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01.17

STRATEGIES & INSPIRATION FOR AUTO CARE SUCCESS

4 CONSIDERATIONS FOR

DIGITIZING YOUR SHOP PAGE 41

MITCH SCHNEIDER ON

THE SALE OF HIS FAMILY SHOP PAGE 48

BEATING BURNOUT

BRAND BUILDER How shop owner and on-air personality Frank Leutz built a fierce following in Arizona

PAGE 25

PAGE 32

“It really is about understanding the digital DNA in our current economy.” — FRANK LEUTZ OWNER DESERT CAR CARE CHANDLER, ARIZ.

Keys to Success in 2017 PAGE 26

RATCHETANDWRENCH.COM


Contact your local NAPA store or visit NAPAAutoCare.com/Benefits for more information. 2 / R + W / 01.17


01.17 / R + W / 3


01.17 VO L . 5 N O. 1

J A N U A R Y Stacking Up Don Foshay has altered his shop's culture, helping his team to work more collaboratively and better compete against increasing competition in its local market.

F E AT U R E

P R O F I L E

C A S E

26

32

42

50

As the industry changes, service professionals are finding unique ways to thrive and push their businesses to new levels of success.

Frank Leutz has used natural charisma and a slew of modern media platforms to help Desert Care Care establish its stellar reputation.

B Y T R AV I S B E A N

B Y K E L LY B E AT O N

One shop owner's six-year journey to nearly quadruple revenue and turn his business into a profit machine.

In building her business, Kris Cesena focused on her clients above all else—and the results have transformed Auto Medics into a gold standard of company culture.

B Y K E L LY B E AT O N

B Y T R AV I S B E A N

POWERFUL REFOCUS, PERSONALITY REINVEST, GROW

PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. COPYRIGHT ©2017 BY 10 MISSIONS MEDIA LLC. All rights reserved. Ratchet+Wrench (ISSN 2167-0056) is published monthly by 10 Missions Media, LLC, 571 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55104. Ratchet+Wrench content may not be photocopied, reproduced or redistributed without the consent of the publisher. Periodicals postage paid at Twin Cities, MN, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTERS Send address changes to: Ratchet+Wrench, 571 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55104.

4 / R + W / 01.17

R E PA I R

L I F E

CUSTOMERS COME FIRST

ON THE COVER: FRANK LEUTZ PHOTOGRAPHED BY CARL SCHULTZ

FIDELIO PHOTOGRAPHY

MAKE 2017 YOUR YEAR

S T U DY


TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S

38

20 J U M P

10 ONLINE

Incentivizing a "learning culture"

11 CONFERENCE UPDATE

2017 registration is now open

13 AWARDS INSIGHT

The keys to improved employee retention

15 EDITOR'S LETTER

Inside the magazine's new look

S TA R T

18 BREAKDOWN

New overtime regulations stall

20 VIEWPOINT

A look at augmented reality tech training

21 SPEED READ

Concept tire named best invention of the year

22 SHOP VIEW

The remodeled Babcock Auto Care in Rochester, Minn.

24 THE RETURN

The VioMAX Plus UV leak detection lamp

T O O L B OX

38 SHOP ADVICE

Examining how net promotor score can impact your shop

41 FINANCE+ OPERATIONS

Key considerations for going digital

47 TECH+TOOLS

54 CUSTOMER CENTRIC

Take control of your shop's online identity AUDR A FORDIN

56 SOLUTIONS

A unique tire storage concept at O'Shea Tire & Service Center

How to better utilize repair information to boost your bottom line

48 THE BOTTOM LINE

Saying goodbye after 52 years MITCH SCHNEIDER

25 STRAIGHT TALK

Avoid burnout, allow your shop to thrive JOE MARCONI

01.17 / R + W / 5


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EDITORIAL Editorial Director Managing Editor Associate Editor Staff Writers Custom Content Producer Web Content Producer Contributing Writers PRODUCTION Art Director Senior Graphic Designer Graphic Designers Production Artist SALES Publisher National Advertising Sales Regional Advertising Sales Manager Regional Advertising Sales Regional Advertising Sales Regional Advertising Sales Regional Advertising Sales Client and Sales Service Specialist 10 MISSIONS MEDIA President Marketing Communications Specialist Sales Service Supervisor Sales Service Representative Event and Special Projects Coordinator Digital Marketing & Multimedia Assistant EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Aspen Auto Clinic Westside Auto Pros Auto Craftsmen Menke’s Automotive Dubwerx The Hamburg Garage and The Farmington Garage

Jake Weyer Bryce Evans Anna Zeck Travis Bean, Kelly Beaton Tess Collins Kathleen Sandoval Audra Fordin, Joe Marconi, Mitch Schneider

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10 MISSIONS MEDIA 571 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55104 tel: 651.224.6207 fax: 651.224.6212 web: 10missions.com HOW TO REACH US SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE tel: 800.869.6882 fax: 866.658.6156 email: rcht@kmpsgroup.com The annual subscription rate is $72 (U.S.A. only) for companies not qualified to receive complimentary copies of Ratchet + Wrench. BACK ISSUES Past issue single copies are $8. Go to ratchetandwrench.com/backissues LETTERS TO THE EDITOR letters@ratchetandwrench.com ARTICLE REPRINTS For high-quality reprints or e-prints of articles in this issue call or email. tel: 651.846.9452 email: reprints@ratchetandwrench.com

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O N L I N E / 01.17

WEBSITE: ratchetandwrench.com FACEBOOK: ratchetandwrench.com/facebook

ONLINE 0 1 . 1 7

TWITTER: twitter.com/ratchetnwrench LINKEDIN: ratchetandwrench.com/linkedin INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/ratchetandwrench

COMMENTS, DISCUSSIONS, FEEDBACK AND MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB

FACEBOOK

PODCAST

LINKEDIN

BUILDING A LEARNING CULTURE

Ratchet+Wrench staff writer Travis Bean asked the Ratchet+Wrench LinkedIn group to share ways to incentivize learning cultures within shops. Join the conversation and share your insight at bit.ly/rweducationincentives. RADIO

Jake Weyer sits down with RW columnist Mitch Schneider to reflect on half a century in auto service as he prepares to exit his business.

TWITTER

LEARNING TRUE BALANCE

This is one of your best articles, Mitch (“Working On and In the Business,” Nov. 2016). Balance can be difficult to achieve, but, like riding a bike, it gets easier with practice. Thanks for the insight!

Women in Auto Care has named its new president, Tammy Tecklenburg

— RON K R A PA INDEPENDENT CONTR AC T OR, ELITE TUCSON, A RIZ.

Wow, timing is everything. Thanks for this, Mitch. Trying to keep from being one day older and deeper in debt! — ERIC K K ASHM A NIA N OW NER, ERIC ’S W RENCH INC. L A K E WOR TH, FL A .

MORE THAN JUST A CERTIFICATION

ASE is a great baseline of a technician's ability to perform a vehicle repair (“Raising Awareness for ASE Certifications,” Nov. 2016). Not only does it show commitment of a person's ability, it shows the commitment to do it properly. I constantly look for more challenges in my career as a technician. ASE is one of those challenges. I’ve gone from becoming Master Certified to going L1, L2 and working on L3. This is not just to prove to a customer your abilities to repair a car. More importantly, you prove to yourself, fellow techs and employers that you are successful and can be counted on. — SH A NE COBERLY AU T OMO TIVE TECHNICIA N, A NTERO AU T OMO TIV E GREEN WOOD V ILL AGE, COL O.

10 / R + W / 01.17

GIVING BACK

I run a small, independent shop in Waynesville, N.C. (“Meineke Offers Free Oil Changes for Veterans,” Nov. 2016). I have been doing a Veteran’s Day oil change special for two years. It’s easy for a huge corporation to do, but as an independent shop, I feel like this is the least I can do to give back.

— RYA N R ACK LE Y OW NER, A PPA L ACHIA N AU T OMO TIV E CRR LL C WAY NESV ILLE, N.C.

Bob Brannon is CRP Automotive's 2016 Rep Agent of the Year. — @R AT CHE TN W RENCH

FROM TOP LEFT: NICK SPAETH, COURTESY TAMMY TECLENBURG, COURTESY CRP AUTOMOTIVE

— @R AT CHE TN W RENCH


O N L I N E / C O N F E R E N C E U P D AT E

READ WHAT THE PROS READ.

UPDATE

“I like Ratchet+Wrench because the articles are about current topics and really focus on owners and running a business. The topics are new, interesting and thought-provoking, and I always take away something.”

2017 CONFERENCE ANNOUNCED

The Ratchet+Wrench Management Conference is headed back to Chicago for its second year providing high-level education and networking for the industry. Registration is now open for the 2017 conference, to be held Sept. 24-26 at the Westin Lombard, at rwconference.com. The first-ever conference in 2016 featured 12 educational sessions with experts weighing in on the industry’s most pressing issues, panel discussions covering trends and the industry’s future, and numerous networking events allowing speakers, attendees and vendors to build camaraderie and exchange ideas. This year’s event will deliver more of the value, tangible takeaways and fun that the inaugural Ratchet+Wrench Management Conference offered. We’re creating an agenda packed with engaging business-building events led by speakers—the majority of whom are shop operators—we’ve hand-picked specifically to help you grow your business. Space is limited with attendance capped at 200, so head to rwconference.com to register and receive pertinent updates on the event.

- Troy Minske, Owner | Rum River Automotive, Princeton, MN

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL

Registration Open —

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01.17 / R + W / 11 TWO-Third_FillerAd.indd 1

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TRUE OR FALSE:

THE MA JORIT Y OF HIGH REVENUE SHOPS USE T WIT TER. True. 53% of shops making $2.5 Million or more per year use Twitter. Moreover, shops with higher car counts are more likely to be using Twitter. Seriously.

This is according to our new 59-page Shop Technology Survey: Complete Report. It contains data from nearly 700 shop owners on which technology they’re using in their shops, from management systems and diagnostic equipment to social media. This data is then broken down by ARO, car count, revenue and more so you can see what might work for a shop like yours.

SEE WHICH T YPES OF SHOPS ARE USING WHAT. RATCHETANDWRENCH.COM/2016TECHSURVEY 12 / R + W / 01.17


AWA R D S I N S I G H T / J AY K I N G

NOMINATE NOW Do you know someone you'd like to see profiled in this space? Email submissions@ratchetandwrench.com

R AT C H E T + W R E N C H A L L - S TA R N O M I N E E

JAY K I N G OWNER K I N G ’ S AU T O M O T I V E S WA R T H M O R E , PA .

When Jay King strategizes ways to improve his shop, to provide exemplary customer service, to compete with the dealerships in town, he knows he can’t really accomplish anything without one key component: buy-in from his team. Easier said than done, though, says King, who opened King’s Automotive in Swarthmore, Pa., 29 years ago. For the first few years, retaining employees was an issue, but as he’s learned the management ropes, he’s slowly developed benefits, an image, and a leadership style that’s kept two of his five employees for 20-plus years, and one of them for the past seven years. “He promotes camaraderie within the organization,” says NAPA digital marketing coordinator Ryan Flanagan in his Ratchet+Wrench All Star Award nomination of King. “Jay makes sure the team at King’s Automotive completely understands the importance of the customer experience and promotes a clean, professional, friendly environment.” King details the mindset and perks that keep both his employees’ happiness and his shop’s retention rate high. BY TR AVIS BE AN

CREATE A PROFESSIONAL ATMOSPHERE. While King places a lot of emphasis on personal time and having fun, he says one of the keys to ensure employee loyalty is to create a culture that looks and feels like it stands out from the competition. “There are so many shops in this day and age that aren’t professional, and I want to be a cut above those guys and do it the right way,” he says. A few of King’s strategies to create a professional atmosphere are: A visually pleasing shop. Clutter and messiness can increase stress levels and lower customers’ expectations, King says, which is why he makes cleanliness a priority. He’s also planted an array of flowers in front of his building. A strict dress code. All King’s Automotive employees have uniforms that are expected to be clean, and shirts are always tucked in. King believes when you “present yourself as a professional,” you’re more likely to act professional. Sell your professionalism. Don’t be afraid to explicitly state your goals and intentions. King uses meetings as an opportunity to remind his staff about the image they reflect to the customer, and why it’s important to sell themselves as organized and helpful.

MAKE WORK-LIFE BALANCE A PRIORITY. As King puts it, he runs a “pretty tight ship.” “I don’t have anyone that dogs it,” he says. “They’re all committed to working hard to deliver a quality product at all points of the day.” The way King sees it: If you make personal time and work-life balance a priority, employees will be motivated to reward you while on the clock. While everyone at King’s Automotive appreciates the 401K and medical benefits he offers, King says the three weeks of vacation he offers per year actually goes further in retaining staff. “It was tough for me to comes to terms with offering three weeks of vacation, but they really do need that vacation time to recharge their batteries,” he says. “It might put us in a hole when they’re gone, but I think it’s actually benefitted our production and our quality in the long run.” HOST SOCIAL EXCURSIONS. Go-kart racing, paintball outings, and group dinners are just a few of the perks you can expect as a King’s Automotive employee. “I feel like that’s important,” King says. “Everybody is busy, and the techs have young kids, so it’s hard for them to get away

and do something socially.” King tries to plan out a social activity involving the entire shop once every few months outside of shop hours. He says it helps management and employees to connect, and makes everyone actually look forward to coming into work. “It can be fun,” he says. “It doesn’t always have to be about work, and it adds to the atmosphere when they get back into the shop.” SHOW THAT YOU CARE. It’s the classic case of “showing vs. telling”— and King believes that if you really want to show employees that you care, then you should give back to the community whenever possible. While King helps out locally whenever possible, working with his church to provide automotive repair to low-income families, he has also taken an active role in natural disaster relief. For disasters like Hurricane Katrina and tornadoes that hit cities in Oklahoma and Missouri, he collects money, then loads up his truck with equipment, supplies and food, and heads down to help out. While it’s an out-ofthe-box philanthropic idea that takes him outside the shop, he says it does just as much in earning customers’ trust as it does earning employees’ trust. 01.17 / R + W / 13


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EDITOR'S LETTER

NEW LOOK INTRODUCING THE NEW RATCHET+WRENCH

NICK SPAETH

After four-and-a-half years of publication, Ratchet+Wrench is still very much a newcomer to the automotive aftermarket, though it feels

EDIT ORIA L DIREC T OR J W E Y ER@R AT CHE TA NDW RENCH.COM

as though we've been at it for much longer. The many people we've met in that span of time—from shop operators to consultants to vendors; editorial contributors to our many industry partners—are responsible for this publication's swift rise from obscurity to necessity in shops across the country. Never content with where we are, we plan to continue building upon those relationships and delivering more valuable business-building solutions to you in the years ahead. We will also strive to improve how we deliver it. On that note, you might have noticed that this issue looks a bit different—it is the result of about a year's worth of redesign work with the end goal of making Ratchet+Wrench easier to read, more engaging and more valuable for you. Some things, such as the Awards Insight on page 13, are new. Other pieces, such as Viewpoint on page 20, Shop Advice on page 38, and the Case Study on page 42, have been reorganized to improve the flow of the publication. You'll also note different photo, graphic and layout treatments throughout. Ultimately, we hope that all of the changes make this publication an even more valuable asset to your business, now and in the future. 01.17 / R + W / 15


16 / R + W / 01.17


“USING AUGMENTED REALITY IS A MORE EFFECTIVE WAY TO TRAIN TECHNICIANS BECAUSE THEY WILL RETAIN A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT MORE OF THE INFORMATION.” —

ROB BUTZ DIRECTOR, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, TECHNICAL INFORMATION SERVICES BOSCH AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE SOLUTIONS

A New Wave of Training Bosch has invested in augmented reality, with the intent to utilize it as a training tool.

NEWS IDEAS PEOPLE

COURTESY OF BOSCH

TRENDS

01.17 / R + W / 17


J U M P S TA R T

A LAST-MINUTE INJUNCTION PUT A PAUSE ON NEW, STRICTER OVERTIME REGULATIONS—WHAT DOES THAT MEAN MOVING FORWARD? BY TESS COLLINS

On Nov. 22 , U.S. District Judge Amos

L. Mazzant issued a memorandum opinion and order that stopped the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime regulations from going into effect on Dec. 1. This means that shop owners will not have to worry about the increased threshold from $23,660 to $47,476 for employees to qualify for overtime pay—at least not yet. The memorandum issued by Judge Mazzant does not mean that these regulations will not come into play. The DOL has already challenged the motion. On Dec. 1, in an attempt to move forward with the stricter regulations, the DOL filed an appeal to the injunction and on Dec. 2, filed a motion to expedite the briefing. Another major factor to consider is the newly appointed White House administration. President-elect Donald Trump, along with a number of newly elected officials, will have the power to change the outcome of this issue. Shop owners will have to pay close attention in the next few months to see what happens, and make sure they are prepared. INDUSTRY PREPAREDNESS The Automotive Service Association (ASA) held a webinar back in June to educate its members on the new threshold issued by the DOL, which, at that time, was set to be put into place on Dec. 1. The webinar attendees had many questions on how to restructure their pay plans and who would be exempt. The webinar, which featured speakers Ed Cushman, shop owner of C&H Foreign Auto Repair in Spokane, Wash., and Brian Frrington, a lawyer for Cowles & Thompson’s employment law practice group in Dallas, 18 / R + W / 01.17

urged attendees to consult with an accountant or lawyer to make sure they were in compliance. Farrington explained in a follow-up conversation with Ratchet+Wrench that in his experience, mechanical repair shops tend to misclassify three types of workers—subordinate supervisors, office managers, and service writers and estimators. The proposed regulations would mean that these workers would need to be classified appropriately in order to be in compliance. A number of different industry professionals— from lawyers to shop owners to consultants—all recommended that shop owners gather as much information as possible and speak with an employment law professional. Had it been put into effect, were shop owners ready for the Dec. 1 deadline? For many, the answer was no. A WELCOME RELIEF This stall may have come as a welcome surprise to many small business owners. Mary Jo Dolson, a member of the state and local team at Skoda Minotti Strategic Marketing, a company that provides business and financial advice, said back in November that many of her clients were not ready for the Dec. 1 deadline. The DOL announced the proposed changes in May, and Dolson thinks that many of her clients put it on the backburner. Bob Redding, ASA’s Washington, D.C., representative, says that the Dec. 1 deadline was unrealistic and an unnecessary burden. Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association (ACA) said that he experienced a sense of relief when he heard the news about the injunction.

THE SILVER LINING While shop owners that were not prepared may be rejoicing, others may think they did a lot of unnecessary work. Not the case, Hanvey says. Although the timing may be unfortunate, being given a deadline forced many to look at the way their businesses were structured, which created an opportunity for improvement. MURK Y FUTURE Whether or not the DOL’s rule will go through is anyone’s guess. The DOL made a quick appeal, but Redding notes that the preliminary injunction will allow for Congress and the new administration to more carefully consider options. The ASA is hopeful that the new overtime rules will be eliminated. Hanvey, on the other hand, supports an update to the regulations, but at a more gradual pace. MOVING FORWARD The future is unclear, but what is known is that shop owners have been given more time. The extra time can be used to become more prepared and informed if the DOL’s rule does move forward. If nothing else, shop owners will benefit from a greater understanding of how their businesses are run and the tasks that their employees perform. Hanvey says that the deadline extension gives the industry an opportunity to properly evaluate staffing and positions. For shop owners that have changed titles and increased salaries, Hanvey doesn’t think it’s a good idea to go back on that. However, shop owners that took a different approach and switched salaried employees to hourly may have an opportunity to reconsider. COVER YOUR BASES Regardless of what happens, business owners need to make sure they have a firm understanding of what each of their employees do and how much they currently make, Dolson says. In order to do this, she advises making a list of each employee’s duties and determining based off that whether or not this rule will apply if it moves forward.

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J U M P S TA R T

AUGMENTED REALITY MIGHT REVOLUTIONIZE THE WAY TECHNICIANS LEARN AND GROW IN THEIR ROLES BY TESS COLLINS

The average person remembers 10 percent of what they read, 20 percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they see and 50 percent of what they see and hear, according to Edgar Dale's Cone of Experience. Augmented reality (AR) is taking this information and making the most of it by using visual information to change the way that people are trained, says Rob Butz, director of business development for the technical information services segment of Bosch Automotive Service Solutions. For those who are not familiar with AR, Butz says that most people have seen it on a weekly basis when they watch football. AR is used to display the line that comes up on the screen to mark the distance needed for a first down. Information that is laid over an existing image, like the line over the football field, is being used increasingly to improve training methods within the automotive aftermarket and increase shop efficiency, Butz explains. Bosch’s booth at AAPEX last year demonstrated some of the ways that this technology can be used to change the way repairs are performed. AR works by pointing a mobile device with the necessary technology at the designated area of a vehicle. The user can select the application desired— whether it be repair instructions, wiring harnesses, component locations or wire diagrams—and the information will superimpose onto the live image. Butz estimates that AR packaging for mobile devices will not be available for purchase for independent shops for another few years, but the revolutionary technology is something that shop owners should pay attention to as a way to more effectively train their technicians and run their shops. 2 0 / R + W / 01.17

HOW WILL SHOP OWNERS BENEFIT FROM USING AR IN THEIR SHOPS? The division that I work in is focused on automation and efficiency, and we see AR as an enhancement for shops. AR takes computer-generated data and lays that information over a real product. AR would enable shop workers to see all of the information that they need. Using AR, shop workers can take a photo with their mobile device and then AR will lay over the necessary information, such as the location of components and repair procedures. HOW EXACTLY WILL THE AR APPLICATION WORK? The application is downloaded to a device, or the device can access the information via a server. Once the application is launched, the user will navigate through the content, including a selection area for the vehicle. The navigation will differ depending on the application that the user is trying to use. When an augmentation is available, the user simply points the device at the vehicle and the related information is displayed over the vehicle. HOW CAN AR BE USED TO TRAIN TECHNICIANS MORE EFFECTIVELY? We’ve been using AR for end-of-the-line training at Ford Motor Co. and we’ve seen that AR is a more efficient way of training technicians. Based on studies, using AR is a more effective way to train technicians because they will retain a significant amount more of the information that is presented to them if it’s delivered in a visual way. An example of how we envision AR being used to train technicians is by providing information on equipment. Technicians would be able to point their device at pieces of equipment and information would pop up on how to use the equipment and service it.

BESIDES THE TRAINING BENEFITS, WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING AR IN A SHOP? It will cut down on the time it takes to do repairs. Using AR can help technicians find components faster. It will be especially helpful for complicated removal and replacement procedures because it will allow technicians to visually see where things are located. Based on studies that we’ve done at Bosch, we’ve seen that it can increase efficiency anywhere from 15–20 percent. There are customer service benefits to it as well. AR can be used to actually show customers what is going on with his or her car and can also be used to show them through the repair process. Being able to see things visually will mean more to the customer than a verbal explanation. HOW LONG BEFORE YOU THINK AR WILL BECOME COMMON IN INDEPENDENT REPAIR SHOPS? We feel that it will become more commonplace as the market continue to engage in it. Europe has been ahead of the game, and the U.S. is picking up on it over the past year and a half. We anticipate some type of release mid-2017. However, we believe that the impact could be sooner depending on the use. HOW DO YOU ENVISION IT BEING PRESENTED TO INDY SHOPS? When we begin to release this to independent shops, it will likely be available for purchase. The purchase models could be similar to existing service content models or possibly by use per vehicle. The applications could also be integrated with other solutions and available as part of a complete service package. WHAT ARE THE LATEST APPLICATIONS IN AR THAT THE INDUSTRY SHOULD KEEP ITS EYES OPEN FOR? Bosch is releasing a rescue assist app with Daimler. When someone is in a serious crash, a team goes out to assist the vehicle owner. This application will enable rescue teams to look and identify components that may be dangerous and have the potential to harm the driver or the rescuers. The application has been developed for 30 or so vehicles.

COURTESY OF BOSCH

Ushering in a New Era of Tech Training


CONCEPT TIRE NAMED BEST INVENTION OF THE YEAR Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s Eagle-360 concept tire has been named one of the “Best Inventions of the Year” by Time magazine. In total, 2016’s list includes 25 inventions. “By steadily reducing the driver interaction and intervention in self-driving vehicles, tires will play an even more important role as the primary link to the road,” said Joe Zekoski, Goodyear’s chief technical officer. “Goodyear’s concept tires play a dual role in that future both as creative platforms to push the boundaries of conventional thinking and test beds for nextgeneration technologies.” The Eagle-360 is a spherical-shaped design concept tire that would provide self-driving cars ultimate maneuverability, connectivity and biomimicry in increase safety.

COURTESY OF GOODYEAR

MARX GROUP WINS BEST LOGO AWARD The Marx Group was named the winner in the business-to-business category for best logo design/usage at the 2016 Automotive Communications Awards held in Las Vegas during AAPEX. The company won the award for its work on the SERVICE-EDU logo. “It was an honor to accept this award on behalf of the companies that helped form SERVICE EDU,” said Steffanie Savine, Marx Group’s vice president of sales and accounts. “SERVICE EDU’s unique logo designed with its brand message, ‘Knowledge is Power,’ was designed to motivate technicians to expand their knowledge. The hand clenching the wrench, a symbol of strength and power, represents the brand’s promise.” ACDELCO DEBUTS NEW PRODUCTS AT AAPEX ACDelco, the OE parts brand for General Motors, debuted a number of products at the AAPEX show at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas. Through an interactive exhibit featuring both augmented and virtual reality, ACDelco highlighted a number of new products and enhancements, including: • Advantage Bearings: A new bearings line featuring 160 new part numbers—including ball bearings,

Full-Circle Innovation Goodyear's Eagle 360 concept tire has a sphericalshaped design that aims to provide autonomous vehicles with improved maneuverability and increased safety.

clutch release bearings, hanger bearings, hub assemblies, hub spindle kits, taper cone/cup and wheel bearings—covering more than 69 million vehicles. Advantage Coated Rotors: A new line of 534 coated rotors covering more than 115 million vehicles on the road today, and using COOL SHIELD technology to resist rust and corrosion. Professional Coated Brake Calipers: Using a special zinc coating, ACDelco Professional coated calipers resist corrosion. The new line of 54 unique part numbers covers more than 51 million vehicles on the road today. Expanded distribution of GM OE collision parts: GM OE door handles, door hinges, rear view mirrors, center high mount stop lights (CHMSLs) and tailgate hinges are now available in the independent aftermarket through ACDelco distributors and direct accounts. This new line includes 277 new part numbers covering 1.7 million GM vehicles on the road today. Expanded distribution of GM OE Variable Valve Timing (VVT) Solenoids: ACDelco is making GM OE VVT solenoids available to its customers throughout the aftermarket. Fourteen unique part numbers cover 16.5 million 2000-2017 model year GM vehicles on the road today. Limited lifetime warranty for ACDelco GM OE Fuel Pumps: ACDelco GM OE fuel pumps offer exact OE fit, form and function for

98 percent of 1986-present day GM vehicles on the road today. Effective Nov. 1, 2016, ACDelco GM OE electric fuel pumps and fuel pump modules with level sensors will include a limited lifetime warranty. PORSCHE CUSTOMERS RANK NO. 1 IN CUSTOMER SATISFACTION According to the latest J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI), the Porsche brand ranked highest among all nameplates in customer satisfaction. The brand also placed higher than all other luxury manufacturers for the second consecutive year. Porsche improved upon its 2015 standing by 72 points to capture the overall ranking for the second time in the history of the SSI Study. The SSI Study measures satisfaction of sales experience among new-vehicle buyers and rejecters (those who shop a dealership and purchase elsewhere). “Customer satisfaction is our highest priority in our endeavor to deliver a unique and rewarding Porsche experience,” said Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO, Porsche Cars North America Inc. “We pride ourselves on building exciting and innovative sports cars, but our success is ultimately measured by the approval and appreciation of our customers. I would particularly like to thank our dealer partners who have made it their mission to provide a benchmark experience for their clients who are purchasing a Porsche.” The 2016 SSI Study is based on responses from 28,979 buyers who purchased or leased their new vehicles in April or May of 2016. 01.17 / R + W / 21


J U M P S TA R T

Babcock Auto Care ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA

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BY ANNA ZECK PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY BABCOCK AUTO CARE

SHOP S TAT S

Owners: Jeremy and Jeana Babcock Size: 10,000 square feet Staff Size: 19 Average Monthly Car Count: 671 Annual Revenue: $2.97 million

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CURRENT FACILIT Y When Jeremy and Jeana Babcock moved into their current facility, they wanted to create an environment that would be welcoming to everyone. In order to do this, the Babcock’s and their landlord invested in a total shop makeover before opening. 2

LOGO Jeana had an integral part in every aspect of the remodel, including the logo. Jeremy's uncle, a graphic designer, helped come up with the shop’s logo, which is backlit at night on the shop’s outdoor sign. It was important to the Babcocks to use the family name to honor Jeremy's grandmother, who passed away at 102.

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GLASS GARAGE DOORS The largest financial investment of the makeover was the 11 new glass garage doors that were installed. The Babcock’s installed these so their technicians would have as much as light as possible. 4

K I D ’ S P L AY A R E A The lobby is where the majority of the remodel was done. The mechanical shop that occupied the space before had tires in the front of the lobby. Jeana didn’t want the rubber smell coming through, so she got rid of those and created different areas in the lobby designated for different activities, including a kid’s play area. As a mother of four, this area was a very important for Jeana. 5

HI G H T O P TA B L E S Jeana also understands that parents may have work or other tasks they need to get done, while their children play. That’s why she created an area near the children’s area with high top tables. 2 2 / R + W / 01.17

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HAVE AN OUTSTANDING SHOP? Send a few photos and a brief description to submissions@ratchetandwrench.com and we might feature it here.

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PAT T E R N O N T H E WA L L The pattern on the wall was created by a local artist and is based off a chair that’s in the kid’s area.

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GAS FIREPLACE The Babcocks insisted on a fireplace during the renovation, despite their landlord thinking it was excessive. They say it gives the lobby a cozy, welcoming feel. The gas fireplace is turned on when the temperatures drop in Minnesota. 8

C O F F E E TA B L E In front of the fireplace is a coffee table that Jeana created by shortening the legs of a dining room table. The table has all of the shop’s social media and shuttle information, in case someone doesn’t want to wait at the shop. 9

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1,000-PIECE PUZZLES

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Babcock’s also has a puzzle table, but it’s not for kids. The area is separated from the children’s area and has 1,000-piece puzzles, which Jeana says are a big hit. 10

TILE MOSAIC The colors from the lobby are echoed in the bathroom. The floor, which dips down toward a drain, was made more aesthetically pleasing by Jeana, who created a tile mosaic around the drain.

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COPIES OF THE LOCAL NE WSPAPER, WHICH CARRIES STORIES T H AT J E A N A W R I T E S Along with the standard magazines, the shop also has copies of the local newspaper, which carries stories that Jeana writes. Jeana’s article comes out the first Thursday of every month and features snippets from her life and auto repair tips. 01.17 / R + W / 2 3


J U M P S TA R T

SUBMIT A SUGGESTION Want to know the shop impact of a particular product? Let us know at submissions@ratchetandwrench.com

S TAT S

Website: tracerline.com Cost: $49.50, dye not included Uses: Locating fluid leaks Training Required: None

SHOP REVIEWS OF AUTO CARE PRODUCTS

VioMAX Plus A TELESCOPIC, UV LEAK DETECTION LAMP USED TO LOCATE FLUID LEAKS BY TESS COLLINS

Quick-Spot System The VioMAX Plus uses a dye system to help technicians spot the origins of fluid leaks in various vehicle systems, including the A/C, coolant, oil and transmission systems.

The Reviewer

R ON MOF FA A D VA N C E D A U T O S E R V I C E HICKSVILLE, NY

Moffa got his start pumping gas at a local service station at the age of 15. He learned basic automotive skills from the owners and over the years, Moffa earned his ASE, New York State Inspector and NYS ATTP auto tech certifications, and managed several other shops before he opened Advanced Auto Service. The shop’s current location is the same site of the gas station where he first learned the ropes of the auto industry 40 years ago.

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HOW IT WORKS: The VioMAX Plus is used to locate the source of a fluid leak in air conditioning, coolant, oil, transmission, fuel, or air brake systems. Users can scan the VioMAX Plus over the problem area and the origin of the leak will light up. VioMAX Plus is smaller than most UV detection lights, weighing just 1.6 oz and measuring only 9 inches in a closed position. When opened, it can extend to 29 inches. To find the leak, users add a small amount of Tracerline fluorescent dye to the leaky system and allow it time to circulate. Once it’s had a sufficient amount of time, users can scan the area with the VioMAX Plus and the leak will glow. THE REVIEW: With leaks becoming more difficult to diagnose due to covers and compact engine

compartments, Moffa knew he needed a system that could get into tight spaces that other lights couldn’t. Depending on the customer, Moffa says his staff sometimes adds the dye and has the customers come back later to find the source if they don’t have the time to wait for it to circulate. Moffa says the shop uses the VioMAX Plus once per week or more during A/C season. THE RETURN: The VioMAX Plus lamp and dye have helped save his shop time when a vehicle comes in with an oil leak by identifying the source quickly and easily. Before the VioMAX Plus, Moffa says the technicians would have to spend a lot of time cleaning the engine compartment and undercarriage with expensive chemicals. Doing this caused Moffa to stress over environmental runoff and disposal. Now, with the VioMAX Plus, Moffa is able to find the source quickly and cut back on the cost of those chemicals. Samuel Tetens, vertical marketing strategist for Spectronics Corp., the maker of the tool, explains that the time it takes to find the leak depends on the area that is being searched, but as soon as the dye has had the opportunity to circulate around the system, the fluorescent dye will glow immediately.

COURTESY ADVANCE AUTO SERVICE

THE SHOP: Advanced Auto Service, a family-owned and operated shop in Hicksville, N.Y., opened in 1990. The three-bay shop sees an average of 45 invoices per week. Advanced Auto Service employs two technicians, including owner Ron Moffa’s son, who holds Master GM and Master ASE certifications and graduated from the NASCAR Technical Institute.


Columns

STRAIGHT TALK Joe Marconi

AVOIDING AND RECOVERING FROM BURNOUT If left unchecked, burnout can destroy your health and your business

THINKSTOCK, MICHAEL HOEWELER

It’s 2 a.m. and for the third straight night,

you find yourself wide awake staring at the ceiling. You lie still, trying to relax, desperately hoping to fall asleep. Your mind is racing through all that happened the day before and all that awaits you in a few hours. After a while, you begin to toss and turn as the anxiety builds and the more you try to shift your thoughts, the feeling of being overwhelmed consumes you. The morning comes and you drag yourself out of bed. After a few cups of coffee, you begin to wake up, but you’re in no shape for the workday ahead. The thought of going through another tortuous day of running a business makes you question why you went into business in the first place. You push yourself through the day, but you feel that nothing gets accomplished. In fact, you feel detached from your work and the people around you. The anxiety never leaves you. At the end of the day, all you have to look forward to is for the cycle to begin all over again. If any of this sounds familiar, then you know what it is to experience what we call shop owner burnout. If you are going through the above scenario now, I urge to take this article seriously. The effects of burnout are real. Burnout is more than a state of mind, or a point of sheer exhaustion. It’s the body reacting to the continuous barrage of handling complex problems and the unrelenting amount of work needed to run a business. The body goes into “fight or flight” mode, which is supposed to be for the short

term to help you survive a life-threatening situation. Your body was never meant to live in this state for prolonged periods of time. Burnout can lead to weight gain, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, sleep disorders and severe depression. Burnout also affects your mood and brain function, resulting in poor overall performance and bad decision making. If left unchecked, burnout will affect your ability to make critical business decisions. It may also alienate you from family and friends. While there are many reasons for burnout, typically it’s the result of taking on too much work, wearing too many hats and living with stress for long periods of time. You push yourself day after day, week after week, but you feel yourself getting behind. You put in more hours, desperately trying to catch up until your body tells you enough is enough. Your body literally shuts down. In order to avoid or recover from burnout, we need to explore the reason why burnout occurs in the first place. Shop owners are survivors. You will do whatever is needed to get the work done, and at any cost. Time does not matter. The day of the week doesn’t matter. All that matters is getting the work done. But this mindset, at any cost, takes its toll on you, and eventually on your business. The process is slow, but it builds up to a point where both the business and you are spiraling downward out of control. Taking on all the responsibilities for the survival of your business is an admirable trait.

Joe Marconi has more than three decades of experience in the automotive repair industry. He is the owner of Osceola Garage in Baldwin Place, N.Y., a business development coach for Elite Worldwide and co-founder of autoshopowner.com. j.marconi@eliteworldwide.com ratchetandwrench.com/marconi

But it’s not the healthiest for the long term. In fact, greater success is achieved when you as the owner clearly know your true responsibilities. Attempting to do everything is not the formula for success. Time management and delegation of duties will bring you greater success with a lot less stress. Clearly define your role as the leader of your company. Then clearly define the role of each employee. Establish your goals, both for the long term and the short term. Organize and balance your work week and your life. Follow the 80/20 rule, which states that you need to focus on the top 20 percent of the things that will bring you 80 percent of the greatest return. And that means saying no to things that should be done by someone else, or not done at all. Learn to delegate more. Rely on others to help you. Don’t feel you need to do everything. The body can only run that marathon for so long. Take time for yourself, and for family and friends. Burnout can severely impact your business and your personal life. To some degree, every shop owner will become a victim of burnout. I hope this article helps you to recognize the warning signs and ways to avoid or recover from it. As I have said many times before, your business should serve to enrich your life, never consume it. 01.17 / R + W / 2 5


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THREE SAVVY INDUSTRY VETERANS DISCUSS HOW TO PLAN FOR SUCCESS IN THE NEW YEAR AND BEYOND

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Ready to Roll Don Foshay's sixshop operation is poised for continued growth thanks to his collaborative leadership efforts.

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Typically, Maylan Newton receives one of three reactions. “That’s impossible. It’ll never happen.” “Wow, that’s a lot. … I’m not sure I can do it.” And then there’s the third shop owner that, when asked if he or she is ready to put in the work necessary to increase gross sales by 20 percent within the next year, responds to Newton with an impassioned: “Alright—let’s go after it.” You can imagine what the next 12 months of each scenario has in store: The first shop undoubtedly goes backward, declining in sales, more than likely on its way out of the auto care industry; the second, somewhat-committed company might see modest, 5 percent growth; and then, almost always without fail, Newton says the business belonging to that final go-getter will see 10–20 percent growth—if not more. Unless you’re willing to sit down and take a long, hard look at your business, Newton, CEO of Educational Seminars Institute (ESi), says you cannot possibly begin to plan for a better 2017. And thanks to three industry experts that spoke with Ratchet+Wrench, you now have some distinct, tried-and-true, refreshing strategies for setting (and achieving) the necessary goals and benchmarks your shop needs to succeed in the new year. If you’re ready, all you have to do is say: “Alright—let’s go after it.”

"IT'S VERY HARD TO HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE IF YOU DON'T SET EXPECTATIONS. THIS STARTS WITH BETTER LEADERSHIP." — MAYL AN NEW TON CEO

A Unified Effort — to map out When Don Foshay sits down

his auto repair network’s next phase of growth—which, thus far, has consisted of growing to seven locations (one being a wholesale shop), 80 employees and $16 million in annual revenue—he doesn’t do it alone. Foshay claims brainstorming sessions have allowed Don Foshay’s Discount Tire to compete with the MSOs and dealerships in the Portland, Maine, area. Committees consisting of managers from each of his six locations meet regularly to discuss financial reports and address industry trends, giving Foshay varying perspectives on issues and allowing him to delegate duties for the upcoming year. 2 8 / R + W / 01.17

EDUCATIONAL SEMINARS INSTITUTE

“It gets everybody invested in the actual fixing of the problem,” he says. “As opposed to everyone just getting an email from me, saying, ‘This is how it’s going to be fixed.’” Form the Committee Foshay knows how lucky he is to have six managers for brainstorming sessions. However, he doesn’t believe a smaller shop is inherently limited by its staff size. “Even one, lone location can pick out three people for an hour-long meeting each month,” he says. “Just get the ideas flowing.” Foshay has even partnered with area competing shops to negotiate better prices on parts and materials. He recommends

joining a regional committee (for him, it’s the New England Tire & Service Association) to find shops facing similar problems. “It’s absolutely an option, especially when you’re competing against larger chains that have multiple stores and greater HR resources,” he says. Designate a Time and Place Foshay meets monthly with his managerial staff. He limits meetings to an hour and a half (“So we’re not frying them after a long day”) and hosts everyone at a relaxing location outside the shop (“Sitting down over a cup of coffee or a beer just helps get so much more done”). “Fortunately, we have enough flexibility


FINDING 20 PERCENT FOCUS ON ARO & CAR COUNT

United Front Don Foshay leans on the managers at each of his shops to brainstorm solutions to challenges and strategies for continued growth.

SCAN YOUR BUSINESS

If you’re part of Maylan Newton’s third group and you’re ready to put in the work to consistently achieve year-over-year gross sales increases, you need to start by evaluating your business’s numbers. The first steps toward increasing gross sales by 20 percent are actually quite simple, Newton says, and involve taking a broad look at your sales, ARO and car count. If you wanted to make an extra $240,000 in 2017, and your ARO is $500, that indicates you’d need 200 extra vehicles that year, or an extra 40 cars per month flowing through your shop. However, if your shop physically cannot handle more cars per month, then your ARO needs to rise to make up the difference. “And remember, it is possible to have too many cars,” he says. “Your ARO drops, and you spend more time doing admin things, buying parts and warranties, than you do actually repairing cars for money.” From there, brainstorm with your team for strategies on growing either your ARO or car count. Increasing your shop’s car count could require some new marketing techniques or improving efficiency; for raising ARO, invest in sales training and target vehicles that require more expensive repairs.

To aid mapping out your production goals, Newton says it’s good to set some benchmarks with a good “SCAN” of your business. “It stands for ’Shop Critical Assessment Numbers,’” Newton says. “Just like you use a scanner to repair cars, I can use certain numbers to diagnose your business over the telephone.” The SCAN numbers are split into categories covering gross profit and billable hours. Here are the benchmarks Newton says you should be hitting: Gross Profit • 70 percent gross profit on labor (unloaded) • 60 percent gross profit on parts • 63-66 percent gross profit on total tickets Billable Hours • 2.8 hours per repair order for general repair shops • 3.6 hours per repair order for specialty shops • 3.5 hours per repair order for transmissions shops

SET EXPECTATIONS

and have enough coverage to where we can pull each person out of a store for whoever is on the committee,” he says. “Just be sure the time and date is set so everyone can be prepared to leave the shop.” Brainstorm the Problems As a group, Foshay and his managers go over shop numbers and find areas where improvements can be made. They might cover anything from strategizing a push for 20 percent growth in gross sales to many of the problems the committee has actually addressed in the past, such as streamlining parts purchasing, choosing a management system, and combatting the technician shortage.

TAKE OWNERSHIP

Although, as the leader of your shop, you’re the one setting the goals, you don’t have to improve the shop alone—in fact, it’s impossible. “Too many times we do this in secret and we don’t share any information and then we’re mad at them because they didn’t achieve it,” Newton says. “But in reality, we didn’t tell them that expectation. And it’s very hard to hold people accountable if you don’t set expectations. This starts with better leadership, establishing this stuff, letting them know what’s expected, and then the other side of that is holding them accountable to what we decided.” And while it’s pretty easy to explain what your goals are for the shop, it’s another to explain how they’re achievable. Take your ARO and car count goals: If you tell your team you want to increase sales by $240,000, that seems like a lot, right? “But if you tell them it requires us to finish two more cars a day at our current ARO, it doesn’t seem so bad,” Newton says. “If your ARO is $500 and we complete two more cars a day, that’s $5,000 for the week, $20,000 for the month, and $240,000 for the year.”

Once it is known what benchmarks are essential for achieving 20 percent growth, Newton says to check those numbers weekly and keep employees accountable for meeting them at weekly check-in meetings. “Every week, the techs should get a productivity report, and the service writers should get a sales report that says, ‘This week, you sold this much. If you keep going at this pace, this is what you’re going to do at the end of the month,’” he says. “That way they have an idea of where they’re at so they can correct it if they’re not going to meet the goal.” But don’t just discuss everyone’s goals—let them become a mantra around the shop. “For service writer staff, they should be written on card and put on their monitor, so every minute they’re staring at the computer, they’re staring at their goals,” he says. “Each technician should have their production goals written on their toolbox. If it’s not in their face, they’ll lose focus.”

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Gathering data from the shop’s three management systems (for shop production, tires and wholesale) to back up their cases, managers will present plans that identify the biggest impediments to growth and how to best fix them. “Generally we have four meetings before we have something concrete that says: This is how we’re going to attack this,” Foshay says. “And then, we also have the follow-up meeting to get some results and feedback.” Assign Duties Finally, when the committee has decided to focus on an issue and has formed an action plan, Foshay delegates duties to his managers. He doesn’t always use all six managers (that way he can split managers between two or three action items), and designates duties according to everyone’s strengths.

Map Out Your Training —

It’s a no-nonsense approach for Jill Trotta: If you’re not equipped to repair the cars of the future? You can’t be RepairPal certified. “If you don’t know about adaptive cruise control and lane departure and collision avoidance systems, it’s going to affect your ability to do basic repairs. Even a regular brake pad replacement will be affected by these systems that are on the car. You could really put somebody’s life in danger by not being trained to do it,” says Trotta, program director for RepairPal. “So we turn away a pretty good percentage of the shops that actually apply.” So in order to get ahead, Trotta, an active member of Women in Auto Care and an ASE certified technician and service advisor with 24 years of experience, says you need to stay on top of trends and plan out your yearly training schedule. Set Goals Setting goals for training should be a company-wide effort, Trotta says. Host quarterly sessions that cover the key national and regional events, discuss what training will be most beneficial to the shop, and then set incentivized goals for achieving a certain amount of training per year. 3 0 / R + W / 01.17

CASE STUDY USING COMMITTEES TO RECRUIT TECHS —

It’s the issue almost every auto repair shop in the nation is facing, and Foshay claims it’s the biggest obstacle his business faces in order to grow to even more locations: the technician shortage. Foshay says he competes with dealerships’ multitude of resources through his “Technician Marketing Committee,” which has been able to cost-effectively tackle the issue by partnering with area schools and setting up internships. “I have one person that serves as a liaison with community college. And then we have several people that branch off to split up communications with high school programs throughout the state. We also have managers who develop and fine-tune an internship program that covers all six stores,” Foshay says. “We get the first look at some of these kids, and they end up getting to know who we are and want to work for us.” So far, it’s working: Just last year alone, Foshay was able to hire three entry-level technicians at his South Portland location.

2017'S MOST AFFORDABLE AND EXPENSIVE REPAIRS TOP 10 MOST AFFORDABLE MODELS —

NISSAN ALTIMA HYBRID FORD FUSION HYBRID TOYOTA PRIUS NISSAN SENTRA NISSAN ALTIMA MAZDA CX-7 MAZDA6 FORD EXPLORER HONDA ACCORD FORD FOCUS

[HYBRID] [HYBRID] [HYBRID] [COMPACT] [MID-SIZE] [SUV] [MID-SIZE] [SUV] [MID-SIZE] [COMPACT]

($673) ($768) ($784) ($931) ($986) ($988) ($1,026) ($1,052) ($1,060) ($1,064)

TOP 10 MOST EXPENSIVE MODELS —

LINCOLN MKZ AUDI A4 LEXUS IS250 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT BMW 328I MERCEDES BENZ C300 MITSUBISHI LANCER INFINITI G37 CHEVROLET MALIBU

[LUXURY] [LUXURY] [LUXURY] [COMPACT] [MID-SIZE] [LUXURY] [LUXURY] [COMPACT] [LUXURY] [MID-SIZE]

($2,649) ($2,259) ($2,234) ($2,114) ($2,087) ($1,965) ($1,960) ($1,931) ($1725) ($1,633)

*FIND OUT THE TOP 20 IN EACH CATEGORY AT RATCHETANDWRENCH.COM/YEARAHEAD2017

“We have shops in our network that require techs to attend 40 hours a year,” she says. “That’s quite a lot, but it’s needed. Those techs are going to be happier, to feel more professional and supported, and be able to diagnose cars more quickly— and fix them right the first time.” Trotta recommends requiring, at minimum, 20 hours of training per year. Form a Budget This number will depend entirely on the number of hours of training you require, but Trotta says putting an actual number on each employee’s training

budget puts the importance of training in perspective. “Training and retaining your technicians will retain them because it makes them feel valued,” she says. “If you invest in that kind of training, you’re going to make up the cost with the amount of money you’re able to charge and how quickly you’re going to be able to diagnose cars.” Trotta recommends dedicating 1-3 percent of your budget to training. (Go to ratchetandwrench.com/learningculture for tips on making ongoing education a core component of your culture.)


Choose Your Events Trotta spends much of her year giving presentations at industry events across the country. Here are the ones she believes are essential for managerial and technical development:

"IF YOU HAVE AUDIS AND LEXUSES IN YOUR MARKET, YOUR TRAINING SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON THOSE MODELS. YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE MORE MONEY WORKING ON THEM." —

> AASA Vision Conference

JILL TROT TA

(March 29-31, Chicago)

PROGRAM DIRECTOR

> ATE Training Expo

REPAIRPAL

(March 24-26, Seattle) > NACE/Automechanika (July 26-29, Chicago)

J I L L T R O T TA

> WORLDPAC STX (TBD) > Ratchet+Wrench Management Conference (Sept. 27–29, Chicago) > Regional training through WORLDPAC, ASA, AASP, O’Reilly Auto Parts, NAPA

Let Trends Guide You Trotta spends much of her time evaluating data culled from thousands of shops using RepairPal—all of which should be used to shape your goals for education and training in 2017 and beyond.

In particular, Trotta says the company’s Top 20 Most Expensive and Top 20 Most Affordable report (see sidebar), which calculated the average cost of four common auto repairs—water pump, alternator, brake pad replacement, and oil change service— on popular 2010 compact, hybrid, mid-size, and SUV car models. The results signal what vehicle money-conscious buyers might be inclined to purchase, and which models offer the biggest returns to shops—all of which can guide your training focuses.

“As far as training goes, these are things you should know,” she says. “If you have Audis and Lexuses in your market, your training should be focused on those models. You’re going to make more money working on them.” “And with hybrids being so affordable, I suspect hybrid training will become a necessity soon,” Trotta adds. “Most of the shops that apply for RepairPal don’t have hybrid certifications, and that needs to change.” 01.17 / R + W / 31


ON THE AIR

HOW ONE SHOP OWNER USED RADIO AND YOUTUBE TO GROW HIS BUSINESS B Y K E L LY B E AT O N

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Marketing Master Shop owner Frank Leutz has always had an eye for marketing, which includes creating a successful YouTube channel that's paid dividends in his shop.

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ON THE AIR

DESERT CAR CARE CHANDLER

RANK LEUTZ LOOKS STRAIGHT INTO A VIDEO CAMERA, ENGAGING HIS AUDIENCE. “We should introduce the topic, man,” Leutz says to his co-host, Steve Grosz. “We’re gonna cover some road-trip snippity-snappity songs.” Grosz, an FM radio veteran, takes the baton, speaking in an up-tempo fashion, adding “What song—when you get out on the open road, and you’re going to L.A., or going to Vegas, or you’re going to Texas, or New Mexico, or Flagstaff—what song do you like to turn up and jam? … We’ll give you a prize if you call in with yours.” Welcome to Wrench Nation in its radio form, which, as of this writing, is broadcast every Wednesday afternoon by 88.7 FM The Pulse of Mesa, Ariz. Leutz is a natural in front of an audience, whether addressing show topics, such as “Road Trip Songs from Memorial Day Weekend,” or meatier auto-related issues, such as “Buying a Used Car: Tips and Tricks” (episode 18 of his show). But, while making such YouTube material is often an exciting process for Leutz—the president of Desert Car Care Chandler in Chandler, Ariz.—it’s also a big business-builder. The shop owner says that once his business started using video messages as part of its email campaigns, open rates eventually increased from 12 percent to nearly 30 percent, according to MailChimp marketing stats. Two years ago, Desert Car Care experienced 30 percent year-over-year growth, and Leutz says his business is currently “tracking year-over-year (growth) of 15 percent.” And, he’s quite confident that utilizing YouTube can work for other shop owners, too. “If you can understand how YouTube can fit into your business,” he explains, “it really is about understanding the digital DNA in our current economy, and speaking to that marketplace.”

YOUTUBE’S INCREASING APPEAL

Leutz is a man who’s clearly aware of media’s changing landscape, and numbers such as this: According to Nielsen’s most recent Total Audience Report, Americans ages 18-24 watched roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes less of TV per week in 2016’s second quarter than they did a year earlier, numbers that hint at TV advertising’s diminishing value these days. Stats like that make YouTube’s versatility all the more intriguing to busi3 4 / R + W / 01.17

ness owners like Leutz. “Realizing conventional marketing [and] media may not have the legs it once did, we knew we had to meet our clients,” Leutz notes, “as they researched not only reviews and overall reputation, but engaged in video as a source of decision making.” That’s why Leutz is slowly but surely starting to populate Wrench Nation’s YouTube page with videos that shed light on his passion for the auto industry (see ratchetandwrench.com/

Location: Chandler, Ariz. Size: 4,800 square feet Staff: 7 (3 ASE certified technicians, 1 master technician, 1 service greeter, 1 tech school apprentice in training, 1 owner) Number of Lifts: 9 Average Monthly Car Count: 400 Annual Revenue: $1.6 million

wrenchnation). Or, viewers can watch extended clips of his radio show (for example, Episode 2: Check Engine Light Help). Meanwhile, Desert Car Care’s own YouTube page also features the occasional auto tip segment Leutz has done on local TV in the Phoenix area. Leutz began using YouTube especially heavily in early 2016. “Wrench Nation is all about the culture of people, the storytelling of the good, the bad,” Leutz notes. Leutz, the president of Chandler’s 2015 Small Business of the Year, realizes that not all shops can afford to spend nearly $10,000 on DSLR camera equipment, as his did. That said, the owner insists shrewd social-media use—and using YouTube in particular, largely due to its visual nature—can pay dividends. “As upper management—the business owners—we’re so tapped into ROI,” he says, “with just about every function we have in our organization. The hard concept to swallow with social media is not so much the ROI, but it’s the COI—and that’s the cost of ignoring. “At this point in time, there is a huge shift in how people will do business with your company. … How we can connect with our consumer very much includes video presentation. As our new, potential clients are researching a potential company to do business with, it makes it that much more ap-


Getting Social pealing and digitally attractive when the staff is speaking directly to them, in a natural way.”

SHOP OWNER FRANK LEUTZ PROVIDES SOME TIPS FOR INCORPORATING MULTIPLE FORMS OF SOCIAL MEDIA BEYOND YOUTUBE.

CREATIVITY IS KEY

When it comes to the use of social media outlets like YouTube for marketing, value lies in being unique. “You have to understand,” Leutz explains, “that social media isn’t just an auto-pilot [posting] of specials that you’re running, or perhaps articles that you copy and paste. People want to hear stories from the garage.” Desert Car Care has received a positive response from its upbeat tales of shop life. Recently, for example, Leutz’s business offered free oil changes to area teachers; media outlets covered it en masse. “I think for a local garage,” Leutz says, “showing up to any events and recording those events—it doesn’t have to be live— but recording those ‘feel-good events’ … anything about your business and the personality of your business, is crucial.” In an era of often harsh Yelp reviews, positive web content is of undeniable value. “Years ago, people would check in with the BBB (Better Business Bureau),” Leutz says. “Now, more so than ever, there’s sort of this, ‘We want to see the identity, we want to see the spirit of that business.’ So a local garage can simply tell the story of their people.” “Within the YouTube community, you truly have to just be yourself. You truly just have to be transparent,” says Leutz, who also suggests using video tags and keywords centered on auto parts, in order to make the video prominent on Internet search engines.

TURNING YOUTUBE POSTS INTO REVENUE

Leutz, the president of the Phoenix chapter of the Automotive Service Association, is a firm believer in the “Three-legged Stool of Marketing.” That includes “medium” (the outlet used); “market” (the consumer demographic being targeted); and “message” (the company’s sales pitch). Leutz stresses that if those areas are studied thoroughly by shops, then they can better attract quality leads in an ever-evolving, media-driven culture.

Don’t Simply Rely on Twitter — Leutz says Twitter can be great for grabbing the attention of media outlets, but he laments the fact that he rarely gets an overwhelming, immediate response from potential customers through that social media platform. “First and foremost, you’re trying to provide value, but you’re trying to position yourself as the authority,” Leutz says. “I have a marketing calendar that stretches out a year, and within that marketing calendar there are folks in the media that want to hear about it through Twitter.”

Facebook is Evolving — Leutz likes Facebook overall, but he said businesses now need to work around recent algorithm changes. “Facebook is a great platform; however, Facebook algorithms have changed recently, dramatically,” Leutz notes. “For Facebook, right now if you can build upon other communities, and sync up with other communities … there can be an amazing amount of conversion from that.”

“People want to tell their story,” Leutz says, “and if you can identify that within your business, in a modern-day garage, you can involve people and convert them to consumers.” A key reason behind Leutz’s growing YouTube presence over the past year is actually micro-marketing. While he may speak to the occasional radio-show caller from Indonesia, for example, Leutz knows it makes business sense to stay focused primarily on potential leads close to home. “Right now, we’re consistently doing the radio show in this local trade area,” he notes, “and if I can carve out this micro market, we can then prove ourselves in other markets.” Another lesson to be learned from the business’s YouTube channels: Pay close attention to the comments section. “We made it a point to engage comments,” Leutz says of Desert Car Care and its employees. “Where I can really transition over into some return on investment is how I repurpose that on my

Keep an eye on Periscope — In Leutz’s opinion, Periscope, the live video-streaming app that was bought by Twitter in early 2015, offers intriguing innovation. “Periscope was a great way to give insight to business in general,” he notes. “You know, you can go watch a guy in Australia in his bakery, to Frank in his garage. So we’ve built up a bit of a culture with Periscope. And it was 80 percent culture of the garage, and 20 percent ‘Hey, this is fix-it stuff.’”

bi-monthly emails—as I sit down with my team, a lot of [our] open rate is attributed to the content from the video. “You pretty much can close anyone that has an issue or has some sort of possible fear from dealing with other garages,” Leutz notes. “So that video is extremely important in building the transparency.”

LET THE STORIES FLOW

Leutz has clearly enjoyed his foray into the world of YouTube. He has yet to ascend to Keyboard Cat-level stardom, but that’s just fine. The accomplished, longtime shop owner is confident Desert Car Care will continue to benefit from its YouTube exposure. And, he’s confident that other shop owners can reap similar rewards if they utilize YouTube wisely. “Pick the few people in your organization that are the storytellers,” Leutz suggests, “and let them tell the story about your business. That’s so important for the marketability of your business these days.” 01.17 / R + W / 3 5


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“I DON'T GIVE UP. IF I CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET TO MY GOAL, I FIGURE OUT HOW TO GO AROUND THE OBSTACLE.” —

GREG BEDNAR, OWNER, GREG'S CHAMPION AUTO

Looking Up Greg Bednar, who once needed a loan to make payroll, immersed himself in training to turn his shop around.

M A K E

M O N E Y   /   S A V E

M O N E Y   /   W O R K

S M A R T E R

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T O O L B OX / S H O P A D V I C E

The Importance of Tracking Your Net Promoter Score Why this customer service metric is crucial for any shop to track NPS provides both value and a harsh

It is a quick analysis to be able to see, “Here’s where we’re at on any given day, week, month, and this is what the service experience looks like.” It is the most effective way to understand if we are hitting the mark or missing the mark. And we feel it’s accurate. NPS can be intimidating, because you’re also talking about the customers who are the detractor customers, whereas most surveys just focus on the most positive customers. But we don’t want to be just pie-in-the-sky; we want to deal with where we are with our customer base, so you’re not sticking your head in the sand. reality.

The survey is surprisingly easy to

You’ve got to have a high degree of self-awareness and comfort dealing with where you’re falling short to be able to deal with the NPS survey. When we rolled this out, we had a lot of business owners in our system that didn’t like it. We’re humans; we don’t like talking about things that we’re not good at. But it’s accurate. We’ve got to learn, we’ve got to get better. We ask our customers for their email address, and within 24 hours of our service experience concluding, they get an email with The Ultimate Question survey. That’s the whole kit-and-kaboodle. We want it to be very simple, very easy to use, something they can do on their phones. track.

Simple surveys can provide sizable

If I’m a business owner, I’m asking myself the simple question: Is it more important to me to have a much value.

A S T O L D T O K E L LY B E AT O N 3 8 / R + W / 01.17

smaller group of customers answer a broad range of survey questions about my business? Or, is it more important for me to get more responses and less information, but it could be more important information? Believe me, I love customer research—those types of questions are incredibly insightful and help us make decisions—but, ultimately, what I wanna know is, how likely are they to recommend us to someone else? NPS can be used multiple ways within

It’s a great talking point with our franchisees. If our franchisees feel like their businesses are slipping down into the neutral scores, then we know we need to help them implement our service experience. So, when we go in and evaluate their businesses, we have one of our store performance coaches come with them to spend time with them and listen and observe. We also use the NPS with each one of our front-line members. We’re going to measure their individual NPS on the customers that they’re serving. On a given day we might not be able to tell much information, but over a week, month, three months, or six months, it absolutely tells a story. If you’ve got a guy who’s 10 points below your team average, that’s someone who probably needs some extra training. NPS is going to help you be effective in managing different aspects of your business. And the only way you can manage something is by first measuring. a shop.

THINKSTOCK

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a practical way for shop owners to take note of blemishes in their businesses. The Christian Brothers Automotive Corporation, like many other auto care businesses in recent years, has discovered a measurement that holds a mirror up to the company’s operations in a truly effective way: net promoter score (NPS). This survey system gained steam following Fred Reichheld’s 2006 book, The Ultimate Question, which suggested that businesses should ask customers one key thing: On a scale of zero to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend this business to a friend or colleague? This survey helps businesses track “promoters” (fans of a business, who rated it a 9 or 10 and are likely to recommend it), “passives” (customers who are somewhat satisfied, and gave a 7 or 8 rating), and “detractors” (consumers who aren’t content with the service provided, rated it 0-6, and may spread negative word of mouth). Studying NPS can shed light on how to turn infrequent customers into loyal customers and provide an indication of your business’ growth potential. Overall NPS scores can range from -100 to 100 and anything above 50 is widely considered solid. Options to utilize for measuring NPS include customerrelationship management software like Demandforce and Listen360. Josh Wall, the vice president of franchise and strategic development with Christian Brothers—which boasts an overall NPS of 81 at all facilities nationally—describes why he feels NPS is a KPI more shop owners should track.


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T O O L B OX / F I N A N C E + O P E R AT I O N S

Digitizing Your Shop Key considerations before cutting paper and moving your operation to a new level of customer service B Y K E L LY B E AT O N

As president of AdvisorFix, Jeremy O’Neal’s

job occasionally calls for him to diagnose areas that can be streamlined at auto shops. When it comes to customer service, O’Neal has noticed a widespread issue in the industry. To put it in plain language, most shops are void of efficiency, he says. “You know, we get so busy fixing cars and focusing on the cars,” O’Neal says. “The car’s not the patient, the customer is.” Shops need to turn their attention to consumer demand, explains O’Neal, who frequently speaks at industry events on the topic. And, foresight would indicate that includes making the switch to a largely paperless operation. While the process of adding technological advances like digital vehicle inspection software can be costly, the switch can pay dividends. And, shops that insist on sticking strictly with traditional customer service methods risk alienating customers. What’s more, shops that don’t consider advances like digital inspections risk falling behind their competitors with regard to technology. Building upon such sentiments, O’Neal offers his tips on getting started with making a digital transition, highlighting four areas.

THINKSTOCK

Before You Start

Of course, a shop owner needs to get his or her crew on board with the decision before making the switch to a largely paperless operation. “It’s going to be a rough patch for 30 days,” O’Neal says of a shop’s digital changeover. “But guess what? When we come out the other side, we’re going to have a more streamlined operation.” One key argument for adding digital vehicle inspection software, like that offered by Bolt On Technology or AutoVitals, is that it can make the sales process virtually pain-free for both the customer and the shop. “Here’s the thing,” O’Neal notes. “If you can go digital on the inspection and documentation of the condition of the vehicle, it literally makes the sale for you. What happens then is, the customer will call you and say, ‘I got your report; I’m not really con-

cerned on the struts, but I see I need brakes, transmission service, spark-plugs. How much would it be to do all that?’ That just made the sales presentation for me.” While O’Neal is a fan of digital inspection technology, he doesn’t feel shops necessarily need to make 100 percent transitions to paperless. After all, some traditional shop processes, like filling out a technician worksheet by hand, are still relatively quick. “Words of caution I would have,” O’Neal says, “for a shop considering going digital: Number one, think through the process and get your service writers, your technicians— everybody—on board, and help them embrace the technology. And then do your research and make sure the company that you’re going with is going to fit with your integrations that need to happen.”

The Appointment Process

These days, the appointment-making process at many auto shops can grate on customers who simply don’t have patience for playing “phone tag.” O’Neal contends that shops should offer more definitive online options for booking appointments. “If you look at the majority of shops today, when I go online and book an appointment, I’m not confirmed for that appointment,” O’Neal notes. “Somebody in that shop has to receive the lead, and then they call me back to confirm. “All the communication is driving from the service advisor picking up the phone and calling the customer. Customers don’t want that today. ”

Making Repair Orders

O’Neal, who earned 2016 Mechanical Training Provider of the Year from the Automotive Management Institute, is adamant that text messages should be utilized more in the shop culture. After all, we live in an era where people seemingly use smartphones for everything but making and taking phone calls. And, that digital technology should extend to the repair-order process.

In 2017, digital technology allows service advisors and technicians to text customers ample photos and videos to illustrate what needs tending to on their vehicles. Remember, it’s called “customer service.” It should aid the customer, O’Neal says. And, along those lines, within the next five to eight years, O’Neal expects to see a seismic shift in what consumers demand via digital means. “Look at how consumers are buying things today,” O’Neal says. “Amazon is one of the world’s largest retailers, but they don’t have a storefront. How do people buy from Amazon? You go on the app and, to buy, you push a button. And then it’s delivered to your door the next day. That has completely shifted how we buy things.”

Inspections, Updates And Service History

Digital customer service offerings like inspections, updates and service history documentation are all made relatively easy with digital resources like those from Bolt On Technology, AutoServe1, AutoVitals and Autotext.me (there are nearly two dozen reputable digital inspection companies widely available). With the aid of digital inspection software, for example, a tech can utilize a mobile device to make service notes (techs can even use voice command to document notes with an iPad) and easily provide before-and-after photos of repairs, which lend clear proof to customers of work rendered. Digital photos and videos can also provide clear evidence to a customer of further maintenance that needs to be addressed on a vehicle. Ideally, the paperless process can educate customers and increase their trust in shops.

Paying For Repairs

One key for shops hoping to earn high marks on review sites like Yelp: Don’t belabor the repair process. That includes making the payment process as quick as possible. O’Neal feels resources like digital inspections can greatly increase a shop’s efficiency. 01.17 / R + W / 41


Total Turnaround Greg Bednar more than tripled his shop's revenue in just six years after receiving a wake-up call to improve his ability to lead.

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T O O L B OX / C A S E S T U DY

R F T A

I S I N G R O M H E S H E S

A few short years ago, Greg’s Champion Auto was running on fumes. After its owner swallowed his pride and trained, revenue skyrocketed. B Y K E L LY B E AT O N PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL DINSMORE

01.17 / R + W / 4 3


T O O L B OX / C A S E S T U DY

Greg Bednar, owner of Greg’s Champion Auto (GCA) in Mankato, Minn., will never forget the day, in 2011, when he received sobering professional news. “My bookkeeper came to me, shut my door, and she said, ‘We don’t have enough to make payroll. And we don’t have enough to make accounts payable,’” Bednar says. “And I sat there and stared at her.” A loan provided temporary salve. But GCA was developing a gaping wound with regard to its finances. Annual revenue was around $300,000. And Bednar―who had taken over the struggling Champion Auto facility in Feb. 2010―was scrambling to acquire new customers. Simply put, sales needed to improve, soon. The shop’s small staff could sense Bednar was in over his head initially. When he took over the facility in southern Minnesota, Bednar was greeted with two technicians and a massive amount of doubt. “There was a lot of skepticism that I was going to be able to pull this thing off,” Bednar recalls. The shop owner knew it was time for a crash course in how to run an auto shop.

4 4 / R + W / 01.17

GREG’S CHAMPION AUTO

Location: Mankato, Minn. Size: 10,000 square feet Staff: 10 (1 owner, 2 service advisors, 4 techs, 2 part-time shuttle drivers, 1 part-time bookkeeper) Lifts: 9 Average Monthly Car Count: 340 Annual Revenue: $1.15 million

THE BACKSTORY

Back in 2010, Bednar could certainly relate to the old adage “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Though he was a former Air Force mechanic, Bednar’s professional background mainly consisted of stints in software development, telecommunications, and fundraising. He had been talked into taking over the 37-year-old Champion Auto facility by a fundraising colleague. “I knew business, and I had a real sense for that. And also for marketing,” Bednar notes. “What I was short on was the specifics of … how do you make that phone ring? How do you manage car count?” Bednar was coming to grips with the fact he needed a thorough tutorial on his new industry. He just wasn’t sure which school he needed to matriculate at. And the clock was ticking.


notes, if he mails out 4,000 pieces, that translates to 40 new customers. That can easily generate around a 500 percent return on investment. Bednar also implemented a thorough, complimentary inspection process that focused on finding legitimate deferred maintenance on vehicles, which upped ARO. Ultimately, the direct mail campaign provided the main key that unlocked success for GCA. “Once that started to generate some traffic, things really took off,” Bednar notes of the Mudlick program.

Taking Over After taking over Champion Auto, Greg Bednar was left with a staff that was skeptical of his expertise and mounting debt.

THE SOLUTION

THE PROBLEM

GCA’s vital signs were weak upon Bednar’s arrival. Average repair order (ARO) was a dismal $173. Customer attrition was an issue. The shop’s staff wasn’t even measuring effective labor rate. But the annual revenue—around $300,000—made the owner especially uneasy. Bednar knew he needed to increase the f low of customers into his shop, but he couldn’t zero in on the ideal way to do so. The owner was using a patchwork approach to advertising that was doing little to improve his threadbare f inances. While uncertainty shrouded Bednar’s business, the owner remained relatively confident that his willingness to work would eventually bare fruit. “I don’t give up,” Bednar notes. “If I can’t figure out how to get to my goal, I figure out how to go around the obstacle, or under the obstacle, or over the obstacle.”

Finally, while flipping through the pages of an industry periodical, Bednar had an epiphany of sorts. He noticed an article that mentioned the top auto shops in America, and one was located just 90 minutes away, in the Twin Cities suburbs. Bednar had reached a conclusion: If he couldn’t create his ideal shop from scratch, he’d try to mirror the best around. “I gave the owner a call and said, ‘I’m a great copycat,’” Bednar says light-heartedly. “So he let me come shadow him for a day.” The tutelage of owner Rich Fearing at Village Auto Works and Transmission in Roseville, Minn., was immensely helpful. But it also reinforced to Bednar that he needed truly extensive, immersive shop instruction. RLO Training, and its Bottom-Line Impact Group (BLIG) process, seemed to have solid word of mouth. RLO—which consults shop owners on how to be more efficient and manage their finances—and coach John Wafler didn’t hold any punches with Bednar, providing the unfiltered truth in 2013. “For three days,” Bednar says, “you open your books and you bare your soul.” Bednar knew he was stuck in a hole. But the BLIG program, which offers owners a support network, provided optimism. The humbled owner absorbed every tip he could, paying particular attention to suggestions that he upgrade his advertising approach, utilizing a Mudlick Mail direct mail campaign. The advertising initiative isn’t cheap, costing GCA $2,800 for 4,000 pieces sent per month. And, though the program has just a 1 percent response rate, it generates a solid return on investment; as Bednar

THE AFTERMATH

Bednar’s initial BLIG meeting was in Feb. 2013. By June of that year, sales numbers started to make a steep incline. The Minnesota shop owner says gross sales climbed to $500,000 quickly, and “then growth came in 20 percent to 30 percent increments each year.” Bednar credits his altered marketing approach for much of his recent prosperity. “You have to have some kind of marketing means that is going to get your word out there,” the owner notes. “And I had been doing a shotgun approach to this—radio and print—and nothing was seeming to get any traction. I went with the Mudlick program and went all in.” The result: GCA’s annual revenue improved from $360,000 a few short years ago to the point where Bednar expected it to be around $1.15 million when final numbers are tallied for 2016. The shop’s average monthly car count rose from 165 in 2011 to 340 by 2016. Nowadays, the Minnesotan is knowledgeable enough to provide his own auto shop tutorials. And, he happily notes, “I don’t go to work anymore. My passion, my hobby, is now my work—and it’s so rewarding.”

THE TAKEAWAY

One main lesson Bednar learned from his RLO studies: the importance of having a focused advertising approach. “The improvement was dramatic once my direct mail program started to bring in customers,” notes Bednar, whose shop garners a 4.9-star average rating on surecritic.com. “We had meteoric growth,” he adds. “The growth was breathtaking, really– hard to keep my arms around.” 01.17 / R + W / 4 5


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T O O L B OX / T E C H +T O O L S

5 Essential Repair Information Techniques Better navigate through repair information to improve efficiency, throughput and your bottom line BY TR AVIS BE AN

In the old days, as a technician, Ben

Johnson would remove the carburetor, disassemble it, clean it out, and grab his car kit to check what the flow level should be before putting it back together—every time, he’d perform this process, because that’s the proper procedure, right? Well … what if he never needed to remove the carburetor in the first place? How much time would that save on the job? How much would it have raised the shop’s productivity and efficiency and throughput and overall sales if he was able to quickly pinpoint the issue and skip over all those unnecessary steps? It seems fitting, then, that Johnson is now director of product management for Mitchell 1, where developing and providing repair information to help shops streamline work has become a top priority. It’s especially important, Johnson says, because as vehicles become more complex, so will the repair procedures technicians perform. Thus, your employees’ techniques for accessing the latest repair information will continue to affect your shop’s bottom line. Johnson and Jad Dunning, vice president and general manager of MOTOSHOP Technology Tools, lay out some tips for accessing the latest repair information more quickly and easily.

THINKSTOCK

1. Repair Information is Your First Resort.

Call it ego, call it ignorance, call it “being stuck in the old ways”—there are plenty of reasons a technician would rely on his or her experience and choose to diagnose a vehicle through trial and error.

“A lot of techs still view [looking up repair information] as the last thing they should do when they can’t figure something out, when it should be the first thing they do,” Johnson says. With information systems pulling in data from hundreds of millions of repairs, Johnson says it’s becoming essential to use such a wealth of information to diagnose complex vehicle systems as a first resort. “If you’re working on a 2010 Toyota Tundra with a certain problem, you can look up, ‘Has anyone else ever seen this problem? And what did they do about it?’” he says. “That can save a lot of time rather than trying to go through all the OE information.”

2. Find the Right Search Method.

Not everybody utilizes search systems the same way, so Dunning says it’s good to know what your options are when you pull up your program to diagnose a vehicle. Keyword searches. This is the simplest and most straightforward function, Dunning says, and what most search engines are built on. After pulling up the year, model and make of the vehicle, inputting the mileage and searching the symptoms will bring up a variety of lists detailing various vehicle components, diagnostic trouble codes and symptoms that could be applicable for the repair. Category trees. Visual learners might find tree charts to be more beneficial and easier to follow, Dunning says. Repair information companies create taxonomies that organize the lists found in keyword searches into trees that lay out potential paths for the vehicle problems.

3. Narrow TSB Searches.

What was once the norm of repair information searching, navigating through

hundreds of technical service bulletins (TSBs) has now become an arduous task, Johnson says. “When you look at GM or Ford or Chrysler, you’re going to go through mountains of TSBs,” he says. “Technicians were told they would make everything more efficient, but it’s made us less efficient.” Going deeper and deeper with your searches—noting symptoms, components and systems along the way—can help pinpoint which TSB will help you complete the job more quickly.

4. Utilize OEM Searches.

If you’d like to go straight to the source, Dunning says that repair information systems make it easy to search an OEM’s recommendations. “Rather than normalized content on our own category trees, the tech can browse the way GM, Ford or Toyota wants to do it,” he says. “It’s about enabling the tech to find the content they want as quickly as possible.” Sometimes OEM searches are your best option, Johnson says, especially as vehicle systems become more complicated and vary by manufacturer.

5. Consider Quick Link Options.

Sometimes, your searches should be much simpler, not requiring the tenuous searches that more complicated jobs would. “Some people come into the site just because they want to change the transmission fluid. So instead of doing that same kind of search to find that, I would use quick link buttons available on the search page,” Johnson says. “It’s like your dashboard. If you just want something fast, you can click a button for fluid capacities, or tire pressure information, or wiring diagrams, or technical service bulletins, and they’re right there.” 01.17 / R + W / 47


Columns

THE BOTTOM LINE Mitch Schneider

Mitch Schneider is a fourth-generation auto repair professional and the owner of Schneider’s Auto Repair in Simi Valley, Calif. He is an industry educator, author, seminar facilitator, and blogger at mitchschneidersworld.com. mitchs@schneidersauto.net ratchetandwrench.com/schneider

START TO FINISH For as long as I can remember, this indus-

try has defined me—who I am, the person I would become. As a child, my father's service station in Brooklyn was my playroom, feeding my imagination with tow trucks that were really pirate ships and lube pits that were dungeons hiding pirates, dragons and all manner of desperados. That same service station was my ticket into an adult world forbidden to all my friends. I enjoyed 4 a.m. rides to Jones Beach for an hour of surf fishing before the long ride back into Brooklyn to open the shop. I spent Saturdays and holidays and summers pumping gas, washing windows and checking oil for nickel and dime tips— more than enough for a “cup of coffee” and a comic book (or two). Looking back, the shop wasn’t just a place of work, it was a much greater expe4 8 / R + W / 01.17

rience. It was the slow, invisible absorption of real-world values and the inevitable conclusion of being immersed in a blue-collar world. It was the magic of discovery, the hidden science and respect for all things mechanical. It was layer upon layer of callus and an appreciation for hard, physical work. It was cuts and scars defined by ridges of black grease stains proudly proclaiming the choice I had made—a choice to follow my father’s footsteps and our family’s legacy into this industry. It was a life defined by long days, late nights and more than an occasional trip to the emergency room to stitch, staple or remove. It was years of clinics and after-work classes, weeks at the General Motors Training Center in Burbank and hours of technical training at home. And, it was the constant quest to validate those hours through voluntary certification.

Through it all, this industry and the career I carved out of it gave me clothes to wear, food to eat and a place to sleep. It gave me cars to drive, albeit not always the ones I wanted to, especially in those early years. It gave me my life and despite my father-inlaw’s warnings, it supported our family. After almost 52 years spent as a professional in this industry, it would be hard not to reflect on the time I’ve spent here, much of which has been with you. After five decades, it is everything you might imagine it would or could be, and far more. I’ve been blessed throughout my career with a constant parade of remarkable individuals, unforgettable characters, clients, employees and colleagues who have enriched and enlightened me, confused and confounded me. They helped shape my world and define my place in it. More than anything else, this industry

THINKSTOCK, MICHAEL HOEWELER

Reflecting on a life in auto care as I say goodbye to my business


gave me the ultimate gift: the opportunity to work with my parents for four decades. And, here in Simi Valley, it allowed me the privilege of working with the finest group of professionals I’ve ever worked with and for the most wonderful group of clients, vendors and friends one could hope for or imagine. I wouldn’t change a thing, but for all the good, my chosen career likely gave me one of the rarest forms of bone marrow cancer there is, and a new and very different appreciation of time. You see, my father and I worked side-byside 50 hours a week or more until he was 82. My mother worked here until she was no longer able, more than 40 years. And, until I was diagnosed, it was my intent to do the same: to work until I was no longer able. But, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the last couple of years is that time is not just linear. It is multidimensional. It has volume and because it has volume it has content. Content that is filled with energy and effort, creating and building, enabling and giving. A lifetime of relationships and memories. This new appreciation of time, this new appreciation for time, is a gift I’ve been afforded through all the carcinogenic chemicals we’ve all been exposed to over all these many years. A gift of clarity: the ability to see clearly what is urgent, what is important and what is not. It has helped me to recognize that my illness is a constant distraction filled with an endless stream of appointments. These appointments take me out of the shop for hours almost every week. It has also helped me realize that any chronic disease takes up a lot of bandwidth. It occupies an inordinate amount space in your head and is a distraction too often responsible for lapses in concentration and a new, almost unbearable tension between “have to’s” and “want to’s.” It creates a primordial need to make up for the late nights and lost weekends sacrificed to this industry at the expense of time spent with family and friends. Recognizing that these challenges constitute a new reality that prevents me from being everything my clients and team members expect and deserve, I made the decision to sell our business—to give up the one single, most recognizable thread that has run through the entire tapestry of my life. It is the single hardest thing I have ever done, the most difficult choice I have ever had to make. Perhaps that’s because

the decision was not entirely mine, nor was it one I made willingly. It is a decision I’ve decided to share, a journey I hope you will accompany me on. I think there is much that can be learned. You see, as much as has been written about exit strategies and succession plans and the importance of having them, I’m not sure anyone has offered you the chance to accompany them on a first-person ride through this dark

and unsettling territory. I’m not sure anyone has offered an insight into the sometimes impossible and emotionally-charged decisions that must be made, starting with the initial decision to exit the business. So, meet me here next month as I take you on an adventure—my adventure—the type that should begin the moment you go into business. But one that will certainly begin the moment you decide to sell.

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“THE PURPOSE OF THE BUSINESS IS TO CREATE A CUSTOMER.” Repair Life

5 0 / R + W / 01.17

K RIS CESENA O W NE R A U T O ME D I C S

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAMIE RAIN


Customer Centric Kris Cesena has grown her business to a $1.1 million-per-year institution by maintaining honest, open communication with her customers.

01.17 / R + W / 51


R E PA I R L I F E / K R I S C E S E N A

W “What is the purpose of a business?” Back in 1987, as Kris Cesena sat in a training seminar, she thought the answer to this instructor’s question was quite simple. “I raised my hand and said, ‘To make money,’” she recalls. As the last 30 years have passed by, Cesena has moved from performing administrative and marketing duties to becoming owner of Auto Medics in San Mateo, Calif., after her husband, Dan, experienced a car accident and she took on more managerial duties. She has seen thousands upon thousands of customers and their vehicles pass through the shop. Day in and day out, she has looked every single one of them in the eyes and told them what repairs their vehicles need to keep them safe. So, her answer to that same question today? “The purpose of the business is to create a customer,” Cesena says. “My goal is to help people. If I help people and do it in an honest way, they’ll become a customer for life and they’ll come to us for everything.” That attitude has truly gone on to shape the way Cesena operates each day at Auto Medics, where she performs service writing, administrative, marketing and managerial duties—always with the customer in mind. AS TOLD TO TR AVIS BE AN 5 2 / R + W / 01.17

When I open the shop each morning, I make the estimates for all the cars coming in. I check on our loaner cars, make

sure there’s enough gas in them and record the mileage, and then get ready for the customers. Because we’ve been in business for 30 years, most of the people coming in are regulars, so we’ve already documented in our management system how many miles are on their cars, what work we’ve performed, and the work we’ve recommended in the past. I try to look at that in advance, so when they’re dropping off their car, I can say, By the way, did you want to do that power steering fluid we’ve been telling you about the past two visits? and then make the sale up front instead of having to call them back in an hour to tell them something we already knew. I look at it this way: If I’m being honest and only telling you what your car really needs and charging you for that today, you’re going to like us enough that you’ll come back for all your work in the future. And so it doesn’t matter if you do

AUTO MEDICS

Location: San Mateo, Calif. Size: 2,000 square feet Staff: 7 (one part-time) Lifts: 4 Average Monthly Car Count: 220 Annual Revenue: $1.1 million


Back on the Road Convenience is king at Auto Medics, which is why the shop is meticulous about its parts inventory, allowing techs like Josh Chatten (left) to work more efficiently.

walks around, checking in with everybody, so he lets me know if my employees need me to address anything. Once I’ve taken care of those priorities in the morning, I can use the middle of the day for admin stuff. I have all of my tasks organized into folders, so going through my mail, I’ll check if there are any vendors that need payment. Then it’s just about getting caught up on opening other mail, getting payroll ready, posting on Facebook, and replying to Yelp reviews. Customers pick up their cars between 4 and 5:30 p.m., so before then I like to check inventory. We check what is

your brakes today or three months from now—you’re going to come do them here, and you’ll come for the next thing and the next thing, and that’s what’s important. When they come pick up the car, if they didn’t do everything we recommended, we give them a printed estimate. I tell them to take the estimate and put it on the front seat of their car or on their fridge at home—otherwise they’ll throw it in the glove compartment and completely forget about it. I find that if you give them a printed estimate, as opposed to telling them verbally, 50 percent of them schedule the appointment right then or call back within the week to make the appointment. After I’ve met with customers, I move onto whatever priorities I have. No matter what, my No. 1 priority is always the customer. And that’s not just the custom-

ers that pay to fix their cars, but also my employees. My employees are my customers, too. So anything they need comes first. My service manager, Robert, has been with us for over 24 years, and he

low and start stocking for the next day. We do that toward the end of the day, because sometimes we’ll sign somebody up for service in the morning, and then we’ll find out they don’t need an air filter or cabin filter, and we don’t want to overstock it. We have a stocking level for everything. How many do we want to stock? And what quantities does it get down to before we reorder it? We’ll do a low inventory report on the system, confirm the quantities on hand, and then create purchase orders and either fax them to the dealers or use the vendor’s online ordering system. Our goal is to get the customer back his or her car the same day, so we stock a lot of parts to make it more efficient for the technician. That way, you don’t put the car back together and then have to wait for the brake pads or the air filter to get here. At the end of the day, I also like to do some general cleaning around the office so it looks nice for the next morning. Usually, the marketing duties end up

coming after hours, because I just don’t have enough time throughout the day to focus on it. If it’s responding to a

Yelp review? I can do that at work. But if it requires some sort of concerted effort, like putting together a flyer to hand out at the local youth soccer tournament over the weekend, those usually end up being after-hour projects. I used to try a ton of different things when it came to marketing. I’d put together a spreadsheet, look at what marketing we did over the past couple years, what worked and what didn’t. I’ve constantly got vendors with me that want me to advertise with them. The grocery store wants me to put my logo on the back of their receipt. Every newspaper wants me to put in an ad. We stopped with all that because we learned that’s not how our customers hear about us. Every new customer that comes through the door fills out a form and we ask them how they found out about us. And if they skip that part on the form, I ask them. I even ask when somebody calls for a quote. I’ve found out that pretty much all the people who come in say one of three things: They got referred by a friend; they drove by us because we’re in a really good location on a busy street that goes out to the freeway; or they found us on the Internet through Google and Yelp. So I decided to focus my marketing efforts on those three things: I keep my building and property looking clean, because if people are finding me when they’re driving by, I want them to notice it’s a clean facility; I spend money with Yelp, and I have some Google AdWords in place; and then I give incentives for giving referrals, usually a $20 Starbucks gift card when they refer somebody to come in. 01.17 / R + W / 5 3


Columns

CUSTOMER CENTRIC Audra Fordin

Use online reviews to make your customers advocates of your business If you read my previous two columns, you

know I’m passionate about social media. Why? It all comes down to business, right? Social media is where it’s at. If you’re not already tracking these things, you should. You can do your own analysis. I challenge you to ask your customers how they found you. You’ll be surprised by what you discover. I followed my own suggestion. It turns out social media and the Internet are huge drivers of business. That’s why I believe every auto shop should be active on social media. It’s ROI heavy, and the younger generation is into Snapchat, Instagram, and Pokémon Go. (My shop is near a Pokestop, which is a fact I advertise in my lobby.) Most drivers in my own generation (those of us over 40 years old) have a Facebook account. Utilizing social media simply makes smart business sense. Despite the power of online marketing, though, some auto professionals just aren’t interested in social media. In my opinion, it’s best to embrace modern technology (hey, you’re already doing this on the shop floor!), but I can’t force you to see things my way. The key purpose of social media is to boost wordof-mouth referrals. Let's analyze some ways to accomplish the exact same thing—without logging on to Facebook. 5 4 / R + W / 01.17

WHY REVIEWS MATTER. So, it's safe to say we all use Google in some capacity. According to AdWeek, 81 percent of customers do online research before they make a purchase decision. Research shows that 88 percent of customers trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from friends. Let’s say you have zero reviews on Google or Yelp. If it’s a toss up between you and an auto shop across the street that has 10 reviews, who do you think a driver will choose? Probably not you. Whoever has the most (and best) reviews wins! ASK FOR HELP. Here’s a reality check. Most people say they would be happy to write a review, but don’t take the time to do so. That’s not because you don’t have the best auto shop in your state; it's because you didn’t ask. “Hey, Betty, you've been coming here for two years now … while you wait, will you write a review?” It’s important to “make the ask." Speak up! If you say nothing, you get nothing. Here’s a bonus tip: Add a note to your invoices that says: “We take customer satisfaction seriously. Tell us about your experience at www.[Where-You-Want-Them-ToWrite-A-Review].com.” Most people don’t

audra@womenautoknow.com ratchetandwrench.com/fordin

read every word of their invoices, so ask your cashier, PPA or service adviser to point this out so it’s noticed. DO SOMETHING MEMORABLE. What is the most obvious way to get customers talking about you? Do something worth talking about! Drivers seek information in every way, shape and form. Thinking outside of the traditional box and going off my own experience, offering free auto awareness workshops is a way meet their needs and to bring them through your door, which is meeting my needs in the shop, too. Educated drivers are 10 times more likely to invest in auto repair than uneducated ones. Think about it. We all like to buy. No one likes to be sold. You don’t have to be pushy with a driver who understands the importance of preventive maintenance. They will gladly pay for a service that improves the health, safety, and longevity of their vehicles. Present yourself as a doctor for cars to help drivers understand why it’s good to be proactive. You could go outside with a megaphone and tell the world how amazing your business is. It wouldn’t be effective. It’s best to let your customers do the work for you. Follow these tips to get people talking.

THINKSTOCK, MICHAEL HOEWELER

GIVE’EM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT

Audra Fordin is the fourth-generation owner of Great Bear Auto Repair in Flushing, N.Y., founder of consumer advocacy initiative Women Auto Know/Drivers Auto Know (womenautoknow.com), and author of “End Auto Anxiety: No Fear Car Repair and Maintenance for Busy Women.”


CUSTOMER TIRE STORAGE

S O L U T I O N S

SUBMIT YOUR SOLUTION Did you develop an innovative solution to improve your operation? Let us know at submissions@ratchetandwrench.com

O’SHEA TIRE & SERVICE CENTER TURNED EX TRA S PAC E I N TO A N A D D I T I O N A L R E V E N U E S T R E A M BY TESS COLLINS

RICH BORRA

COURTESY O'SHEA TIRE & SERVICE

An Added Profit Center O'Shea Tire & Service turned some unused shop space into a paid storage system for customers' seasonal tires.

O'SHEA TIRE & SERVICE

Owner: Rich Borra Location: Cortland, N.Y. Size: 9,000 square feet (spread between two buildings) Average Monthly Car Count: 450 Annual Revenue: $1.3 Million

The Inspiration

What It Does

The Cost

A tire storage system was already in place at O’Shea Tire & Service Center when Rich Borra took over the shop in 2003, but it wasn’t being offered to every customer. Borra saw this as a missed opportunity. Tires are bulky and not at the top of everyone’s priority list, Borra explains. By offering every customer that comes in the door an area to store the tires that are not currently being used, the shop is able to see each customer’s vehicle a minimum of two times per year. Since there was room to store even more tires in the shop, Borra made the decision to expand. By adding additional shelving space on top of the existing tire storage and utilizing other open areas in the shop, Borra is now able to offer storage to every customer that comes into the shop.

Every customer that walks in the door is offered an option to store his or her extra tires. If a customer opts in, the staff takes down the customer’s name and address, vehicle information, and tire brand and size. Once that information is collected, that tag is attached to the tires and that set of tires is assigned a color section and row number. When that customer comes back in, the shop takes his or her information and can look up the location of the tires (for example: Red, Row 11). When a customer signs up for tire storage, he or she signs a document that states that they will come in for those tires once per calendar year. Borra implemented this as a way to cut down on storing tires that certain customers would never pick up. At the end of that year, the staff makes phone calls to remind customers to come in to get their tires changed over.

Since Borra already had shelving in place, it only cost him roughly $300 for the expansion and paint.

What It Is A systemized storage area for customers’ seasonal tires.

How It's Made To create tire storage, Borra expanded vertically on a wooden construction shelving system that the shop already had. The wooden shelves have been painted five different colors to correspond with the color zones and each row is numbered to make locating tires easier.

The ROI O’Shea’s charges $15.95 for tire changeover and $17.95 for tire storage and change over. That means that each set of tires being stored earns the shop an additional $2. If customers come in twice per year, that’s $4 in storage fees alone that the shop gets. Borra says that the shop currently has roughly 1,250 tires in its storage area, which means that the shop earns $2,500 for storing winter tires and $2,500 for storing summer tires, which results in $5,000 per year in additional profit. Borra adds that the tire storage service also means he gets more work since he sees all of those customers twice per year. That guaranteed time with the customer helps him sell new tires if they are needed, or find other jobs that that customer might need.

01.17 / R + W / 5 5


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Ratchet+Wrench - January 2017