The Auto Dealer’s Original Fixed Operations ResourceVol.4, No.10 October 2007Online AccessorySalesA Worthwhile Tripto SEMAThe Wrong Way to Runa Service Department
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Letter From The PublisherThree major industry events are, once again, right around the corner. With the SEMA,AAPEX and NACE conferences returning to Las Vegas in just a few weeks, fixed operationsmanagers have the opportunity to immerse themselves in products, technologies,programs and, importantly, thinking that can expand your horizons and your business.But aside from the “What’s in it for me?” motivation that drives many of us to do (ornot do) any number of things, perhaps the decision to attend gatherings like these shouldbe steered by the idea, “What’s expected of me?” In the world of fixed ops, you areaccountable to a variety of people who rely on your help, experience and advice:- Your customers. It should go without saying that the customers who keep yourorganization in business every day have high expectations of you and everymember of the service, parts and body shop team. You are the authority.Might your attending industry events like these prompt your thinking intobetter solutions for your customers questions and issues? Gatherings likethese can immerse you in possibilities. And sometimes your customers wantto know that their dealership of choice stays current on those possibilities.- Your dealership management. There’s an old saying that states that you knowyou’re doing a good job when your boss looks good. Why not bring backsome new ideas, some fresh thinking—perhaps even a new attitude about thetools that keep your business strong? You’ll even become a more valuablemember of your store’s staff in the process.- Your fixed operations department staff. Your team looks to you for all of thethings that define “the boss”—drive, new ideas, smarts. An open and embracingapproach to getting the job done. You want to attract and retain the best,the brightest and the most productive. Show them that continuous learningand development (for you and for them) is one of the things that makes whatyou do better and more successful.- Your fellow dealership department heads. Show these folks that you are as committedto delivering top-level service and great long-term customer relationshipsas they are—or as they should be. What you know and how informedyou keep yourself have an impact on your department, as well as on theirs.Demonstrate that for them.- The factory. Sure, you absorb all of the material that the factory sends yourway. And you share it all with those on your team who need to know. But dothe manufacturers have an even higher standard for the managers who lookafter the long-term relationships with their consumer customers? Do theyexpect you to (or would they simply like you to) keep up to speed on the manyalternatives available today? Could your being a better-informed member ofthe dealership perhaps even help your management’s relationship with thefactory?I think that “What’s in it for me?” and “What’s expected of me?” can be two very compatiblesides of the same coin. With this philosophy, everyone benefits.Nick West / PublisherPhone: (877) 349-3367E-mail: Nick@FixedOpsMag.comFixed Ops Magazine17853 Santiago Blvd., Ste. 107-467Villa Park, CA 92861877-349-3367Fax email@example.comEditorial / AdvertisingNick West - Publisher877-349-3367Fax firstname.lastname@example.orgSarah Humphreys - Editor714email@example.comArt Direction & DesignSpiderMonkey Media Inc.www.spidermonkeymedia.comCirculation877-FIXEDOPScirculation@fixedopsmag.comFixed Ops Magazine is published monthly byPrism Automotive, LLC, 17853 SantiagoBlvd., Suite 107-467, Villa Park, CA 92861;phone 877-349-3367. Subscriptions are free toqualified subscribers in the U.S. who areactive as fixed operations directors or servicemanagers of franchised automobile dealerships.Additional subscriptions are availableat: $60/year/US; $85/year/Canada;$180/year/other foreign. Single issue price,$10. Periodicals postage paid at Fort Worth,TX. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to:Fixed Ops Magazine, 17853 Santiago Blvd.,Suite 107-467, Villa Park, CA 92861.Reproduction or use, without express writtenpermission of publisher, of editorial or graphiccontent in any manner is prohibited. Thestatements and opinions expressed herein arethose of individual authors and do not necessarilyrepresent the views of Fixed OpsMagazine or Prism Automotive, LLC. Theappearance of advertisers does not constitutean endorsement of the products or servicesfeatured. All rights reserved.p. 6October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine
ATTENTIONMARKETERSThe fixed operations departments of franchised new car dealers (service, parts and body shop) nowaccount for nearly 60% of the operating profits in dealerships nationwide.Is your company getting its share of this $85 billion-plus in annual fixed operations revenue? How will youmeet your sales and marketing objectives in the year ahead? Fixed Ops Magazine is the single mostfocused and cost-efficient way to reach and sell to this critical audience -- some of your best customers.Fixed Ops Magazine is the only publication that reaches the fixed operations director at every singlenew vehicle dealership in America. Our circulation of 24,000 copies per month is your assurance thatyour sales message has Total Market Coverage.If you sell a product, service or technology to the service, parts or body shop departments at new vehicledealerships ----or if you want to ----there's only one way to reach 100% of this audience: advertise in FixedOps Magazine. We'll show you how FOM can be the key to increased visibility and increased revenue.Call or e-mail today to start your sales-building ad campaign in Fixed Ops Magazine.The Automotive Industry's Leading Fixed Operations ResourceTelephone: 877-349-3367E-mail: Info@FixedOpsMag.com
Industry NewsDealers using MPi program upsell $10M inAugustMPi, a provider of profitability tools forauto dealer service departments, WorldFor information, circle 6 on RS card.Class Inspection program. For the monthof August 2007, dealers using the WCI programinspected more than 95,000 vehicles,generating an additional $10 million in customerparts and labor upsells. This is upfrom $5.9 million dollars in January of2007.The World Class Inspection Program offersreal live process measurement for vehicleservice departments and provides servicedepartments with the tools and processesneeded to measure, manage and coachdesired results. It includes implementation/training,hardware, a measurement system,software tools and field support.________________________________Ron Covell to appear in Miller’s booth at2007 SEMA showMetalworker and street rod fabricator RonCovell will be making daily appearances inMiller Electronic Manufacturing Co.’sbooth (#24713 in the Racing &Performance section) at this year’s SEMAShow taking place in Las Vegas, Oct. 30 toNov. 2, 2007. Using Miller’s latest weldingand cutting equipment, Covell will demonstratehis metalworking tips and techniquesas he fabricates a custom 1932 Ford grilleand motorcycle gas tank throughout theweek. Visitors and fans are encouraged tostop by the Miller booth for metalworkingtips and project advice.Covell, owner of Covell CreativeMetalworking in Freedom, Calif., travelsthe country holding metalworking workshopsand markets a line of metalworkingtools and videos. Extremely well-respectedin the street rod industry, Covell’s cars andmotorcycles have been featured in countlessmagazines. In addition, Covell writes technicalarticles and columns for various streetrod enthusiast publications under the titleof Professor Hammer.________________________________One million tires inflated with PurigeN98PurigeN98, a high-purity nitrogen tire inflationgas, has now been installed in morethan 1 million tires. The company reachesthis milestone in less than two years of offeringthe product to the automotive market.PurigeN98 uses trademarked blue caps ontires to show that they have been inflatedwith PurigeN98. The company has shippedin excess of 1.4 million blue caps to its dealersand estimates that the millionth tire wasconverted in June 2007.Purigen98 is now available nationally inmost major markets. Dealers are trained touse special equipment and tools to convertthe air in a tire to PurigeN98. The processtakes about 10 minutes and most dealerscharge about $10 per tire. Once the tire isconverted, dealers usually top the tire off forfree.p. 8 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
Warren Oil announces executive appointmentsWarren Oil Company Inc. has made two executiveappointments.Garry D. Rooney has been appointed seniorvice president commercial & industrial lubricants,as well as corporate counselor. In hisnew position with Warren Oil, Rooney willdevelop and manage a national bulk lubricantprogram aimed at supplying distributors allacross the United States with the Warren OilGroup’s family of branded lubricants.In conjunction with this expanded distributorprogram, Rooney will be responsible for developinga supporting national accounts program.Additionally, he will utilize his 31 years of experiencein the oil industry to provide valuableadvice to Warren Oil’s entire organization onimprovement opportunities and methods tobetter utilize their many assets.Richard C. “Dick” Clark has been appointedvice president of products. In his new positionwith Warren Oil, Clark will develop and manageproduct formulations to assure Warren Oilhas cost efficient, premium quality products tobe manufactured and marketed by Warren OilCo. under its family of brands. In addition,Clark will utilize his 40 years of experience inthe oil industry and with API to search out anddevelop new product related opportunities.__________________________________BFH 800 wins Top 20 honorsSnap-on Equipment’s BFH 800 PremiumWheel Balancer has been named to MotorMagazine’s Top 20 Tools list for 2007. Motor’sTop 20 Tools list is compiled annually by theeditorial staff at Motor Magazine and recognizesproducts with features and benefits thatoffer outstanding productivity.The BFH 800, a part of Snap-on Equipment’sJohn Bean product line, performs a completediagnostic check on every balance in less than10 seconds, the fastest floor-to-floor time in theindustry. The fully automated system requiresno manual measurements and uses VPIImaging Balance technology to eliminate productivityloss for shop owners and technicians.__________________________________CallCommand appoints Rohrer as chief loyaltyofficerCallCommand, a provider of integrated, automated,and personalized communicationsdesigned to streamline work flow, reduce marketingexpense and generate customerresponse, has appointed customer serviceindustry veteran James Rohrer to chief loyaltyofficer. Rohrer will oversee an expandedemployee workforce of more than 100 clientservice professionals who provide superior,local customer support to CallCommand autoFor information, circle 7 on RS card.dealer clients nationwide. He will also managea client support staff in Irvine, Calif., andCincinnati. Rohrer will be based out ofCallCommand’s corporate office inCincinnati.October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine p. 9
Industry NewsD&S appoints new marketing directorD&S Car Wash Equipment Co, a provider of carwash systems andequipment, has hired Tim Sater as director of marketing & regional sales.In his new position, Tim will oversee marketing, advertising and brandinginitiatives for D&S’s line of in-bay automatics, self-service equipmentand auto vacuums. Tim will also be responsible for sales and marketingof D&S products in the St. Louis area and state of Missouri.Prior to joining the D&S team, Tim was a marketing communicationsmanager for MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., based in St. Peters, Mo.In that capacity, he was responsible for national advertising, public relations,promotional programs and technical symposiums. Tim holds aBA in Media from Webster University. He brings more than 20 years ofmarketing experience to D&S.Sater replaces Drew Dressler, who has moved into a sales and marketingrole as west regional manager.______________________________________________________American Honda selects OEConnection’s online technology for itsAuto DealershipsOEConnection LLC announces that American Honda Motor Co. andOEConnection will jointly engage to provide its CollisionLink Internetbasedparts ordering and fulfillment solution to Honda and Acura dealershipsand their collision shop customers nationwide. American Hondajoins 11 other automakers already aligned with OEConnection and deliveringadvanced parts ecommerce technology that streamlines the collisionoriginal equipment parts procurement process.This agreement builds a foundation for Honda and Acura dealers toimplement OEConnection’s CollisionLink as a best practice with theexpectation of improving dealership efficiencies and facilitating thegrowth of genuine parts sales. This technology will link Honda andAcura dealerships online to their wholesale parts customers, providingparts ordering tools to build their parts business.______________________________________________________PartsCard establishes credit card relationship with GE’s card unitPartsCard, a newly formed division of ATCO Parts, has begun promotingcommercial credit cards to its business customers, through a relationshipwith GE Money—Corporate Payment Services.Under the agreement, PartsCard is promoting a co-branded version ofthe CPS Productivity MasterCard to middle market and small businesscustomers nationwide. PartsCard provides the option to purchase parts,tools, PBE (“paint, body and equipment”) and other business relateditems from any vendor accepting MasterCard.- TRIPLE your Profits with every touch-up paint purchase- 90% of your touch-up customers will want to purchasethis ad-on- PROVEN repair process designed for the touch-up paintsalready sold in your parts departmentBefore During AfterLangka 800-945-4532 509-747-3607 (int'l) www.langka.comFor information, circle 8 on RS card.p. 10 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
Events CalendarTo have your organization's eventlisted on Fixed Ops Magazine's calendar,please contact Editor Sarah Humphreys at(714) 271-4224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.October / November30 - 1AAPEXSand Expo Center, Las Vegas;www.aapexshow.com, (301) 654-6664.30 - 2SEMA ShowLas Vegas Convention Center;www.sema.org,(909) 396-0289.31 - 3NACEMandalay Bay Convention Center,Las Vegas; www.naceexpo.com, (888)529-1641.31Fall National AutomotiveService Task ForceGeneral MeetingFlamingo, Las Vegas; www.nastf.org,(703) 669-6643.2008February9-12NADA Convention &Exposition 2008Moscone Center, San Francisco;www.nada.org, (703) 821-7188.All of this at SEMA 2007 Booth #13377For information, circle 9 on RS card.October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine p. 11
FeatureThe Bling you BringWhat to take with you and take from SEMA (besides free stuff).By David Copp Stringerp. 12 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
Even though this is the pre-SEMAissue and everyone (myselfincluded) is looking forward tothe show, we should be thinkingpost-SEMA. How you can bringthe best of SEMA-thinking home? Andhow you can translate the show itself—not just the products being sold—into sustainablegains.The key to post-SEMA thinking, like theshow itself, is packaging + merchandising.Why packaging? A display ofchrome or performance-enhancing metalmay get your heart racing, but it isn’tuntil you see it installed that you form anemotional attachment to it. It’s cool. It’samazing. But it doesn’t inspire true emotionallonging until you see it on a vehicleyou love. Which says to me, preloadaccessories.Blinded by blingWhen you see SEMA bling on racks, youdon’t get a sense of emotional possibility.It’s hard to focus on any particular item.After an hour, it’s impossible to tell themapart.In the booths, they’re overwhelming.But on the SEMA show vehicles—no matterhow outrageous—you know whataccessories you like, what you can useand, more importantly, what you cannotlive without. You can envision individualaccessories on not just that vehicle, buton anything. Including what you’re drivinghome.All that glitter on a single vehicle caninspire emotional connections sales prosdream of. It can be so strong, a buyercan’t separate vehicle from accessory. Itseems complete, unique and, most importantly,mine. Just one can’t-live-withoutitconnection and you—or the SEMAexhibitor—have a very profitable sale.Whether you pick and choose individualaccessories or fall for the whole enchilada,the show vehicle’s done its job. It’sselling individual accessories. It’s sellingother accessorized vehicles. It’s sellingitself. Exactly what SEMA wants. Andyou should, too.At SEMA, you’re the customer. AndSEMA must do pretty good selling you,or exhibitors wouldn’t make the investmentit takes to be there. When youwalk the show, don’t just look at whatyou can buy.Continued on p. 14For information, circle 10 on RS card.October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine p. 13
Look for what you can learn abouthow it’s being sold to you.Hold the feelingHow do you get that “SEMA feeling”in your home store? Preload a showvehicle or three of your own. You canhave the best-trained accessories boosters,the best online catalog and theThe Six Keys toSEMA-ThinkingVehiclesby John Preski, sales director of DealerVehicle Accessories in Jacksonville, Fla.1. For over-the-top show stoppers, don’tscrimp. Load all the bling that fits. Make ithot enough to stop traffic.2. For more “rational” buyers, packagepricespecial editions, protection or conveniencepackages, etc. It discouragesdown-negotiating and fulfills customers’rational and emotional needs.3. Keep “practical” packages under 15percent of MSRP. Too high a price tagmoves customers into a more expensivemodel’s base. Do it right and more economy-mindedbuyers will feel they’re drivinghigher profile vehicles at an affordableprice.4. On economy models, the accessoriesceiling is 10 percent. In that price range, alittle bling can go a long way to close sales.It also puts an unadorned vehicle more ona par with competitors offering more standardequipment.5. Preload slower moving models withSEMA-think accessories and park them atthe front of the lot where they can be seen.You’ll change the way your customers—and your sales staff—think about that vehicleand the model itself.6. Badging helps at all levels. Without abadge, how can the buyer show it off as aspecial anything?most popular vehicle line-up in town.If you don’t have that SEMA-worthyshow vehicle, your chances of creatingSEMA-strong emotional needs foraccessories—or the show vehicle itself—are only fair at best.The show vehicle—at SEMA or on yourlot—is just that: a show-me vehicle.Don’t scrimp. Think SEMA-worthy.Load it to create an emotional reaction,not a rational one.There are some dealers who stockshow vehicles in every model. Othersdress up a single model, but rotateevery color. When they can, they usethem to sell accessories from. Morelikely, they run into the same problemas Roger Harding, general sales managerat George Moore Chevy inJacksonville, Fla.Roger built a $55,000 Chevy Silveradoto boost his accessory sales. In a greatexample of a problem we’d all love tohave, the $55,000 show-me Silveradosold in four days.Moore’s staff usually gets more timewith show vehicles. On average, theylast about 15 days. But the over-the-top-SEMA-thinking-Silverado was gonebefore the end of its first week.For more frugal buyers, SEMA-thinkingoffers two distinct advantages. Itshows what’s possible, what he wants,what he can justify and what he canafford. The tricked-out SEMA showvehicle makes him think he can afforda customized vehicle. Just not that one.According to John Preski, director ofsales at Dealer Vehicle Accessories inJacksonville, Fla., it’s also important topreload smaller accessory groups inmore rational show vehicles. Theobject isn’t to emotionally overwhelman otherwise conservative buyer. It’s torationalize an emotional decision. Butyou can’t preload just any accessories;you must package them in a somewhatmore rational manner.Preski suggests to his dealers thatinstead of trying to sell individualitems, accessories like bed and trunkliners, mud flaps, bug shields, mats,etc., become a “vehicle protection package.”Spoilers, leather-covered shiftersand steering wheels, performancewheels/tires and bras become a “sportspackage.” Pinstripes, alloy wheels andupgraded paint finishes become a “luxuryappearance package.”“You’re giving your customers rationalreasons to indulge,” says Preski.“They not only desire the accessories,they also have a sensible excuse to buythem.”Preski goes on to recommend thataccessories should be preloaded andstickered at a package price. Becauseyou chose accessories that go togetherfor a reason—protection, performance,style, etc.—your customers now have alogical explanation for purchasingitems they desire emotionally.Stash the stickerWhy package the cost instead of stickeringitems with individual addendumpricing? Preski says that when you listtube steps ($350), bed liners ($425),bug shields ($40) and rear mud flaps($50) separately, it’s too easy for yourcustomer to negotiate their cost down.“I want this truck, but I’m not gonnapay $50 for mud flaps! Take themoff!” Instead of removing the flaps,you negotiate or, worse, throw them infree to close the deal.Install, list and price the same accessoriestogether as a package beforevehicles hit the lot. Then the packagebecomes something customers can justify.Customers think it can’t bechanged, whether it’s badged or not.According to SEMA-thinking, you’renow doing what show exhibitors do tosell you. Only you’re using it to sell consumers,which gets us back to the otherpoint of the show: merchandising.p. 14 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
Exhibitors ante up the high cost of SEMAfootage because they know you have to seeit to want it. If it isn’t out front and center,displayed to the hilt, you’d pass withouta second look. The same goes foryour show vehicles.A customer cruising your lot won’t stopfor just anything. You have to have somethinghe wants to see up close. He’llspeed up at the sight of an oncomingsalesperson, exit your lot and onto thenext one. Turn the SEMA trick and parkan eye-popping show vehicle out front.That same customer isn’t going anywhere.What does this mean for your inventory?A lot. And not just in stopping reluctantbuyers. Show vehicles distinguish what’son your lot from every other dealer intown. Yours are custom. Special. Thetricked-out show stoppers create an emotionalneed. The accessorized-for-a-rational-reasonones fill it.Show vehicles can take slower-movingmodels from your back lot to the spotlight.Buyers consider them, even if theywere thinking something else. Preload itright and as little as $800 in dealer costcan make a slower-moving-same-old-sameoldlook like it costs $5,000 more. Yourlow-to-mid-model buyers will feel they’rebuying top-of-the-line.While you’re walking SEMA, don’t justappreciate what exhibitors are doing.Copy them! Don’t just study and comparethe products. Study and comparehow they’re merchandised to get your eye.And your purchase order.Feel rationally. Take home what you findand apply it. You’ll sell your show vehicles.You’ll sell accessories off them.You’ll create a difference between themetal on your lot and every other lot intown. Buyers will consider slower movingvehicles as if they were your more popularmodels. You will make money.How do I know? Ask me at SEMA. I’llbe there gawking, just like you. If you’dlike to gawk together, contact me. There’slots more we can discuss about theshow.For information, circle 11 on RS card.David Copp Stringer is president ofInsignia, an integrated, whole-dealershipprocess for increasing store profits throughaccessory sales. October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine p. 15
FeatureThe Wrong Way toService VehiclesHow dealers have been doing it wrong through the ages.By Larry EdwardsThe following is an excerpt fromthe author’s latest book, “TheAmerican Automobile Industry,100 Years of Doing it the SameWay.”I was visiting my brother-in-law whoworked at a top secret CIA instillationin the mountains of WestVirginia. This place was way back inthe hills with maybe 500 residentstops. On Saturday, we set out lookingfor something to do that wouldget us away from the wives for awhile. Unless you hunt or fish, thereis not a lot to do in this place.We passed a farmer’s place, and hehad turned his barn into an antiquemarket. Now I am not much forwalking around antique stores but,being raised on a farm, I did want tocheck out his old barn. Wanderingthough the old livestock stalls, Icame upon a bunch of really old (forAmerica, anyway) books. Lying in astack of books all the way back in therear of the stall was a blue, hardboundbook with gold letters on thespine and a cover that said,“Automotive Service Management.”This book was published in 1949and looked like it had never beenopened. I read the intro and theauthor, a Mr. C.E. Packer, wrote thisbook after retiring from Ford MotorCo. He started with Ford in 1909and spent nearly 40 years in the FordService Division.p. 16 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
Words of wisdomWhen I read this book, I was startledto discover that I was recommendingto dealers in 2007 that they implementthe exact same things that Mr. Packerrecommended they do in 1949. Hereare excerpts from Mr. Packers book.Opening remarks“Experience makes the differencebetween success and failure in anybusiness. And this book brings youthe proved experience of many of themost successful automotive servicemen. The ability to change onesthoughts, ways, and business set-up isthe most fundamental need for successin any business.”C.E. Packer on selling service“In your shop you are paid for twothings—what you know and what youdo. The ability to sell service comesfrom what you know. There is anincreasing trend towards automotivediagnosticians; in other words, troubleshooters. So it is considered goodbusiness to charge for your troubleshooting ability.”One of the largest problems weencounter as service consultants in2007 is service departments who arenot charging customers for diagnosingproblems. Service advisors are hesitantto tell a customer that it will cost$100 to determine what your problemis and then we can give you an estimatefor fixing it. Why, after 100 yearsof fixing vehicles, are service departmentsafraid to charge customers fordiagnostic work? Could it be that theydo not have confidence in their technicians’ability to accurately diagnoseproblems?We encounter this all too often.Whenever we look at the file of a problemcustomer the technicians moreoften than not are simply throwingparts at the problem. Could it be thatFor information, circle 12 on RS card.they are throwing parts at the vehiclebecause the only way they can get paidfor a job is if they replace something?If you are not going to pay me to diagnoseit then you are forcing me to findsomething to replace in order to getpaid!Continued on p. 18October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine p. 17
“The surest way to raise your standingin the community is to collect for yourknowledge.”“If you do not place a high value onyourself, rest assured the world will notraise it for you.”The automotive service industry haslabor rates that are lower than anyother service industry. Plumber ratesare higher than service rates. And,unlike plumbers, our industry suffersfrom a lack of qualified technicians.The reason we cannot find qualifiedtechnicians is because we do notcharge labor rates that are sufficient tocompensate our technicians for whatthey are worth.What we pay forLow rates require low wages. If thisindustry does not raise its rates it willcontinue to lose technicians to otherprofessions. Manufacturers are nothelping this problem when they refuseto pay warranty rates over $100. Wehad a client in Tennessee who wasnumber one in the nation in CSI forits brand vehicles for six straight years.This client implemented our pricingphilosophy, which is very simple: “Giveyour customers everything they desireand you have earned the right tocharge them for the work you do.”In this dealer’s case, its labor rate was$125 per hour. This was $50-per-hourhigher than its market average rate.But when you look at its retention ofcustomers at over 85 percent and itsCSI—the highest in the nation—obviouslyour philosophy works.Unfortunately for this dealer, when itasked the manufacturer to raise its warrantyrates to the same as their customerpay rate (which state law inTennessee requires) the manufacturerrefused. It refused on the grounds thatits rates were higher than the averagerate in their market. When confrontedwith Tennessee state laws on warrantyrates they replied, “Sue us!” Aslong as we have manufacturers withattitudes like this and as long as wehave service managers who are not willingto charge for “what we know,” wewill continue to have a shortage oftechnicians. In fact, if this keeps up atits current pace, this problem couldreach crisis proportions within thenext 10 years.C.E. Parker on the service write-up“The customer reception departmentis usually the first contact between thedealer and the customer; therefore thecustomer’s impression of it shouldreflect the kind and character of yourservice.“This department must be wellequipped, attractive and plainlymarked. It should be located for easyaccess to the customer as he drives inand should not be in an aisle wheretraffic could become congested.”In May 2007, I was standing in theservice aisle of a Toyota dealer whosells around 700 vehicles a month.The entryway had two large glass driveindoors, and one of them was blockedoff by service write-up desks so onlyone entry lane was available for a shopthat writes over 150 repair orders eachday. While I was standing there, a customerdrove up to the glass door.There were three service writers attheir desks and every one of themignored this customer. The customersat there patiently for about three minutesuntil a porter walked up andThe sevenessential tasksof writing up aservice customer1. Answering the phone2. Making the appointment3. Greeting reception of the customer4. Listening, learning, selling5. Controlling quality6. Providing active delivery7. Following up to ensure thecustomer is satisfiedpushed the button to open the door.This porter was wearing a bolt in hiseyebrow, and rings in his nose, mouthand ears. He had spiked hair and hegreeted the customer with a glare onhis face. The customer informed himhe had an appointment and the porterraised his arm, pointed to the threewriters and said, “Go over there theywill help you”!How is it that a dealer can figure outhow to sell 700 vehicles a month butcannot figure out how to properlyequip and staff a service lane? Ourconsulting guideline for staffing a dealershipservice write-up lane is determinedby the number of repair ordersyou write each day. The NationalAutomobile Dealership Association’sguide is 20 to 25 repair orders perwriter per day. Our guideline is 12 to15 repair orders per writer per day.Believe it or not, I have actually hadpeople accuse me of making this numberup. The formula for staffing is nota guess, but rather is based on a simpleformula that is taught is every businessschool in America. The formula is:Tasks x Volume =Staffing RequiredToday’s consumers require a lot moreattention that consumers did in the’70s, when NADA first published its25-ROs-per-day guide.p. 18 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
We conduct well over 100 service consultanttraining classes every year. In eachclass, we have the service consultants giveus the amount of time required to performthe seven essential tasks of writingup a service customer (see box at left).Some companies break this into 10 steps,11 steps, etc. But the fact remains thatwhen you write up a customer, certaintasks must be performed. When we conducttime studies with service consultants,we always come up with over 30minutes to do the job of writing up onecustomer properly. I would remind youthat 30 minutes is the minimum time. Ifyou get a problem customer or a problemvehicle it will require more time.If you take an eight-hour day and dividethis by 25 repair orders, you are allowing19.2 minutes to do a job that takes 30minutes. So what happens is that servicewriters must make a choice on whatitems they will not do. The easy ones todrop are making good appointments.You can simply take the name or youcould check the vehicle’s history, suggestadditional needs, give the customer timeoptions that best fit his or her needs, oryou could just say, “We open at 7. Behere then.”Another thing you could drop is qualitycontrol. Instead of doing it yourself, youcould just wait and let the customer do itfor you. You could also drop the activedelivery when they arrive to pick up theirvehicles; just raise your arm and pointthem to the cashier and let the cashierexplain any questions they might have.In my opinion, this is the number-onereason that dealers loose seven out ofevery 10 new-vehicle purchasers to theaftermarket service industry. They areusing staffing guidelines that are inadequateto deliver a level of service that customers’desire.As long as dealers focus is on expensecontrol instead of focusing on how theycan better satisfy their customer wantsand needs, they will continue loosingseven out of 10 service customers. Thiscontrol expenses at all cost is costing dealersbillions of dollars in lost service salesevery year.Larry Edwards is a certified management consultantand president of Edwards & AssociatesFor information, circle 13 on RS card.Consulting Inc. in Charlotte, N.C.,which specializes in body shop managementconsulting for dealerships. October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine p. 19
FeatureThink Global, Act LocalInternet accessory sales aren’t just for out-of-town purchases.By John Pazamickashe Internet is big, theTInternet is powerful and theInternet is huge. People havemade millions on theInternet. Many giant companieswere even born on the Internet.We can open a magazine and readabout a young kid who started sellingT-shirts on the Internet at age 20 andearns 2 million dollars a year. Or whatabout a guy who was walking around amall and decided to sell shoesonline? Well, his companysales are close to 600million dollars a yearnow.As with any business,marketingis a huge sectorof the industryon theInternet, aswell.It provides traffic—the most valuableresource that allows companies to graba piece of the Internet cake. Just likewith TV, you can easily spend millionsto advertise your business on Google,Yahoo or even a Web site like NationalGeographic.Gold rushNo wonder that dealers today have beenin a rush to get involvedwith the Internet.Besides the monsters like Google,whose pay-per-click advertising is usedtoday by practically any and every commercialWeb site, and Yahoo, whichalso offers a great deal of banner advertisingoptions, there are a number ofcompanies that offer traffic specificallyfor automotive retailers in the form ofleads. And dealers are lining up forcheaper leads with better conversionrates, while lead generators are nowone of the most important featuresof modern dealer managementsystems and Websites.p. 20 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
However, looking deeper into thenature of the Internet market will showthat it is not as lucrative for the automotiveretailers as it used to be. A numberof careful decisions must be madebefore jumping in. Which productsshould you sell on the Internet? Willyou profit or spend more on advertisingthan what you will make on the sale?For example, your dealership might beselling cars on eBay to generate extraincome, but as competition increases,next year you might be selling fewer carsby doing the same work. And, you getan even gloomier picture when it comesto less expensive products than cars. Forexample, you wouldn’t mind sellingmore accessories and the Internet seemsa perfect place for that, but with theincreased competition, the profit marginsare not as fat. In fact, you will likelyspend more money on advertising justto get one customer compared to themoney you’ll make on that sale.So while the Internet, if used wisely, canstill offer more sales, let us not forgetabout the advantages of the local marketingwhere dealers can actually createnew revenue streams by offering newproducts and services at a minimalexpense, and leverage the Internet as apowerful promotional tool—not just as atraffic grinder. How do you do that?Even though a software program has allthe features needed to sell on theInternet, its ability to utilize the potentialof the Internet technology to promoteyour products and services to localcustomers is what will provide thestrongest online marketing tools forautomotive retailers who want tosell more accessories.Words andpicturesAn online accessories catalogwith pictures, descriptionsand custom prices will allowdealership sales or F&I representativesto promote to the customersin the show room. They can also directcustomers to an online catalog wherecustomers can shop 24-7 from home.A good system can configure pricingand labor cost, create custom productsand packages, set up product specials,sign up sales personnel and track commissionsbased on their sales. It mightalso allow parts departments to sendbulk emails to the existing customersand advertise specials and promotions,or create and print fully customizableaddendum accessory stickers. The goalis simple: increase revenue by promotingaccessories or other products andservices to your local customers usingmodern technology designed to beadopted by dealerships in a natural andnon-intrusive way.A simple way to use such a platform isto promote the accessories site to yourlocal customers by e-mail postings, businesscards, flyers, etc. But some dealershipsget more inventive. PeteVandermeer, parts manager at BasilFord in New York. installed a computerkiosk with an online accessories catalogprominently located in the showroom,for salespeople’s use in advising the customersabout the accessory offerings.This move doubled the demand foraccessory installation almost immediately.In a few months, the dealershipinstalled another kiosk near the partscounter and adjacent to the servicearea’s waiting room; the kiosk is alwaysfull of customers browsing the selectionand the demand has increased to thepoint that the dealership is currentlybuilding a new facility, strictly for theinstallation of accessories.So when it comes to accessory sales, takeadvantage of the World Wide Web. Butdon’t forget your friends around theblock, too!John Pazamickas, is vice presidentof business development forOEMdealer.com. He has morethan 15 years of automotive managementexperience at the dealershiplevel. For information, circle 14 on RS card.October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine p. 21
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FeatureTouch upYourProfitsProfessional-grade DYI paint kitsput new shine on accessory sales.By Larry JohnsonBefores the manager of theAparts department, oneof your many tasks is toincrease revenues. Anexcellent method is tobring in proven DIY technologiesthat will add value to your customerrelationship, especially ifthey support other products youcurrently sell on a regular basis.A vast opportunity lies in touch-uppaints that you currently can sell.Your previously boring painttouch-up section can add net earningsof $10 to $20 per paint purchasetransaction and give yourDIY customers a more professionalrepair for their prized vehicles.(For example, no more blobs ofpaint on the paint surfaces.) Thisis a win-win situation for yourdepartment and your customer.DuringBrush-upYou are probably familiar with theadvent of paint chip repair vendorsback in the late 1980’s. Therepair service swept the auto industryand is now considered as astandard repair in the reconditioningdepartment prior to resale.Afterp. 24 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
In 1996, the original developer of thistechnology was asked to develop a similarrepair process specifically for OEMtouch-up paints—the same paints you sellin your parts department. As you verywell know, touch-up paints themselvessimply create another problem—thatblob of paint on the surface of the vehicle.It’s one thing for a professionalpaint chip repair vendor to do thisrepair as a business, but to develop a safeproduct for the general public and forthe DIY audience was a challenge.The DIY product was developed andlaunched in 1997. Then, years later, thisrepair process and product found hugesuccess among the serious DIY autoenthusiastmarket. This repair is discussedand recommended between themembers of over 2,500 car clubs worldwide.They are excited about a productthat is easy and safe to use on all vehiclesand requires no wet-sanding, nobuffing and no special tools. The successof this DIY product by car enthusiastsworldwide provides support thatanyone can now do professional repairson their own vehicles.It’s time your customers know about hisrepair. What better place than in yourparts department with every paint purchase?Ninety percent of your customers havenever heard of this repair but will thankyou when you bring it to their attention.All you have to do is inform your DIYcustomers (especially those who inquireabout touch-up paint) of a technologyused in the auto industry for over 20years. And that same professional repairis available to them using the same paintthey just purchased.Win-winThis is certainly is a win for your dealership.Your parts department has beenand will forever need to inventory thoselow-dollar-profit touch-up paints (thatmight net you $4). You can now capitalizeon these DIY customers desire toachieve a more professional appearingrepair. Not only will you be providingthe color matching touch-up paint butalso the latest technology for doing amore professional appearing repair. (Noblobs when done!) This repair is exactlywhat the dealership does to its ownused-car inventory, so it must be good.And it’s a win for your DIY customer, ashe gets a better repair for his prized vehicle!No one likes blobs of touch-up painton a vehicle. Remember the days of tryingto put touch-up paint on a chip orscratch with a tooth-pick or a match stick?Anything but that darn brush that youcould paint a house with! The new generationof paint pens offered a very slightFor information, circle 16 on RS card.improvement, but the DIY always complainedthat it put too much paint downon the vehicle. Simply put, your customerneeds to know about this and, in theprocess, you can increase your sales.It’s time to upgrade the touch-up paintsection to enhance your customers’ satisfactionwhen using those paints.You’ll increase revenues. And maybe,just maybe, inventorying those annoyinglittle bottles of touch-up paint might justbe worth the trouble.Larry Johnson has been the generalmanager of LANGKA PaintChip Repair Technologies since thecompany’s inception in 1996. October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine p. 25
FeatureThis Could bethe Big One Part 2A consultant explains life after General Motors’ Simplified Maintenance.By Hal ScottM states that SimplifiedGMaintenance is “potentiallymore profitable if fullyembraced.” This is an accuratestatement. However, theword “potentially” denotes risk, whichmeans you had better do your homeworkand make wise decisions based onthe statistical facts for your store. Thisisn’t a guessing game!First of all, GM does offer a solutionwith the pricing examples you’ve seenin the Simplified Maintenance Web sitevideo and tools. Yes, the math worksjust fine and it is one way to solve theLOF profit issue. Unfortunately, that isnot the only issue, and we stronglybelieve that current circumstances andpractices in your individual dealershipand within your own competitive marketcould easily dictate a different paththan what’s illustrated in GM’s example.GM’s example and its Web siteinclude a calculator that is a tool foryou to use and experiment with byplugging in different numbers to helpyou find your own LOF solution.The basic message without quite sayingit is this: GM anticipates that you willneed to increase prices. Since mostdealerships are already doing the“Maintenance II” level inspection ormore at no cost to their customers onevery service visit, we envision bettersuccess in offsetting decliningLOF/inspect profits with a broader setof pricing adjustments.Road to recoveryDo not—I repeat—do not second guessGM’s integrity, intentions or determinationin regards to the changes youwill need to make. The company hasspent years moving in this directionand now feels that the time is right.GM is concerned about your profitabilityand your long-term success. It willhelp guide you but it will not tell youexactly what you should do in yourstore. It can and will only suggest.However, either by written or verbalstatement, or by implication, it doesseem very intent that you fully grasp thefollowing.• You will not recommend maintenanceservice intervals other thanthose that GM recommends, exceptin very rare instances.• You must promote SimplifiedMaintenance and embrace it withyour team and your customers.• You can expect consequences fornon-compliance. (GM has not saidthis yet but it is duly implied.)Note that GM did not tell you what tocharge. It made suggestions. It didn’ttell you that there aren’t acceptableexceptions. For example, a transmissionmay need service at 15,000 milesif it’s a ¾-ton truck that hauls 2 tons ofrock up a steep hill 39 times a day. Youare GM’s eyes. There are exceptions.Sometimes a transmission is failinginternally and makes gray metallicfluid at 24,000 miles. Of course itneeds to be changed and then carefullymonitored. About 50 percent of thevehicles coming into the average dealer’sservice drive have more than50,000 miles on them. Do a report onyour store.GM recommends a transmission serviceat 50K for severe-use trucks. Thiscould be 50 percent of the trucks with50,000 miles if you’re located in afarming community, not to mentionthat some of the vehicles coming intoyour drive already have 100,000 milesor more. I would anticipate thatinstead of losing $42,000 from transmissionservices, you may lose $25,000from premature sales, and increasingyour price from say $99.95 to $119.95will drop those losses to about $21,500.Things cooling offYou’re not going to do many coolantflushes. At best, you might do one ofthe 10 you currently do. So call coolingsystem losses at 90 percent or $22,500.A better subject: 4-by-4 services (sorryyou dealers in the South). GM saystransfer cases can be serviced at 50Kunder severe use. If a customer usedhis 4WD functions much at all, I’dlose no sleep calling it severe use. UntilGM makes most of these units moredurable and trouble-free, engaging andusing 4-by-4 mode much is severeusage.p. 26 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
The dealers we looked at did about 70percent of these fluid changes at 50Kplus miles. At 70 percent, your 4-by-4fluid change loss cuts from $21,000 to amere $6,300.Now, without changing the fluids prematurely,consider offering a real-value4-by-4 inspection. They don’t have dipsticksand they definitely have failuresand leaks. They don’t get checked duringMaintenance I or II and your customershammer you every year the firsttime it snows if they don’t work. Thesame parts go on back order every yearwhen the first snow or ice sweeps acrossthe country. Ensure that they work fromnow on. I’d say a 0.3 flag-time for a$39.95 service including checking alldriveline fluids for condition and level,top-off fluids if needed, and a check forproper engagement. Very fair, goodvalue, and it carries a $133 effectivelabor rate. Your ELR will need to moveupward to survive these changing times.Welcome to the new millennium, boys.I’d offer this service every 25K and youshould have good penetration. I bet youcan do 500 of these per year with a $32net profit for a $16,000 gain, which nets4-by-4 services out at plus $9,700.Next up: fuel injector cleaning. GMsays, “There’s an additional issue associatedwith dealers selling unnecessaryfuel injector cleaning. The V6 enginesuse either Multec 3.5 or Bosch fuelinjectors that are not approved for cleaning.Refer to GM Service Bulletin 03-06-04-030B.” Guess that pretty much sumsthat up. Maybe there’s room for cleaningthat sticking throttle plate and someBG-44K or the equivalent in the tank. Ithink a spray and dump may have realvalue at a reasonable price, but I’m waitingon a response from GM on thisissue. Let’s call it a “no” for now and a$25,000 loser since there will be just afew exceptions.So, where are we? We justified doing areduced number of fluid services andcreated one new service. Our totals nowlook like this.LOF $24,000Transmission $21,500Cooling System $22,5004X4 Services $9,700Injector/fuel system $25,000Subtotal $83,300Well, that’s $56,700 better than thingswere at first glance, but we still have along way to go to get back to even.When average lawyers charged about$100 per hour, we were charging $65 to$70 per hour in the shop. An attorneyhighly specialized in a particular areacharged $150 per hour and we stillcharged $70 for computer diagnosis andautomatic transmission repair. We werestupid then and we are stupid now.Sorry so blunt, but please read on.Specialized attorneys now get $300-plusper hour and we average about $92 perhour on the tough stuff. Break that glassceiling!No one else except another highlytrained GM store can do what you do.The independents can’t do the complicatedcutting-edge stuff that you doevery day. If we charge less than $125($150 on the coasts) per hour for thiswork, it’s only because we’ve beentaught that talking to Joe at the otherGM store across town is forbiddenbecause Joe’s store is our enemy. Hemight undercut our pricing and steal allof our work.Word to the wiseHere’s a small piece of sound advice forservice managers. Leave the competitionto the front end. Service losesmuch more when customers buy non-GM than when a neighboring GM dealergets the new vehicle sale.Call Joe and buy him a beer after work.Talk about “Life After SimplifiedMaintenance” together. You both needto explore new ideas to succeed. I thinkyou can figure it out from there.“No one elseexcept anotherhighly trainedGM store can dowhat you do.”Every lube shop in town can steal customer’smoney by performing prematurefluid changes. Why would you want toshare that low level of integrity? Whatwould you tell the television “Eye Spy”team? We should hang our heads inshame for still playing down there today.Raise your head high, be proud andcharge a buck-fifty for that hour of laborfor pinpointing that short in the wiringthat Big Ed’s Tires and Donuts couldnever find.Now what would you tell the television“Eye Spy” team? I have an answer foryou. “You know, we put one of our seniorGoodwrench technicians on thatwiring short because he has 16 years ofspecialized GM training in electricalrepair. Would you like to see a list of histraining credentials? There might onlybe five or six other GM-trained mastertechnicians in the state that could findand repair that intermittent short for$150. It’s just unfortunate that beforeMr. Jones brought his car to us, he spent$700 at Big Ed’s Tires and Donuts on amodule he didn’t need and three flushesthat we no longer recommend, but Iguess they do have great donuts. Anyother questions?”In the next installment of this story,we’ll cover where the rest of your missingmoney is going.Hal Scott is president and CEO ofHal Scott Consulting andTopBoxScore.com, providing on-siteA-Z fixed operations training. October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine p. 27
Service DepartmentThe Myths in theMeasurementsBy Tyler Robbinsvery day I speak to someoneEwho wants to get my opinionon “the numbers.” There arearticles and online newslettersalmost daily that discuss the“numbers,” and every one of thoseauthors takes a strong position on“why” his philosophy or opinion isabsolutely essential to the successfuloperation of the service operations.I will dispel the myths of certain measurements,such as effective labor rates,work mix calculations, hours per repairorder and, of course, the percentages.The infamous performance groups—20groups, peer groups or whatever youchoose to call them—are an incrediblypowerful setting to help dealers, servicedirectors, service managers, etc.,improve their own operations’ performanceand, ultimately, their profitability.There are literally thousands of dealershipsthat participate in some form of a“group” and collectively these groupshave a fair amount of influence overthe entire industry.Their influence is even greater in determiningwhat this industry deems to beits objectives or standards, and, as mentioned,the author, host, facilitatorand/or the organization responsible forthe “group” is, indeed, in a very powerfulposition, as his opinion could (andhas effectively) become industry standardor industry-accepted.Let me say that again: An opinionbecomes an industry standard! Well, weall know the saying about opinionsright? Every yahoo has one! Well, I amno different. I’m a yahoo with an opinion,but it is based on pure logic, ratherthan my desire to “sell” something.Hours per ROWhen I first got in the business, therewas a company that was out there teachingdealers about their need to monitorhours per repair order. Better yet, theywere so convinced and convincing thathours per RO be the measurement,that the better part of the entire industryadopted this measurement asService Performance Measurement #1.That company is still out there and nowit is back-pedaling a bit to “condition”its opinion, telling the industry that itneeds to take this measurement with agrain of salt.The bottom line is that hours per repairorder is an easy number to determineand dealers keep pushing service directorsfor a “higher” hours/RO. I can fixthe hours-per-RO concern (alone) in 30seconds. Instead of a flat rate on oilchanges of 0.3, lets make it 1.0. Betterstill, let’s simply stop performing oilchanges all together—they only hurt thehours/RO number anyway. Many serviceadvisors are even paid based ontheir hours per RO. Gee, do you thinkthey might “work” their pay plan tomaximize their income? Of course theywill!Come on! Do service directors anddealers know how to manipulate thisnumber? Of course they do, and once anumber is being deliberately manipulated,how effective is this measurement?To make matters worse, industry organizationsand groups announce statistics,saying that the industry averageper RO is 4.0 hours. This leads dealersto believe that they are under-performingand in dire need of these companies’services. Where does that 4.0come from? Averages are made up ofhighs and lows. In our industry, everysingle dealer determines its own flatrates for most services, so a dealer whoflat-rates an oil change at one hour,would in fact have a higher hours perRO. Does that make him better? Notmuch profit in an hour-paid oil changeright? Reverse the situation. A dealerflat-rates the oil change at 0.1 or 0.2.His hours per RO will be terrible.However, his bottom line number justmight look a little better.The reality is that we don’t takehours/RO to the bank for deposit; wetake money to the bank. This industryneeds to rethink the hours-per-ROmeasurement altogether!Effective labor ratesand work mixNaturally, when dealers, etc., agreethat hours/RO is not a fair measurement,their next thought is to measuretheir effective rate, which thenassumes the #1 Service PerformanceMeasurement position. Now, ELR isextremely important. However, themyth out there is that the higher thebetter. Of course, the higher the ELR,the more revenue and gross profit generated,which is good. Yet striving fora higher number comes with its ownconcerns.p. 28 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
I hear statements like, “The effectivelabor rate should be within 10 percent ofyour posted rate,” or “Your customer-payELR should be equal to your warrantyrate.”What?!! Who comes up with these wildstatistics and standards?The reality of customer-pay ELR hasnothing to do with your warranty rate,and although in some markets the postedrate and ELR may fall within thatmythical 10-percent window, it is themost ludicrous “guide” to determiningthe appropriate effective labor rate.First things first. A service operations’ELR objective had better accomplish themost important reality: profitability!There’s no benefit to a dealership with anELR within 10 percent of the posted rateor equal to their warranty rate if it doesn’tcover the nut! An ELR objective hasto be reversely calculated for each dealership.Say a service operation’s monthlyexpenses are $100,000 and it sells 1,000hours each month. Very simply,$100,000 divided by 1,000 hours equals$100 per hour gross profit required. Ifthis dealership doesn’t have an ELRobjective that generates $100 per hour ingross profit, it simply will not be profitable.In every market, it is important and vitalto any service operation that they be competitivelypriced for maintenance serviceslike oil changes, rotations, alignments,brakes, etc., and every market is priced alittle differently. It is these services, combinedwith your repair services, that willdetermine the actual effective labor rate.Note: There is no such thing as a “competitive”type of work. There are maintenanceservices and there are repairs.Competitive is a pricing strategy, not atype of work. Both maintenance andrepairs need to be competitively pricedfor each market, but to classify any oneservice, maintenance or repair as competitive,by definition means that every otherservice, maintenance or repair is noncompetitive.If we could actually get awaywith that principal, every dealershipshould have a $300/hour posted rate,right? Come on! Everything needs to becompetitive.Redo the numbersSo in calculating the ELR, again, themath is easy—if 60 percent of the workmix is maintenance and the effectivelabor rate for maintenance is $50 perhour, and 40 percent of the work mix isrepair at a rate of $100 per hour, thenyou already know what your overall ELRwill be. The calculation is high schoolalgebra and nothing more:If 60% = $50 and 40% = $100 then100% = $70. The ELR will be $70.The challenge here is to go back to the“nut coverage” equation and determine ifan ELR of $70 allows you to be profitable.If it doesn’t, you’ve only got a fewoptions: reduce the expenses, increase theprices or change up your work mix.If you increase your prices, recognize thatmay put you in a position of being noncompetitiveand will likely affect yourwork mix automatically. It is a delicateequation for sure but, either way, thework mix is a measurement that actuallyneeds to be monitored so that you canadjust your pricing or expenses to ensureyour profitability.PercentagesMost definitely the most misconstruedmeasurements in our industry almost allstem from some industry group/organizationor company making a grand statementabout “appropriate Percentages.”Statements include:“Labor Gross Profit should be 70 to 75percent.”“Policy should not exceed 2 percent.”“ELR should be within 10 percent ofposted rate.”Again, I ask, What?!! How do they comeup with these percentages? The answer is“averages” and, as mentioned, averagesare made up of highs and lows. So don’tbecome slaves to the percentages.If a dealership has a 50-percent gross profiton labor but makes tons of net profit,is that bad?If a dealership has an 83-percent grossprofit on labor but loses money, is thatgood?The reality is, you may be a “high” or youmay be a “low.” The only percentage thatmatters is the percentage of net profit,and net profit has many factors, as we allknow.Think about it logically: A brand-new bigdealership likely has a higher rentamount than a 50-year-old small facilityand, consequently, has a bigger “nut” tocover. This amount dictates what theELR needs to be, and, in turn, what thegross profit percentage on labor is.Don’t get hung up chasing a percentagethat doesn’t actually generate the amountof gross profit dollars you need. It’s like adog chasing a car. Once you “catch it,”what are you going to do then?There are tons of yahoos that love to tellthe industry and specific dealers thatyour ELR needs to be this, your work mixneeds to be that, your percentages needto up and your hours/RO need to be X—all of which may be relevant to your specificoperation. But in all likelihood theseare just numbers that distract you fromthe ultimate objective: making money!The math of this industry and everyindustry is very simple, and certainly nomyth. Gross profit dollars must be greaterthan expenses!Do you want to make more money orhave great “measurements”? Keep youreyes on the goal!Tyler Robbins is president ofAutomotive Training International(ATi), a company that providesservice and accessory trainingthroughout North America. October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine p. 29
Parts DepartmentTake Back theCustomers withAccessories in theParts DepartmentBy Sally Whitesellave you noticed the raceHthat is going on betweenmanufacturers to create thelowest-maintenance vehicles?While this is great forour customers it is not so great for theservice department’s opportunitiesand bottom line. I have heard moredealers than ever report that the walkintraffic is down. Many of these dealershave high CSI scores so we knowthat their clients are happy with theservice they receive, so I can onlyattribute the decline to the fact thattheir customers now only need maintenanceevery six months to a yearwhen they follow the manufactures’recommendations.If you have invested the time andmoney needed to turn your service advisorsinto professional sales consultants,you need to utilize their skills to thefullest. Once they have mastered howto present and sell all of the recommendedmaintenances during the writeup,it is time to teach them to offermore with every opportunity. Thatleads us to the big question advisorsand managers are asking themselves:“What else can we sell on the drive?”Logical conclusionYou only need to look to your partsdepartment for the answer:Accessories! I know you’re thinkingright now, “Sally you’re a genius! Whydidn’t I think of that?” OK, maybenot. You have probably already hadthis idea and maybe even mentioned itto your advisors. If you are really seriousyou may have included a spiff.But have you focused on developingthe skills needed to sell accessories onthe drive? This will require your advisorsto consider their customers’desires and emotions rather that justthe needs of their vehicles. They willneed to figure out why their customerswill buy, what motivates them tospend money and what is important tothem. In short, it will require veryadvanced selling techniques.Your car sales teams are trained extensivelyto use emotions to sell. Theyknow as soon as the customer sees thecar, touches the interior and takes thetest drive he or she is getting emotionallyattached. Unfortunately, mostservice advisors do not sell in the samemanner. They rely on selling needsthat are outlined by the factory, dealershipor their technicians.How do we get them to focus on thedesires and emotions of customers?Here’s what they need to do.1. Start building a relationship withthe customer during the walk-around.This means ask questions to gatherinformation. Most people love theircars, hobbies, jobs and families, sothey will be happy to share if interestis shown. This will give clues as towhat is important to them today.2. Listen closely to everything that thecustomer says about the car and howthey use it, or look for visible signssuch as personal items for them ortheir family, or signs of a hobby orcareer that they use their car for.There may be accessories that will fit awant and a need such as a rack to holdbicycles or camping gear.3. Consider which accessories may fittheir needs or personal style. (Yes, Isaid style.) Sometimes you need onlyto look at your clients and their vehiclesof choice to know what they like.p. 30 October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine
For instance, maybethe driver of a sporty car wouldlike to add a spoiler or wheels. Have youstopped and considered how muchmoney people are spending on wheelsoutside of the dealerships? Let’s learn tokeep it in the store. Also, do they keeptheir cars nice and clean? They mightreally like to add on some mud guards ora detail service. Many dealerships arenow calling detail services spa services.Do you know that spas are one the fastestbusinesses today for people, pets and nowcars? These types of references get theemotions going.4. Remember to benefit sell. Maybe theonly benefits are that the car will lookbetter and therefore make the owner feelbetter when driving it. Isn’t this theexact benefit that prompts us to makemost purchases? If you think about it wecould all drive a very small inexpensive carwith no bells and whistles if it was onlyabout getting from point a to point b.5. Make the customers aware that accessoryadd-ons are something that you caneasily get taken care of while they are infor service, or schedule the installingASAP. Remember that emotional purchasesneed to be closed right away. It islike going through the check-out line andwanting a candy bar. If I can’t get it rightnow, there is a good chance the desirewill be gone later.6. Close the sale. Many advisors presentaccessories as something for the customerto think about or as a good idea.They fear being a salesperson and closinga sale for a luxury item or they think theyshould put it off until the service is completed.If this is the case in your store,some serious closing skills will need to bereviewed and practiced.How do you get started?First make sure that you have clean, nicedisplays and pictures that easily assessable.Better yet, have a new car close buy witha few good accessories installed. There isnothing better than getting the customers’senses involved. Make sure that the pricesand installation are given in one lumpsum. Most customers just want the totalprice and breaking it apart can raisequestions that could have easilybeen avoided.Next have a training sessionand ask each advisor tell yourgroup about an accessorythat he really likes. Maybeit’s already on his personalvehicle. You may only getthat it looks good, but this isstill a great place to start. Encourageeveryone to give a reason he may like theitem described. After everyone hasshared one item, put a challenge in placefor the next day or week. Whoever sellsthe most of his item gets—you name it! Ionce watched an advisor sell three sets ofmud flaps in one day because in hiswords, “They were an inexpensive solutionto all of the mud and dirt splashesthat ruin your paint and the look of yourcar as soon as you hit a puddle or drivethrough mud- and salt-covered roads.”Now I know this is not a high-ticket item,but think about three sets in one daytimes five days a week, times 22 workdays in a month. Are you starting to see$$$ yet? Need a little more to get youexcited? Just think what will happenwhen we add the second or third item!Watch out, aftermarket shops. We arefinally taking our customers back!Sally Whitesell is president of SallyWhitesell’s Service Solutions, atraining consulting company fordealerships. October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine p. 31
Body ShopNew Substrates areBuilding Vehicles toSTRONG StandardsBy Tim Morganith the steel manufacturingindustry step-Wping up to meet theneeds of vehicledesign, it has beenhard to stay on top of the not only thematerials on the design side but alsoreparability issues that may arise.Strengths of center sections havebecome the hot button in maintainingstructural integrity. While they areadding these new high-strength materials,they are finding hidden benefits ofreducing weight of the vehicle andsome cost reductions.Most manufacturers have seen the useof mild steel in production shifted tojust exterior body panels such as fendersand doors. And even in those casesmost panels are of a “bake-hardened”material.Bake and shakeThe combination of multiple materialsand applications has caused car makersto devise new joining and holdingprocesses.We have outlined materials in thepast, but let’s review some of the materialsthat are now commonplace. Theyinclude Boron, Dual Phase Materials,TRIP, Martensite, AHSS, UHSS,HLSA and laminated steels (QuietSteel).These materials are the latest wave tostrengthen and lighten the vehiclebody. These advanced steels are madewithout many changes to the formingprocess used for HSS. The majorchange between the conventional HSSand AHSS is giving it the strength ofHSLA. AHSS materials are cheaper tomake and process than that of HSLA.The two basic designs of AHSS givethe manufacturer the ability to formpanels easier and absorb crash energybetter than HSLA materials currentlybeing used in the industry.Shown here is multi-grade highstrengthsteel that is laser weldedtogether during the steel rollproduction so when parts arepunch pressed out they will havevarying strengths as the designrequires. These parts are called“Tailor Welded Blanks” or“Tailor Rolled Blanks.”This rail is one piece final pressusing a multi-grade sheet roll.p. 32 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
TRIP (Transformation Induced PlasticitySteel) is basically a microstructure ofaustenite combined with ferrite.Austenite is a solid solution of carbonfound in iron after it is heated to a highendcritical temperature. The austeniteproduces martensite when the material israpidly quenched and cooled. Muchmore carbon is used in TRIP and in DP.The difference from DP is that its hardnesscomes while being formed. As TRIPis stretched, it becomes hardened as itreaches its final stretching or strain limit.This is an advantage over DP material.During a crash event, TRIP steel canbecome stronger from the stretchingactivity absorbing more collision energy.More and more will we find DP/TRIPsteels being added to frame rails andother areas to absorb crash energy.(DP) Dual Phase steel has ferrite with themartensite material forming a bond nextto the ferrite material and not combining.(Sort of a floating hard connection.)Carbon is also used in the material andallows for additional hardening. Othermaterials added to give more strengthinclude manganese, chromium, nickel,vanadium or molybdenum. The vehiclemanufacturers supply the steel supplierwith restrictions and requirements of thematerial to be designed. Both DP andTRIP can also add strength to the materialwith a bake hardening process.Martensite steel is in the ultra-highstrength-steelcategory. This steel holdsstrength values higher than HSLA materialand is relatively inexpensive toprocess. This material is rolled hot andcooled (quenched) in order to strengthenthe material. An additional heat treatmentcan increase the strength even further.Quiet Steel, as the brand is known—or betterknown to the industry as laminatedsteel—was discovered back in 1999 hiddenin the cowl of the Ford Ranger pickup.It didn’t hit the repairer radar screenuntil it was advertised in Ford Motor Co.commercials that pointed out the ultraquietcab of the 2004 F-150 pick-upThis rail was crashed in a complete vehicle then a repair procedurepreformed to section the rail end. Then the vehile was re-crashed. In thesecond collision the rail reacted as the original, validating the repair process.truck. Its placement in the cowl andlower floor areas keep road noise to aminimum.A further benefit is that the manufacturerreduced weight by removing the normalacoustic insulation and placing polymersbetween two pieces of material.This polymer drastically reduces noise.Ford may be the first manufacturer to putThis vehicle contains 50 percentHigh Strength Steel (HSS). Mildsteel is only used in exterior panelsand portions of the floor pan.this into production, but it is not theonly one using these materials. GeneralMotors has many models using this materialand Chrysler has also been using thematerial for a long time. What has notbeen known for a long time is whatrepair issues come from these substrates.And these are just the most commonmaterials. Aluminum use in structurecontinues to grow. Exterior body panelsmade of aluminum, carbon fiber andeven magnesium radiator supports existin vehicles that we are currently repairing.Getting it rightEvery day it becomes more necessary tohave a blueprint of the locations of thesematerials.While compiling a complete database ofwhich vehicles are using material that isabove the standard mild steel grade seemslike a good idea, it may be easier to listthe vehicles made of average materials.That list would be shorter!Continued on p. 34October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine p. 33
The material used to form thisrail is of tubular design beforethe hydraformed press forces40-60,000 PSI of fluid through itto force the material to expandin the mold.Note that General Motors has implementedrepair processes for lower railsin areas that may contact laminatedsteel. That include rivet bondinginstead of normal weld processes.Maintaining the integrity of the polymersbetween the steel sheets andstructural integrity of the vehicle byfollowing manufacturers’ repair proceduresis key.MIG/MAG equipment can be usedwith some strict guidelines, accordingto the Quiet Steel Corp. technicaldepartment, but vehicle manufacturershold the ultimate responsibility tounderstand their structure.Use of the above steels such as DP infull-frame vehicles has increased thestrength of complete vehicles that otherwisewould have to be separated forrepairs. This, in fact, makes for tworepairs because the frame and bodyunits would have to be loaded independently.This adds economic concernsfor the customer, as well as theinsurance company paying for properrepairs.the same as the unibody. Along withthose concerns comes reparability.Repairability is an issue with the mostcommon-known AHSS or UHSS steelfound in today’s vehicles made withboron. Its strength characteristicscause several items to deserve attention.Pulling is not really an optionbecause as the collision energy makesthe panel harder than the originalstate. In order to pull the adjoiningpanels back into position, the boronpanel will need to be sliced in piecesin order to be flexible. Then whileremoving the spot welds, standard drillbits will not penetrate the weld.Special drill bits, a plasma torch or cutoffwheel will be required to penetratethe weld to remove the panels.The right supportStationary support of replacementparts has always been necessary.Anytime a panel is replaced—whethercomplete or sectioned following anOEM procedure—it needs proper holdingto make sure it doesn’t flex or distortduring welding or lose positionwhen using bonding materials.Looking at individual structuralrepairs, each manufacturer is different.For instance, connecting the 5 or 6Series BMW aluminum front sectionto the HSS steel center sectionrequires the vehicle to be stationary forat least 12 hours but total cure time is48 hours.The other issue concerning new builtsteels and repair is that tolerances ofthe build are lower, making the typical+ or – (plus or minus) smaller—almostThis vehicle combines a cast aluminum Strut tower bonded and rivetedto high strength (HSS) rails. With most collisions severe movement ofthe rails will cause the cast to crack requiring replacement.p. 34 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
This facility uses acurtain system thatretracts to containrepair areas. Typicallyan aluminum bay willrequire completeseparation from asteel work bay toavoid contamination.“Welding these newsteels has reallybecome the issue.”So if stationary support is necessary,what type should be used? Dedicated oruniversal? What has the best accuracy?What has the best vehicle coverage?While dedicated support (fixturing) hasbeen boasted as being the best with a “fitno fit” design, does it give the most beneficialbenefit to the shop that is notmanufacturer dedicated? With dedicatedsupport systems you have a limitedamount of models that are covered byindividual applications, which makes theinvestment in equipment greater.Universal systems have a greater range ofapplications. Some even allow the computerizedmeasuring system to documentthe fixture placement to have therequired printouts to verify the correctrepair. In fact, a dedicated fixturing systemcan prolong the process by fixturingfirst and measuring documentation as anadditional process. And, in fact, someThis vehicle Dodge Avenger/ Chrysler Sebring contains dual phasefront rails, boron inside A & B- pillars, high strength steel in upperaprons and rail crush cans and front reinforcement.fixtures are not designed to withstandpulling forces so they could become bentover time causing inferior repairs to followthe next time they are used. And ina fixture rental situation, did the personbefore you abuse what you are about touse?Welding these new steels has reallybecome the issue. Most manufacturersare moving to Boron and other highstrengthsteels requiring an invertor-typeresistance spot welder and, in somecases, silicon bronze or MIG brazingapplications.Looking further into aluminum, youmove into a new can of worms. Repairsinvolving both aluminum and steelbrings with it the need for separatedrepair areas, separate tools that have notcontacted steel vehicles, specializedpulse-type welders for MIG/MAG, anddent repair tools different from thosecommonly used on steel vehicles.As technology changes for vehicle safety,so must our tools, processes and thinking.Timothy W. Morgan is the global director of technicaltraining for Car-O-Liner. His experience inthe collision industry includes former technician,shop manager, business owner, and director/educatorof a collision repair-training program for a technicalcollege. October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine p. 35
AdministrationSEMA Show2007: YourGateway toIncreasedSales, GreaterProfitsBy Ellen McKoyutomobile dealers are fac-some tough chal-Ainglenges. Profits on in-stockunits continue to decline.Traditional service departmentrevenue is shrinking, thanksin large part to improvements invehicle performance and durability.Fixed and variable costs are rising.And the fallout from therecent mortgage crisis is having aneffect on automobile retailing.No wonder, then, that many dealersare looking for ways to movemore metal and pump up slimmargins. Fortunately, there’s amulti-billion dollar industry thatoffers myriad profit-generatingopportunities: Call it accessorizing,personalizing or restyling.Vehicle accessorization generates$36.7 billion annually in directretail sales. And more than 50 percentof that total comes from thesales of truck and auto accessories—thetypes of products dealerscan successfully merchandise atthe point of sale.What they buyIn case you haven’t noticed, yourcustomers don’t just buy cars andtrucks. They buy accessories, too,spending an average of $1,000 to$3,500 per vehicle annually to customizetheir rides. In fact, accordingto a recent telephone surveycommissioned by SEMA (theSpecialty Equipment MarketAssociation), 25 percent of adultAmerican drivers planned to purchaseaccessories within 90 days.What’s interesting, however, isthat these accessory purchases, likemost others, are likely to occurafter the vehicle sale. That leavesdealers out of the loop and out ofthe money.This presents both a challenge andan opportunity.p. 36 October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine
For more informationabout the second-annualExclusive WelcomeReception, or to register,send an e-mail email@example.com.Visit:www.SEMAShow.comfor more informationand to chart your coursethrough the show.How do you tap into consumer passionfor vehicle personalization and therebycapture a bigger piece of that action?Mark your calendar and head for LasVegas. Because there’s no better time orplace to mine this fertile ground than atthe annual SEMA Show at the Las VegasConvention Center, Oct. 30 throughNov. 2.Featuring more than 2,000 exhibitingcompanies, this year’s show is loadedwith innovative resources, merchandisingtools, marketing strategies and networkingopportunities. Everything is there,from the latest cutting-edge styling andperformance products for every type ofvehicle—be it a new or late-model car orlight-duty truck, hybrid or crossover—totools and equipment and otherresources, including more than a dozenOEM exhibits, designed to help dealerscreate new profit centers in fixed opsdepartments.While the main action occurs on theshow floor, this year’s SEMA Show alsofeatures a special program aimed exclusivelyat auto dealers. The program isjointly sponsored by Automotive News,the National Automobile DealersAssociation and SEMA.Kicking off the program on Wednesday,Oct. 31, is the Automotive News DealerForum: Creating New Profit Centersthrough Accessorization. Moderated bypublisher and Editor-in-Chief KeithCrain, the program will feature keynoterMartin Walsh, general manager forHUMMER division, and speakerAnnette Sykora, NADA chair elect. Theforum also includes a dealer panel, comprisedof Tom Carre, DTC Consulting;Bill Kolb Jr., Bill Kolb Jr. Subaru; and EdWoods, Ciener-Woods Ford, who willshare success stories and tips on how toimplement a successful accessory program.On Wednesday evening, immediately followingthe dealer forum, is the secondannual Exclusive Welcome Reception,co-hosted by Automotive News, NADAand SEMA. The invitation-only reception,welcoming auto dealers to theSEMA Show, is slated for 5:00 p.m. to6:30 p.m. at the Las Vegas ConventionCenter.More in storeAlso on tap: an all-new NADAHospitality Lounge. Conveniently locatednear the show floor in the Silver StateRoom, between Halls C1 and C2, thelounge is open exclusively to auto dealers.It’s the perfect place to relax,unwind, network with colleagues or holda casual meeting. The lounge will beopen daily during show hours, Tuesdaythrough Thursday. A show badge isrequired for admittance.Accessorizing is a proven strategy to generatemore sales at the high-profit end,and clearly the SEMA Show opens thedoor to new opportunities for auto dealers.It’s well worth the trip—you can’t tapthe potential sitting behind a desk.Come prepared. Check out the showWeb site ahead of time and chart yourcourse through the many special sectionsin the show. And be sure to wear comfyshoes. But when your feet do get tired—after all, the SEMA Show is literally milesof aisles—head for the NADA HospitalityLounge, kick back and relax.I’ll see you in Las Vegas!Ellen McKoy is senior director of dealer relationsfor the Specialty Equipment Market Association, atrade group representing more than 7,000 membercompanies that produce and market appearance,performance, comfort, convenience and technologyproducts for passenger cars, lightdutytrucks and recreational vehicles.October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine p. 37
New ProductsEziTrak MICRO Vehicle Security and Tracking System fromRojoneThis next-generation vehicle protection system conforms to FCCPart 15.101 and has been specifically designed as a more compactunit, using less power but offering customers increased featuresand greater suitability for all vehicles. It is an Australiandesignedand -manufactured monitoring, protection and GPStracking system, giving car and vehicle owners personalized selfmonitoringof their vehicle. This early warning anti-theft deviceis interactive and has no monthly or annual monitoring fees.Half the size of previous models, itmeasures 3.15 inches by 2.4 inches by1.38 inches. The outer casing has alow sheen black finish, which makesit even harder for thieves to locate,and the unit comes complete with aninternal vibration sensor.For information, circle 17 on RS card.Tire Display and Storage Fixtures from Marketing SupportServicesThe fixtures make tires andrims more prominent retaildisplays and generateincreased sales and customerretention. The standard-stockitems are nowavailable for showroom,drive thru, on-the-lot andstockroom needs.For information, circle 18on RS card.Mustang Shocks and Suspension Systems from BilsteinADVERTISERS DIRECTORYATcon Page 41Car People MarketingInside FrontCoverDealerPower / DME Pages 8and 9Gale Banks EngineeringInside BackCoverHunter EngineeringBack CoverInsignia Pages 19and 41Jeff Cowan's ProTalk Page 5Kaeser Compressors Page 15and 41Langka Page 10Mobile Productivity / MPi Pages 17and 41NitroFill Page 41Parker TireSaver Page 13PurigeN 98 Page 21Rousseau Metal Page 11Sally Whitesell's Service Solutions Pages 25and 41SSI / Schaefer Systems Page 41TSD Loaner Management Software Page 3ZAK Products Pages 2223 and 41The high-performance monotube gas pressure replacementshocks and struts are available for the newest generationMustang. The struts, featuring inverted tube technology, areengineered to provide maximum performance characteristics,standing up to the highest “G” forces, along with exceptionaldriver comfort. Race-inspired monotube gas pressure technologyreduce fade. The replacement shocks are available for 1979-86Mustang & GT (except SVO); 1987-93 Mustang LX/V8,GT/LX/Cobra; 1994-07 Mustang GT/V6; and 1999-04 MustangCobra.For information, circle 19 on RS card.p. 38 October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine
TorqueTubes, Monster Exhaust and Ram-Air for Jeep from GaleBanks EngineeringStarting with the2007 3.8L V-6Jeep WranglerJK Unlimitedfour-door aredurable, 100-percentstainless-steelexhaustmanifold assemblies—amatch with the 100-percent-stainless-steelexhaust system. The bolt-on assemblies aretuned to maximize exhaust extraction, whichminimizes backpressure and increases torque.The exhaust’s polished muffler flows 140 percent better thanstock and delivers a rich, authoritative sound. The products arealso available for 1991-02 2.5L I-4 and 1991-06 4.0L I-6 Jeeps.New for 1997-06 4.0L I-6 Jeeps is the company’s intake product,which more than doubles the stock airflow for increased powerand better mileage. Components are available separately or packagedtogether.For information, circle 20 on RS card.1 Minute Gasket Maker from PermatexThe new, advanced form-in-place gasket maker forms a quick,reliable seal that requires no curing time. Parts can be assembledimmediately and put back in service without delays or serviceinterruption.It can be used in place of most cut gaskets in non-fuel applications.It can be used to form any shape or size gasket, provides aconsistent seal on most surfaces, and works on scored or pittedsurfaces. The product protects against leaks caused by vibrationand thermal expansion, and has been fleet tested formore than 5 million “leak-free” miles in heavy-dutycommercial use. Made with a long-lasting elastomericrubber formulation, it can withstandtemperatures ranging from -75 degrees Fto 450 degrees F (-59 degrees C to 232degrees C) continuous and 500degrees F (260 degrees C) intermittent.It is sensor-safe andresistant to ATF, coolant, oiland other shop fluids.For information, circle 22on RS card.Precious Metals Series Spray-On Metallic Bed Liners fromCrystaLinerAutoSenz Overload Detection Technology from WildeckThe overload detection system, with easy-to-read graphical displayinterface, continuously monitors and protects vertical reciprocatingconveyors from jams or material overload conditions.The new system automatically determines the overload setpointeach time the VRC motor starts.Adding to an already impressive array of metallic options, thenew lineup includes copper, silver and gold, making for a colorfulpalette of choices for the increasingly customization orientedconsumer. This environmentally friendly product is guaranteednot to split, crack, peel, bubble or rot, when properly installed.The products are designed for long service life and to be weatherresistant under the harshest conditions.If material shifts and accidentally projects off the side of a VRCcarriage and enters the running/clearance zone, the materialcould become wedged between the carriage and side of the buildingor other surrounding equipment or structure. Since standardVRCs are designed to provide their full lifting force, anaccidental jam could cause severe equipment and facility damage.The system has been designed to stop the VRC in its tracksand alert the operator so corrective action can be taken. Theintegral digital controller communicates a wide range of functionaldata, VRC status, and a complete VRC event history.For information, circle 23 on RS card.This series, as well as the company’s others, are all 100-percentaliphatic and 100-percent solid, with no solvents or VOCs. Theycontain zero MDI in their formulation. MDI has been associatedwith safety and health concerns in the spray-on bed linerindustry.For information, circle 21 on RS card.October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine p. 39
New ProductsEnhanced RENTAL.NET Loaner Management Software from TSDVersion 2.9 of the software includes a new link to the UnitAvailability table directly from the Quote, Reservation or OpenAgreement screens. A new method of pricing and managing prepaidfuel costs and a location-specific setting, which will automaticallyplace vehicles in the “needs cleaning” status during thereturn process, add to the functionality of this Web-based carrental software.The Blazer 9000 Lube Pit straddle Lift from Devon IndustriesThe lube pit straddle hydraulic lift allows fast tire rotations andbrake inspections for nearly all kinds of vehicles, includingSUVs, fleet trucks and service vans. Because the tires can berotated in a matter of minutes, it allows dealers a high-profit servicewhile the vehicle’s oil is being changed. The ETL-certified israted for vehicles up to 9,000 pounds.Easily mounted to straddle an existing lube service pit will notinvade the service pit opening and is designed without crossbracing so technicians in the pit don’t have to duck while workingunder the vehicle being serviced. The unit may be purchasedwith a complete set of optional lift adapters allowing lube centersto safely service any vehicle within the 9,000-pound rating,reaching more customers in a very profitable market segment,and providing a service (tire rotations, inspections, etc.).For information, circle 26 on RS card.AVIC-N4 Navigation System from PioneerThe Unit Availability table provides a dashboard look at the statusof all units. This table is now easily accessible during anystage of the rental process. A question mark icon has been addedto the Quote, Reservation, and Open Agreement screens anddirectly links to this table. On the table, the counter agent canquickly see the status of every vehicle in the fleet. At the top, abox indicates the number of units available to rent.For information, circle 24 on RS card.Arago Alignment System for Volkswagen from Snap-on EquipmentThe alignment system is now available to dealers for servicingVolkswagen and Audi vehicles. Designated by Volkswagen as theVAS 6421, the patented Arago system is the only self-calibratingalignment machine in the world. It offers true three-dimensionalmodeling and measurements of scrub radius, caster trail,rolling radius and diagonal offsets used to detect frame damage.For information, circle 25 on RS card.The DVD-based in-dash navigation system serves as the hub forinformation, communication and entertainment in the car byproviding drivers with detailed route guidance, audio and videoplayback and connectivity to popular portable devices. The systemfeatures nearly 12 million points of interest, XM NavTrafficintegration, voice prompting, telephone number search, CD,DVD and compressed audio playback, iPod audio and video integration,expanded Bluetooth capabilities—including wirelessaudio streaming—all controllable through a high-quality 7-inchtouch-panel display.The system presents consumers with detailed mapping and guidancefor the entire United States, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii utilizingtwo regional DVD ROM discs. Once a destination isentered, the system provides easy to follow, step-by-step routeguidance followed up with helpful audio prompts to assist drivers.The system displays detailed lane information at complexhighway interchanges to further prepare drivers for upcomingturns and exits.For information, circle 27 on RS card.p. 40 October 2007Fixed Ops Magazine
MarketplaceFor information, circle 28 on RS card.For information, circle 29 on RS card.For information, circle 30 on RS card.For information, circle 31 on RS card.• Premium Fluid Maintenance Programs• Industry Leading Equipment Placement Programs• Service Advisor Sales Training• Technician Trainingwww.zakproducts.com• Innovative POS Materials 1-800-514-6011• Effective Customer Retention ProgramsFor information, circle 32 on RS card.For information, circle 33 on RS card.Feature your company, product or serviceon this Marketplace page and reach theFixed Operations Directors at every newvehicle dealership in the United States withour monthly circulation to 24,000 readers.Contact Nick West at 877-349-3367or Nick@FixedOpsMag.comFor information, circle 34 on RS card.For information, circle 35 on RS card.October 2007 Fixed Ops Magazine p. 41
ProfileIt’s Only Rock ’N‘ Roll(But He Likes It)By Sarah HumphreysHe’s just a singer in two rockand-rollbands—and a fixed opsdirector at three auto dealerships.Yes, Steve Marvel has the best of bothworlds, performing on guitar and vocalsin his two bands, Public Eye and Wordof Mouth, and working at Tracy (Calif.)Honda, Tracy Mazda and the newDublin Nissan. But there was a timewhen music was his only love.One need only look at a photo ofMarvel at age 3 with a guitar in his handand cool shades over his eyes to knowwhere his lifetime passion would lie. Byage 12 he was playing out. At 20, he leftthe University of Delaware to pursuemusic full time, enrolling in the in theCollege for Recording Arts in SanFrancisco and working in studios.p. 42 October 2007Steve MarvelFor about five years, he worked as a studioengineer, playing music at the sametime. A single from his band, RubyShoes, received radio play throughoutthe country in 1987.“We did a lot of Bay Area performancesand touring throughout California,”Marvel says. “But ultimately the bandbroke apart.”Another band called Atticus Finch felljust short of record contract.“At that point I decided to just cash it in,”he says, explaining it was time to findother career alternatives. “I decided toform cover bands to keep playing musicin clubs and started selling cars in 1990.”He has played with Public Eye since1993, and later formed Word of Mouthwhen family scheduling conflicts interferedwith his playing as much as hewanted to with Public Eye. Both bandscover “danceable rock and roll, from U2to the Beatles and a little Motown withjust the right mix of some ’70s andfunk—all with a rock-and-roll edge.”Now he’s playing out at Bay Area venuesthree to six times a month between bothbands and his own acoustic solo performances.Public Eye has played at festivalswith crowds as large as 15,000.“The thing that I enjoy most aboutmusic is seeing other people have a greattime—seeing other people enjoy whatwe’re doing,” he says. “That’s the highfor me.”Marvel says people chide him about hisvery full plate, which, of course, includeshis busy day job. Working as a fixed opsdirector since 1997, he recently madethe switch to two—now three—dealerships.The stores are owned by theHarvey family, who he says, “provide agreat atmosphere for employees,” wherehe feels “part of a winning organization.”But rock and roll never forgets, and neitherdoes Marvel.“I plan to do it until I take a dirt nap!”he says. “As long as I’m physically able todo it. It’s my true passion in life besidesmy family and career.”Sarah Humphreys is editor of Fixed Ops magazine. Public Eye performsOct. 27 at theHalloweenCelebration at theMain Street Breweryin Pleasanton, Calif.If you know someone whobelongs on this page, contactEditor Sarah Humphreys firstname.lastname@example.org (714) 271-4224.Fixed Ops will buy you lunch!Fixed Ops Magazine
For information, circle 3 on RS card.
For information, circle 1 on RS card.