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Using Smartphone Technology to Build Trust

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Technology is all around us and it has become a part of us.  It makes the world more transparent whether  we like it or not.  In an instant I can look up a  car wash in my area and find out what others are saying about it.  No need to even go there myself to pass judgement.  Interestingly enough, we rely on other consumers for their opinions to help form our own decision.  The more information and transparency a business can provide means the easier the decision will be for the customer when looking for or purchasing a service.


Automotive recommendations coming from a service advisor aren't always received with transparency since the customer may not know why their tie rod end needs replacement.  Here comes ClearMechanic to the rescue.  This is a smart phone based application that helps to visually sell service recommendations.  Think about instantly showing the customer what the issue is even if they are 50km away in their office.  ClearMechanic not only provides the ability to do this utilizing media we are all familiar with (text messaging, video messaging and email messaging) but it couples service recommendation photos with illustrations and explanations on the purpose of the part in question.  You have just built a connection with the customer based on information they will understand and transparency in what you are recommending.  It also helps that ClearMechanic has a higher than industry average recommendation approval rating.

It amazes me that this type of technology is not being utilized in every service bay.  Here is the opportunity to use the smart phone you have in your pocket to build trust and improve recommendation approvals with your customers with every single car.  OilReset has partnered with ClearMechanic to demonstrate to you that this technology works and is a necessity in every service bay just like OilReset has become.  Send us an email with your questions and we will be happy to assist.  [email protected]

Web Presence

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Searching the web using a tablet

I use my smart phone, laptop, tablet  and desktop on a daily basis.  All 4 devices have become a part of how I interact with the world on a daily basis.  Each device has its own purpose for me but one thing all 4 devices share in common is the internet.  I use all these devices to access the internet and search for something as simple as a gift, research an article, find a product and the list goes on.  The most frustrating thing for me when  I find what I am looking for is to find a website that does not provide everything I need to make or form a decision.  Here's a great example, I am looking to perform a 15 000KM service for my vehicle and decided to look at different automotive repair facilities online to get an idea of what the service would cost.  For the most part, many of the websites I visited had basic information on the company (about, services, location, contact) but they all lacked a greater in depth information on what services they performed and the prices.

It is no longer a want but a need to have a web presence.  However, having a website is no longer good enough.  As a consumer, I need you to provide transparency and list your services and prices so I have an understanding of what I may expect to pay.  Avlack of this information may mean that I will continue to search until I find a website that provides this level of transparency.

My recommendation to shops is to take a look at your competitors website and see what you can do that will make yours better.  More importantly, can  you list the prices of your basic services and your labour rate?  The more information you can provide to your customer "surfing" the web the more likely you are to obtain a new customer.

In the end, I chose to go to a shop I used in the past for my 15,000KM service because the websites I visited did not provide the information I was looking for.

App for Fast Lube Customers

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Just a few days ago, I discussed QR codes and utilizing smartphone technology to engage customers.  Interestingly enough I came across a product from Auto Data, a fast lube/ car wash POS software provider, called the eSticker.  What makes this software unique is it allows your customers to scan a QR code that directs them to an app specific to your location(s).   On the back end, the app can be tailored to provide customers with store specific promos and even has the ability to map where your locations are.

The key reason your customer will want this app is it also has a built in reminder and service history.  Meaning, they can be electronically reminded of their next service and can see their prior service history.  I am looking forward to seeing how this type of app does in fast lubes and how it evolves.


Diagnostic Trouble Codes Easy Lookup

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This is a app introduced by Mac Tools to help organize over 5000 diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) in one place - your smartphone.  Typically, anyone who is diagnosing a DTC will have access to a definition table but what if you are a customer who was told the code by a servicing shop for a repair.  As a customer you could quickly look up the definition of the code and corroborate the need for the repair.

Although Mac Tools has not reinvented the wheel here they have in fact utilized a technology that makes it easier for someone to access this information.  They have hinted at the possibility of expanding this app to coincide with your smartphone diagnosing the DTC - this would be reinventing the wheel.

Overall, visually simple and easy to use app that may help consumers better understand DTC codes.  Not sure if shops will need this information since the scanner they are using will have this information already.



OpenTable for Auto Repairs

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"Booking services becomes easier"

Are you familiar with OpenTable?  If not, it allows restaurant patrons to make reservations online via any internet enabled device (i.e. computer, phone) without having to wait in a line or call to book a reservation.  It's an interesting tool because restaurants who are not using the service maybe missing out on opportunities to fill tables, compete on a level playing field but also more importantly engage the "Facebook generation".

The guys at ClearMechanic took note of OpenTable and have brought the concept to the automotive repair industry.  What does this mean?  Well, from a consumer standpoint think about what it's like to book a service appointment after hours.  It can't be done.  There are web based booking tools that dealerships offer but they are just not up to the standard that ClearMechanic's booking tool is which takes a fraction of the time to schedule an appointment.  From the repair shop perspective, it's a win-win.  The fact that customers can book a service appointment without calling means less time on the phone and more interaction with customers.

This is some really cool technology that Brad Simmons, CEO of ClearMechanic and team are introducing and like OpenTable repair shops should take note if they want the business of the younger, tach savvy generation.





Fuel Economy Targets

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Anyone in the automotive repair/fast lube industry will be able to recognize that motor oils are changing to benefit fuel economy targets.  In the U.S., it is mandated by the year 2016 all vehicles produced for sale in the U.S. will have an average fuel economy of 35.5 mpg.  Manufacturers will be able to reach these targets by combining the fuel economies of their entire fleet to get to that number.  For example, a hybrid could have a fuel economy of 50 mpg and a SUV could have 21 mpg but when these two are averaged together it equals the target of 35.5 mpg.  The quickest way to get vehicles to this target is through lighter weight and more viscous oils.  In the last few years, I have seen Honda go from using 5W20 to using 0W20 in an effort to continue to improve fuel economy.  In a recent article I wrote about Ford beginning the use of a 0W10 in Europe.

For customers who continue to insist on using 5W30 or 10W30 oils when their vehicle recommends a lighter weight oil they need to be educated that lighter oils will help the vehicle achieve its desired fuel economy and benefit the performance of the engine in the long run.  We all have a role to play in ensuring vehicles get the best performance and it can be as simple as using the correct motor oil.

Scrubblade – A Better Wiper Blade

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Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to connect with the founder of Scrubblade, Billy Westbrook, and his innovative scrubbing wiper blade. The unique part about this wiper blade is it goes beyond helping to improve driver visibility during precipitation because it also helps to improve driver visibility through debris. To put it in perspective - bird droppings and bug splatter on a windshield are usually next to impossible to remove by using normal wiper blades. Scrubblade's patented, "scrubber" technology utilizes hundreds of tiny triangular "scrubbers" on the leading edge of the two outer blades. The scrubber blade pierces debris as it passes through and widens to the base, literally "scrubbing" your windshield clean. The second "smooth blade" squeegees away any remaining debris or water left behind. It's pretty neat to see this wiper blade in action.

The Scrubblade is gaining recognition pretty quickly for its innovative technology. In late 2011 the product received the Popular Mechanics Editor’s Choice Award for its outstanding achievement in new product design, functionality, simplicity and innovation edging out the likes of industry wiper giants Bosch, Rain-X, Trico and PEAK. This is an extraordinary feat considering Scrubblade has only been on the market since 2006 and even more amazing when this was done by one man. As Billy puts it "I thought of Scrubblade out of necessity" while he was driving down the highway in 2002. He took note of the bug splatter on the windshield and how it affected his field of vision since his conventional wipers could not clean them off properly - the idea was born. It was not until 2005 that Billy perfected the blade and later brought it to market in 2006. It has been an uphill climb building a company and fending off imitations while staying focused on his family life but Scrubblade continues to grow and its only a matter of time before they take their place among the industry giants.

This product receives a recommendation from OilReset as a must have product to enhance driver visibility and safety. Not only does it meet the basic requirements of a conventional wiper blade but it can further enhance the safety of the driver by removing hardened debris. For further information on Scubblade and where to purchase you can visit http://scrubblade.com.

Consumers Keeping Vehicles Longer

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Consumers are keeping their vehicles longer and for an average of 8.5 years.  This is a clear indication of the economic turbulence of the past few years but this is also an indication of the longevity of the modern gasoline engine.  I just finished reading an article on the Quaker State 400 000KM cash back program on http://autoserviceworld.com.  In essence, for following the manufacturers recommendations and strictly using QS synthetic motor oil a consumer can be awarded up to $3000 for hitting the 400K milestone.  It's very clear that QS recognizes that consumers are keeping vehicles for a longer period of time.  QS

Even more importantly, there is a great opportunity for fast lubes to seize the opportunity to educate consumers on the benefits of following manufacturer recommended service intervals coupled with a high quality motor oil such as a synthetic.  The consumer will benefit with an engine that will continue to perform and the shop will benefit with a higher ticket average with each visit.

It is fair to say that the trend of keeping vehicles longer is no longer an option but a necessity and consumers will more than likely be more diligent with their basic maintenance.  Is your shop ready to help consumers maintain their vehicles longer?

Recycled Oil – The Future is Here

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We are definitely entering a more conservation keen era in the consumer oil industry.  Take for example, the emerging trend of recycled motor oils aimed at consumers who want to participate in a greener oil change.  These oils are derived from 50 % recycled automotive motor oil.  The idea is simple - re-use to help reduce the amount of new oil in the market.  It is estimated that in America alone close to 3 billion gallons of motor oil are used annually.  The statistics surrounding used motors oil are unclear and vary but experts believe that over 200 million gallons of motor oil are not disposed of properly.  Even scarier, it takes about 1 gallon of oil to pollute 1 million gallons of water!

Valvoline has created a line of oils referred to as NextGen recycled oils using 50% recycled automotive oil.  The marketing campaign is geared to green consumers but also to DIY's who are performing their own oil changes and are being encouraged to recycle their used motor oil properly.  Simply disposing of the oil safely entitles a DIY to a discount on NextGen oils - not a bad deal.

It's evident that fossil fuels are a depleting resource and initiatives like this one to reuse a product are a step in the right direction.  It will be interesting to see how consumers and shops begin to make room for this new line of products.  Take a look at this YouTube video from Valvoline describing why oil should be recycled.


ClearMechanic – Cool Technology

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About 8 months ago I came across a software called ClearMechanic (CM).  The software utilized smart phone technology to allow a technician to visually recommend a repair.  Here is how it would work: while doing an oil change the technician notices a leaking transmission gasket, he takes a picture with his iPhone or Android using the CM app, associates the picture with a description of the issue, presses send and the picture is emailed to the customer and stored on the technician's company website for viewing.  The idea is simple - the customer will now have a visual of what the issue is and will be able to make a decision on whether to perform the service or not.  If the customer wants a second opinion they can email it to a family member anywhere in the world for their opinion!

The impact to any repair shop is the ability to build further trust with customers but to also close more sales.  Even better, the software can integrate into any shop management system or customer relationship management system so following up with the customer down the road becomes even easier.  You could now remind a customer about the service they passed up last time with the picture that was taken.

Overall, it is an exciting piece of software that is only starting to gain traction out of the dealership world.  I will be providing continued updates on CM and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.  Take a look at this YouTube video showing the software in action when trying to visually recommend an air filter.

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