Automotive Tools – Starting Your Tool Kit

The Automotive tools market is vast with 100’s of specialised tools used for specific tasks like drive shaft wrenches, fuel injection sockets and valve spring compressors. And while specialist tools are very useful and necessary in many occasions there are basic hand tools that are required by mechanics and service technicians.  Below is a brief description of the basic hand tools that should start your tools collection.

Spanners / Wrenches

Spanners and wrenches are available in different sizes and come in standard and metric. It’s advisable to have both in your tool collection.

Standard imperial spanner sizes are:

10 – 12 – 13 – 14 – 17 – 18 – 19 – 20 – 21 – 22mm

Standard metric spanner sizes are:

1/4″ – 5/16″ – 11/32″ – 3/8″ – 7/16″ – 1/2″ – 9/16″ – 5/8″ – 11/16″ – 3/4″ – 13/16″ – 7/8″

may more sizes are available but you should buy a good set of the standard sizes and if extra sizes are needed buy them separately.

Sockets

Sockets are probable the most widely used tool by mechanics and come in to forms ether standard or deep. Used to undo and tighten bolts sockets are usually sold in sets of verifying sizes and are available in both metric and imperial. It is advisable to have both sizes available as cars do not have standardised bolts and you never know what size of bolt you will find next. Sockets are categorised by the fitting size for ratchets, torque wrenches ect. And are available in 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″ the most popular are 1/4″ and 1/2″ but there are many multi drive socket sets available that will give you a range of sizes and fittings that are ideal if you are starting out.  

Screwdrivers

There are many types of screwdriver available including specialist drives such as Tri-wing, Torq-set and Hexalobular however you are unlikely to come across most of the specialist drives unless you are working in very specific industries. The two standard screwdrivers are Philips and flat or straight head. It’s advisable when buying screwdrivers to go for “impact screwdrivers” they have the shaft running all the way through the handle and allow much more torque to be applied.

Tool Box / Cabinets

What about keeping your tools? Tools can last a life time if you buy quality and look after them. And the biggest reason for having to re-buy tools is misplacing them. To start with a tool box or case will suffice and most tool sets come in storage cases but one your collection begins to grow its advisable to invest in a tool cabinet, they can become quite costly but if you buy a quality they will last your career.

When starting out you will probably be budget sensitive but try to but quality tools that will last rather than a set from a supermarket and over time build up your tool collection as you go.

Automotive Marketing Solutions – Getting To Know Your Customer

In any mechanical workshop, profitability is helped by getting your Labour to work as many hours as they are paid and making sure that these hours are billable hours, by that I mean, that they can be charged directly to the customer and recovered in full.

To help bill more hours you need to know your customer well.

One of the best ways to achieve this is to collect data and store it in some type of database.

Originally databases were simple pads, notebooks or 3 x 5 cards and details such as Name, Address and details of the vehicle were all that was needed.

But in today’s high tech world where the customer is viewed as King or Queen, it is vital that workshops not just collect as much information about their customers’ needs but also to have the ability to analyze this information.

Databases nowadays have moved from simple notebooks and 3 x 5 cards to software packages like Act and Goldmine with even more sophisticated programs being custom built in SQL and Microsoft Access.

So what does this mean to the average Automotive Repairer?

Well lots, if you don’t know your customer, you cannot anticipate their needs!

If you can’t anticipate their needs, then you will not be at the Top of Their Mind when they have a need to think about their car.

Being Top of Mind is about collecting and analyzing the right data so that you are able to put an action plan together – a ‘Marketing’ Action Plan.

Given the reliability of vehicles and the continuing reduction in operating costs surrounding vehicle ownership, it is becoming more and more difficult to sustain a business based on Parts Failure or Vehicle Breakdown.

Even the move towards building a business based on vehicle servicing is now less viable, given the length of time now recommended by manufacturers between services.

And when this is coupled to the relative cheapness of vehicle ownership in real dollar terms, it is obvious that being in business today is not about just repair and maintenance it is about – the relationship.

Now I hear you asking “ok, so what information do I need to collect and how do I use it?”

Grab a pen and let me suggest some automotive marketing ideas:

  • Their First and Surname separated so that you can personalize their letters or any mail merges that you wish to send
  • Their vehicle make, model and registration number so that you can mail them any articles that relate to their vehicle, perhaps a vehicle safety recall, or advise them about any valuations that they may have asked for as they may have been thinking of trading in their vehicle.
  • Perhaps you can collect the date that their Registration sticker expires. Post them a reminder say three weeks before it expires and include the address of their nearest Licensing Center. Or you could advise any BPay or Direct Credit facilities that the Government Department has.
  • You could also collect the name of their spouse and find out if he or she owns a car. You’re obviously looking at ways that you can get this other car in for servicing as well.
  • What about storing the year, make and model and getting a quote for insurance.
  • Write to them a few weeks away from when you want to get their car back for servicing and give them a range of insurers and some indicative quotes. Naturally you would do well to confirm their age and no claim bonus track record and any relevant history, if that is at all possible.

So, as you can see. There is more to getting to know your customer than just saying “Hi, how ya doing?”

Well, till next time remember that “The Power of an Idea is in its Implementation”. It is no good just listening to these ideas. It is about applying them.

If you are getting the same results year after year, then consider getting a coach or meet with your accountant on a regular basis.

Currently I work with clients across Australia, in the UK and in the USA. So distance should not be viewed as a barrier.

The most important thing about your business adviser is that they help you – get your business to its next level.

If this means that they are demanding then view this as a good sign, if they are pushy then again this is a good sign.

Before I go, ask yourself two questions:

1. “Could my business be more profitable?” and if the answer is Yes, then the second question is

2. “What do I need to do to get it there?”.

If you want to know about the Business Doctor or the automotive marketing solutions and coaching that I provide please visit my website and hear what some of my clients say about what it is that they have gotten from engaging a business coach.

So, till next time – I wish you all the success that you can handle whilst holding a genuine smile.

Automotive Telematics Deliver a Brave New Ride

It’s Saturday, which means you have chores to do. You jump in your minivan and turn the ignition. Without being told, your favorite song is cued, your seat is automatically heated to your preferred temperature, and you are reminded of about how many miles you can drive until you need gas. “Oh,” you think, “I’ll get gas first.” With the touch of a button, your navigation system shows your current location and the price of gas at the five nearest gas stations.

Welcome to the world of telematics and the new wave of automotive in-car technology that’s quickly finding its way into our vehicles.

Telematics is deeply embedded hardware, software and telecommunications systems that provide an increasingly wide range of applications that serve our vehicles. These applications can enable safety, security, monitoring of vehicle health and remote diagnostics services. For the driver and passengers, telematics systems can provide dynamic location-based services such as navigation, traffic information, emergency assistance and a suite of other driver services based on two-way connectivity.

The icing on the cake is the idea of bringing the Internet to your vehicle. Automakers are working with Web companies to devise ways of connecting this technology intelligently, and advertisers are ready to jump on board and make it cost-effective, all to integrate your vehicle into the connected world.

Today’s vehicles are already providing a glimpse of what lies ahead. Many already have their own personal computer, their own cell phone and a display monitor. Add a keyboard or touch pad in-dash and the possibilities are endless. It all depends on how much information about yourself you are willing to provide. Data such as your blood type, favorite restaurants and even the stocks you own can prove useful. Ultimately, you will be able to tell your vehicle what you want it to do and when. Want an alert sent to your cell phone if your vehicle alarm goes off? Want to let your significant other know if your airbag has been deployed? Want to know when you’re driving by your favorite coffee shop? Easy to do; your vehicle will be as smart as you let it be.

Global automakers are working toward making telematics the core of the connected vehicle, and they have a strong incentive to integrate this technology as quickly as possible. The competition from connected mobile devices has clearly acted as a very powerful stimulant. Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs) and smart phones are grabbing the consumer’s fancy, and navigation systems are on a lot of wish lists.

PND manufacturers are heavily reliant on sales and are aiming their brand of navigation as a service product. As more devices have navigation capabilities, it won’t be about the hardware but about the service – something that provides two-way communication and lends itself to the consumer’s lifestyle.

Even automakers are realizing that it’s the suite of services that will help them achieve success. The wireless mobile and wireless automotive communities are fighting tooth and nail to win consumers’ hearts and minds.

One industry that is highly interested in telematics is the insurance industry. As more in-car technologies become available, automotive insurers have the opportunity to collect driver data with as much or as little granularity as they desire. They can monitor vehicle location, speed and driving times, or they can collect data on specific, narrowly defined events, such as hard braking. With better underlying data and the accompanying ability to price risk more accurately, insurers can roll out new types of products, often targeted at customers previously considered uninsurable. Information collected in the vehicle can also be used during the claims process. The overwhelming obstacle is the business issue of cost.

This is where advertisers are chomping at the bit to jump on board. Enabling these systems in your vehicle carries a cost, whether it’s a monthly subscription based on usage or a flat fee, and bringing advertisers into your vehicle can lower the cost considerably. So whenever you download a movie into your vehicle for the kids to watch on the next trip, it’s likely to be sponsored by an online movie provider. A major quick lube company will gladly make arrangements for your next scheduled oil change.

Advertisers also see the value of “knowing where you’re going” as a valuable customer relationship management tool. Remember those Saturday chores? Heading to a home improvement store? A telematics- equipped vehicle offers advertisers sophisticated, location-based options never before available. It’s all about capturing a consumer when they’re ready to make a decision. Let your system know you’re going to a home improvement store, and you get a quick glimpse at a discount being offered by one of the major chains. Once your vehicle is detected going to that location, the incentive is activated. You get something in return for sharing your data. Advertisers love that.