Credentials

What is Your Strongest Credential?

The dictionary defines a credential as, “anything that provides the basis for confidence, belief, credit, etc.”  In business, we use credentials as a shortcut in persuading customers or partners to trust us enough to do business with us. The credentials, “MD”, “PhD”, and “JD” convey that the holders have mastered the knowledge required to obtain them, and that alone can give a client confidence in their abilities. Technical certifications, diplomas, testimonials, accolades, licenses and franchises are also in this broad category of credentials.

Whether you have letters following your name or not, everyone has credentials. What are the ones you choose to share in your business? In other words, what qualification, achievement, personal quality, or aspect of your background do you use to indicate that you are suitable for business?

A credential, plain and simple, promotes trust and confidence. It can be anything. For detailers or cosmetic repair technicians, their best credential could be before and after photos of their work, a mechanic may have ASE certification or OEM endorsements. Dealers have their own designations, like 20-group or association membership. Your years in business alone is as valid a credential as any to elicit confidence and overcome doubt. 

Think about your other credentials, too. When I was shopping for a car, I noticed the salesman had pictures of his wife and 3 children on his desk. He didn’t remark about the photo, and neither did I, but when he described the safety features of the car I was considering, knowing that he had children made him more credible to me when discussing safety. For all I know, it might have been a stock photo that came with the frame, but in that moment, it was his credential – the connection point that told me he was believable.

We all have a drawer full of credentials that we might share. Climbed a mountain? You have fortitude and determination, Single parent? You’ve got organizational and time management skills. Backstage pass? You know somebody. Fly fisher? You have patience and value detail. Played sports in school? You understand the value of teamwork and shared goals. The list is as endless as our life experiences.

So when you are trying to persuade a customer or partner, reach deep into your drawer and find the right credentials for the occasion. Find the thing of yours that connects you to the other’s needs, and gives them the confidence to say yes. 


Want to learn more about AMT’s credentials? Click here.

Open for business neon

Re-creating Your “New” Business

No matter how many years or how many generations your business has been in existence, you are starting a new business. Changes in our economy and society related to the pandemic have reset nearly everything from employment to operational practices to consumer priorities. Your business will need to adapt in order to survive. Now is the time to reinvent your business to operate in the new environment.

What probably hasn’t changed: 

  1. The quality of your products and services.
  2. Your commitment to your customers, employees, and stakeholders.

What has changed:

  1. Everything else

Our society is interconnected, so when one element changes, it affects related elements across the society. High fuel prices led to subcompact cars. Lower fuel prices and greater vehicle efficiency brought on increased purchase of trucks and SUVs. Stay-at-home restrictions resulted in record sales of personal grooming products, jigsaw puzzles, and computer audio/video equipment, and effectively paused fashion and apparel sales.

Setting up your post-pandemic business plan (you need one) requires the same considerations as with any new start-up. The four P’s, product, price, place, and promotion, are still the foundation for your plan. Chances are, at least one of these variables will be different moving forward. Is your product still relevant? Is the demand and perceived product value changed and can you adjust price as a result? How will your product be consumed now? Do you need to modify the way you deliver your product to your customers? How many other people do you need to help you deliver? Finally, what changes should you make to your advertising and promotion in order to engage or reengage your buyers in the marketplace?

The answers to these questions and others will inform your way forward, but your need to assess and develop will continue. Markets and businesses may reopen more gradually than anyone would like. Volumes and budgets will be smaller, and consumer confidence will be tentative until employment and payroll numbers stabilize again.

If you run an existing business, you may benefit from your experience with other hard economic times and take the lessons learned from them to plan your own recovery. Regardless of prior events, this sudden national and global shift is more extreme that anything we have seen in our lifetimes, It is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and our businesses in response. Every one of the four P’s is on the table for examination.

I would add another two P’s to that list, too. Examine your process and the productivity it generates. You may find opportunities to improve efficiency in your process, either by making changes or by better enforcing the processes you have in place. Management software by AutoMobile Technologies could be the right solution for running your automotive repair and reconditioning operations, and now as you reimagine and redefine your business, it’s the right time to enhance your command and control of the operation. Contact AMT and let us show you how we can help.

Empty delaer lot

Vehicle Demand in a Time of Disruption

Revisiting the statistics to project second-quarter sales targets.

Economy woes are on the minds of every business right now, and sales projections are likely to be disrupted. If you are trying to make sense of what the second quarter may look like at your dealership, we dug into a few sources to pull together some quick stats on the average demand for vehicles in the U.S. to help you make some mathematical assumptions. Regardless of what the economy does, there are leases that will get traded in, and cars will get totaled and require replacement.

Leases

J.D. Power studies indicate that over 1.8 million vehicle leases will expire between March and July 2020. This, of course, means that 1.8 million consumers will need to visit their local dealership to either extend their lease, buyback that leased vehicle or return their vehicle and choose a new vehicle.

Truck and SUV Sales

Even though new vehicle sales are in a downward trend, in 2019, over 46,800 light-duty vehicles were sold each day. That 1.7 Million sales in a year sold across 18,000 dealerships in the U.S.

Collision Replacements

Does your dealership offer “bird dog” payments to Body shop owners and estimators? You should. According to a recent report from CCC (a collision repair management system), each day, roughly 34,400 vehicles are totaled and head to salvage yards. These vehicles are leaving the U.S. fleet and need to be replaced by new or used vehicles sitting on dealership lots.

As cars and trucks continue to hit the nation’s fleet with full ADAS capability, the cost to repair is pushing more and more vehicles to totaled that could physically be repaired but is not economically feasible. If a car is hit hard enough in the front and the airbags blow, they are getting totaled now. In the past, these “trainwrecks” were often repaired, but not anymore because of the cost for ADAS parts and post-repair scanning.

Last-Mile Fleet And Heavy Truck 

Supply chain and transportation are an area for growth given the rise of Amazon and nearly same-day deliveries replacing the need for brick and mortar stores. And now, there is a demand for medical supplies, food, and personal consumer products as people can’t leave their houses. 

 Last-mile fleet businesses continue to rise, and sprinter vans high roof delivery trucks are more vital than ever. With an increase in demand, commercial fleet operators may decide that now is the right time to add a new vehicle to help meet this demand. Amazon continues to add last-mile depots in cities to reduce shipping times, and incentives exist for entrepreneurs to start their own transportation and logistics companies. This will be an attractive option for some of the thousands of Americans who may be laid off as a result of the virus.

All is not lost for dealerships in 2020. The new car sales have been in decline, and the shutdowns at factories may help the right size supply and demand. But auction sales are increasing and pre-virus, the demand was steadily outpacing the supply. Certainly, there will be fewer buyers in the days ahead, but focus on the areas of growth as outlined above and adjust your sales strategies accordingly.

Street sign displaying "Time to say Goodbye"

How to Help Your Laid-Off Automotive Employees Manage Unemployment

Social distancing is the end of in-person auto auctions, at least for a while. If you are like most auction companies, you have switched to simulcast. An online-only situation and a potentially declining demand for sales (although the numbers aren’t out yet) may have forced a layoff for some of your employees. The same is true for many related specialties, like dealerships, body shops, and large recon MSO’s. Here are some tips to help them through this process.

If you lay off or furlough your employees, they are eligible for unemployment. Some states like Mississippi have ridiculously low caps, barely enough even to buy groceries each week. As an employer, you have no control over what they can receive when they apply for unemployment benefits.

But here’s what you can do:

Don’t block unemployment.

When the state sends out unemployment eligibility documentation, don’t mark the employee as fired for cause, which would keep your unemployment insurance rating low, but would lock the former employee out of a check. It could also save you a wrongful termination suit down the road.

Severance pay if you can afford it. 

In Maryland, you can file immediately for benefits and begin receiving a check, but other states have red tape and waiting periods. Your employees will need money now, not later, and severance will help get money in their bank while they get their ducks in a row.

Extend health benefits. 

The humanitarian thing to do during this health crisis is to continue paying benefits. You will save the bottom line in reduced salaries and payroll taxes, but be kind and keep the health insurance going at least until the nation is in the clear. Hopefully, it will only be a month or two at most.

Rehire as soon as possible. 

When life returns to normal, so too will the business demands. Your former employees are the best suited, best-trained employees for your business because they used to work there. If these employees are still available, not only will they be grateful that you wanted them back, they will probably be even more productive than they were before they were laid off.

Keep an Eye on the Federal Stimulus Package. 

As of this writing, the federal stimulus package is still not passed. But if it does, there will be some financial relief for small businesses and some options for you as an employer. It’s too soon to advise on that in a blog other than to suggest that there may be solutions for you forthcoming, and they should be taken into consideration for you and any employees you have to cut from the team.

Offer outplacement or other unique support options. 

This will definitely depend on your company’s budget, but there are outsource outplacement companies that you can hire that specialize in the outplacement of displaced employees. These experts help employees polish resumes and work their networks to find employment. This is especially useful if you have no intention of rehiring any of this staff.

Layoffs are simply one of those business decisions that you have to make to ensure the survival of the company. It can be uncharted territory for many business owners, especially in the wake of a new-to-all-of-us global pandemic. Hopefully, these tips will help you handle this rather unpleasant situation.

Amazon fleet van

Common Problems and Solutions Facing Amazon DSP Fleet Managers

  • Fuel Costs
  • Vehicle Condition
  • Driver Breaks
  • Driver Location

Every day, fleet management handles all sorts of responsibilities to improve overall productivity in the business. Their functions can be anything from vehicle maintenance, telematics, driver management, speed and fuel management, and of course, satisfied customers and clients. Not to mention, it’s no easy task being responsible for every driver across a large area. That’s why companies must implement various fleet management systems and technologies such as telematics. Telematics technology can accurately monitor vehicle health, optimize the best routes based on your driver’s location, among other things such as driver safety. 

However, even the most influential companies, like Amazon, face different problems that no  independent fleet manager wants to deal with. Below are the common problems seen in fleet management that can easily be solved through management systems, such as telematics:

Fuel Costs: Without monitoring driving behaviors and where your vehicles are, the cost of fuel might be significantly more than it needs to be. Amazon may be a global franchise, but fuel is still an incurred expense. Speeding, driving in traffic, and going off the route for longer breaks are all contributing factors for increased fuel costs. Thankfully, telematics technology has made it possible for fleet management to monitor any contributing factors to excess fuel usage. Downsizing to smaller vehicles, such as sprinter vans, are also much more fuel-efficient than driving a 16-wheeler semi. Using sprinters are especially popular during the winter months, as they are much safer and can get to locations faster while keeping fuel costs down. 

Poor Vehicle Condition: Your drivers might be putting additional wear and tear on the vehicles that are unnecessary to accomplish the job. Steps get ripped off, bulkhead doors get knocked off their track. Excess braking and speeding, idling for long periods, and neglecting necessary vehicle maintenance like oil changes, can cause your vehicles to suffer more than they need to. Telematics allows you to monitor the health of your cars based on how your drivers are treating the vehicles. It can also serve as a teaching tool to help educate drivers where they can improve their driving that will also extend the life of the fleet. Amazon DSP fleet owners know just how vital the vehicle’s health is to the business, which is why they encourage their drivers to get any necessary maintenance as part of their job requirements. 

Longer breaks: When your drivers take longer breaks than they should, especially when en route for a delivery, it can cause significant disruption in the business. Companies like Amazon rely on their drivers, making customer deliveries within a specific window of time. Taking unscheduled or longer breaks can create new problems that weren’t there in the first place. Since Amazon is a powerhouse company, their drivers must be dependable, especially when it comes to not taking advantage of breaks. The most reliable and highest performing drivers know that even taking a longer break can jeopardize the business in more ways than an unhappy customer. 

Unknown driver location: Any driver can tell you they are traveling southbound on the freeway or stopped at a red light 10 minutes from the delivery site. But if you notice your drivers aren’t arriving at a location when they should, or they ignore the schedule, then it’s time to implement a fleet management system that gives you the exact location of your drivers in real-time. It’ll eliminate any guessing game and also will allow you to see who your trustworthy drivers are. 

If you haven’t already, do what the big companies are doing and implement telematics technology to improve your fleet management system. There may be a solution to every problem, but telematics also allows you to take your business to the next level and give you that desired competitive edge.

Fleet Trucks

Fleet Managers Face Big Challenges

  • Operating Costs
  • Repair Costs
  • Vehicle Availability
  • Misuse
  • Driver Safety
  • More…

Being a manager of a fleet operation is no easy task. You’re responsible for heavy-duty operations and your employees being all over the place. Despite emerging new methods to manage fleet operations, such as telematics solutions and on-demand maintenance services, the problems continue.

The following are some of the biggest challenges that today’s fleet managers face: 

Increased Operating Costs: Fuel is what drives a fleet, and increasing fuel costs make all the other operating costs more expensive, too. Labor rates, cost of oil, and the increasing fuel cost all impact additional operating expenses such as tire replacements and general maintenance. 

Increased Repair Costs: With fleet drivers ignoring the signs to take their vehicles to be maintained, a simple oil change could turn into an engine failure. Not to mention, if a car is damaged in an accident, the cost of collision repair has increased as advancements in-car technologies have continued. Modern vehicle systems are increasingly integrated, so damage to one component can impact multiple vehicle systems. The cost to replace these more sophisticated parts, and the skilled technicians required to do the work are all higher. 

Truck Availability: Production dates can often be delayed, which creates unpredictability with lead times. This means the vehicles you expect and require just aren’t available. It’s truly “hurry up and wait” since fleet managers are all ready to go, but don’t have the inventory. 

Misuse of Company Assets: It can be challenging to manage every aspect of your fleet effectively, even if your hardware and asset management is buttoned-up. Your people resources can be an equal challenge. Drivers could be taking longer than scheduled breaks tor driving recklessly to make up for the wasted time. Operators could be using the vehicle outside of work hours, increasing vehicle wear and the potential risk and liability that comes with that misuse.. 

Lack of Individual Attention: Many Fleet managers work in large companies that are often growing and handling upwards of thousands of assets. Because of this, operators can often feel more like workhorses instead of valuable company assets. It can be a challenge to implement systems to ensure drivers feel well-managed and appreciated.

Driver Safety: NHTSA reported an increase in large truck accidents from 2017 to 2018, despite a decrease in many other categories. The increase is tied to drivers working longer hours and the associated lack of sleep. Without implementing software tracking solutions to monitor a driver’s safety or hours, there’s no way to determine when they need to have rest. Lack of rest means they’re a hazard to themselves, their vehicles, and other drivers.  

Additional Fleet Management Transaction Fees: Several companies are using separate services to aid in fleet management. These include motor vehicle records, registrations, tolls, etc. The cost of using these ancillary programs create additional transaction fees, and integrating the data to an effective fleet management solution can be daunting. 

These are just a few of the challenges that fleet managers face today, and if you manage a fleet, these may be all-to-familiar. You’re not alone. Thankfully, there are solutions out there for each one of these challenges. From telematics software to maintenance management programs to mobile repair services, the answer to each one of these challenges is available to help you keep your fleet in top condition, and turn your challenges into accomplishments.

Man in auto repair shop using tablet computer

How to Manage Your Inspections Without the Paper Chase

Knowledge is power, and complete and thorough inspections are your best source of knowledge for damage assessment and reconditioning operations. But did you know how else you can use inspections to boost your sales and profits? Click to watch how InspectionNotes gives you what you need without all the paper.