Articles by Peter Suciu

Mixing Some Fun Into the Business Trip: Crystal Mathews and "The Price is Right"

A business trip to a trade show can be grueling with long days, a whole lot of walking and little time for real fun. While there are often social activities at a trade show, these usually involve a little small talk and much more shop talk, so when there is a chance to get a little "me time" on the road, it can certainly be a welcome break. For Crystal Mathews, vice president of Solid Start and True Brand Products of Lakeland, Florida, a trip out west for a conference last spring was truly the right mix of business
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The 2017 Disaster Season and the Automotive Aftermarket's Road to Recovery

When it comes to disasters, it is always best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Those located on the Eastern and Gulf Coastal regions know that late summer and fall storms can be truly destructive, while the West Coast lives in fear of earthquakes and fires. 2017 was notable in that there were all-time heat records in several states that helped create the conditions that lead to more than 100 large fires across the country. Of course, the most intense fires arrived after what has been an extremely active hurricane season that included 17 named
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Why Detroit is Still the Motor City: Scenes from the North American International Auto Show

NOLN EXCLUSIVE: It may be cold in Detroit as the city plays host to the 2018 North American International Auto Show, but it could be wild weather including last fall's hurricanes and the more recent fires in California that are still being felt by the auto industry. Weather most certainly played a factor in the 2 percent decline in new vehicle sales in the second-largest automobile market in the world last year - the first decline since 2009. Worldwide car sales were down 10.9 percent last year while sales of SUVs and trucks rose 4.3 percent (Source: Autodata report).
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2018 Vertical Outlook

As a year, 2017 was about big changes. There was a new resident in the White House in Washington, D.C., concerns that war could break out in Asia and a widening political and cultural divide across the country. Weather certainly was also in the news a lot in 2017 — from the mild winter with record temperatures in the northeast to the early year rains in California that ended in epic wildfires. Yet it was the late summer and early fall hurricanes that might be truly remembered most. These storms devastated parts of Texas, Florida and, of course, Puerto
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2017 Operator of the Year: Mark Bochnowski

Lube ‘n Go truly is a family business that feels its employees and customers alike are part of its extended family. With all its locations within a 30-minute drive from its corporate El Paso-based headquarters, it strives to provide a quality service to the community. The company is quick to proudly note the majority of its employees are born and raised in the west Texas city, and as a service-focused business, it also adds they don’t just have customers — they service friends, colleagues and neighbors in the hometown they hold so dear. Much of this personalized service can
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How Business Could “Pick Up” From the Light Truck Market

Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and much of coastal Texas, but in addition to the flooding it caused it also washed away thousands of potential sales in pickups built by the three major U.S. automakers, reported industry research firm IHSMarkit. The firm’s report suggested automakers may have lost 10,000 to 25,000 sales during the last week of August — in part as Houston has remained the 10th largest auto market in the United States, but is actually ranked third for pickup truck sales. Sales of full size trucks topped 37,000 in the Houston market through July of this year, and
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The Bay Side: Expanding the Shop With New Bays

In America, it is common to super size our meals and, unfortunately, the waistline in the process, while we also often live by the motto of, “Go big or go home.” When it comes to having a successful shop, it is actually a matter of finding the right size. Expanding can accommodate more business and allow you to offer more services, but a number of other considerations need to be made, too. More bays means more cars can be handled during the day, and customers who see shorter — or no — lines are more likely to drive in
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History of the Carwash: From Motown to All Towns

The carwash has long been a part of American car culture, practically as long as there has been a car culture. While the drive-in movie theater has succumbed to the suburban multiplex, and the drive-through has replaced the drive-in restaurant, the carwash has remained a vibrant business for more than 100 years. According to the International Carwash Association, there are now approximately 79,500 carwash locations across North America, and the greatest growth continues to come from independent companies and entrepreneurs. More than two billion cars are washed annually in North America, and retail sales are approximately $15 billion. Given
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Adding a Pet Wash Service: Do You Have Space for Another Revenue Stream?

To say dog is man’s best friend is a serious understatement. According to the ASPCA, there are around 78 million dogs in the United States, with approximately 44 percent of all American households having at least one dog. To most automotive service shop owners, those numbers may not mean much — dogs don’t own or drive cars, after all. However, dogs do get dirty, and that could be an opportunity for shops that already offer a carwash service. Just as dogs don’t drive, they can’t simply be led through the carwash, but a dog, or more accurately pet, wash
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Myth Busting of the Car Wash Quick Lube Combo Shop

Adding a service can be a great way to draw in new customers, but, obviously, the service needs to have synergy with the existing business. While oil and water are two liquids that are immiscible, meaning that they don’t mix together; a quick lube and carwash can actually have a good synergy as both involve car care and maintenance. However, many questions abound around the business model involving the carwash. Determining whether an existing quick lube shop should, or even can, add a carwash business is one of the right things to research, said Kevin Collette, Vice President of
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Educating Your Customers on the New Definition of Severe Driving

When you think of “severe” driving it is usually the type of trips taken in the extreme cold during the dead of winter or the intense heat at the height of summer. Severe driving can be more than the weather conditions, however. It can include heavy loads that include the hauling of cargo, a full vehicle of passengers or towing a trailer. Severe driving can also include travel on rough or mountainous roads or through dusty or salty environments, as well as the aforementioned extreme hot or cold weather or in extremely humid conditions. In addition, it can include
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Analyzing the Owners Manual

Every car comes with a manual that describes the inner workings of the vehicle, but more importantly lays out the routine maintenance schedule. All drivers should at least review the manual, but the truth is that most end up stashing it in the glove compartment until something occurs they don’t understand. One reason is that owners manuals for cars — much like any instruction guide — aren’t exactly written to be compelling. Unfortunately, the very nature of manuals often means people tend to put it away and forget it. Even as consumers have become more tech-savvy with smart phones
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An Introduction to Understanding your Facebook Analytics

In part one of this series, Facebook for Business, we got you well on your way to setting up a successful Facebook Page for your Business. In part two, we discussed the difference between Facebook’s organic, boosted and paid advertising and how to set up campaigns for each. In this final installment of Facebook for Business, we’re going to talk about how to analyze and get the most out of your data after your paid campaigns have run their entire campaign flight with free Facebook Insights. You won’t want to miss these few final things we think you should
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Way Off the Beaten Path: Off-Road Service Opportunities

There are those who take the road less traveled, and then there are those who like to skip the road entirely. Several states, including Michigan, could open thousands of miles of state forest roads to off-road vehicles. What was once a hobby that was almost exclusively enjoyed by young males — typically bachelors — has become an activity for the whole family. However, the average soccer mom’s SUV may not be so ideally suited to off-road adventures, even if SUV means sport utility vehicle. For general dirt roads, the average SUV is more than capable, but for serious off-road
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What’s Next for the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards: Will Trump Roll Back the CAFE?

Last fall, Donald Trump was elected President in part by running on a platform that would deregulate business. One part of this was aimed squarely at the automotive industry, which has remained one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country. Since the election, car makers and their lobbying group, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers – which is made up of 12 companies – have called on the administration to reopen a midterm review of the EPA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. This is a reaction to the 2016 move by the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency
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Helping the Community One Car at a Time

Few people so perfectly manage their career as Mark Tiede of Pocatello, Idaho. A retired veteran of the United States Naval Reserve, Tiede worked in business management for years with Heinz and Simplot until March 2015 when he decided to combine his skills in business with his passion for cars. He bought a Meineke Car Care Center franchise, and, now just a little over two years later, his shop has become one of the best performing Meineke franchises owned by first-time franchisees. In just 22 months in business, his shop has serviced upward of 12,000 vehicles — and it
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The Doctor Is Very Much In

Doctors are generally considered trustworthy, and even when one desires a “second opinion” prior to a medical procedure that simply means asking another doctor’s advice. It is no surprise then that those concerned about automotive issues might want to turn to a “car doctor.” This is why Horsham, Pennsylvania-based Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care, has introduced a new animated character – dubbed fittingly enough, the Transmission Physician. The blonde, ponytailed, auto expert is a specialist in transmission technology and repair; and in a series of new videos, she explores topics such as checking the automatic transmission fluid (ATF),
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The Art of the Car at First Lube Plus

It is hard to miss First Lube Plus, which is located in the business district of Salem, Oregon. With a mural of a Chevy Camaro on the side of the building, you know immediately it is place where auto lovers will find solace. What might not be so readily realized is the connection the auto service shop has to the local church. The building that now houses the shop had been an operated by the DeLon Auto Group and was home to various car dealerships on the surrounding properties. When the owners put the property up for sale Salem
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Who Trains the Trainers? Keeping the Training Team Running

The Latin phrase “quis custodiet ipsos custodes” translates roughly to “who will guard the guards,” and it is one that is meant to question government or political overreach; however, for the auto service industry it reminds us we must consider “who will train the trainers?” As vehicles become more complex and new products are introduced, it means those on the floor have to be trained, but trainers, too, have to learn somewhere. In many industries, it is often a not-so-subtle insult to suggest that those who “can’t” instead “teach.” However, in the world of service, where training is ongoing,
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Petromin Express Sees Rapid Middle Eastern Expansion

In the 21st century, the world’s economy is truly linked together like never before. As China, and even parts of Africa, experience a burgeoning middle class, this has increased the demand for Middle Eastern oil. The result of demand for black gold has meant, even as prices fell in the United States thanks to increased American production, demand for raw resources from Saudi Arabia and its neighbors has literally allowed skyscrapers to rise in the desert. At the same time, these nations have begun to think forward beyond just oil production for their future economic growth and have built
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New Mergers and Acquisitions Change the Quick Lube Landscape

While there probably won’t be “under new management” or even “under new ownership” signs popping up at some quick lube shops around the country, the industry has seen a few noticeable mergers in recent months. In December 2016, Driven Brands, a portfolio company of the Roark Capital Group, announced it had acquired Texas-based Express Lube, a regional chain founded in 1990 and was operating 31 locations in the Lone Star state. That purchase by Driven Brands followed its acquisition of Ohio-based Lube Stop in September of last year. Moreover, Express Lube represented the seventh major acquisition for Driven Brands
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Does Your Shop Need a Computer Pro?

In the future, the auto service shop might closely resemble a computer repair counter. Shops may need a full-time information technology (IT) pro, not only to keep the shop’s computer systems up-to-date, but to also work on customer vehicles. While computerized systems have changed the way diagnostics are being handled — reducing workload, in many cases, from a full day to under an hour — those same computer systems need to be updated, patched and secured just like the software on the office PC. Moreover, there is already a growing concern that computerized systems on a vehicle could be
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Honoring the 2017 Technician of the Year

At 38 years of age, Justin Boyd could be considered wise beyond his years, but by his own accounts, he’s also lucky just to be alive. Today, he spends part of what little free time he has helping at-risk youths steer their lives back on course, helping them avoid the mistakes he made. You wouldn’t know it today from his upbeat demeanor, pleasant personality and constant smile on his face, but just a few years ago Boyd was very much headed in the wrong direction like the young men he now mentors. He was the black sheep of the
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