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Onlinemechanix.com is a new and revolutionary website that vehicle owners can use to find a local mechanic, schedule their service appointment online, and instantly track their vehicles’ maintenance history, all for free. It’s like OpenTable for auto repair!

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Should I purchase winter tires for my car?

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Many car owners ask themselves this question at one point or another, especially if their car is rear-wheel drive. I have been contemplating the decision on whether to buy winter tires or not over the last week and have finally made up my mind. However, before I disclose my decision, I would like to share some information about my background and some of the resources I used to educate myself.

 

The main reason I started thinking about purchasing winter tires is that I recently purchased a rear-wheel drive car. Rear-wheel drive cars, as opposed to front-wheel drive cars, notoriously do not handle wheel in bad weather. Front-wheel drive cars have an advantage because of all the weight from the engine sitting on top of the tires that propel the car.  Obviously, rear-wheel drive cars do not have this advantage.  But this was not enough to justify the purchase.

 

My research began with a simple Google search and I discovered some interesting facts. The first article I found had a really cool video. In the video there were three cars on an ice skating rink. The three cars each had a different type of tire (Performance tire, All-Season tire, and Winter tire). The premise of the video was basically a challenge between the three. The tires where compared using two tests. The first was straight line braking and the second was taking a turn at 10 MPH. Here is a link to the video. Now that you have watched the video, I am going to assume that you are as surprised as I was to see how much better the winter tires performed on the slick skating rink. It was really astonishing to see how tire design can really make all the different in the performance of a given tire on a particular surface.

 

That video allowed me to come to the conclusion that I should purchase winter tires. I then performed one more search to see what the best winter tire is. My research discovered that there are many different types of winter tires and that each tire has different characteristics.  I found an interesting article that Car and Driver published, which compares several winter tires. This article goes into great detail on the advantages and disadvantages of the different winter tires. It also has results of a Car and Driver test.

 

I hope this information helps with your decision on purchasing winter tires.

 

What are your thoughts? Are winter tires worth it?

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The Benefits of Onlinemechanix.com to Consumers

Onlinemechanix.com is a new website providing consumers the ability to schedule an online auto repair appointment with their local mechanic. A consumer can go on the website and search for a local mechanic. When he or she finds one he/she likes, he/she can schedule an online appointment for any type of auto repair and request a price quote. Once the appointment is made, onlinemechanix.com will automatically keep track of the consumer’s entire vehicle service and maintenance history. Each member receives an online garage to track all their vehicles’ maintenance records once they sign up.

Benefits of using onlinemechanix.com:

  1. Schedule an appointment 24/7, even when the shop is closed. If you schedule by phone you need to schedule during the shop’s working hours, which may not fit your busy schedule. Also by scheduling online you provide convenience to the auto repair shop as they do not have to stop what they are doing and answer the phone.
  2. The convenience of online scheduling. You can do this at work when you are on the computer or before going to bed at night.
  3. If you use more than one auto repair shop for different services (muffler at one shop, transmission at another shop and inspection at yet another shop) you can track all the services on one site for all the shops.
  4. If you move to another state, you can search for a local auto repair shop and maintain your vehicle’s service history when you make an appointment with onlinemechanix.com. If a shop is not yet a member of onlinemechanix.com a consumer can ask the shop to join and the shop can register on the site. Onlinemechanix.com is free to auto repair shops and consumers.
  5. Onlinemechanix.com will automatically track all vehicle service history automatically for registered members. The importance of vehicle service history to the consumer are:
    1. Makes it easier to sell your car by private party if you have all the service history for your car and you are more likely to get a fair asking price.
    2. When you trade your car in to a dealer for another car you are more likely to get a fair trade-in value if you can show your vehicle service history.
    3. Up to date vehicle service records can help remind you when your car is in need of service.

The end result of using onliemechanix.com to schedule all your auto repair appointments is improved convenience and efficiency for both the consumer and auto repair shop. What do you think?

Attention Car Owners: 3 Maintenance Items You Don’t Want to Neglect

I’m sure we have all gone over the recommended miles between oil changes and we haven’t taken our cars to the mechanic as soon as the brakes start to squeal. However, with car ownership comes responsibility. Without proper maintenance a car will not last very long. According to Forbes, “the average price of a new car or light truck in April was just a shade over $30k. $30,303 to be exact, which represents a $1200 increase over last year.”

Since a car can cost so much, it only makes since to meticulously maintain it in order to ensure it lasts a long time. Here are three maintenance items you don’t want to miss.

 1. Oil Changes

            Neglecting to change your car’s oil can be very costly. According to the Christian Science Monitor, “An engine replacement on that same car would cost more than $4,000!” Keep in mind that going 100 miles over the recommended miles between oil changes most likely will not result in a blown engine; however, stretching the limit into the thousands can mean trouble. With the average cost of an oil change at $20.55, according to automotive-fleet.com, it is a no brainer to change your car’s oil when needed. Not to mention, an oil change will only take about 30 minutes to complete at a local repair shop.

 2. Brakes

            Your car’s brakes play a very important role to it functioning properly. After all, they bring your car to a stop. There are several components to your car’s braking system that need to be maintained. The first are the rotors and brake pads. After a while, duration of rotor and pad life varies by vehicle, the rotors and pads on your car will need to be replaced. Replacing rotors and pads can be costly, but because of their function should not be neglected. The second component is the hydraulic brake fluid. Most cars have an indicator light on the dashboard, which will display a warning light when the fluid is low. However, just opening the hood and checking the level once and a while is a good idea. The last component is the brake lines. This is the least troublesome area, especially for newer cars.

 3. Cooling System

            Your car’s engine operates at a very high temperature when fully warmed. A normal engine operating temperature would be between 190 degrees Fahrenheit and 240 degrees Fahrenheit on some cars. Because of these high operating temperatures a car’s engine needs to be continuously cooled. The main components of a car’s cooling system are a radiator, fan, thermostat, and coolant. Radiators can last for years and usually are only an issue on older cars. However, making sure that your car has sufficient coolant level is very important and regularly checking the coolant level will ensure that your cars stays on the road. 

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Cloud Technology Making it Possible for Every Auto Repair Shop to Accept Online Appointments

What is Cloud Technology? Basically Cloud Computing is “The Internet”.  According to Zach Nelson, CEO of cloud software vendor NetSuite,  “ In its most basic fundamental form, the cloud is the internet as a business or consumer platform. On top of that, a whole host of new services, consumer and business, are being built. It is the next stage of the evolution of the internet.”

So instead of installing and maintaining software on your personal computer, you can go on the internet where the “software” resides and with your user name and password access your secure version of the software on your computer. The software will usually reside in hardware stored in secure climate controlled data centers by a service provider such as Microsoft Azure. They have buildings with thousands of servers stacked up and sell space on those servers to other companies, so they can have their software accessible to their customers.  

Security on the cloud is considerably more secure than on your personal computer. Having all those servers requires the vendor, in this case Microsoft, to ensure security of its network by employing advanced firewalls and assuring accounts can only be accessed by authorized users. So the software you access is not in your computer but in the “Cloud” of server farms connected to the Internet.

So how does the Cloud effect online appointment scheduling for auto repair? There is a new company called Onlinemechanix.com that created a website in the Cloud called www.onlinemechanix.com designed specifically to provide auto repair shops the ability to accept online appointments. Consumers can access the site anywhere in the US and search for a local auto repair shop, then are able to schedule an online appointment with that shop. The appointment goes directly to the auto repair shop’s email address and its onlinemechanix.com account.  When the shops gets the email in real time, they will log into onlinemechanix.com where they access a comprehensive calendar scheduling system to confirm the appointment (or propose a better time) and also are able to track all appointments, including phone and walk in appointments. This system is separate from the shop’s system and will not interfere. If the shop does not have a computer based scheduling system it can use onlinemechanix.com to track all of its appointments. All a shop needs to do to become a member is register right on their home page and fill in the information. The shop does not need a website (in fact the shop can use its onlinemechanix.com URL as its website) to join, but the shop will need an email address that it regularly use, so that it can receive appointments. Now every auto repair shop will be able to accept online appointments, since it is now FREE to join.

 

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Why Become a Female Friendly Auto Repair Shop?

What does “A Female Friendly Auto Repair Shop” mean? Most auto repair shops are nice to women and men, right Actually being a female friendly auto repair shop means going a step further. According to Pinterest a female friendly auto repair shop means “…. you will enjoy CLEAN, lovely restrooms stocked with things women need and love! Lounge is Comfy, child friendly, equipped with Wifi and you will always be treated with respect!”. The key ingredient is “treated with respect.” People are naturally defensive when confronted with information that they do not understand.  A shop in the Dallas/Ft. Worth recently converted to a female friendly auto repair shop, “explaining things the best I can without trying to get too technical and trying to help them understand the importance of the actual repair I’m doing is a key ingredient to our success as a female friendly auto repair shop.”

Their customers in turn appreciate their concern for assuring they clearly understand the repair, “They treated me like they had known me for years and they hadn’t.” Bradford is sold on the shop’s fair prices, friendliness and strong customer service. She’s not alone. Customer Monica Dunn says, “They talk to you like a person.”

An auto repair shop can convert to a female friendly auto repair shop at minimum by assuring clean bathrooms, nice waiting area and treating women with respect. Also, as with men, the mechanic needs to be honest and transparent about any additional cost above and beyond the initial quote. The mechanic may be the most honest person on earth but if he/she does not explain things clearly the customer will not trust their opinion.

Women make 80% of all buying decisions; so assuring your shop is a female friendly auto repair shop can only result in growing your business. On the other hand if your shop has an unattractive waiting area, an uninviting restroom, and the people that interact with the customers do not treat them with respect; it could result in losing business.

Using Technology to Grow Your Auto Repair Business

August 2, 2012 1 comment

Many auto repair mechanics are not tech savvy resulting in the fact that many auto repair shops do not effectively use technology to grow their businesses. Many shops I looked up don’t even have a website. According to Jen Davis “It is also necessary to have a social networking and Internet presence as well, in order to grow your [auto repair] business.”

 

Below are some tips on how to use technology to grow your business:

 

  1. Create Facebook and Twitter accounts for your repair shop. This will attract a following of consumers you can tap to announce specials at your shop. However, make sure to stay active and share with your followers. If not, you might never get any.
  2. Have a web presence and create a website for your shop. If this is not possible, find a cloud company like onlinemechanix.com that offers a free web page, online appointment scheduling for your customers, and online vehicle history reports. This is a great way to start building a web presence.
  3. Write blogs about your business that informs consumers about car care and/or tips on diagnosing car problems.
  4. Make sure you are included in public search engines like AutoMD, RepairPal, and Onlinemechanix.com.

 

Offering technologies such as online scheduling of appointments and online vehicle service history reports are great ways to improve customer service at your shop. Onlinemechanix.com offers those services for free. Online appointments also help reduce the number of phone call interruptions at the shop, so that your time is spent on work that brings in revenue.

 

Auto repair shops need to embrace technology and use it every chance they get to attract new customers and retain them. Some may be intimidated by the internet and not see its true value. But people are spending more and more time on the internet and if your shop has little or no web presence you could see your business shrink while those that have embraced technology will see their business grow.

 

How has technology helped your business?

Repair Shop Best Practices for Online Appointment Scheduling

After talking with several member shops from Onlinemechanix.com we have developed three best practices for online appointment scheduling. These three best practices really stand out as key success factors to providing better customer service and ensuring success when using Onlinemechanix.com.

The three best practices are:

  1. Check email regularly throughout the day.
    • Every shop owner we talked to checks his email at least every morning and a majority check twice a day. Not only does this allow the shop owner to see if any online appointments have been made with his shop, but also gives him a chance to see if any customers have sent the shop an email to ask a general question. Most shops have an email address listed on their website that consumers can use to contact the shop. Now with the addition of Onlinemechanix.com there is extra incentive to check email as an appointment could have come in. Since online appointments take less effort to schedule these appointments are more profitable than phone appointments. Phone appointments are disruptive to repair shops’ daily repair schedule, require resources to handle and may not always be productive (sales calls, wrong numbers, etc.). Online appointment confirmation can be done in your free time during the day without disrupting the business of your shop. This increase in profit for shops is a great driver to increase the number of online appointments.
  2. Include your unique Onlinemechanix.com URL on your shop’s website.
    • Over 50% of the shops we talked to have included their shop’s unique Onlinemechanix.com URL into their website, so visitors can easily schedule their appointment online. Most auto repair shops have a website, but do not have online scheduling. Using the unique URL that Onlinemechanix.com provides member shops is the easiest and cheapest way to have a website that has online scheduling.  The shops we talked to said that web designers have quoted them hundreds of dollars to be able to accept online appointments from their website and just posting the Onlinemechanix.com unique URL was a fraction of the cost.
  3. Tell customers about the scheduling online.
    • Since appointments that are scheduled online are cheaper to attain, shops that have the most success tell each and every customer about the new offerings. The member shops of Onlinemechanix.com are finding that their customers really love the convenience of scheduling 24/7 and the free online vehicle maintenance records. When a customer knows that these services are available they tend to continue visiting the shops that have informed them to ensure they can keep up-to-date online vehicle records and to continue scheduling auto repair appointments at their leisure.

Can you think of any other tips for repair shops?

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