Do You Have Plastic Shopping Bags In Front Of The Radiator?

I went out to the mailbox one morning to mail a letter.

I noticed the local sanitation truck losing several plastic Wal-Mart shopping bags.

About an hour later this guy pulls up to the shop.

His car was running hot…steam was coming from underneath

the hood.

The temperature was 110o in the shade and the humidity was

so heavy you had to have a machete just to walk around

outside…well, maybe not that thick, but it was heavy.

We raised the hood on his Thunder Chicken. “Even Ford’s

get hot in this kind of weather,” I stated.

The engine had cooled down, some, so I removed the cap from the radiator…

it was just barely low of coolant.

I told him to crank the engine and I put some water in it,

then we’d look for a leak.

As I was spraying water on top of the radiator to cool it,

I noticed a blue plastic bag, in front of the a/c condenser.

I showed it to him.

“There’s probably the reason she heated up,” I told him as I pointed to it.

“I was following a garbage truck earlier,” he said, “but

I passed him cause some trash was falling out.”

“Well, you helped him,” I said as I removed not one, but

three of the plastic shopping bags.

“How’s that?” he asked.

“You’ve been picking up what he was losing.”

He thanked me and said, “If she starts heating up again,

I’ll be back,” with a grin as he drove off.

I guess that cured it, cause he never came back.

Are You Playing Chess or Checkers?

Time is our most valuable resource. Time is more valuable than money. Money can be lost and recovered. Once we lose time we never get it back. When it comes to time management, everyone is either playing chess or checkers. The game of chess is designed for the proactive. The successful chess player is thinking two to three moves ahead compared to the checkers player who is only focused on the move directly in front of them. Which game are you playing? Let me share a story to help you decide. I was the shop manager of an automotive repair facility. I had my top technician tell me a month in advance that he was leaving my organization. He told me on May 1st that his last day would be May 31st, plenty of time to find a replacement. I began my search for a new tech on May the 30th at 4:00pm! Sadly, I was playing checkers. The question becomes, how do we avoid playing checkers and make better use of our time? Steven Covey, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, divides time management into four quadrants. I will be reviewing these quadrants in this article. By understanding the areas that Covey highlights, we will understand what game we are really playing.

Quadrant #1 – Important & Urgent

The main reason that we end up playing checkers is that we wait until a task becomes important AND urgent before we start on it. When I needed a technician and did not start looking until the last minute, I was operating out of this quadrant. This is what leads to firefighting. Waiting until the cash flow is depleted to begin a marketing plan, and not being able to balance tires because we delayed the wheel weight order are other common examples that will put us in firefighting mode. In the past, it seemed like I drove to work in a red fire engine. If you find yourself just reacting to what the day brings, you may have a red fire engine parked in your driveway.

Quadrant #2 – Important & Non Urgent

This is the quadrant of chess players. Performing tasks while they are important BUT NOT urgent, you position yourself to control your time and not let time control you. Implementing a recruitment strategy BEFORE you have an opening, planning your marketing activities on a marketing calendar, and writing out your daily activities for the following day as you close out the current day, are examples of operating in this quadrant. We have the opportunity to help our customers play chess. We can save them time and money by communicating to them the value of investing in a maintenance schedule for their car. Coming in every three months for maintenance is important but not urgent compared to having to purchase a new engine which would fall under the first quadrant. Think about how much better our businesses would be if we were all playing the same game.

Quadrant #3 – Not important but Urgent

Daily Interruptions, and specific phone calls and emails fall into this category. Often times, a failure to effectively delegate keeps us operating in this quadrant. As business runners we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that we have to solve every concern, work on every car, and satisfy every customer ourselves. If we compare our daily activities to the grand scheme of our business vision, we may find that many of the things that we involve ourselves in are not important. I discovered this many years ago while in my first District Manager assignment. Initially, I would find myself talking to three to four customers per day regarding issues that should have been resolved at the store level. I managed seventeen locations at the time. The managers would come to me asking for my guidance and involvement on very basic issues. I would go home every day frustrated and fatigued. Then one day when one of my managers approached me with a basic issue, I asked him the following powerful question: What do YOU think we should do to resolve this? To my surprise, he had the answer. I then thanked him for handling the situation and told him to update me on the final outcome. Taking this approach allowed me to play the game I wanted and return my fire engine to the fire station where it belongs. It will do the same for you.

Quadrant #4 – Not Important & Not Urgent

Busy work, time wasters, and certain phone calls and emails would fall into this category. As an Owner, any task that is not important or urgent is a distraction. It is important for us to identify and eliminate those daily distractions that we all have. The question that we must ask ourselves is how does the activity align with the vision that I have for the business? If we can not come up with an answer then the activity falls in this quadrant and must be eliminated. We must be careful not to allow our people to spend time in this quadrant. Many of the shop owners that I speak to have a “no cell phone policy” in their shops. This can help to prevent our people from playing checkers on the clock. We live in the era of smart phones, text messaging, and social media which can be major distractions. The cell phone policy is a great example of eliminating unnecessary distractions.

I am reminded of the lead character played by Tim Robbins in the movie the ShawShank Redemption. He was serving a life sentence for a crime he did not commit and he made a surprising escape from jail after 20 years. Each day he would dig into the wall of his cell, a task that was important but not urgent. Each day, he stuck with this discipline without allowing any unnecessary distractions. Tim’s character was playing chess and it allowed him to go to the next level. What game do you want to play?

Auto Repair Sales – How to Sell $1,000,000 in Service

An auto repair sale is a popular topic with most shop owners. One million dollars seems like a magic number for a lot of shop owners. They’re either struggling to hit it, or they’ve made it and now they want two million or three million. Whatever the goal, fantastic auto repair sales performance is really quite simple (not always easy, but simple). To achieve outstanding auto repair sales performance you have to consistently do four things.

1. Listen carefully to the customer and quickly build rapport and relationship.

2. Ask for the largest possible sale while offering the greatest perceived value.

3. Get the work done. Quickly and correctly.

4. Lock the customer into a long-term relationship with your shop; repeating steps one, two and three at least three times per year.

In step one the key is quickly. To sell one million dollars (or more) in a year, everything is going to have to happen FAST! The rapport building process doesn’t have to take a long time. You can build a strong connection with a new client very quickly just by getting them talking about themselves.

Question: So, how long have you lived here?-What kind of work do you do?-How long have you owned the car?-Where’s your favorite place to go on vacation?-Tell me about your kids/pets… All these questions get the customer talking about themselves and give you plenty of opportunity to identify and comment on common points of interest or experience. None of this takes more than a few minutes, but during this process the vital process of trust building is occurring.

In step two, the key is asking for the LARGEST possible sale. Fear stops most salespeople from asking for the large sale. Instead they convince themselves that the customer will only accept a much lower figure; a figure that they (the salesperson) are comfortable with. This is why I spend so much time in the Advanced Service Writer Sales Training Class working on the closing question. The closing question is the key to overcoming the fear. With it memorized and practiced the fear subsides and the service writer is able to ask for much bigger sales than ever before. I’ve seen this tool add more than $300 per RO to a shops RO average. It is that POWERFUL!

The first two steps are pure auto repair sales step. Step three is a management step. The first two steps are all about the service writer controlling their actions. Step three requires them to motivate and lead someone else to action. The best way to do this is MBA “Management By walking Around”. It simply means you can’t forget about a ticket once it’s in the hands of the tech. You have to get out in the shop regularly (usually every 5-10 minutes on a busy day) and make sure that the work is moving forward. You have to quickly remove any obstacles to success such as parts problems, bad attitudes, or unexpected difficulties with the repair. This is a vital and often overlooked part of auto repair sales.

In step four we’re back to sales. The biggest missed opportunity in most shops is the opportunity to commit the customer to their next visit while they are checking out from this visit. All you have to do is tell them when their next visit is and most people will say ok. Notice I didn’t say ask them when they could make their next visit; I said tell them when their next appointment is. The key is assuming that they are going to return and doing them the favor of scheduling this. I teach several simple techniques in the Advanced Service Writer Sales Training Class that make getting this commitment very easy, simple and natural.

So, there you have it, the four simple (not necessarily easy) steps to selling one million dollars (or more) in service. If you consistently follow these steps the million bucks is yours! An auto repair sale isn’t difficult if you know the steps and have the tools.

Paintless Dent Repair: Myths and Facts About Car Dent Repair and Insurance

The long arm of car repair insurance doesn’t stop at extended warranties or tire road hazard insurance. Marketing gurus have found all sorts of knick knacks to insure. Among the top are ding and dent protection plans. Ding and dent insurance is growing steadily, and addresses those unsightly shopping cart and parking lot dings.

Dings and dents are fairly synonymous terms, although a ding is smaller than a dent. You’ll notice a dent. You’ll need to squint, or catch the vehicle in the right angle or sunlight to see a ding. Some dings are smaller than eraser heads.

Like extended warranties or tire insurance, dent and ding protection plans promise to pay for damages in part or in full for a specific period of time. These plans are primarily sold by new car dealerships and cost a few hundred dollars.

Ding and Dent Repair: Paintless Dent Repair

Ding and dent repair is called PDR, short for Paintless Dent Repair. There are many companies that perform this service: Ding Doctor, Ding King, No Dents, Dent Wizard…the list goes on. Some are better then others, although ultimately it’s up to the skill of the PDR technician. Prices are similar.

How is it done?

Most PDR techniques are non-intrusive. The PDR technicians use specially designed tools and gadgets to slip behind the damaged panels and manipulate and massage the damaged metal back to its original form.

Does it work?

Actually, it’s incredible! It works so well that in the majority of cases the dings and dents are completely removed. They’re invisible, gone, can’t-believe-your-eyes fixed.

I saw a soccer-ball-sized dent removed from the rear fender of a $120,000 car. The dent also had a large crease, which makes repairs even harder. After thirty minutes there was no visible detection that a dent was ever there. The repair cost the client $400. Traditional body shop estimates were hovering at $2700.

PDR positives

  • Very low cost compared to traditional body shops
  • Same day repairs–even while-you-wait service
  • No paint work, sanding, or traditional bodywork required
  • Original paint remains–helps retain vehicles looks and value
  • Body panels remain intact–maintaining structural integrity

PDR negatives

  • PDR does not address scratches or paint chips that are often associated with dings (Many PDR companies will address chips and scratches, but it’s not PDR technology)
  • Many areas of body panels are not accessible, so PDR is not an option
  • Plastic bumpers or any plastic components can’t be fixed with PDR techniques. Since the bumper is the most common area to get damaged, this is a significant downside of PDR technology.
  • Some damage can occur to door panels, paint, interiors, window glass and hardware, although damage of any kind is rare.

Do you need PDR insurance?

God, no!

Should you get your dings fixed using PDR techniques?

Hell, yes!

Let me explain…

Insuring against dings and dents does not make economic sense. Ding repairs average around $50 per ding. Some dings cost $99 to $149 to repair. Two to four dings can run $100 to $450, depending on the size of the dent. Insurance at this level is just not necessary. Moreover, it’s a gamble you will lose.

To benefit from a $300, two-year plan, your vehicle would need to sustain multiple “PDR repairable” dings or dents. Despite your coverage, you may not even notice the dings, making a claim impossible. Also, despite the amazing PDR techniques, they can’t fix everything, especially the chips and scratches that so frequently accompany a ding–should dings even occur.

Yes, get your dings fixed with PDR (if they’re bothering you), but don’t buy an insurance plan.

Protection plan economics 101

An article by Terence O’Hara in the Washington Post is a wonderful piece on the insanity of protection plans, and is applicable here. He writes:

The decision to buy an extended warranty…defies the recommendations of economists, consumer advocates and product quality experts, who all warn that the plans rarely benefit consumers and are nearly always a waste of money.

‘[Extended warranties and protection plans] make no rational sense,’ Harvard economist David Cutler said. ‘The implied probability [of an issue] has to be substantially greater than the risk that you can’t afford to fix it or replace it. If you’re buying a $400 item, for the overwhelming number of consumers that level of spending is not a risk you need to insure under any circumstances.’

…extended warranties play upon a basic human trait to avoid loss, even if it means sacrificing a possible future gain. In this case, the gain is all the other things of value that a consumer could buy with the money that was spent on a warranty

Fix your dings

Fix your dings and dents (if you want) as they come–maybe every spring. Fixing dings keeps your car looking pristine, and increases its value. But don’t bother with a protection plan. Save your money.

Hold off on that paint job

Quality paintless dent repair is often a great substitute for those considering full paint jobs. Whenever possible, it’s best to keep the original paint. Good PDR combined with a professional detail can restore vehicles to show room condition for less than $500.

Go with the best

Since 1983 Dent Wizard has been pioneering PDR technology. Their PDR technicians undergo extensive and ongoing training. The rates are reasonable and the quality is excellent. Always request a master PDR technician, as there are various levels of abilities.

Check with local dealers

Dealerships in your area may offer Dent Wizard. Your vehicle does not have to be of the same make as the dealership. In other words, you can bring your Chevy to a Ford dealer for PDR work.

Myths

Do it yourself paintless dent repair is easy.

No it ‘s not. It requires training, skill, and experience. There are many who practice PDR techniques who crack or flake the paint, or who create ripples in the metal.

The PDR products sold on TV do the same thing.

No! Not even close. There’s no good substitute for the art of PDR.

Scratch and dent repair are the same thing.

No. A ding is a small dent, which can often be repaired via paintless dent repair procedures. A scratch is an actual break in the surface of the clear coat or paint, requiring traditional body shop techniques, or touch up paint.

It’s easy to learn how to repair dents on cars.

Maybe for some, but it’s a skill that few master. Dent Wizard offers a great training program. The management and staff are top notch.

What’s the best car dent removing protection plan?

Money in your bank account!

How Do You Choose The Best Auto Glass Repair Company?

The windscreen provides structural strength to the body of the car and helps keep passengers inside the car when an accident occurs. This is also what supports the performance and inflation of passenger side airbags. It therefore needs to be top quality and should be installed properly to serve its function. Specially formulated adhesives are used on the auto glass to meet safety standards. When you have a damaged glass, the next step is to find a reliable repair company that can repair it back to functionality.

Because the auto glass does so much more than just keeping you protected from the elements, you want to make sure that it is accorded the best services. There are so many repair companies offering the auto glass services, but only the best can deliver quality results with yours. You can find the best for the repairs by being attentive to factors that matter most.

Ask for certification. Your auto glass repair company ought to be certified by the auto glass replacement safety standard body relevant in your area. The organizations have developed standards that need to be met when doing the replacements and only certified company will give you that kind of reassurance for your industry requirements. Visit the company if you can and ensure that proper licensing is in place.

Check the technicians. The company may be certified, but remember that an individual technician will be responsible for the repair works. Ensure therefore that you get a technician who is also qualified and certified to get the kind of results you expect with the repair works. A good technician should take you through the repair process and help you make the right decisions with the glass and adhesive to use.

Ask the company about safe drive away time. This is the length of time you will need to allow for the adhesive to cure to safe levels before you are allowed to drive the car again. Usually the type of adhesive used will determine how long the car will need to be out of service. Some adhesives will take only an hour to cure to safe levels, whereas for others it may be three hours or more. Incline more in getting quality repair works done but also ensure that you can also do with the off-time.

Consider OEM glass for the replacement. OEM parts are originals from manufacturers and they are always superior in quality. Find out whether the auto glass repair company uses the original products or aftermarket ones so you can make an informed decision. It is always a much better choice to use OEM glass that matches your vehicle perfectly.

Ask about insurance claim acceptance. Most repair shops will accept billing the replacement costs to your insurance company when you are thinking of filing a claim. Take care of the deductible and enjoy the repairs works affordably.

Think about warranty. A reliable repair company for your auto glass should be able to provide you with a written warranty and even a record for the completed work. It goes to show confidence in services offered as far as quality goes.

Why Rust is Like Cancer to Your Car

Rust can absolutely ruin the metal on a car. It is best to prevent the rust from ever taking hold on your car by washing it frequently. I recommend washing at least once a week, especially in areas that use salt on the road during the cold months. All that salt and dirt and grime that builds up tends to hold the moisture in and that leaves a perfect environment for rust to begin. It often will set up in a place that has been dented or the paint has chipped. Exam your car often for small spots of rust. It is much easier to repair the rusted area when it is just a small spot.

That’s really the key. You want to repair the area while it is only on the surface. Once the rust travels deeper into the metal it becomes a much bigger and more expensive repair job. My work restoring vintage muscle cars taught me early on that rust can be lurking underneath a shoddy patch job that has been painted over. You can do a check for this by simply going around the car and knocking on the metal.

That can tell you, based on the clear metal sound or the thud of putty work used to hide rust, if the car is solid or not. It is a test I do before purchasing any car, whether it is only a year old or is one of the vintage muscle cars that I will be restoring. You should also inspect underneath the car and check the wheel wells as well. Both are prime locations for rust to begin. Never buy a car that has been in an accident, even if it was just a small accident. They car likely received some sort of damage to the paint that will be a prime target for rust. Even if the person selling the car claims to have had the car repaired by an expert. Don’t purchase it. Even with an expert doing the repair, it is very likely that rust will take hold. Take the time to check out any car before you purchase. It could save you thousands of dollars in costly rust repairs, in the long run.

How a Faulty Exhaust System Can Make You Sick

If you smell fumes from your car when starting it or while driving, you have a faulty exhaust system. Breathing in the fumes can make you sick and cause drowsiness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This part of the car should not be ignored because its carbon monoxide and breathing in too many fumes can put you to sleep permanently.

It could be caused from different components such as the catalytic converter or the exhaust manifold. The catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device which converts toxic chemicals in the exhaust of an internal combustion engine into less toxic substances.

The exhaust system is usually piping used to guide reaction exhaust gases away from a controlled combustion inside an engine or stove. The entire system conveys burnt gases from the engine and includes one or more exhaust pipes.

The exhaust manifold collects exhaust gases from different cylinders and goes into one pipe. The muffler is the silencer to the exhaust system. With the descriptions of each part, you can see why if faulty it can cause a hazard to your health.

It’s best to take your car to a mechanic that specializes in exhaust systems as well as other repairs. If you go to a muffler shop, they will charge you more and possibly try to sell you the complete exhaust system when you need one part.

Catalytic converters are popular for going bad. You should never start your car in a closed garage. Always open the door first and once started, drive it out of the garage. People have died from a faulty exhaust system. The muffler just drowns out the noise but without it, you your car will be really noisy.

It’s very easy to detect, so once you smell strong fumes, get it to the mechanic. These toxic chemicals can cause a host of health problems and should be avoided. If you have a family member that knows about exhaust systems, ask them for advice and if they can guide you to a good auto repair shop. Go to two or three different shops and compare the pricing with the work needed.

Ask them to give you a written estimate with their guarantee in writing. By getting this done as quickly as possible, it will save your life or a huge hospital bill. By reading this article, you should know how a faulty exhaust system can make you sick.

Will My Auto Insurance Cover Me If I’m in an Accident Out of State?

One of the best parts of living in the United States is the fact that we can, any time we want to, hop behind the wheel of our car and drive to destinations unknown to see any of the 50 states. Nobody’s going to ask for a passport, nobody’s going to ask what you’re doing. They’re just going to smile, wave and drive on. But is your auto insurance going to make sure you’re protected when you slip across state lines?

The good news is, nine times out of ten the answer to that is going to be yes. In the eyes of most auto repair shops American auto insurance is American auto insurance, and as long as your insurance carrier decides to ante up when it’s time to pay the bill they don’t care which state you happen to be from. You’re pretty much free to come and go as you please.

There are, however, a couple of things you need to know about driving out of state. First and foremost, every state has a different minimum driving age. While you can get a permit when you’re fifteen (and a half) in Virginia you have ot wait until you’re sixteen in New York, which means driving around with a VA Learner’s Permit up north is asking for trouble. Other states enforce strict curfews for drivers under 18. If you have a new driver in the house, make sure you check out the rules of the road before you go traveling.

How much liability insurance are you carrying? Technically you’re not required to meet the minimum liability coverage requirements of another state just because you happen to be driving through it, but you are still going to be responsible for any damages above and beyond your maximum coverage levels-and most judges really, really hate dealing with out of state drivers. Not your fault, there are just some people that like to roll through town and cause trouble and leave everybody else to deal with the consequences.

Regardless, the last thing you want to do is spend the rest of your life paying damages to an out of state court. That means you want to make sure your liability coverage is geared up and and ready to handle whatever life (or the California by-ways) happen to toss your way. Most experts suggest that you carry a minimum of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per incident in liability auto insurance to cover any auto insurance claims that happen to pop up, regardless of what part of the country you happen to call home.

Your auto insurance company is one of the most important resources you’re going to have when you start traveling, so make sure it’s ready. Then kick back and enjoy your vacation. You’ve earned it.

Auto Repair Services in Okinawa, Japan: Mechanics That Speak English

I recently visited Okinawa, Japan and found the people there are very friendly and kind. One problem, however, is that most of them do not speak English. On my first morning there, I spent the entire time looking for a person who could tell me in English where I could find a bank. I needed to exchange my U.S. dollars for Japanese yen.

In the neighborhood where I was staying I visited a grocery store, walked the streets, and finally found a small police station outside Kadena Air Base. They did not understand English, but they had a map. I said I was looking for a bank and they said “ginkou.” I thought they said “banko.” So I said “yes, yes!” They did direct me to a bank thankfully.

Now if it is that hard to discuss the location of a bank, imagine how difficult it is for a U.S. serviceman or woman to talk to an automotive mechanic about repairing their vehicle. Fortunately, I know of 2 American mechanics that are retired military who live and work in Okinawa near the Kadena Air Base. I saw firsthand the relief on the faces of customers who came in to drop off or pick up their cars.

Bill Siekert is the owner and head mechanic at B&M Okinawa. Bill explained that some of the automotive services provided on bases nearby are priced a little high because they are run under contract and frankly, they have a bit of a monopoly.

In Okinawa, some auto parts can be a difficult to find. Bill grinned as he said, “One way we have been able to help our customers is to go to the local junk yards in the area and find the parts we need.” It pays to have local connections. Bill speaks Japanese and has connections with local auto body specialists. Bill can arrange for any kind of automotive work that needs to be done.

If you are stationed in Okinawa, Japan you can contact Bill Siekert about his auto repair services or you can use this map with directions to his automotive repair shop.

Learn Basic Car Maintenance

It’s amazing how many people get taken for a ride (ha ha) just by taking their car in for a basic service. A lot of people over think the modern technology of their car and believe everything the repair shop tells them. Modern cars really require way less maintenance, even though the basic concept is the same.

With all this power and amenities, most people forget or never knew that it is the same basic internal combustion engine used over a hundred years ago. And, electric and hybrid cars require even less maintenance than conventional automobiles! Learning basic maintenance about your vehicle can save you thousands of dollars over time and minimize potential breakdowns.

The three thousand mile oil change is a thing of past. If you’re still changing your car’s oil every three thousand miles, you’re wasting your money. You need to know what type of oil your car requires and the capacity. You need to know where the oil filter is located. Cheap oil filters will damage your car over time because they can take up to nine seconds longer to achieve maximum flow at startup. If you use one of those quick lube shops, make sure you know what type of oil they will use to refill the crankcase. Make sure you check the level on the dipstick before you leave the shop. Earlier I mentioned that you need to know where the oil filter is located, here’s why, some shops will not change the filter, but will charge you for one, if you mark the old one before you take the car for servicing, you’ll be able to verify that it has been replaced. Most of these shops lose money on the $29.99 oil change. A good quart of oil will set you back about five dollars, so if your car requires five, that’s twenty- five dollars, add the oil filter and you’re over the thirty dollar mark.

Now pay close attention. This is where you need to be up to date on your car’s maintenance schedule. The $29.99 oil change is a lure, it’s to bait you in and then double or triple charge you for a filter or drive belt or some other regular maintenance item you didn’t keep up with. We’re not trying to make everyone weekend mechanics, we just want car owners to read the owner’s manual so they’ll have an idea of what maintenance has to be done at the recommended mileage intervals. With that said, you tell me if it makes sense to take your new car in for the fifteen thousand mile service and be charged $400 to $600? What did they do to a car with only fifteen thousand miles besides change the oil?

You need to learn what maintenance items to consent to and what to say no to and still be assured your car is in optimum operating condition. A great benefit in learning how to properly maintain your car is also learning how to diagnose potential repair issues.