” her husband adds. “The cars change every year; they change quickly. We’re going to see them change a lot in the next 10 years. I want to invest my time in technicians that want to invest in themselves If you don’t want to do that, you’re probably not a candidate for my place.”

      While that might seem harsh to some technicians in the industry, the tradeoff is a boss who will listen and respect your ideas. Technicians are very involved in identifying the need for new equipment and tools, as part of the shop’s monthly shop meeting is devoted to this topic and the shop’s “Equipment Wish List.” 

      “I’m a cautious buyer,” Brad Pellman cautions. “When a technicians comes to me saying we have to have something, I go out and see why: What’s the need, how much are we going to use it, is it for a special car and that’s the only one we’ll see, can we make another tool or another way work to solve the issue.”

      If possible, the shop will do a trial period on new equipment, and typically pays cash for all equipment or negotiates interest-free deferred terms. The Pellmans anticipate the need for tools costing more than $10,000 and budget for them.

      In addition to input on tool and equipment, the shop recently took ideas when it revised its inspection report, which Lisa Pellman explains started with a need for a more professional looking report.

      She says the process began by going looking at various options out there and sharing those with a select group of technicians, who gave feedback on what they thought would work best. After narrowing it down, the new forms were shared at the shop’s monthly meeting and given to technicians and service employees to use for a week. Both sides had a lot of feedback, which allowed the owners to create a form that saved them all time. She cites one example as more places to circle options instead of filling in blanks.

      From the inspection forms to changing oil distribution on the floor to using Google Talk, these all are ways the Pellmans involve their employees in some decisions in the shop.

      Google Talk is not the only form of communication in the shop, but rather an illustration of how technology is implemented. All employees are able to use it when they have a question that does not require an immediate answer, and cuts down on time in walking the long pathways through the older, 9,420-square-foot building.

      “It’s not taking people away from the phones,” Brad Pellman notes. “We try not to have our technicians do anything but work on cars. That’s where the money comes from.”

      Google Talk, along with a heavy presence in the front office, helps accomplish this. “Sometimes we’ll pull TSB information, we’ll do research for them while they’re working on another car. We order all the parts. The technician doesn’t have to worry about translating the technical lingo to the customer. We have people trained to do that. That’s our philosophy and that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

       

      Pellman's Automotive Service:Pellman's Service BaysWorking on the Business Side of the Shop

      While the Pellmans have worked hard to get to the point in their careers where they can walk away from the shop for an extended break, they are not completely separated. Brad Pellman still maintains his credentials, but works on staffing and operations. Lisa Pellman continues to do marketing, human resources and bookkeeping.

      But she found some help for the marketing this year, by bringing on a marketing consultant to help them refine their marketing message and create some press releases.

       “We felt it was nice to get an outside perspective,” she says. “We felt we had different messages in different places. We wanted to get a cohesive message.”

      After interviewing employees, reading reviews and more, a new message was created centered around why customers like the shop and keep coming back. Lisa Pellman says they’re now working to get the message onto the website, fine-tuning what already is out there. They all are more confident in the message they’re now sending, and the feedback they’re getting. 

      In addition to the marketing consultant, the shop hired a company to help with Facebook and Twitter postings, which resulted in a steady uptick in fans and followers. In addition to professional and interesting topical posts, the Pellmans have paid to boost a post on Facebook and in October donated $1 for each Facebook like to Care Connect. Google Plus and Foursquare are also part of their social media mix, and they recently created and posted some videos on YouTube. 

      In addition to marketing to the population, the shop has taken hold of several opportunities to give back to the community. Both Brad and Lisa Pellman have been active in the school system, and they take their focus on training to the youth of the area through popular Teen Car Basics Clinics.

      Brad explains the class as starting in the shop’s office, focusing first on how to pick an automotive repair shop, then moving on to why the vehicle is important if not to you, to your parents. They talk about what various warning lights mean, and walk through situations such as what to do when a car overheats. They have demonstrations, pull out an instrument cluster to go over and then quiz the youths in a fun way.

      “I think we’re providing something that is needed,” he states, adding that the class also covers owners’ manuals, jump starts and changing tires. “I don’t think any parent that has a kid in high school wants their kid to break down, but inevitably it may happen. So twice a year we offer the class.”

      The shop also gives back through seminars at local businesses, training with Cub Scouts, repair and vehicle donations — even before this year’s devastating floods — and free oil changes to local charities whose volunteers use their own vehicles to provide services for senior citizens.

      At the end of the day for the Pellmans, it’s one more day to make the shop better, the industry better and work on the business not in it. Brad Pellman says they always try to have a good time in the shop. “We’re serious about what we do and we work hard, but we want to enjoy what we’re doing.” 

      They work hard to inject humor into the daily grind and create a positive environment. “I want people to work hard and respect me, but I want to be friends, too,” Pellman concludes. “It’s a hard position to be in as an owner.” 

      But it’s easier to do once you master the shop and work on it, not in it.


      2013 Top Shops Sponsors:

    • Blog post
    • 8 months ago
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  • Wallet Flushing, Motor Oil Inv Wallet Flushing, Motor Oil Invoicing And You

    • From: Peter
    • Description:
      Kevin S. McCartney is an independent automotive technical trainer, consultant and technical writer. He is a frequent presenter at industry association conferences and is a recognized subject matter expert on several topics. Kevin has worked in emissions, alternate fuel and hybrid electric vehicle research. He served in the California Emission Inspection Program as Master Trainer for Instructor certification and still contributes to training materials required for technician certification. He has earned numerous awards for automotive technical education. Kevin will be speaking about modern lubrication issues at the upcoming ASA Automotive Service & Repair Week (ASRW/CARS/NACE) in Las Vegas October 16-18, 2013. 
      Contact Ken about his article and about his availability as a trainer for your organization by email at crashh@prodigy.net or by phone at 209-873-1155.
      The following is shared with his permission.

       

      Who Are We & Where Are We Headed?

      Kevin S. McCartney

       

      Early this year the California Bureau of automotive Repair (CA-BAR) announced a new “Wallet Flushing” program.  The program focuses on the inappropriate promotion of products and services to consumers. The primary target is the misrepresentation of flushes and supplements. CA-BAR emphasizes that they don’t care what products & services a shop sells as long as the shop represents those products and services honestly.

       

      In the past I’ve spoken out loudly against CA-BAR actions and policies. But, I can find no fault in forcing shops to be honest about the products and services they recommend and sell. BAR is charged with monitoring and enforcing honesty and communication in the automotive repair industry. Effective enforcement of that goal is GOOD for honest shops. So, why do you think shop owners, industry associations and chemical suppliers are fighting to stop this program?

       

      Let me digress for a moment. “Wallet Flushing” is a term coined by some shop owners and technicians to describe flushing services and some similar services that have little or no benefit to the motorist but create significant profit for shop owners.  CA-BAR enforcement of honesty and communication pertaining to Wallet Flushing is NOT going to stop. It can’t stop. CA-BAR has no choice. It is their duty under the 1971 Automotive Repair Act to enforce honesty and communication. There are no new laws or new programs to debate. This was all carved in stone in 1971. CA-BAR is doing nothing but warning us that they have identified a specific area in which honesty and communication increasingly fail to meet the standards of the 1971 automotive repair act. We can easily mount a huge show of force to make them shut up, but it won’t do a thing to stop enforcement actions. Attempting to negotiate an end to enforcement of honesty & communication only confirms that more aggressive enforcement is appropriate! I suspect that CA-BAR has already received that message.

       

      This is not just a California issue. Virtually every state has an agency charged with enforcement of fair and honest business practices. Most have separate agencies or divisions for automotive businesses. They must respond to consumer complaints and consumers are increasingly aware of “Wallet Flushing”. The number of websites and blogs discussing “Wallet Flushing” has increased dramatically during the past six months. And, many of those websites, blogs and posts belong to the most respectable shop owners and technicians in the industry. 

       

      Twenty states now have new programs requiring special documentation for automotive lubricants. The performance level, SAE viscosity, brand and specific product line of motor oil must be identified on all receipts and invoices. Most shops and even many assumed “experts” fail to understand that “performance level” includes all of the following:

       

      ·       API service rating

      ·       ILSAC service rating

      ·       ACEA service ratings

      ·       OEM proprietary service ratings

       

      All of the above are required to identify “performance level” in addition to the brand, product line and SAE viscosity. If a shop does not fully understand the difference between OEM approved, manufacturer recommended and OEM licensed, they will not have the ability to understand when or why they fail to comply. The rapid changes in engine designs require dozens of specialized oil service ratings that must be identified on each sale.  GM has six oil service ratings that should be understood and identified. Ford has at least ten and VW has at least eleven.  Other OEMs have their own similar specialized service ratings.

       

      The pertinent performance ratings must all be identified in a clear and understandable manner on the receipt and/or invoice for every sale. If the service ratings are obsolete, that must also be identified by the statement:  “Not suitable for use in gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1979” (or 1988, 1993, 1996, 2001, etc as the case may be).

       

      As an industry of skilled professionals we should not allow oil companies, quick lube associations and less scrupulous operators to lead us in the wrong direction. If we are indeed honest and well trained “skilled professionals” , we should not be fighting requirements for honesty and full disclosure! 

       

      “Experts” who are claiming that brand, product line, SAE viscosity and API/ILSAC service rating is sufficient to meet requirements, fail to understand modern performance ratings. 

       

      “Valvoline Synpower SAE 5W-30” could be any of seven different formulas. Identifying the API and ILSAC service ratings still fails to identify a specific Valvoline Synpower product. The Synpower 5W-30 that is approved for a Corvette can cause damage in a Honda, VW, BMW or Mercedes Benz 5W-30 applications. The performance ratings (OEM, ACEA, API & ILSAC) will identify the appropriateness of the specific oil for the specific application. The situation is no different for Castrol, Pennzoil, Mobil or any other brand or product line.

       

      If a shop fails to identify the performance ratings of the motor oil, they will be out of compliance and subject to citation. If the shop documents the use of motor oil that fails to meet OEM requirements, they can be easily held responsible for engine wear and/or accelerated failure to the oxygen sensors, catalytic converters and other oil and exhaust sensitive components.  If the shop claims a performance rating that the motor oil does not actually meet, that can be construed as fraud.  So, this is essentially a 20-state “Wallet Flushing” program.

       

      The above documentation requirements will do all of the following:

       

      ·       Help identify the use of motor oil that fails to meet OEM requirements

      ·       Help identify the use of motor oil that does meet OEM requirements

      ·       Help identify misrepresentation by shops of the appropriate use and ratings of motor oil.

      ·       Help confirm non-compliance with the documentation requirements for citation.

      ·       Help confirm compliance or non-compliance with OEM requirements for future litigation.

       

      When a non-approved oil, oil supplement or other fluid is recommended and used by a shop, they assume liability for the consequences. That means:

       

      ·       The shop could be sued or even charged with criminal manslaughter for the results of installing a DOT 4 brake fluid in a car that requires an ISO 4925 class 6 brake fluid. (Don’t kid yourself, a similar example of inappropriate brake work did result in a manslaughter conviction).

      ·       The shop could be sued for causing the failure of a transmission at 99,000 miles because they used a Universal transmission fluid at 36,000 miles.

      ·        The shop could be sued for contributing to the failure of catalytic converters and oxygen sensors at 150,000 miles because of the non approved oil or oil supplement they used in that car years earlier.

       

      All of the above would be legitimate law suits. The mileage and times were selected to represent situations where the repairs would have been covered under warranty, but the warranty could be voided by the use of non-approved fluid. At higher mileage a lawsuit might still be successful but would be less likely. If you regularly use non-approved fluids or supplements, it can be argued that the fluid or supplement contributed to a failure at any time during the entire remaining life of the vehicle. 

       

      Oil company labeling practices can be extremely misleading. The claim “ACEA A1 Protection” is used by one company for products that fail ACEA A1 standards. They also use the claims “ACEA A1 Performance” or “Service ACEA A1” depending on which part of the ACEA A1 requirements the product failed!  Another company routinely states “Exceeds all ILSAC GF-5 engine protection requirements” on products that fail ILSAC GF-5. Dexos1 and dexos2 are registered trademarks with licensing agreements that include testing by GM and quality control audits. Listing dexos1 on your invoice for oil that merely “meets all dexos1 requirements” would be a violation and may be subject to both citation and litigation. A shop that assumes the oil company “claims” and “recommendations” constitute compliance with standardized performance ratings could be held liable for any errors. 

       

      None of the above constitutes new requirements or new laws. They only clarify existing requirements. Virtually EVERY state requires any business to accurately identify the products and services they sell. They also require that any supporting claims you make in selling a product be truthful and accurate. That is all these requirements do. Any shop that has already been keeping up with all of the changes in lubrication, cooling, fluids and filtration technology already understands every bit of this. Shops who have not attended formal update training on modern lubrication, cooling, fluids and filtration technology will need to get up to speed as quickly as possible.

       

       

       

    • Blog post
    • 10 months ago
    • Views: 3421
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  • Marketing Your Business By Bob Marketing Your Business By Bob Spitz

    • From: Management_Success
    • Description:

      The nine year old son of a shop owner looked up from his video game when his father walked into the room. The boy said, "Dad, I had to do a math project for school last week. We were supposed to compare different amounts of the same thing. We had to go out and compare a lot of something to a little bit of the same thing. So I got this incredible idea! I decided to count cars! When mom dropped me off at the shop after school I counted 642 cars driving by! And I counted 3 cars in the shop. I got really good at counting cars and at comparing numbers all at the same time!" Dad was a little shaken up by this fact. It was the truth. As young boys see EVERYTHING including parents' reactions the boy said, "Isn't that great Dad?" Luckily the Dad snapped right out of it and said "Yes son that's super! Nice job!" Dad didn't sleep well that night. But he woke up the next morning with a powerful purpose. He decided to tackle his car count problem. But how was he going to do it? It's not like he hadn't tried to solve this 100 times before....

      The above story is an all too common story in our industry. Marketing is a big subject that is not well understood by a lot of people, and as a result, owners are suffering financially from a lack of traffic into their shops. So we are going to start at the base and work it up from there.

      First off what is this thing called MARKETING? Marketing is the action of making a target audience or a specific type of public (in our case people who operate vehicles) aware of the goods and services an activity has to offer. It comes from the idea of bringing your goods to a central meeting place, the "market", where the goods can be displayed, and interest can be generated.

      Now let's look at how this applies to a vehicle repair facility. Gone are the days when a shop did not need to do a whole lot of marketing, or advertising, or promoting to stay busy. Although word of mouth is still a primary force for getting new customers, word of mouth alone is not enough anymore.

      Today the independent has competitors with very deep pockets, who as a group can spend millions of dollars on slick marketing campaigns and promotions. How does the independent business owner compete with this? Following are some tips to help you in your marketing efforts.

      1. Identify your target audience or specific public. Who do you want to service? Who are you in business for? What kind of work do you do, and who would benefit from your goods and services? Who do you want as a customer? If you are a general repair facility it's fairly straightforward. Anyone who operates a vehicle that you are willing to service is your public. If you are a specialty shop the picture changes. What do you specialize in? Who owns, or operates these kinds of vehicles? What do the owners of these vehicles need and want from your kind of shop? Are you working with insurance companies, or doing fleet work? Insurance and fleet are very specialized publics with different needs and wants.

      2. Survey (get input and organized feedback from) your public. Trying to guess at what consumers need and want is a waste of time and potentially very expensive. Most people in our industry are not consumers of vehicle repair, and therefore do not necessarily think like the consumer. So in order to know what consumers are looking for you've got to ask them. A simple survey can tell you a lot about your customers and potential customers.

      A common example is a shop that promotes and advertises LOW PRICES, thinking this is what the customers need and want. This might get people in the door, you could even get very busy, but I have seen too many shops almost go broke with this strategy! Most good customers want service–service–service! They want the vehicle serviced and repaired on time, and done right the first time. Consumers most always complain about the high price of auto repair, but they tend to complain no matter what you charge! So base your advertising on service first, price second.

      3. Do not forget to market to your regular customers. This is the area that I see as the weakest point for most shops when it comes to marketing. A shop's current customer base is a gold mine. Yet I see too many shops ignore their regular customers assuming that they will come back. THIS IS REALLY BAD THINKING! Remember earlier in this article I mentioned the Big Dogs with the multi-gazillion dollar advertising budgets? Well they are out there and they have no problem servicing your customers.

      It is easy to lose customers and not even know it. It starts with simple services. You lose your customers' minor service work. Then it gets into the lucrative maintenance work, and you lose that too. Then the only time you see your customers is when they have a big problem, a drivability problem, an intermittent short, or some other mind-numbing situation with their vehicle. This happens when a business fails to keep a line of communication alive with customers. IF YOU DO NOT KEEP YOUR NAME IN FRONT OF YOUR CUSTOMER, SOMEONE ELSE WILL!

      A shop owner who yells, "They're stealing all my customers!" is actually saying, "I don't know how to market my business!" Following are some basic and simple marketing/advertising actions that need to be done by all shops to ensure regular customers keep coming back.

      • Service Reminders. These are cards or letters that you send to your customers to remind them that it is time to bring their vehicle back for a service. Oil Changes, Transmission Services, Cooling System Services, Air Conditioning Services to name a few.
      • Recommended Repair Reminders. This is when the owner of the vehicle has declined to get a repair or service done that should have been done. To assume your customer will automatically bring the vehicle back to get the additional repair done is a mistake, and bad service to your customer. Within 10 days of their visit you should send a reminder out to the customer that the vehicle has additional work that still needs to be done, and have the customer call for an appointment.
      • Thank You Cards. This is an action that needs to be done by all shops, but it takes some judgement. Thank you cards should be sent out to new customers primarily. Include a business card or two along with a coupon good off of their next service.
      • Follow-up Calls. The owner or the service writer should not do these. Most people are well intentioned, and hate telling someone they know bad news. Have someone who the customer is not in contact with do the call. This could be an outside salesman, a relative, or someone else. You are more likely to get the truth this way.
      • Seasonal Mailer. In most parts of the country there are seasons, which give a shop the opportunity to get a special in the mail to bring the vehicle in for that season's special. This can be done in conjunction with a newsletter. Newsletters can be very powerful when done right, but don't waste them on people who do not know you. Newsletters are best used as a tool to keep in touch with your regular customers.

      Putting your first newsletter or an effective mailer together can be tricky. There is a lot to know about what should be in the ad or the newsletter and how to design an ad that captures the consumer's interest and attention. This is where you might seek some professional help.

      4. Continually seek new customers. A shop has to have a program in place for attracting new customers. Most shops get new customers via word of mouth. If this is true for your shop capitalize on it. If you do nothing more then give each good customer a couple of business cards and actually ask for business, you will get new business.

      Welcome Wagons and Marriage Mailers–These are other actions a shop can take to get new customers. Find out who is new to your community by joining the Welcome Wagon program that most town councils or chambers of commerce have. Contact one of the marriage mailer companies and get your coupon in with other businesses in your area. This cuts way down on the cost and they work. This is another area that takes an in-depth knowledge of design. An owner needs to know the components of a good ad otherwise a lot of money can be wasted on bad ads and coupons that do not work. But you need to know how to track what works in your market. Some actions work well in one part of the country and fall flat in other areas.

      Marketing is a vast subject and there are a lot of things you can do. The problem most shops have is the time to get these things in place. This is where professional help can make a big difference. The cost of professional help is a drop in the bucket when compared to the amount of money that is wasted on advertising that does not work, or worse -- an empty parking lot.

      If you are currently not doing any marketing GET SOMETHING, ANYTHING GOING! It is that important. Watch for the next article where I will tie sales into the picture. I hope the above helps. Good Luck!

      Management Success!

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 201
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  • Is DIY Over? Is DIY Over?

    • From: jimo55
    • Description:

       

      While testing a new generation of our BA327 Digital Battery and System Tester last week, we ran our new prototypes though their paces on a wide variety of vehicles at our corporate offices. The prototype performed well, which was great. The fifth vehicle we tested was a 2013 Chevy Malibu. The battery and system testing went fine, but we had a bit of surprise when we first accessed the vehicle’s battery compartment.

      Here’s a picture of what we saw:

      Seeing this, one member of our team remarked, “There goes one of the last maintenance or repair applications that your average car owner could still do themselves.” When the day comes to replace a depleted battery in this vehicle, most vehicle owners will likely decide it isn’t worth the hassle and turn to their shop or dealer for this service.

      This trend toward complexity can be found throughout today’s vehicle systems. Even within the starting and charging system, alternators and charging processes have become much more sophisticated, now making constant adjustments for battery voltage, electrical demand and temperature.  Other vehicle applications that were once tackled by the average DIYer are also becoming difficult to handle. Two that come immediately to mind are fluid changes and tire rotation/replacement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                         

      I remember growing up with half my neighborhood changing their own oil and other vehicle fluids, such as coolant and transmission fluid. Like the battery illustration above, fluid changes are getting increasingly difficult, especially when it comes to sealed systems. Many late model vehicles feature sealed transmission systems, for instance. We first started to encounter these systems in the early 2000s with our T-TECH products. Shops looked to us to help them solve the challenges related to servicing these systems, particularly when it came to ensure a proper fill prior to turning the vehicle back over to its owner after service.

      These sealed systems are found on more vehicles every year and the trend shows no sign of slowing. This has resulted in a proliferation of tips and service procedures to help DIYers continue to perform this service themselves, such as the example at the link below:

      Fluid Level Checks on Automatic Transmissions Without Dipsticks

      It has also resulted in negative feedback from many sources.  The following link is very old, from 2004, but it is representative, as it covers the major criticisms found in forum posts all over the internet:

      Mechanic’s Tale: The Disappearing Dipstick

      The complications of checking fluid fill in these systems make a long, potentially dirty task even trickier than normal, adding fears that an inaccurate fill could harm the transmission systems. Would it stop you from performing this service?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  

      Like changing a battery, tire rotation was always pretty straightforward. Until the advent of TPMS. Now, in order for the system to work correctly, steps need to be taken to ensure future warnings indicate the correct tire position when a warning is flashed. Here’s a quick overview article in Popular Mechanics covering the different types of TMPS systems and some simple steps for resetting tire position:

      How to Troubleshoot a Tire Pressure Monitoring System

      Of course, things are never as simple as they seem, and this is certainly true of TPMS. A quick survey of forum posts shows that this is another vexing issue for DIYers, causing a wide variety of issues. Some of these issues were resolved by the vehicle owner, while some appear to have required a trip to the dealership. Click the image below to view a quick video from Two Guys Garage addressing common tools needed to reset TPMS sensors or swap out seasonal tires:

       

      _____________________________________

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 2571
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  • Business Slow? Think Fast. Business Slow? Think Fast.

    • From: MudlickMail
    • Description:

      There’s no denying that the automotive repair business is changing. Maybe you’ve noticed a decline in business, even though the level of competition surrounding your store has stayed the same. The truth is, other factors are at work. Thanks to technology, cars are being built better and are requiring fewer repairs.  Consumers have also become more savvy about maintenance and are no longer getting oil changes and other once routine work done as frequently as they did in years’ past.

      You have to respond to these shifts in business if you expect your shop to not only survive, but also thrive.

      Here a few tips to consider when trying to determine how to take control of the situation and formulate a plan for success. 

      1). If you’re not marketing your shop, start. Maybe you never advertised before because you simply didn’t have to.  You might have generated sufficient business through word of mouth and may have viewed marketing and advertising as an unnecessary expense. But with market conditions changing, relying on current customers and referrals to drive sales isn’t enough. You can try to increase your ticket average, but with repairs happening less often, that could be a challenge. Instead,  you need to expand your market share, which means that you’ll need a multi-tiered marketing plan that is tied to all your systems. I won’t go into a discussion here about which marketing vehicles I prefer, but I will say that you’ll need to employ a range of efforts to reach potential new customers.

       

      2). If you are marketing and not seeing results, it might be time to re-evaluate. Look at your advertisements – are your offers compelling? Are you focused too heavily on driving customers to your shop through only one channel  - say the Internet? Are the marketing companies you work with providing you with returns that allow you to sustain and grow your business? Remember, with marketing, it’s not only about recouping your investment, but also achieving your goals. Create a set of expectations  - whether it’s improving car count or increasing your profit – and select marketing tools that will help you meet or even surpass those expectations.

      3). Examine your staffing and systems. When sales drop, it’s easy to blame the declines on ineffective advertising. However, there may be other issues working against you. Does your front counter staff know how to handle calls from potential new customers? Do you have enough technicians to service new clients or do backlogs lead to long wait times for repairs? To grow market share you have to make sure your main purpose in life is to be convenient for customer not you. If your systems and staffing levels don’t support that idea, it’s time to change course.

       

       

       

      Tim Ross is president of Mudlick Mail, a leading provider of direct mail campaigns to the automotive repair industry.  Mudlick Mail has worked with close to 1,000 automotive repair shops and transmission shops across the United States and Canada, helping them improve their car count and increase sales. The company teaches its clients how to understand consumer-buying habits and shows them how to create effective systems to maximize the value of their marketing campaigns. At the end of the day, Mudlick Mail wants to support shop owners in their quest to build long-term profitable businesses.

       

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  • universal atf universal atf

    • From: solo408
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      Although we aren't keen on the many and i do mean many types of fluids that are out there we stay with recommended fluids. to do a professional job and give customers what they should be getting and not trying to make it easy on us at their expense and not wanting to add to any problems we stock about 3 or 4 of the most common type we use and purchase the rest at time of scheduling vehicle. there is so much that goes into the design of the fluids and the friction modifiers that to do the best job as we c

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