Service Station, Garage Management November 2009

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Service Station & Garage Management .COM



Educating, selling customers on ride control

Garage of the Year nominees Emissions maintenance

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November 2009

Vol. 39 No. 11

what’s inside

EDITOR Tom Venetis  (416) 510-6790 ASSISTANT EDITOR David Halpert  (416) 510-6784 TECHNICAL EDITOR Jim Anderton PUBLISHER Marc Gadbois  (416) 510-6776 CIRCULATION MANAGER Selina Rahaman  (416) 442-5600 ext 3528 SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES Roshni Thava  (416) 442-5600 ext 3555 ART DIRECTOR Ron Taylor PRODUCTION MANAGER Steven K. Hofmann  (416) 510-6757

See Page 10


See Page 32


Feature: Ride Control


Selling ride control is a two-step process of educating customers, technician training. . . 10

Garage of the Year


SSGM profiles this year’s nominees for Garage of the Year . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Software Improving shop efficiencies with the latest management solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

Emissions Failing catalytic converters a sure sign of other emission system problems. . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

David Meunier Overcoming the fear of change. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

CAT Differential diagnosis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

Departments Editorial. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Jim’s Rant. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Automotive Internet Directory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Crossword. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Baywatch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Advertiser’s Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada, through the Canada Magazine Fund, toward our editorial costs. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Publications Assistance Program towards our mailing costs. PAP Registration No. 11028

In association with CANADIAN


4 SSGM November 2009

Service Station and Garage Management is published monthly by Business Information Group, a division of BIG Magazines LP, a leading Cana­dian information company with interests in daily and community news­ papers and business-to-business information services. Subscription rates: Canada $51.95 + GST + applicable taxes per year; $82.95 + GST + applicable taxes for 2 years; single copy price $7.00 + $0.42 GST + applicable taxes. USA $91.95US per year; single copy price $10.00US. All other foreign in US $93.95 per year. All rights reserved. Printed in Canada. US office of publication: 2424 Niagara Falls Blvd, Niagara Falls, NY 14304-5709. Periodicals Postage Paid at Niagara Falls, NY. USPS #009-192. US postmaster: Send address changes to Service Station and Garage Management, PO Box 1118, Niagara Falls, NY 14304. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Circulation Dept., Service Station and Garage Management, 12 Concorde Place, Suite 800, Toronto, ON Canada M3C 4J2. Postmaster: please forward forms 29B and 67B to 12 Concorde Place, Suite 800, Toronto, ON Canada M3C 4J2. Printed in Canada. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be re­produced either in part or in full without the consent of the copyright owner. From time to time we make our subscription list available to select companies and organizations whose product or service may interest you. If you do not wish your contact information to be made available, please contact us. Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations Publications Mail Agreement #40069240 ISSN 0008-2872 Member of

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|| Tom’s Editorial

Marketing to Generation Y … or Z or Whatever They Are Called O By Tom Venetis, Editor

The best shops, like several of the Garage of the Year nominees, have incorporated into their business operations the Internet and online communications to more effectively reach vehicle owners; they have not, however, forsaken quality and honesty.

ne thing that always puzzles me is the endless letter designations for existing and upcoming generations. It can be safely said that it began when Douglas Coupland created the term Generation X to identify a set of persons—usually in their twenties—and their values and beliefs. They were soon followed by an even different species of animal ‘Generation Y.’ Soon there will be ‘Generation Z’ and then we have to begin with the start of the alphabet, I suppose. This labeling has proven useful to marketers. No matter what letter designation each generation has each is so unique that marketers, businesses and persons have to communicate with them differently in order to reach them effectively. In the recent SEMA News, Alysha Webb argues because Generation Y is ever connected to the Internet, addicted to Facebook and iPods, and Tweeting every moment of their lives, aftermarket businesses need to grab onto these technologies and adjust their communications and marketing strategies to accommodate this new culture of instant information and communication. I don’t disagree with the need for independents to begin using many of these technologies to communicate with their customers. Many people today do the majority of their communications with friends, family and businesses through various online means, from email to online video chats with sales persons. What I do have problems with is the sentiment that because of these new technologies companies of all sorts must market themselves differently. The reality is no matter how people communicate, what finally attracts someone to a particular set of products or to a company is quality and honesty. For service providers this is something to keep in mind when embracing new technologies. The best shops, like several of the Garage of the Year nominees, have incorporated into their business operations online communications technologies to more effectively reach vehicle owners; they have not, however, forsaken quality and honesty. What the best independents do is use new technologies to reinforce those two core ideals. When people come to your Web site, what are they seeing? Is it what hours you are open and the services you offer; or are you emphasizing the quality of the repair and maintenance work you offer, the expertise of your technicians and comments from satisfied customers who appreciated the efforts you took to give them an honest appraisal of the work to be recommended? When the customer finally arrives, are they offered different ways of being communicated with? Some people want to be phoned, others would like an email to tell them the work is finished or even a text message. And if the customer wishes to communicate with the shop to approve of the work proposed, to solicit advice about a problem they may be having with their vehicle, what means are given to them? What has to be kept top-of-mind is that new communications technologies are no substitute for honesty and quality of work. It is those two things which attract people and have to be communicated, whether you decide to use Web page or to have your technicians and service writers Twitter. If you can’t provide either of them, no matter how slick of an online campaign you conduct for your shop, how many Tweets you send out or Facebook friends you have, you are not going to succeed.

What do you think? Have your say and speak your mind! 6 SSGM November 2009

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|| News Briefs

AIA delivers success at this year’s Ontario Grand Forum By David Halpert, Assistant Editor and Tom Venetis, Editor AIA Canada held the 2009 Ontario Grand Forum at the Doubletree by Hilton in Toronto, bringing together aftermarket manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and auto-technician professionals as well as some of the most outspoken critics in the automotive industry. After a few brief welcoming remarks, Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc., spoke to the attendees about “Service Professionals in a Consumer World.” “If there is one thing you need to do,” said DesRosiers in his opening comments, “It’s think strategically. There’s no silver bullet that will have your customers coming back into your store!” DesRosiers pointed out that customers, when it comes to automotiverelated repair or maintenance work, often see such purchases as something to be done grudgingly. It may be necessary for the care and maintenance of the vehicle, but it is inconvenient, disrupts the work day and sometimes comes with sticker-shock. The challenge for service providers is how to overcome that grudge purchase mentality and steer customers away from dealership service operations. The key to getting people to come to the independents requires two things, DesRosiers said. The first is to stop worrying about the customers who focus on price alone, the bargainhunters who will take a vehicle from one shop to another looking for the cheapest price, or see if they can convince the shop staff to cut them a deal. They are not worth the aggravation or the effort, as no matter how good of a deal you may wish to give them, they will always claim someone else can do it cheaper. The next step is to focus on what customers do look for in an independent service shop. DesRosiers said in all of his research he finds customers look for four key things from independent service providers: doing the work right the first time, trust, fair pricing 8 SSGM November 2009

and having the job done on time and guaranteed. Focusing on those key customer drivers will help bring customers and sales for independents. The focus on improving sales was the theme of ‘Mac’ McGrovern’s twopart presentation at the forum. Director of marketing and training for KYB America, McGovern said too many technicians are leaving profitable maintenance and repair work ‘on the table,’ with some studies suggesting in Canada some $88 per day for each technician, amounting to some $2 billion country-wide. McGovern suspected that amount is too low and is closer to $250 for each technician. Multiply that by five days and a shop could be seeing $195,000 in lost revenue. The problem is a lack of proper sales training, parts knowledge and techniques for effective customer communications. By improving a technician’s technical training and parts knowledge, investing in sales and communications training and using such things as the Motorist Assurance Program’s standards for identifying clearly to customers what work is required and what is suggested, more profit-earning sales repair and maintenance work can be had. Some of the other well-attended lectures at the forum included “Operational Planning – Stop Hoping… Organize” by outgoing AIA Chairman and national manager of Petro-Canada Centrigard, John Watt and “What’s New in Automotive Technology” by technical instructor for the Canadian Automotive Repair and Service (CARS) Dave Vollmer. During the Ontario Grand Forum, AIA Canada announced it would offer to sign the voluntary agreement on the Right to Repair known formally as the

Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS). Aftermarket critics were initially sceptical that the agreement might threaten the process of the current Right to Repair (also known as Bill C-273) currently making its way through the legislative process. However, on October 16, an interpretation guideline was issued by the car companies which clarified their position on aftermarket access to engine calibrations. That clarification now clearly states that the aftermarket will receive identical flash download information, the same as the OEM authorized dealers. As a result, the AIA Board of Directors made the decision to put the full weight of AIA’s support behind the CASIS agreement. While AIA Canada hasn’t officially signed the agreement as of yet, they are optimistic about future discussions with auto manufacturer associations. “As a result of the clarification AIA is confident that resolution of the key concern for AIA members has been achieved, and therefore AIA has formally requested to become a signatory of the CASIS Agreement. By signing the agreement, AIA has come to the conclusion that support of a legislated option such as Bill C-273 to remedy the access to information issue is no longer necessary.” Although the CASIS agreement would allow independent service and repair shops to flash computer modules, update/reset computer modules, and restart vehicles, it would not allow them to alter any OEM engine or vehicle system control module firmware, take vehicles out of compliance with environmental or safety regulations or alter the engine performance of vehicles.

WORLDPAC kicks off first supplier and training expo

WORLDPAC held its first Supplier and Training expo on October 23rd at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, FL. The three-day event was made to help WORLDPAC’s cus-

tomers succeed in the changing aftermarket environment and focused on technical and business training, and product knowledge from suppliers. The expo featured a tool and

News Briefs || ment show, guest speakers discussing industry issues and networking opportunities. Included in the export were over 500 import specialists from 43 U.S. states and Canada, over 50 leading suppliers including tool and equipment manufacturers and over 30 training instructors.

Gates unveils NaviGates online parts database

Gates Corporation has made available NaviGates, its online parts application database.This database enables users to search Gates complete line of aftermarket parts by vehicle category, vehicle identification number (VIN) or part description. “Technology improvements are enabling us to dramatically change the way we deliver catalogue information. Gates believes that by providing real-time access to the latest parts and application information available we will continue to drive increased demand for the products we offer in the marketplace,” says Sandy Wallace, marketing manager for Gates Canada. The next-generation NaviGates provides application information for virtually any vehicle catalogued by Gates. This includes passenger cars and light trucks, medium/heavy-duty trucks, buses, refrigeration units, farm tractors, lawn and garden equipment, snowmobiles and ATVs. NaviGates also gives users access to the Gates VIN Decoder, product photos, routing diagrams, tech tips, training videos and promotional materials. The NaviGates application can be downloaded by visiting

Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) scholarship winners announced

AIA Canada announced its eight Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) Scholarship winners. This scholarship is available to any student enrolled full-time in a Canadian university or college. The applicant does not have to be a child of a member company employee and can be pursuing a degree in any field of endeavour. A preference is given, however, to students enrolled in an automotive program. Applications for 2010 will be mailed to AIA

members in the spring, or students can download a copy from the AIA web site The deadline for applications will be June 15, 2010. The Automotive Industries Association of Canada is the voice and resource for the automotive aftermarket industry in Canada. AIA’s mandate is to promote, educate and represent members in all areas that impact the growth and prosperity of the industry. Winners of the scholarship can be found on AIA Canada’s Web site.

AASA, Brake Manufacturers Council announce integration

The Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) and the Brake Manufacturers Council (BMC) announced an agreement to integrate the BMC as a product council of AASA. “This agreement between the leadership of AASA and BMC will benefit North American suppliers and create more collaboration among brake suppliers, whether aftermarket or original equipment,” said Steve Handschuh, AASA president and COO. “This agreement will create a unique forum for BMC members and will foster open discussions of common concerns and industry issues.” “BMC members are excited about the opportunities that integration with AASA opens,” said Pat Healey, president of the Friction Materials Standards Institute (FMSI), who currently acts as BMC’s executive director. “The FMSI looks forward to continue to work with AASA and BMC on issues of common concern.” Under the agreement, BMC will become a product council of AASA. It will operate under the leadership of the AASA Board of Governors. Its daily operations will be directed by Jack Cameron, AASA vice president and new BMC staff executive. “Membership in the BMC is open to original equipment or aftermarket suppliers of brake components,” said Cameron. “We are working now with the BMC leadership and will announce the meetings and programs for 2010 soon.” According to MEMA President and CEO Bob McKenna, this agreement between BMC and AASA is in the best

interests of all members. “This closer relationship between AASA and BMC will result in expanded services and programs for all members,” said McKenna. “It will add even more to the member value proposition and greater return on investments for both groups’ members.” For more information about the AASA Brake Manufacturers Council, contact Jack Cameron at jcameron@ Sissmore has been appointed vice-president, sales, North America independent aftermarket, Delphi product and service solutions. Sissmore will be responsible for directing independent aftermarket sales efforts in North America. He replaces Tim Wheeler. Prior to coming to Delphi, Sissmore spent nine years as vice-president, sales and marketing, for Ultrafit Manufacturing in Mississauga, Ontario. Malcolm

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|| Ride Control


Ride Control Training, educating vehicle owners key to increasing profits By Tom Venetis, Editor


ne of the challenges service provider shops face right now is finding and maximizing profit centres. Every shop has several kinds of maintenance services that generate consistent revenues and profits. However, too many shops miss out on work that can add substantially to the bottom line, the most common being ongoing maintenance of ride control systems, not only for passenger vehicles but for light trucks and SUVs. Aftermarket manufacturers of ride control parts and replacements systems, supported by various industry studies, suggest there is a wealth of untapped maintenance revenue from underper-

formed work on ride control systems, averaging many millions of dollars. If one were to take a close look at the number of cars, light trucks and SUVs that make their way to scrap yards the majority will likely still have the same factory-installed ride control parts when the vehicles were first purchased. “Over 85 per cent of all vehicles in the scrap yard this year will still have their original shocks and struts,” says William ‘Mac’ McGrovern, director of marketing and training for KYB America. “Many of these vehicles will have some 150,000 or more kilometres on them. They were all prime candidates

Raybestos has an extensive line of replacement ball joints, tire rods and ends, control arm assemblies and sway bar links. 10 SSGM November 2009

for replacement ride control, shocks and struts.” Underperformed ride control maintenance and replacement is part of a larger phenomena of underperformed vehicle service in general, with many motorists neglecting basic maintenance and waiting until a catastrophic failure of a ride control system, for example, finally drives them (or more likely gets them towed) into an independent service facility.

Why do people skip ride control maintenance?

Most vehicle owners know not to skip the regular oil and filter change, or certainly not to push the oil and filter change past what is recommended by the vehicle’s manual. They know, or at the very least understand, that doing so risks the vehicle’s engine and could, if done too often, result in a very expensive repair. So why is it that with the family car, light truck or SUV does ride control get short-shrift? Simply, the slow wear on the various mechanisms involved with ride control means most people ignore the problems because they don’t seem to have much of an impact right away on the overall driving experience. And over time, people just get used to the feel of the ride control system, forgetting how the vehicle handled and felt when it was first driven. The only time most people notice something is wrong is when a part fails and the driver has no steering control,

BELTS FRAY, TIRES BALD, SHOCKS REACH 80 000 KILOMETRES. People know that shocks affect the comfort of a ride, but many don’t realize they affect the safety too. Be sure to recommend that your customers replace their shocks at 80 000* kilometres to help improve the steering, stopping and stability of their vehicles.

Ride Safe.

Š2009 Tenneco. *Actual distance may vary depending upon driver ability, vehicle type, and the type of driving and road conditions.

|| Ride Control Tenneco Inc.’s Monroe Quick-Strut is a readyto-install replacement strut assembly, including the pre-assembled replacement bearing plate, upper and lower spring isolators, upper spring seat, coil spring, boot kit, and strut.

for example, or the shocks fail and the car or light truck bottomsout when it hits a pothole. This becomes a challenge for the shop owner, technicians and service writers as selling ride control maintenance and repair becomes a two-step process of diagnosis and educating the customer.

Educating the customer

One of the first steps in the successful selling of ride control replacement or maintenance is to first show the customer the results of worn ride control parts. Something that a technician can show even before the vehicle is taken into the bay is tire wear, such as uneven or cupped wear, or rapid tire wear. A feathered wear pattern across both of the front tires is a good sign of toe wear and indicates worn tie rod ends, or worn or loose inner tie rod sockets on rack and pinion steering gears. Uneven wear on one side of a tire might be caused by control arm 12 SSGM November 2009

bushings which have collapsed or ball joints having worn out. Why show them this? Some vehicle owners will mistake those tire wear patterns as being the result of alignment problems and will ask the technician to put on new tires and align them, without realizing the underlying ride control problem is the cause of the tire wear. Pierre Lalonde, technical support specialist with Affinia Group Inc. and Raybestos Chassis Canada, says another thing a technician can show a customer during a normal inspection of a vehicle is if there is any ‘play’ in the wheels, tie rods and ball joints. For example, he says a technician can ask if the driver has been noticing any shimmy when braking and then show them how this is caused by either wear in the tie rod or in the ball joint, demonstrating the excessive actual or radial play. “When you show this to a customer you can more easily explain to them why that part needs replacement and why not replacing it will cause further problems,” Lalonde adds. “Those problems can include premature tire wear and faster wear on other suspen-

sion parts. So what you need to tell the customer is that a simple replacement of such a part will save them a substantial amount of money in the long-run.” Raybestos has an extensive line of replacement ball joints, tire rods and ends, control arm assemblies and sway bar links. In September of this year, the company introduced 503 new Raybestos catalogue listings for several 2010 applications, including Camry, Camaro, Cobalt, E350, Fusion, Mazda 3 and Odyssey. In January of this year, the company announced the rebranding of its Spicer Chassis parts under the Raybestos name. Bill Dennie, director of ride control channel management, Monroe Shocks and Struts with Tenneco Inc., says another good place for a technician or service writer to start is by asking the vehicle owner what they are using their vehicle for. How a vehicle is used will have a direct impact on ride control parts wear and their replacement. This is especially critical with SUVs.

Ride Control || (left) It is important to ask owners what they are using their vehicles for. If someone is carrying heavy loads, like this fellow, it is recommended the replacement shocks and ride control parts take into account the heavy loads and higher centre of gravity. (right) The Gas-a-Just (monotube shock) from KYB America is a performance upgrade for cars and light trucks.

“Many of these vehicles were designed to deliver a ‘car-like’ ride, so they are likely equipped with OE shocks and struts that are more appropriate for moderate, on-pavement use rather than carrying heavy loads and/ or driving off-road,” he continues. But, if the owner drives that same SUV more like a truck, hauling heavy loads more often than taking the kids to soccer practice, then there will likely be excessive wear on the rear shocks and suspension as well as some handling issues. “Tell the customer they would be much better served by a true ‘truck’ shock that provides increased control. Remember, these vehicles have a higher centre of gravity than a passenger car, which means they can use a more control-intensive shock or strut that helps prevent excessive body roll and brake dive.” Recently, Tenneco added ten additional part numbers to its Monroe Quick-Strut line for light trucks and

SUVs, covering vehicle models from Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and Toyota. As well, Federal-Mogul this year introduced some 130 new MOOG tie rod designs, over 120 additional sway bar links and many of new ball joints, coil springs, control arms, strut mounts, bushings, and other precisionengineered components. But what truly has to be emphasized and what car owners have to be educated on is ride control and its various parts need to be regularly inspected and replaced. McGovern says customers need to know that the typical ‘twin-tube’ shocks found on most vehicles will over time show valving wear as the valves inside the tubes will flex and cycle some 75 million times over 50,000 miles. That is a lot of wear, and it will impact how well the shock performs. So while there might not be any outward sign of problems with the shock, it is now universally recommended that shocks and struts be replaced regularly every 50,000 miles or some 80,000 kilometres. “Even if the vehicle is well below the 80,000-kilometre ride control inspection and replacement threshold, talk with the customer about ride quality, steering precision and braking distance,” says Tenneco’s Dennie. “Let them know that if they feel they would benefit from shocks and struts that provide firmer control, you have a variety of options available to them. You might not make the sale that day, but you have opened a dialogue and encouraged your customer to pay closer attention to the vehicle’s ride and handling characteristics.” KYB America’s McGovern says the goal of selling replacement ride control is to return the vehicle to the handling,

steering and feel it had when new, or to meet the needs of what the customer is currently using their vehicle for. For light trucks and SUVs, KYB America has its Gas-A-Just which is a twin-tube design upgrade to standard OE shocks and is calibrated to have up to 30 per cent more damping force. In addition, its wide-bore mono-tube design is ideal for vehicles that have high centres of gravity or are used to carry heavy loads. The Mono-Max is a replacement product that has up to 40 per cent more damping force and is aimed at heavy-duty trucks. If educating the customer is the key to successful ride control sales, the other component is constant education on ride control systems by technicians and service writers, both on the technical aspects and how to sell them. Affina’s Lalonde says technicians and service writers should ideally reacquaint themselves on ride control systems and selling strategies every two years. “It sounds like a lot, but you will be surprised at how much you learn each time,” he adds. “We have our own classes and our own trainers and they are very knowledgeable. You will be surprised at how much you can learn. Sometimes you think you know a lot, but you will always be able to learn something new.” SSGM

REFERENCE LIST Affinia Group Inc./Raybestos Chassis   Canada KYB America Tenneco Inc./Monroe November 2009 SSGM 13

Garage Of The Year Finalists

Bill’s Automotive Diagnostic & Repair Tech Centre — Eight bays — Seven licensed technicians, one shuttle driver and two service writers — Door rate: $99. — Supports: Numerous local baseball and hockey teams for children as well as supporting numerous local charities such as Epilepsy of Windsor, Windsor Kinsmen, Essex County Shrine Circus, Crimestoppers and Westside Performance, Windsor Mission, specifically feeding the homeless. Nationally and globally, Bill’s Automotive sponsors the Cancer Recovery Foundation and Kidscare Philippines — (519) 944-0107


t’s been a tough year for the city of Windsor, Ontario. Despite a four-month garbage strike, 1,200 jobs cuts at the Windsor Chrysler Plant and the overall impact the recession has caused to local businesses, Bill’s Automotive Diagnostic & Tech Centre shows no signs of slowing down. “It’s been a little bit of a challenge in our first quarter, but we’ve seen this all come back. It’s interesting because three months ago when all of these people were off we’ve put a lot of notes in deferred work,” says owner Bill Slavik, “Now there’s been a real turn-up and we’re optimistic about next year.” Located on the east side of Windsor, Ontario Bill’s Automotive was founded in 1985 by Bill Slavik, a licensed technician who started his career in 1976 as an apprentice. From a humble one bay facility, the shop has now grown to one of the largest privately owned automotive shops in Windsor. The professionalism of Bill’s Automotive is immediately visible when walking into the stunning office/waiting area. The lobby “has two Internet stations where customers can access the Web while waiting. There’s a coffee bar in our lobby where customers can have coffee, tea or hot chocolate and baked goods,” said Christine Hugall, Slavik’s sister who works at Bill’s Automotive as an office/accounts manager and also performs public relations and human resources duties. “There’s a fireplace – and over that is a monitor where they can watch the work being done. It shows the emission and diagnostics bay – the dyno-bank. There are also two High Definition flat-screen TVs where they can watch television.” But that’s not it for customer care. “We offer loaner vehicles for our customers and a shuttle service so we can pick them up or drop them off. Whatever is convenient for them,” added Hugall. “We also can pick up and deliver their vehicles.” Maintaining control over the relatively large workforce and diverse cliental, they service trucks and coaches as well as passenger cars, is a dicey proposition. “The Total Quality Management program ensures that all our team members are made clearly aware of their responsibilities and the high value placed upon clients,” said Hugall. 14 SSGM November 2009

Customers wanting to know more about the Total Quality Management program only have to go to the shop’s extensive Web site to find out more. Some of the highlights include: providing a delightfully positive client experience; test driving every vehicle to be serviced over a carefully selected “drivability route;” providing an accurate diagnosis with a clear estimate of the cost for repairs or service; advising based upon their needs and the condition and age of their vehicle and educating them on the vehicle’s condition; communicating honestly and clearly with all customers; and maintaining the skill of the shops technicians with ongoing training. The shop’s Web site also provides helpful information about vehicles and their mechanical operations through informative videos, explaining such things as power steering, cooling systems, battery and videos on such important things as winter driving and winter fluid levels. “We also have ongoing training for all our technicians through CTI (Carquest Training Institute), Protect Air (Emissions training), E.K. Williams, St. Clair College, MAP (Motorist Assurance Program), CAA, AARO, Northstar Truck Driving School (Air Brake Licensing), and Auto Knowledge,” Hugall said. Bill’s Automotive supplements all training costs for all their technicians and support staff.

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Garage Of The Year Finalists

Roy’s Service Centre

— Eight bays, in addition to one for tires — Four licensed technicians, three apprentices, and two service writers. — Door rate: $84.95 — Donates regularly to the Headwater Health Care Centre in Orangeville. — (519) 925-2847


oy Hinbest has been operating his garage for 28 years. What first started as a two-bay operation and gas station eventually grew to a total of nine-bays, staff that adequately accommodates the garage’s growth and a used car dealership added last June. And the gas pumps? They were taken out nearly a decade ago. The garage is located on Highway 10 halfway between Shelburne and Orangeville, which in itself presents its own particular challenges. “We’re rural. It’s bush all around and the work we’re getting from Shelburne and Orangeville means they have to drive to get to us, a good 10 or 15 minutes away. So that creates some challenges. How do you get people back into town? You have to drive them back and forth through a courtesy car, for example.” Such courtesies go along way to developing long-term relationships with customers, resulting in ongoing maintenance business for his shop. But there are other factors to his success as well, one of the most important is Hinbest’s insistence his technicians and service writers always sign up for all available training to improve their technical and service skills. Their current training includes technical courses offered by NAPA as well as evening training with the people from Ideal Supply. What comes across quite strongly in talking with Hinbest is that his service centre is very much a family business. His oldest son, Robert, has worked as a service advisor for several years and his younger son, Stephen, started working there last June as the manager of their used car department. “My son is running the used car department after working as a lot attendant at Georgian Pontiac Buick,” Hinbest says. “He did his Commerce degree at Laurentian University in Sudbury and is working on finishing up his diploma in automotive marketing management. Part of this used car business is finishing up the time he needs to put into his co-op. So it was either working for somebody else or creating something. So he started his own car lot.” His sons are in the midst of revamping their garage with a new Web site to advertise the news of their service centre’s recent expansion. In addition, his staff conducts mail-outs to their customer base periodically and follows up on people’s service by phoning them back to make sure their happy with his service. However, Hinbest attributes much of his success to his personnel, not to his marketing. 16 SSGM November 2009

“Most of the success in whatever is going on in the business is because of my staff. You get good people working for you and everybody works together. That’s what gets the whole thing going.”

Garage Of The Year Finalists

Colalillo Automotive Services Ltd. — 10 bays, two drive thrus — Two licensed technicians, two apprentices and one service writer. — Door rate: $89. — Supports: numerous soccer teams and girl’s hockey teams in the Mississauga Area. — (905) 273-6122


ne of the criteria SSGM Magazine looks for when selecting a Garage of the Year winner is how well they adjust to changing economic times and whether or not they take a proactive approach to the services they offer. Colalillo Automotive Services is one such service centre that fits this mould. Jim Colalillo has been in the automotive industry for more than twenty years but it wasn’t until five years ago that he decided to take his garage to the next level and customdesign his own building to fit the needs he felt many other garages were not offering. His previous location was an Imperial Oil franchise in Mississauga on Central Parkway and Highway 10 which ran six bays when Imperial Oil was still a service centre franchise. When he was informed that his location would be renovated from an automotive garage to a gas station/car wash, Jim started looking for property where he could start building what would eventually become Colalillo Automotive Services Limited. “I wanted somewhere I could really be proud of. I’ve been in the automotive business for so long that I know what I want. I just didn’t want to only work for a living,” says Colalillo. “So I built a building that could supply income. However, working on cars is also my enjoyment. There isn’t one day where I don’t want to come into work because I love my job.” From the outside, his service centre looks more like a dealership than what people normally associate when they hear “garage.” In addition to offering service maintenance on most model vehicles, Colalillo’s shop includes an extensive rental car business, a wide range of high-quality tires and rims available for install and purchase, as well as minor detailing/estimating work which is either done in-house or off-site. It should also be noted that the second floor of his shop includes a dance studio, a dental practice, and an optometrist’s office which he leases out. His expansive waiting area includes television, Internet access, as well as a viewing window where customers can see what’s going on while the technicians are working on their vehicles. Also, his garage is incredibly clean, with ceilings reaching 20-feet high, and noise insulated walls. The use of windowed skylights as opposed to incandescent or fluorescent light saves on energy costs during the summer through the use of natural light.

Colalillo’s garage also works extensively with BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen models and even has two custom hoists imported from Italy that are capable of lifting Ferraris, Porsches, and Lamborghinis, allowing him to maintain a bevy of repeat high-end clientele. “If it wasn’t for my repeat customers I’d have a hard time,” continues Colallilo. “There isn’t one day that doesn’t go by where I don’t have two-three customers in my garage. In order to survive you have to do more than just one thing.” November 2009 SSGM 17

Garage Of The Year Finalists

Bento’s Auto & Tire Center

— Nine bays — Five licensed technicians, one apprentice and three service writers. — Door rate $99. — Supports Hospital for Sick Children, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Shield and Safety Seat program in conjunction with Toronto police, as well as various community charities and organizations in the surrounding neighbourhood. — (416) 531-9981


ento De Sao Jose has owned and operated Bento’s Auto & Tire Service Centre for more than 40 years, although over the course of those four decades that hasn’t stopped him from acquiring several other properties across Toronto. At one point, Bento was the owner of as many as four locations, which included a Shell Canada station, an Esso station, a Chrysler Canada dealership and a used car lot. Today, Bento devotes his work full-time to helping the community with its automotive maintenance and repair needs in Toronto’s West End along Dundas Street West, including operating a tire centre that supplies tires to customers and neighbouring service centres. “Today we’re more careful in how we invest in the business because profits are less. So we have to be careful when it comes to expenses,” says Bento De Sao Jose. “The other thing every independent must be aware of is the staff training that they have. The owners themselves have to be trained in how to handle their customers, to become more customer service oriented, putting ourselves in the shoes of our customers on the other side of the desk. “What I see today is most of the problems we are facing are because of a lack of communication between the service writers and the consumer, and giving the mechanic the right information. I believe it’s very important that service writers take special training to turn this around, so they can become more aware with their customers.” In addition to regular repair and maintenance service on most domestic and import vehicles, Jose stresses the importance of customer loyalty. One of the ways Bento’s Auto and Tire Service Centre achieves this is by supplying them with printouts and phoning them before and after repairs so that he can show customers how the car was and how the car is after the repair. His shop is also capable of handling emissions testing, alignment services, and his technicians have specialized knowledge in dealing with diesel cars. “The other thing is to be honest. Honesty is the most important thing. In the past, I’ve had mechanics that have come from other places and tried to cover up their mistakes to the customer. I’ve told them not to do this, tell the consumer the truth. You tell them the truth and they’ll understand, we’ll correct the problem and do whatever needs to

18 SSGM November 2009

be done. If things don’t go to plan, tell them we’ll do our best to fix the problem. The best message I like to give to everybody is honesty. This helps create a better understanding between us and the consumer. The problem is in a lot of places the consumer doesn’t trust the garage and this creates all of the problems.”

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|| Software

Shop Management Software

Improving shop efficiencies, customer communications By Tom Venetis, Editor


hen used correctly and properly integrated into a shop’s overall business and employee practices, shop management software is an invaluable tool. Used successfully, it can help a shop find unbeknownst profits and improve efficiencies. Over the last year, the makers of several top shop management software systems have been adding new features and enhancements to help shops improve those efficiencies and to better communicate with the shop’s customers.

Improving shop efficiencies

One of the challenges for independents is managing shop productivity. To a casual observer a shop can look very busy, with lots going on both in the front and back in the bays, leaving the impression that the shop must be making a decent profit. How could it not be with all that activity going on? The reality is a busy shop may in fact be very unproductive and its revenues and profits less than the appearance being given. The problem for the owner of the independent is to pinpoint exactly where the problems are in how their shop operates and where inefficiencies are happening. Jim Ball, sales manager with Protractor Software Inc., says since the 1980s independents have struggled with trying to maximize shop productivity, with the focus today being on finding ways to better manage a technician’s time. Take the earlier example of someone coming into a shop that looked busy. The problem is figuring out exactly what people are doing: are they working on a particular job at hand, handling a customer query, filling out a work order, for example; or is all of that busyness really idle time, with technicians doing other kinds of work 20 SSGM November 2009

that really doesn’t involve a vehicle or a customer. Ball says to help better identify how a technician’s time is being used, Protractor added a time clock function to its software. The program’s time clock works by tying a technician to a specific work order or job. The idea is to monitor how long a technician is working on a particular job, the steps happening within that job and how long each step is taking. The idea is to find out where idle time is happening and why. For example, if a technician during a typical job has some 20 minutes of idle time, then the shop can use the clock to find out why that is happening. Is it because the technician is waiting on parts to arrive or having to ask the service writer to order missing parts that did not arrive with the original shipment? Does the technician have to interrupt their work in order to help out on the front desk, thereby taking time away from their work in the bay? Or does the technician have to stop work to go hunting for information on the repair needed, slowing down the repair?

“The time clock is designed to bring that information forward and for [the shop owner] to take a closer look at the shop’s practices and workflow,” says Ball. The idea is this detailed time and work information can then be used to find out where inefficiencies are and what can be done to reduce them. This might involve improving training or finding ways to make parts ordering more efficient to reduce wait times or having to make multiple orders. Danny Lankar, president of Autogence Inc., makers of the popular Lankar Pro 8.0 shop management software, is well aware of how shops struggle to use technician’s time effectively, and to increase productivity and profits. The problem of parts ordering is one Lankar has seen before. In the newest version of the Lankar software, service writers will find an enhanced set of pre-set jobs that can be directly tied to a technician’s work order. Lankar says these jobs allow a service writer to key in specific repairs needed, the vehicle make and VIN number, to then automatically to have See Software, page 22

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|| Software

Software, from page 20 a complete list of all the parts and items needed for that specific repair and vehicle. The idea is to remove the possibility of parts ordering mistakes being made. The system is also dynamic in before it produces the parts order, the system can check the shop inventory to make sure that parts are already onhand in the shop and are not ordered again. Furthermore, Lankar adds, the system allows the service writer to specify brands of parts to be ordered. If a customer desires a specific kind of oil filter or spark plug needed for a repair or maintenance work, the service writer can specify the customer’s preference and order the requested parts. Mitchell 1’s newest version of its Mitchell 1 Manager SE comes with a built-in VIN decoder which also improves shop efficiencies by removing the pitfalls of mistaken parts orders. The automatic VIN decoder identifies a vehicle’s configuration and makes sure the parts ordered for a particular 22 SSGM November 2009

service job are the right ones for the vehicle. As a result of being linked to parts catalogues, the VIN decoder can then check to see what parts are available for that repair. Other new features in Mitchell 1 SE include some 200 integrated reports for helping shop managers find efficiencies, increase profits and Symptom Wizard, for shop service writers to help create more accurate profit estimates and repair orders.

Better communications with customers

One consistent shortfall independents have is poor after-service customer communications. Studies such as the ones on customer satisfaction released yearly from J.D. Power and Associates consistently rank independent shops very high in on-site customer communications, but poorly once the customer leaves the shop with their vehicle. This poor follow-up means lost revenue opportunities.

Danny Lankar has been aware of this problem for a while and this year has put a great deal of focus on offering several tools that should help shops improve their dealings with customers and thereby increase a shop’s profits. “The main area right now that we are focusing our attention on is the maintenance schedule,” he says. “We are gearing up our software to have the productivity enhancements that support that such as having integration with Mitchell 1 service information and access to diagnostic information.” Lankar adds his shop management software also comes with an improved email marketing program that simplifies the production and sending out of emails for customers to follow-up on their service experience and to prebook their next appointment. “We are creating 60 or so email templates or ePostCards that will cover all sorts of different situations, Christmas, New Year, service reminders, sales and thank-you cards,” he says. “You can use the ePostCard system so that every time you finish a work order you can have the system automatically produce an ePostCard for that customer.” Anton Jagers, product manager with Mitchell 1 points to a similar system that his company’s shop management software has. “Our shop management software has a series of services we call ‘business performance services’, one of them being an email and postcard marketing service,” he continues. “It digs into a shop’s data to determine who should be visiting next and sends them a post card or an email message to remind them, it also provides them feedback to see how the process is working, how well the marketing pieces are reaching customers.” SSGM

REFERENCE LIST: Autogence Inc. (makers of Lankar software) Mitchell 1 Protractor Software Inc.

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|| Replacement Exhaust

What Can’t Be Cured

Must Be Endured

Why catalytic converters fail

By David Halpert, Assistant Editor


xhaust systems have it pretty easy when it comes to repair. In many cases, it’s a question of whether or not it would take less time to inspect and repair the problem than it would to order a direct-fit/universal exhaust system and replace it altogether. However, there are instances when a problem with the exhaust system can be a symptom of a larger problem elsewhere in the vehicle, for example, something in the engine or the emission system. With customers wanting quick turnarounds on their vehicles and time being of the essence, it’s easy to lose sight of a potentially larger problem with a vehicle. However, there are a few things technicians can do to avoid such mistakes by being aware of what to look for and knowing the signs and symptoms that indicate there may be something wrong elsewhere with the vehicle which are causing problems with the exhaust system. The first thing most technicians will do is an overall visual inspection of the exhaust system. This consists of checking for leaks, looking for corrosion points anywhere where one can see an obvious hole or a spot that is corroded to the point where a hole will soon form. They’ll sometimes appear very white, brittle-looking and may crack w h e n probed. However, it is in the catalytic converter where one is most likely to spot trouble signs that will

One of the ways Maremont attempts to combat some problematic issues with catalytic converters is through its line of XL Catalytic Converters, which contain converter bricks 2.5-3 inches thick as opposed to the traditional two-inch bricks in most converters. 24 SSGM November 2009

indicate trouble somewhere else in the vehicle’s emissions system. “A converter doesn’t die on its own, something else kills it. It’s something upstream that has caused the converter to fail or to not operate properly, be it excessive heat, fuel, oil or antifreeze,” says Jim Fox, national sales manager for Maremont. “Something has typically come downstream and there’s another issue that has to be looked at. The converter is the symptom not the cause and you always need to go further, otherwise the customer will come back with the same problem again.” It is recommended technicians be sure to look for black trails of carbon that occur when there’s a leak. Also, before converters overheat they tend to turn blue before they turn white, another noticeable wear indicator. Beyond these visual clues, the most effective method for tracking down problems that are causing premature catalytic converter failure is checking for trouble codes. One of the more common trouble codes experienced with a failing catalytic converter is the P0420, also known as the “Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1),” whereby the “Check Engine” will illuminate if a fault is detected within the OBDII system. On-board diagnostic systems measure the oxygen content of the exhaust before and after the catalytic converter. If the rear O2 sensor detects too much oxygen variation, for example, the computer is going to turn the Malfunction Indicator Lamp on. “We try to go with what are the

most popular killers of converters first,” says Corey Smith, training manager for AP Exhaust, “From data we’ve gotten, if a [technician’s] got a bad converter that’s been melted down, the most common reason is the front O2 sensor has failed and caused the catalytic converter to be destroyed, the second is the ECT has failed, or thirdly, an engine thermostat has failed or is stuck open bringing about rich conditions.” Some of the primary causes of catalytic converter failure include contaminated fuel, defective engine coolant temperature sensor, defective fuel injector, defective O2 sensor or wiring, engine misfires, excessive fuel pressure, excessive operating temperatures, exhaust leaks or other damage, oil contamination or an out-of-date PCM program. “The converter is bad but there’s a reason why the converter went bad and that’s what you got to fix,” says Joe Mercanti, Ontario and Western Canada regional sales manager for Bosal Canada Inc. “Because if you don’t fix that and put another converter on, sometimes it goes right away, sometimes it’ll go in a year. It’s just going to ruin the converter because you haven’t fixed the problem.” “With converters you absolutely have to do diagnostic on the engine via a scan test, in some cases, referring to the manufacturer’s tech-bulletins that have been released. It’s definitely worthwhile because sometimes there have been notices to reflash a vehicle or to watch for certain problems [vehicles] are having,” continues Fox. “We know of some specific problem vehicles like the Honda Odysseys and

Get Your Shop Talking Automotive Repair Solutions

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Mitchell 1 TeamWorks combines the features of Manager, Estimator and Repair to seamlessly integrate all parts of your shop. From the moment your customer walks in the door, TeamWorks allows your Service Advisor to look up customer and vehicle information, calculate time to diagnose, check TSBs and prepare an estimate. Parts advisors order and track parts from your favorite vendors. Techs pull up work requested with associated diagnostic and service information, and enter recommended service. That’s the kind of shop talk you can turn into profit!

888.724.6742 x6313 Š 2009 Mitchell Repair Information Company. The Mitchell 1 name is used herein by permission from Mitchell International, which has no ownership interest in Mitchell 1.

|| Replacement Exhaust An illustrated cutaway of Walker’s three-way converter without air. This is also the most common technology in vehicles over the past 10 years or so.

Exhaust Updates Several newsworthy changes have taken place in the last eight months since last looking at replacement exhaust systems. Here are some of those changes: There are a variety of vehicle makes and models that are more “sensitive” to potential emissions control issues and require an enhanced aftermarket catalyst to prevent a repeat MIL complaint. To address these potential issues, Tenneco introduced its Walker Ultra converters for OBD II vehicles. These converters feature a proprietary mix of precious metals and an enhanced high-temperature stabilized Ceria washcoat that help eliminate comebacks. Maremont further reduces emissions through its line of heavyloaded XL Catalytic Converters, which contains converter bricks 2.5-3 inches thick as opposed to the traditional two-inch bricks in most converters. The bigger brick gives more surface area for the gas to pass through so there’s more chance of a chemical reaction to occur. Also, there’s more precious metals contained within which allows for even further emission reductions. Last March, Bosal USA launched a full line of catalytic converters for domestic vehicles as well as import. “We were 100 per cent import and now that the converter end of the business is a little different, we feel that having a full line program makes us a little better overall,” says Joe Mercanti, Ontario & Western Canada regional sales manger for Bosal. 26 SSGM November 2009

some GM mid-size vehicles in the early 2000s that were problem vehicles. You need to be aware and look for those things.” Decades ago, it was determined by the U.S. EPA that technicians would had to have a basis for making a decision on how to repair a vehicle. So they put this generic code base that would eventually become DTCs. The OEMs take this process much further down the road and produce many more trouble codes that are much more specific to finding out and repairing the vehicle. “If there was in fact something that told you the converter was bad, had to be replaced, and would ‘solve all of your problems,’ it would be called a DRC, a ‘Definitely Replace Code,’” continues Smith. “It’s not. It’s a Diagnostic Trouble Code and for years technicians have been improperly told that ‘If there’s a P0420 DTC, replace the converter.’ A P0420 DTC means the converter cannot do its job, in other words ‘fix the real problem’ first. “When it comes to determining what can legally be repaired (warranty wise in the U.S.) the first thing I tell technicians to do is to go to the owner’s manual and find out what you can and can’t repair. The second thing is you must find the relevant TSBs on that vehicle. Find all of the relevant TBSs on the vehicles that come in your shop, refer to the VIN numbers and determine if the TSB applies to the vehicle you have. Much time and effort can be saved if the technician knows what he/she is up against.” “Diagnosing a converter issue… is far more complex and deserves a great deal of care in order to prevent a comeback. We have found that the best way to pinpoint the root cause of a suspected converter problem is

to first interview the customer about the vehicle’s history,” says Frank Murkowski, emissions control marketing manager, North American aftermarket, Tenneco Inc. “Some of the questions can include: Has the catalytic converter ever been replaced? Does the vehicle consume coolant and/or engine oil? Has fuel economy decreased recently? Is the engine hard to start, either hot or cold? Does the engine run smoothly? Does it misfire? Does the vehicle tow heavy loads?”

An example of a melted catalytic converter as a result of excessive heat and possible fuel contamination.

It should also be mentioned that if the problem is the result of excessive carbon deposits in the combustion chamber, improper spark advance or excessive carbon build-up in the exhaust, MAP guidelines should be followed in the proper repair of engine operating systems, which can include top engine cleaning and fuel injector cleaning/de-carbonization. While it’s impossible to determine every problem with a vehicle’s catalytic converter, it is possible to lower your chances of a comeback with your customers if you’re aware of what to look for. SSGM

REFERENCE LIST AP Exhaust Bosal Canada Maremont Tenneco Inc.

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essential tool for any technician working on fuel system related repairs. So while the other iDevice’s “apps” can let you bowl or send a text, this tool’s “app” can actually connect to hundreds of vehicles, saving time and money. Carter Complete – Complete Fuel System Solutions for the Professional.

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Introducing a New Line of Premium Engine Oils

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|| Meunier on Management

Implementation or Entertainment By Murray Voth, TACT (Total Automotive Consulting and Training)


successful shop owner and all around great guy once told me an expression he had learned from a very wise person. “Training without action is pure entertainment.” I would take it that the reverse is true. “Training with implementation equals success.” My business card says that I am an implementation coach. I work with clients to help them implement the training they receive in how to better manage their automotive repair and maintenance shops. You may remember some of my past articles on shop # PROOF profitability and how to retire well financially from this industry. These are Client the results of implementation. Putting ______________ into place the systems, procedures and measurement processes that lead to a Creative Director profitable, stress-free business. ______________ The greatest challenge I face in my Artwork Directoris the gap between a client learn______________ ing something new and actually taking action on that new knowledge. There Copywriter seems to be a myriad of reasons for this ______________ phenomenon. Based on my experience thereDirector are about 10 per cent of shop Account owners that take the information and ______________ run with it and put it into place in Account Manager their businesses reaping the rewards relatively quickly. There are another ______________ 25 per cent that will take the informaProduction Manager tion and run with it and encounter ______________ roadblocks of one kind or another, but with a bit of coaching they will generMcGill allyDB accomplish what is required of ______________ them in short order. Then there are the Proof Buddy of us who fall into the next majority category, about 55 per cent. We all _____________ have our various reasons for not being able to move forward on implementing new things into our businesses

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and these will be what this article will discuss. The last 10 per cent are either completely unwilling to change, or are so deluded as to their success, that the information is completely rejected. My focus will be primarily on the middle 80 per cent. I hope that all of you will find something helpful in this discussion. I have found the following themes common in the lack of implementation by shop owners:1) Incomplete understanding, 2) Lack of ability, 3) Lack desire, 4) Lack of interest, 5) Frustration, 6) Fear, 7) Personal Beliefs. Let’s address them one at a time. The order in which we address these topics reflects the general order I experience them as a coach with my clients. This reminds me of another expression, “knowledge requires responsibility,” which leads me to believe that many of us are not always prepared to deal with the new information. It is important to explain that most shop owners go back to their shops after receiving management training, excited to try out the new information. They start or try to start to implement what they have learned. It is after the first attempt or various attempts that they come up against roadblocks that stall the implementation process. The most common roadblock is incomplete understanding of the training. This happens for various reasons: it could be that the trainer skipped a step or gave incomplete information; or the shop owner could have missed a particular point for one reason or another. At this point it is important to review the See Meunier, page 30

Put some NASCAR in your car.

©2009 Exxon Mobil Corporation. Mobil, Mobil 1 and the 1 icon are trademarks of Exxon Mobil Corporation or one of its subsidiaries. Imperial Oil, licensee. NASCAR is a registered trademark of National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.

63 kilometres of commuting daily. That’s hundreds of kilometres a week, in all kinds of weather and often in stop-and-go traffic. It’s not a NASCAR race, but you still drive your engine hard. That’s why you need Mobil 1 technology. From the road to the racetrack, it’s proven to withstand some of the most extreme conditions. In fact, over half of all NASCAR teams choose Mobil 1 technology. So put some NASCAR in your car. Learn more at

|| Meunier on Management Meunier, from page 28 material or to check with the trainer; or another classmate as to whether your understanding of the concept is clear and complete. At times training needs to be repeated. A common example is the misunderstanding of the difference between mark ups and margins when deciding what to charge for a particular item. The difference is thousands of dollars on the bottom line. Lack of ability comes into play next. It is possible the shop owner may not be able to proceed with making a particular change because they may need training in a related skill that is required prior to implementing the current skill. An example of this would be trying to implement a system of charging for diagnosis but not having a well-trained diagnostic technician or all of the required diagnostic tools. You will not be able to offer value to your customers and you will feel a lack of confidence in your shop’s diagnostic abilities. This will limit your ability to charge properly for diagnosis. Lack of desire is a complex challenge. For some shop owners things are “good enough.” They have decent cash flow and a lifestyle they did not have when they worked for someone else. For some, they have been fighting to stay in business for so long, they have no energy left to re-engage and make changes; in both cases they have accepted the status quo. They lack the sense of urgency required to make improvements. The main way to break through this and to create desire is the conversation about retirement and what the future holds for us. You may think to yourself how someone could have a lack of interest and still be owners of a business. It is more common than you might think and it usually leads to failure if the owner does not wake up to the fact. The business dies a slow death. Lack of interest comes out in two comments from owners. “It is too much work” or “I am too busy putting out fires.” Both of these comments are related. On the one hand, they survive day to day and don’t want to work harder to improve. On the other hand, they do not want 30 SSGM November 2009

to do the work to establish systems and procedures that would prevent many of the fires from happening. Frustration is caused by roadblocks, which in turn have many causes. Some common causes are not enough staff, high staff turn over or not enough time in the day. These are possibly caused by lack of profitability to pay for enough staff, poor management or leadership skills, and poor delegation skills. In many cases, owners are afraid to release control over some aspects of their businesses and end up micromanaging their staff. It is possible the owner is going to need training in human resources before they can move forward with certain implementations. One of the hardest things for a shop owner is to admit and face their fears. When learning new management processes many such fears come to the surface. It is as basic as the fear of change, which is really the fear of the unknown. Another common fear is that we will loose customers if we implement something that we perceive the customer is not willing to pay for. It may be as simple as the fear of rejection, it is not just about the money; we are hurt when someone declines our services. We fear that our reputation will be damaged or that we will be viewed as immoral or unethical. This becomes especially tough when we have built the business enough to have full-time staff on the service counter. After a while, the thought of going back and dealing with customers, dayin-and-day-out, terrifies us. On top of this let’s add the fear of competition. They are doing it cheaper than us, so they are going to steal all of our customers. We need to realize that most of our fears are unfounded; it is when we have a clear understanding of the expectations of our customers that we can eliminate most of our fears. Let me choose just one area that I run into regularly as an example. We teach that a shop should make a 45 to 50 per cent gross profit on parts, and we recommend using a parts matrix to achieve that. It means that we make a higher gross profit on low cost items and less gross profit on high cost items. It does mean that we will be charg-

ing higher prices for some items than we did in the past. Our research and experience shows that 86 per cent of customers are more concerned that the total price for a job be established up front and that we stick to it, rather than in the price of any one particular item. Yet many shop owners tell me that their customers trust them and they don’t need estimates. “Just go ahead,” the customer says. So the job gets done, the invoice is generated and the final bill comes to $329.56. How many of you are not sure what the customer is going to think and trim it back to $299.99. That is fear. You truly do not believe your customer trusts you, because in the past you have discovered their limit and then it got ugly. How much easier is it to have the discipline of always keeping your customer in control of their money? They know how much the estimate is going to be ahead of time, and it matches the invoice at the end of the day. You can then build a profitable estimate and earn the deserved profit at the end of the day. Deserved profit at the end of the day. What kind of statement is that? How many of us have a deep personal belief that profit is a dirty word, or that it is a sin, or that we are making money off of someone else’s back? Please give this one some deep thought. For now let me say, if you offer quality service and products with a great warranty, that save the driving public time and money, you deserve to make a profit. That is how your money is made; no one is writing you a pay cheque. Implementation is hard work, but it can be very rewarding, fun, and profitable. Analyze why you have stalled in making a particular change in your business, break it down to which of the seven items above that is stopping you and then break it down into even smaller bite-size pieces that you can accomplish. Find other shop owners who are working on the same problems and form performance groups, or find a mentor to help walk you through the steps. We are so quick to judge ourselves as failures that we fail to realize that we are normal. SSGM

Jim’s Rant ||

Death by a Thousand Cuts By Jim Anderton, Technical Editor

Think about the amount of time and money you spend on compliance paperwork and expensive legal services to take care of your government obligations and then ask yourself how does this make you, your staff or business any better at servicing vehicles? It doesn’t.

“Death by a thousand cuts” is an often-used metaphor based on a particularly gruesome form of execution practiced in Imperial China centuries ago. It’s also a good description of what’s facing small business owners from coast-to-coast, including the repair aftermarket. We’re creeping, slowly but surely, into an age where small businesspeople are so discouraged by high costs, needless bureaucracy and endless administrative delays that they simply give up. And worse, they’ll start to encourage their children to abandon thoughts of entrepreneurship in our industry. It came upon us slowly and imperceptibly. Labour laws, health and safety laws, building and fire codes, business licenses, Provincial and Federal tax filings, payroll deductions and taxes withheld for employees, liability insurance, credit — the list goes on and on. Think about the amount of time and money you spend on compliance paperwork and expensive legal services to take care of your government obligations and then ask yourself how does this make you, your staff or business any better at servicing vehicles? It doesn’t. It does sap your strength, and your businesses vitality too, diverting hard-fought cash from reinvesting in your core competency and funding an ever growing bureaucracy that threatens to swallow our nation whole. I understand there are provinces where a third of all employment is in the public sector, a serious issue if you think about where those salaries come from. Bureaucracy saps a nation’s strength because it doesn’t create wealth, but diverts it from useful employment. And no one, Conservative, Liberal or NDP cares about this because most politicians have never struggled to earn a living as an independent business owner and never will. Our Federal tax law is so complex that simple wage earners have to hire tax preparers to fill out the forms. Even the CRA issues regular memoranda explaining the latest interpretation of a code that’s something like half a million words long in total. Are we nuts? If I ran things, (I know, nobody has asked me) starting and running a business would go like this: Phone or log onto a government Web site, pay 20 bucks and open your doors. All taxes would be value-added, like the GST. You pay, and you collect. No other taxes on wages, property, income, chewing gum or anything else. Inspections, compliance issues, etc. are all handled through one government rep that visits your business and gets it done in one visit. Any form or math that can’t be done by a high-school kid would be eliminated. Rules would be written in plain English. Bureaucrats would make life simple or lose their jobs, period. It could be done in a revenue-neutral way, and I’ll bet that it could also be done without major layoffs in the public sector as economic growth skyrockets. This is not a Conservative, Liberal or NDP issue. It’s not right-wing or left-wing. I don’t care who delivers health care or how long we should be in Afghanistan if small business is choking under the weight of government at all levels. What can we do? Bitch. Complain. But do it to somebody in charge, whether it’s a town councillor, MLA or your MP. Take a minute and send an E-mail. Call them. This is happening because we’ll tell our barber’s what’s wrong with the system before we’ll tell our politicians. End of Lecture. Besides, I just cut a knuckle, dropped an O-ring and the bulb in my greasy trouble light just burned out. Again. And that’s another thing the lawyers won’t understand!

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know!

November 2009 SSGM 31



Differential Diagnosis Managing rear-end complaints for better customer satisfaction By Jim Anderton, Technical Editor

TV’s irascible Doctor House often shouts to his diagnos-

tic team, “Differential people!” when he wants a medical diagnosis; but for many rear- and all-wheel-drive vehicles, diagnosis of noise from the differential can be a frustrating and time consuming task for the repair aftermarket. Where do you start? Most techs begin with a test drive. While an experienced ear can help narrow the options, well-insulated SUVs, or the opposite, noisy pickups, can lead to misdiagnosis. The first step is to localize the noise to the chassis. Begin by looking for noise that’s vehicle speed, engine speed or transmission gear-dependent. Most techs will accelerate, then coast in neutral with the engine at idle. With the noise localized to the rear, the most obvious check is the most overlooked: wheels and tires. Has the vehicle experienced a curb strike? Are the tires intact, stone-free and properly inflated? Is there debris, mud flaps or a dangling exhaust component in play? Are there loose or damaged brake components? Once these variables are factored out, the diagnosis often turns to bearings. A Class 4 trailer hitch or evidence of overloading (Is it a work truck? Is the owner a bricklayer?) points to the axles, while severe driveshaft angularity or a previously bent driveshaft suggests the pinion bearing, a rarity in light duty vehicles. Since axle lube is a classically underperformed oil change anyway, there’s good reason to pull the cover early in the “turn and tug” axle diagnosis. At this point, the cover can be run through the wash tank and set aside to dry while the fluid drains. How much lube comes out? Most medium- to high-mileage covers seep lube; but in solid rear axle units, the level can get low enough to starve the outer bearings long before the pinion and ring gear sing. Naturally, you’ll look for debris in the waste oil, but think about pulling the fill plug now; if it’s magnetic it can reveal the extent of wear in the “pumpkin.” Has the vehicle waded a stream or been flooded out? A missing vent tube can eventually let in enough water and dirt to kill a differential

32 SSGM November 2009

This Ford 8.8 Traction-Lok limited slip is a late 31-spline unit found in millions of Ford SUVs, light trucks and rear-wheel-drive passenger cars.

What ratio? This Ford conveniently stamps the ratio into the pinion… this is a 3.55, but 2.73s are common. Check this if you’re installing an exchange unit.

Diagnostic CAT ||

This is not the image you want to convey after quality service.

A small thing, but big. The “longer” cover bolt has a solid ball of silicone on its end. Add more debris in the hole and this can hydraulically lock the bolt, leaving a leaky cover. It comes off with a fingernail.

These side load springs can stay in place when removing the C-clips … once removed, they’re difficult to replace easily.

… and the owner is unlikely to tell the service writer about that flooded street last year. Limited slip is often seen in pickups and SUVs and cracked or broken drive tangs on the clutch pack are worth investigating. What kills LSDs? Hard drag-type launches, low-fluid, high-mileage, heavy loading in city driving and big, sticky tires are contributors. Few shops rebuild differentials, so bad limited slip components suggest a transmission shop reman or exchange unit. While you’re there, look at the wear pattern on the ring gear, and spin the pinion through at least one full crown gear rotation to check for damaged teeth. Externally, look for bent or dented axle tubes and in some applications like Ford’s ubiquitous 8.8, look for tubes “spun” in the centre carrier; in these axles, only three plug welds hold the axle tube in place and heavy pulling with a big-torque engine can break them. It’s tempting to re-weld pulled plugs, but the centre section is cast, requiring special pre-heat techniques and fill rod/wire. This job should be done by an expert, with the housing stripped. By now the problem will likely have narrowed to outer bearings and at this point, the cover will be dry. Consider painting the cover exterior with quick-dry rust paint, preferably a “rattle can” for speed. If you’re using RTV instead of a conventional gasket, time the application of the silicone to the cover to allow some set-up time while you complete the bearing job. This minimizes the amount of sealant pinch out and gives a better seal on old, dinged or distorted covers. There are two frustrating time-killers in the disassembly phase: C-clips/retainers and cross shaft retainer bolts. These are the small fasteners and since the axle housing is in the centre of the vehicle, it’s often directly over the floor drain grating. What happens if you drop one? Use adequate lighting and consider your magnet when withdrawing bolts and clips. Many manufacturers specify new fasteners in critical applications like the cross shaft retainer. These are usually Nylok fasteners, which are not designed for re-use.

On clutch-type LSDs, this is the time to inspect the pack … few owners can tell when the unit wears out.

An even wear pattern and intact teeth are worth looking at. Spin the ring gear to view every tooth and shine a light onto the pinion. November 2009 SSGM 33

|| Diagnostic CAT

This fill plug is magnetic. A small amount of fine metal like this is normal… bigger chunks spell trouble.

Yes, it’s a pipe plug. The taper makes it seal and allows it to be seriously over tightened if you’re careless.

I use a very small amount of sealant (Loctite pictured) and a light touch with the 3/8-inch ratchet

This tag isn’t there for nothing. Use a plain mineral oil in this unit and you can kiss the warranty “good-bye.”

Many techs use thread locking compounds and re-use them anyway, but it’s difficult to get the cast centre carrier’s threads clean and dry, so it’s a risk, especially considering the small cost of the part. On re-assembly, remember the LSD additive if needed and don’t forget to inspect the rear brakes while you’re there. Remember the paint you applied to the cover? It’s there because unlike drivability or ride control repairs, the improvement is often not very dramatic … and with the higher ground clearance of most SUVs/pickups, the customer’s instinct is to crouch and look at the rear end. I know, they can’t see anything, but a painted cover suggests newness and a careful job … and it goes a long way to boosting customer satisfaction. It’s cheap for twenty seconds with a spray bomb. SSGM

What the customer sees. You don’t need a mirror finish here; a quick squirt with a rattle can does wonders for customer satisfaction.

34 SSGM November 2009

What’s the Right Solution for Headlight Aiming?

YOU BE THE JUDGE! Know the facts before purchasing a DOT mandated headlight aiming solution It’s a roll of the dice if the equipment is not approved for inspection programs A smart purchase is one that provides the optimal value


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Automotive Internet Directory Visit these companies directly at their web addresses or check out the growing list of Hot Links at To find out how your organization can be included in this directory and on the web, contact Brayden J C Ford 416-510-5206


AUTOMOTIVE PARTS & ACCESSORIES Goodyear Engineered Products The officially licensed belt of NASCAR. Gatorback, the quiet belt. You can never replace Goodyear quality. NGK Spark Plugs Canada Limited The World Leader in Spark Plugs, Oxygen Sensors and Ignition Wire Sets. Used by 87% of the World’s OE Manufacturers S.B International Inc. “We keep engines humming” ZEX AC Compressors Division of Mister Starter Remanufactured/New A/C compressors and Turbochargers/Superchargers for complete line of cars and trucks, DOMESTIC & IMPORTS. Custom Rebuilds also available for your needs.

COLLISION REPAIR Masters School of Autobody Management Masters offers a number of education programs and implementation follow-up programs designed to take bodyshops to the next level of success.



GOJO Industries, Inc. GOJO is a leading manufacturer of skin care products and services for many marketing including automotive and manufacturing. GOJO continues to pursue a commitment of creating well-being through hand hygiene and healthy skin.

LUBRICANTS & ADDITIVES Empack/emzone Automotive Care & Maintenance The high performance emzone product line is specially formulated for your detailing and maintenance needs. For maintenance: Lubricants, Brake Cleaners, Degreasers, and Coatings. For detailing: Glass Cleaners, Carpet Foams, Tire Shines and Auto Fresh.

REFRIGERANT Duracool Refrigerants Inc. Nationally Distributed by: Deepfreeze Refrigerants Inc. The Leaders in Hydrocarbon Refrigerant Technology Guaranteed In writing not to harm any Mobile A/C System You can feel the Difference that Quality Makes “Our Formula Never Changes”.

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Susan Flanagan • Reliable. Users have run daily for 8 years without calling us for help. • Fast. Make invoices in seconds. 1000s of charge statements in an hour. • Automatic. Updates inventory, charge Each Sudoku puzzle accounts & core tracking. consists of a 9×9 • Recall & reprint invoices from earlier grid that has been today or any time up to 5 years ago. subdivided into nine • Use locally available hardware. smaller grids of 3×3 • Up to 37 user stations. squares. To solve • There is nothing else you must buy. the puzzle each row, • Optional Wrenchead cataloging. column and box • No contract to sign. must contain each of • Get our free video & demo disk.

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TOOLS & EQUIPMENT AIR LIQUIDE CANADA INC. Your one-stop shop for all your industrial gases and welding supplies. Rotary Lift World Leader in Lift Productivity

WAREHOUSE DISTRIBUTORS & BUYING GROUPS Bestbuy Distributors Limited Independent buying group and warehouse distributor that allocates its profits to member shareholders and provides unbeatable value for independent jobbers. The E.R.I. Group Canada’s Premier Machine Shop Buying Group Kerr Machine Shop Group Inc. Buying group for machine shops and performance shops.

the numbers 1 to 9. Mib Puzzles come in three Box 3367, Espanola, NM 87533 USA grades: easy, medium 505-293-8640 and difficult. Serving you since 1977 with honesty & integrity.

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36 SSGM November 2009 JOBBER NEWS / NOVEMBER 2009


Puzzles || Across 1. Unsatisfactory auto 3. Dodge model that replaced the Neon 10. Scion shape? 11. Outback maker 13. Ford model 15. Without feeling 16. Total amount 17. Saturn’s best-selling model 18. Horn function 19. Zero population growth, abbr. 20. Chevy’s beachy ride? 22. College degree 24. Swing around 27. Traffic light colour 29. Belonging to me 31. Nissan model 32. E-mail subject line intro 33. Single, before a vowel 34. Volkswagen family car whose name derives from the German word for tradewind 36. Downed 37. Compact Nissan model 39. Netherlands abbr. 41. Aka “just so you know...” 43. Mitsubishi’s celestial model? 46. Chess computer 48. Filly from the same mare? 50. Roman 20 51. Pa’s mate 52. Promotional feature 54. Distinct segment of a market 58. Diet words 59. Sentra maker 61. Full-size Toyota that gets its name from the mythical island mentioned in Camelot lore

CROSSWORD by Myles Mellor

63. Rolls Royce Silver ____ 64. Engine necessity 65. Went over the speed limit Down 1. Head or tail follower? 2. Sow sound 3. Chevy’s blue car? 4. Wood chopper 5. In 2005, this Japanese company became the world’s largest manufacturer of medium to heavy duty trucks 6. Speed ___ (road feature to slow down cars) 7. Eastbound, for short 8. ___4, Toyota’s compact crossover SUV 9. Car colour 10. Basal metabolism, for short 12. Tire material 14. In the direction of 21. Volkswagen model that was re-done in 1998 23. Surface space 25. Freeway division 26. Needing a gas stop 27. __ general rule (2 words) 28. Toyota’s crossover utility vehicle 30. Toyota model that

has it’s own Myspace profile 31. It often has sliding doors 33. Paving substances 35. Nelson Mandela country, for short 38. US football org. 40. An automobilemanufacturing joint venture between the Chrysler Corporation and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, abbr. 42. Pressure measure 44. Lexus’ full size luxury SUV 45. Got in return for labor 47. Commotion 49. Your mate’s mother (2 words) 53. Passed the test 55. Italian hello 56. Carbon compound 57. French reply? 60. Stylish 62. Lithium symbol

You know where to turn

Fax this month’s crossword answers to David Halpert at (416) 510-5140 and be eligible for a $50 gift certificate from Canadian Tire November 2009 SSGM 37


DynoMax releases stainless steel cat-back system DynoMax Performance Exhaust, manufactured and marketed by Tenneco Inc., has released a brand-new premium stainless steel cat-back system for 2005-09 Ford Mustang GT 4.6L/Shelby GT 500 5.4L/Shelby GT 4.6L (p/n 39460) muscle cars, built specifically to exceed the expectations of Ford Mustang owners. The new system delivers an increase in performance, unique sound and easy installation. The DynoMax cat-back features highquality, 409-grade stainless steel three-inch intermediate pipes, providing protection against corrosion and permanent discoloration. The system is built around the DynoMax Race Bullet welded performance muffler, a straight-through, 100-per cent welded design for lifelong

durability. The unrestricted design features exclusive Continuous Roving Fiberglass (CRF) technology that helps provide up to four dbA sound reduction on most applications while maintaining a deep, aggressive race tone. To finish the system, DynoMax includes a four-inch, slant-cut, single-walled polished logo-embossed stainless steel tip and a four-inch tailpipe, and top-quality, OE-grade stainless steel clamps and hardware. The exhaust system includes specific, easy-to-understand installation instructions. DynoMax

Katech Performance announces online store Katech Performance’s online store — available on the company’s home page — presents a variety of products for sale, including adjustable belt tensioners, blocks and block parts, body parts, brakes, camshafts, coil relocation brackets, crankshafts, connecting rods, cylinder cases, cylinder heads, engines, exhaust systems, fuel rail spacers, intake systems, pistons, retainers, shifters, suspension, throttle bodies, valve covers, valvesprings and wheels. Tools like aluminum jacking pucks and the Whistler compression ratio tester are also available. The store includes a new product section

featuring the latest and greatest from Katech, such as their Carbon Fiber Valve Covers and ClubSport Wheels. In addition, a clearance section highlights discounted items while merchandise is featured in its own category. Katech Performance

Advertisers’ Index Advertiser

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AISIN World Corp. of America. . . . 21. . .

Mitchell 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25. . . . . . . . . . .

Bend Pak. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,19. . .

Monroe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Federal Mogul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27. . . . . . . . . . .

Robert Bosch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . www.boschdiagnostic

GE Nighthawk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sayco. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Imperial Oil. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28,29. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

VISA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . .

Lankar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Walker Exhaust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Matco. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15. . . . . . . . . . . .

WORLDPAC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Solutions to October’s puzzles

38 SSGM November 2009

SSGM has great figures and we are not afraid to show them! These numbers are just too good not to share.

Did you know… SSGM has the largest circulation in the Canadian automotive aftermarket.

104,064 people read each issue of SSGM due

to average pass along readership!

96.7% of readers rated SSGM Excellent / Good


95.9% of our readers indicate they have direct

purchasing influence within their organization!

89.6% indicate SSGM meets the needs of

their industry!

Reader Comments: “This magazine is a TRULY EXCELLENT addition to any Repair facility’s reading list. It is also VERY INFORMATIVE for a customer to read and be brought up to speed on Industry / Repair standards. I THOROUGHLY enjoy reading this magazine and hope to be reading it for MANY, MANY YEARS to come and LEARNING from it as well.” Statistics are based on responses to our September 2009 readership knowledge survey.

▼ To learn more about data from our readership insights program, contact:

Marc Gadbois Publisher Email: Phone: 416-510-6776