StartRight EQ Online

StartRight EQ

Online

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Find out not only if they can but if they will!


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Version 5.1 of the Electronic Repair Order Analysis (EROA) is now available. The new version offers many improvements and new features. Click here to learn more about this powerful report package.


ATcon is a management consulting firm for automobile and truck dealers specializing in Fixed Operations Consulting and Service Advisor Training. We generally avoid the segregation between service, parts and body shop. By utilizing a holistic approach to consulting we facilitate and enhance the potential for success and greater profitability.

Consulting companies have long made the mistake of categorizing themselves as service, parts, or body shop specialists. We believe our potential clients are best served and have the right to expect assistance in all of these areas, as well as recognition of the need for coordination between departments to achieve the desired results.

ATcon is known for its “clean sheet” approach to consulting. We understand fully that no business has the same situation. Therefore each consulting activity results in recommendations tailored to the individual client.


Which department do you work for?
27 Mar : 08:05  by Webmaster

Do you work for Parts?


Do you work for Service?


Do you work for the Collision Center?


Or do you work for Fixed Operations?


Over the years I have been in the automobile business it has always surprised and confused me as to why some Service & Parts Departments don't work together. In some cases they work against each other. I often hear the same story, “I don’t get paid on parts” or “I don’t get paid on labor,” but can either of these departments successfully function without the other?


Clearly the answer is NO. I can't say pay plans are the sole cause of this friction but they can have some involvement. Sometimes it's just the power play between managers.


When two departments are not working as one, it's like a quarterback not working with the receivers or running backs. The team just won't win.


I have never seen a quarterback throw the ball and then run downfield and catch it and then run it in for the touchdown.


I have never seen a successful Service or Parts Department that doesn’t work together. If you are experiencing this type of discord, ATcon can help with building pay plans or processes that will assist on correcting this concern.


Contact Bob Kellerman (205) 834 – 6376 bkellerman@atconsse.com

Or visit us at: www.atconsse.com

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Here comes the sun
11 Mar : 08:27  by Webmaster

In many parts of the country we are waiting for the next change of season-what does the change of season mean to you? Sure, it means more golf, fishing, baseball, camping and all the other outdoor enjoyment we have been looking forward to; especially after this year’s “Polar Vortex”.


But what does it mean to you as a business professional? Your customers are planning their vacations and staycations, they need to have their vehicles serviced to ensure a no-car-problem season.


A concern is that many customers plan the house at the beach, tickets to the theme park, airfare, etc.- but it seems like the last thing they plan for is the car service. They tend to be very last minute when it comes to having vehicle services done.


Are you ready to handle their “emergency” services? They need it NOW!! Have you looked at what your RO count has been the last few spring and summer months? Have you considered what type of RO increase you might expect since the economy is getting better meaning more disposable income for customers to spend on their vehicles?


At the same time the customers want their time away, so do our employees. Have you reviewed your employees for when they want to take vacations, and planned accordingly?


Once you consider all this data, how are you going to adjust your schedule to be there for the customers-the ones that make reservations, and just as important, the ones who show up for the “I need it now” services? How are you going to market the next season?


You could just wish and hope for the best, but that rarely works.


Need help planning your Scheduling, Marketing or Overall Operations,

Contact Bob Kellerman (205) 834 – 6376 bkellerman@atconsse.com

Or visit us at: www.atconsse.com

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The automobile business is an ever changing cycle
22 Jan : 14:09  by Webmaster

The automobile business is an ever changing cycle. How are you staying up with the changes in our industry? What will 2014 look like to our business?


You have been doing your job for some time. The vehicles change over model years, the warranty changes, processes change-but do you change? How do you know when you need to change?


Maintenance needs have changed, how about your menus?


More and more customers are following the dash light reminder, not the mileage.


Do you have a plan for Maintenance Reminders?


How about leasing customers? Most leases are short terms of 2-3 years; so customers have no vested interest in the long term life of the vehicle.


How do you sell maintenance to these customers?


A recent article in Automotive News states the largest growth in auto sales is Certified Pre- Owned.


Do you have plan to market to these customers? They are the future. And of course, how do you market and retain the next generation of customers- the Gen Y?


For help with the changing cycle of automotive service and the 2014 changes,


Contact Bob Kellerman at (205) 834–6376 or bkellerman@atconsse.com

Or visit ATcon at: www.atconsse.com

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Welcome to 2014!
07 Jan : 15:55  by Webmaster

Well, here we are at the beginning of another year, bemoaning our weight gain during the holidays and committing to “trim down” as soon as the last of the Christmas cookies are gone.


As I reflect on the past year, I of course see opportunities for improvement this year; but I also am aware of the many blessings we received in 2013.


Our staff continues to be in good health. Our business has evolved into a more individual client relationship based endeavor, and I don’t believe any of us received the dreaded lump of coal from Santa.


Our business is best pursued in these individualistic efforts with our client partners, and we look forward to a continuation of this process. We have also been afforded the opportunity to broaden our horizons in the type of businesses we are serving; and frankly, are finding this both challenging and mutually beneficial.


Our greatest hope for all of our clients and friends is that 2014 will be a year of both success and growth both professionally and personally.


Happy New Year from ATcon!


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Where do you manage from?
17 Dec : 13:50  by Webmaster

In today's average service department the Service Manager has to do many clerical tasks.


We have to track the labor sales our advisors are doing, we have to track the production of our technicians, we have to track reservations, we have to track CSI, we have to track expenses, and we have to track e-mails and information we receive from the manufacturers.


And that only gets us to 9am; clearly the list goes on and on.


But what is most important for a manager to do?


I feel it's managing the customers, being out on the drive, in the service office, in the customer lounge, in the showroom-wherever the customers are.


I spend about 4 days per week in different service departments around the country.


There is a clear difference in the overall quality of service operations when the managers spend at least half of the day on the drive. You can't run a department from a computer or locked in an office.


I know you have to deal with the reports, e-mails etc., but all the paperwork and electronic communication is useless if we don't have customers.


It's clearly a challenge. You can't be out there for 4 straight hours, but you can set a schedule to do some office work for an hour or so; then out to the drive for an hour, then on to the next task and again back to the drive.


I am often told by managers they just can't do it, so how do the successful ones get it done?


Through focus and commitment.


Sure some days it won't work, as well others it will work fine; just make the commitment to get it done.


For help with setting schedules and generally managing your department,


Contact Bob Kellerman at (205) 834–6376 or bkellerman@atconsse.com


Or visit ATcon at: www.atconsse.com

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Announcing StartRight EQ Online
31 Oct : 11:17  by Webmaster

Find out not only if they can but if they WILL!!!!!!


The process of hiring the right person for the dealership can be a terribly frustrating and costly process. Despite our best efforts it seems that we either can’t find a person with the requisite skill or if they have the skill they fail to use it once we hire them.


Dr. Ron Trego has broken this code and ATcon is pleased to have been chosen as the conduit to bring the solution to you. Dr. Trego has, after exhaustive research and practical application, developed a tool which will allow you to screen any job applicant for the position of vehicle sales, service advisor (ASM), or technician for both capability and motivation to perform. This tool is so good that in many cases the actual level of performance can be forecasted. Think about this in terms of knowing how many flat rate hours a technician will contribute to you shop prior to hiring them!


ATcon is pleased to now offer this product in online form


Click on the link below for a more in-depth description of the tool, pricing, and ordering information.


StartRight EQ Online

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It’s the 4th Quarter
08 Oct : 13:10  by Webmaster

It's the 4th Quarter your team (Department) is on the 25 yard line. All you need to do is move the ball a short distance. The goal post is in sight. You set the goal post last year when you did your forecast for the upcoming year. How has your team faired so far this year?


How many touch downs (months you exceeded your goal) did you have this year?


How many times were you sacked? (Months you were way off your goal)


What is your plan to finish these last few yards?


Are you going to just go out and play hard? Hope to score, or do you have a plan?


In most areas of the country the last quarter can be a tough grind (Kids went back to school; Holidays take up some of the customers time and money.)


What's your plan? Have you worked out some creative advertising? Are you holding new car or customer clinics? Are you using e-mail blasts? Web site advertising, or standing out in front of the dealership yelling “Come on in”?


If you expect to win the game you need to get your team ready and devise a play that will help you score.


For help with your 4th quarter or 2014 plans contact Bob Kellerman at (205) 834–6376 or bkellerman@atconsse.com

Or visit ATcon at: www.atconsse.com

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Who's the Teacher?
09 Sep : 08:32  by Webmaster

How do we gain our education in the automotive industry?


We have learned how to do our jobs from our previous experience, from co-workers. We learn from our supervisors, we learn from manufacturers' classes. But who should we really learn from?


We should get our training and knowledge from the most experienced, educated and important person in our business-THE CUSTOMER!


We need to learn to listen to our customers. They will tell us how to help them and how to treat them. Customers will tell us what they need and what they want. As an industry, we need to learn the most important education comes from those we serve.


Customers will tell you what they expect, how they expect it, and when they expect it.


We think we know what they want and need, based on what we want to sell them.


Gee, ever wonder why they sometimes get upset?


We need to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes, learn to think like the customer.


Sure we need to handle the technical aspect and costing of the service or repair, but we need to listen to the customer as to how we should handle it. They understand there will be a fee and time involved in the process.


What we need to learn is what they expect. If we can give the customer the experience they expect and desire, we will be successful.



To learn more about customer handling and a better plan for customer retention, contact Bob Kellerman (205) 834 – 6376 bkellerman@atconsse.com

Or visit us at: www.atconsse.com

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General Motors Minority Dealership Association
13 Aug : 11:00  by Ed Carman

Dear GMMDA Members and Staff,


We are so happy to have been afforded the opportunity to support your organization as a preferred vendor! As many of you are undoubtedly aware, we count many of you in our list of success stories. We have had the good fortune to work both on an individual dealership basis and through a couple of manufacturer driven programs with minority dealer clients in the past, and look forward to continuing to do so.

Please call us at your convenience to discuss any element of your Fixed Operations environment, and let us show you how we can help guide you to a solution. We are happy to provide complimentary assessments of your current situation; as well as a discussion of potential opportunities-via phone, email, or when possible, an introductory onsite visit.


We are driven in our consulting activities by three basic beliefs. First, every client’s situation is unique, and advice should be given only after a clear understanding of the current situation is achieved. Second, training and onsite assistance is only effective if sustainability is clearly evident. Third, the prescription for improvement should be wholistic in nature; recognizing that for successful upgrades to flourish, the service functions also must rely on cohesion and cooperation with the parts department.


Again, we are very thankful for the prospect to help your members, your organization, and your customers. Please contact us if we may be of service in any way, (800) 692-2719 or www.atconsse.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

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The Price Is Right
13 Aug : 08:08  by Ed Carman

In the last week or so I have been privy to a couple of startling instances regarding a very basic element in the customer handling area; the providing of an accurate estimate prior to purchase. One such example was a friend of mine who was quoted a price of approximately $800.00 for the installation of baffling under the deck of his new pontoon boat, only to receive an invoice for $1400.00. The second was a company owner who called to cancel his phone service, only to be informed two months later that he had incurred a $4800.00 fee for early termination of the contract. When asked why he had not discussed this charge with the company owner, the “customer representative” stated that he did not originally set up the account and assumed the decision to cancel had already been made by the business.


I can only begin to imagine what would be the result of this type of failure to fully inform the customer of the cost of a product or service in an automotive dealership. I do know one thing-the policy account is more than likely going to suffer and someone’s going to “hear” about this.


We have, as an industry, probably paid more attention to “getting it right” when it comes to customer relations than any other business. Admittedly, some of this has come through increased regulation, but most of us fully understand the value of our reputation in the retaining of our client base.


The question becomes-are our sales, parts, and service staff taking this element seriously? I don’t believe for a minute that our staff generally sets out to cheat or mislead people. I think many of these instances stem from a number of factors: rushed sales presentations, lack of accurate/easy to access pricing guides, poorly defined estimate preparation policies, or insufficient training/leadership.


Want to know how well your service writers are doing in this area? 1) Get your wife, best friend, or other trusted acquaintance to call and ask for a price on a relatively complicated repair (clutch, heater core, or seatbelt replacement). 2) Ask your customers picking up their vehicles if the final price matched their understanding if the charge. 3) At minimum, call your customers responding to the manufactures CSI surveys if/when they indicate they were not provided with pre-work estimate of explanation of charges.


Nothing provides a perception of professionalism and competency as an invoice that exactly matches the initial or revised estimate.


Ask yourself this question-Would you do business again with the two vendors described above, and what would you tell your friends about your experience?


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