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  • Your Management Consultant - What’s Your Brand?
    Branding has been around for a very long time. Ancient Egyptians are thought to have invented branding as early as 2700 BC. The purpose was to differentiate their cattle from others. Modern businesses use branding for the same purpose, to differentiate their products from others. Effective branding creates equity and adds value, so that you compete on that value and not on price. This value also creates emotional attachment with your ideal customer. When your customers feel like this, they will drive past countless other shops on their way to your shop because you have built a brand that they trust.
  • Management Matters - Hiring Without Tears (and Hopefully Lawsuits)!
    About 11% to 12% of smaller businesses face a discrimination lawsuit every year based on a limited number of reports. According to studies, some states are worse than others for the employers. But you must assume you are at risk. That alone should make a few minutes with this article valuable.
  • Management Matters: Caught You!
    According to the National Federation of Independent Business, some 30% of employees may well be stealing from you today. They go on to say this number increases if an employee is given the motive and opportunity. Using some data provided by the 2017 study by Hiscox, the dollars are not small. One employee could be stealing thousands right off your bottom line. In the next few minutes we’ll take a look at the issue, who tends to be responsible and strategies to deal with the problem.
  • How Effective Is Your Labor Rate? Do customers care?
    The automotive repair industry has evolved so much. Years ago, it was a simple trade that was fairly straight forward. Today, we are involved in a technological profession that is becoming more complex and demanding every day. The equipment, technology and tooling required for a modern shop are far more expensive than ever before. Shop owners and managers will tell you that keeping up with the demand can be all but impossible.
  • Cut Costs for Greater Profits
    Last month we launched a short series on ideas to make 2018 the most profitable year ever for you and your shop. Today we focus on cutting costs. I will admit that some of these may come under the heading of “Duh.” However, if you are like me, being reminded once in a while and pausing to consider the idea may just open new profit avenues for you.
  • Management Matters: You and the Boxer! Profit & Loss
    Back in the day I fashioned myself as an amateur heavyweight boxer. Bad move. I was only training a couple of evenings a week and I was terrible! As long as I could get a guy to the ropes and hold him there I was OK. Running around the ring was not my strength.
  • Collective Action Is the Answer
    If you have been around the transportation industry for any length of time, the phrase “technician shortage” has to be a familiar one. Other than a brief respite during the Great Recession from 2008 into 2009, this has been the most talked about issue in the industry, bar none. And “talked about” is a generous term. A more apt description might be “talked to death.”
  • Four Interviewing Tips to Help You Hire Superstar Techs
    We all know it’s getting harder and harder to find the superstar techs, but finding those stars is just the beginning. Once found, you need to interview them like a seasoned pro. Here are some interviewing tips that we share with our Elite Coaching clients:
  • Thinking Retirement: Management Matters
    Business Editor Tom Langer looks at retirement planning that you may not be familiar with.
  • Save Money & Understand Your GK and Liability Policies
    Business Editor Tom Langer explains why shops should review their garage-keepers and liability insurance.
  • Management Matters - Mentoring for Profits
    Unless you have an unending number of amazing technicians wandering in your shop looking for work, and who want to work for you, this article is very important to your future and that of our industry! It’s all about how you can improve your current talent pool while providing specific career paths, recruiting and growth opportunities for the techs in your shop. And, it is that group who will in great part determine your profitability, customer satisfaction, value of your shop some day when you want out and, simply, your stress and enjoyment levels.
  • A Peak into the Future of Auto Repair
    To this day I remember the headlines and photos in Mechanics Illustrated showing cars that rocketed throughout space from one space port to the next. Then there were the cars that would turn magically into airplanes or boats. Thanks to the Amphicar, at least one came to be!
    Go forward in time. I am in a high school class of an English teacher who was a science fiction fanatic. At the same time, I think he had a bit of concern that the world would one day be at the hands of tyrant leaders. We read books like 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and others. As one looks around today, seems too much of all this has come true!
  • How About Some Money for Your Business?
    Borrowing money is as American as apple pie, it seems. Nowhere is this truer than for our business needs. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the key terms, loan designs, borrowing options and more.
  • The Future of Health Insurance Legislation
    Part of this article has been on my computer for the past five months. Every time I sat in front of the computer something happened to derail the latest version of the health and insurance program proposed by President Trump and the House of Representatives. While I am no longer going to stake my future on the exact plan design, there are some basic provisions that seem to show up in every design discussed to date. And though the House bill just passed, its future in the Senate as it exists is likely troubled. The reason is that there are provisions that make some lawmakers nervous. So, that you might have a better idea of what seems to be evolving, we’ll take a few minutes and discuss what’s on the table as of this writing.
  • Lessons from Large Companies
    What does General Electric, Ford Motor Co., Westinghouse and Bosch have in common with us in our shops? They have exactly the same challenges and issues we do, only a lot more of them and likely many more years to learn.
  • More Money, More Time, High Productivity!
    Would you like a shop that makes more money, has more productive techs, with techs who are more committed than ever to the shop and their fellow techs? How about lowering your worker’s comp premium or just simply making your shop a better place to live and you and your employees happier? If any of this appeals to you, please take a few minutes and read on!
  • Marketing to Generations: Part Dieu – Boomers
    Last month we discussed marketing to millennials. As you recall, we found that millennials are a huge population segment that is moving to become our major source of business in short order. And, as you may remember, it was my conclusion that you ignore this group, and their different buying traits, at your own peril.
  • Marketing to Millennials IS Possible!
    “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
    What great words to begin this article. Simply put, if you are not adapting to the huge “Echo Boomers” of people born between in the early 1980s and the early ’00s, you are at risk of being run over. Or possibly scarier is that you may be setting up your kids for disaster, which as a dad is something none of us wishes to contemplate.
  • Forecast ‘Trumped’ by the Election
    This 2017 forecast is being rewritten for the fourth time. All changed a number of Tuesdays ago with the elections. Not only President-Elect Trump, but what took place in the Congress and the various state capitols was not only a surprise for many, but also has an impact on next year’s economic and shop outlook.
  • Management Matters: Absolute or Preference? It's Your Choice
    Every year I try to wrap up by sharing research and information relative to helping our readers learn something that might make their next year better. Well, after talking with a therapist friend at length this year, I believe I’ve developed a great theme for this year’s article.
  • Regulation Update: Understanding the Regulatory Environment
    There are two driving forces outside of our industry that have had the greatest effect on the direction it has taken the past 40 plus years. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) have both influenced the development of cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles from the gas guzzlers of the ’60s and ’70s to today’s highly technical powertrains.
  • Management Matters: Already Feeling the Winter Doldrums?
    Here in the great state of Wisconsin, we already have snow and we’re changing oil in our snow blowers, checking the shovel inventory and buying the bags of salt. And, the winter race is on!
  • Management Matters: Too Small To Worry? Hardly!
    The attorney across the desk said we had three options when my grandfather died:
     
    1. Figure out how much money we owed for the shops, auto inventory and the rest in estate taxes and write a check. It wasn’t happening, there was not enough money.
    More...
  • Management Matters: Making Money On Performance

    This month we learn how to make money with high-performance services. After all, high-performance work is enjoyable as a rule, and we sure all like the vehicles. However, we can’t operate as charities for very long and keep our businesses afloat.

  • Management Matters: By The Book - To Share Numbers or Not
    Here’s the question: Does sharing profit-and-loss numbers with employees improve profitability and profits in a shop? This issue, which might seem simple on the surface, unearthed an absolute hornet’s nest of opinions ranging all over the board. People were adamant about their positions.
  • Management Matters: What’s a Co-op Marketing Program Have to Do with My Shop?
    After all of the years, I should know by now that Jim Wilder never hands out an easy assignment! So, initially I thought that there wasn’t much to say about co-op marketing for auto repair businesses.
  • Management Matters: Controlling the Cost Levers, Part 3
    So far we’ve looked at the levers for marketing and pricing. In this article we’ll tackle the third leg of the profit stool, costs. While many have said to me that there is no way to control costs. Insurance costs what it costs right along with parts and utilities. And one must be diligent about paying wages high enough to attract and keep great talent. Well, needless to say, if I agreed with this statement, I wouldn’t bother to write this article!
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ABOUT US
Undercar Digest serves automotive-repair facilities involved in undercar services that include brake, exhaust and chassis diagnostics and repairs. It also covers a variety of other repairs including drivability. In addition to shops, our readers include manufacturers, warehouse distributors and parts stores that serve them.

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