Amber Kossak

Amber Kossak

Amber Kossak is president and CEO of Solid Start, manufacturer of True Brand Products. She has been in the automotive industry for almost 20 years and is serving on the AOCA board of directors. She can be contacted at: kossak@solidstart.biz

ARTICLES

What Sets Apart the Best From the Rest?

Jim Collins, author of the bestsellers “Good to Great” and “Built to Last” once said that the two greatest leaders of the last 100 years were Winston Churchill and Steve Jobs. Those familiar with Steve Jobs and Apple know that his career was a story with many lessons. One of these was his uncompromising conviction that the customer experience was pre-eminent in importance. Jobs was an innovator and visionary in the technology sector. This central pillar in his cathedral of ideas even has an acronym now: UX, which stands for User eXperience. For auto service operators, this idea translates
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Customer Service: What Strengthens Your Relationships?

No matter what business you are in, customer service is more important now than ever. As society becomes increasingly impersonal, the value of personal relationships, the need for personal attention and adapting to customers’ needs matter. Add to this the ever-changing social media variable, and you will be quickly made aware of one of the dangers of poor customer service.


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Servant Leadership: A Win for Everyone

Are you a servant leader? If you are a servant leader, then you will “serve first.” According to polls, two-thirds of all workers are disengaged. Half of all employees would leave their jobs today, if they had something else to go to. The problem is not that people don’t like to work. All my life I have been around people who love their work and who get invigorated by what they do. The problem, then, is something else, and I believe it is often the company culture. What is Your Culture? Michael Jordan once noted, “Talent wins games, but
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Hands-On Training Makes a Difference

People who know me know that I’m a big believer in the importance of training. That is why this stat I came across recently caught my eye. It was in a blog called “When I Work,” “Forty percent of employees who receive poor (or no) on-the-job training leave within the first year of employment. And when employees leave, it costs you.”
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The Opportunity in 2018: Keep Your Customers Safe

“When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.” –John Wooden Coach Wooden knew his basketball players needed to be prepared for the game, or they wouldn’t be able to capitalize on its opportunities. Is your shop ready to capitalize on your opportunities in 2018? One opportunity you should be looking at is keeping your customer safe — by inspecting (and restoring) their vehicles’ headlights. Why headlight restoration? Depending on your greeting process, one of the first things that is very noticeable during the basic inspection process is your customer’s headlights. According to the 2017 NOLN operator survey, headlight restoration
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Are You Prepared?

Are you prepared to deal with any situation? Most are not. We do our best to think of everything, but time and unforeseen occurrences befall us all. We can prepare emotionally, physically and financially, but then, the unexpected happens. There is a great saying, “Look back to learn; look forward to succeed.” If we look at our circumstance as the glass is half empty, then it will be exactly that, half empty. We can take something that happens to us in life, whether it is positive or negative, and create something magnificent, but that is up to us. “It’s
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Unintended Consequences Drive GDI Engines to Your Shops Part 9: Key Trends and Wrap-Up

Following trend information benefits service providers and vehicle owners, so this article reports reliable sources featuring US car manufacturers. First, we look beyond the automated vehicle mobility trend. With numerous uncertainties, it’s a complex subject in need of more research — including design engineer resignations over litigation concerns. Another controversial trend is hybrid and electric vehicles, often hurried to market in efforts to meet the federally mandated CAFE requirement of a 54.5 mpg fleet-wide average by 2025. This requirement not only applies to cars but also pickups, SUVs and vans. Some controversies include the subjects of carbon footprint and
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Unintended Consequences Drive GDI Engines to Your Shops Part 8

Do we value efforts behind applied sciences producing motor oils that permit modern engine operation? We respond “yes” while recognizing that when limits to motor oil stressors and contamination are reached the best return on investment becomes “Out with the old, in with the new.” We also join those recognizing that engines place varying demands on motor oils. Including smaller, more powerful GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) and TGDI (Turbocharged GDI) engines with increased stress and contamination to motor oils, (for details, see series articles No. 5 and 6). Good news; this opens the door to a growing oil change
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Unintended Consequences Drive GDI Engines to Your Shops – Part 7

We heard your request and dove into turbulent waters to provide a listing of gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine appearances. For years, we’ve asserted that an educated buyer is our best customer. This is critical for industry growth because otherwise customers go elsewhere. Informed customers sometimes tell friends they know more than an intended service provider. With solid information backed by effective service, you build your reputation while capitalizing on service opportunities. Your Request Many of you have asked, “When did the millions of GDI engines start to appear?” OEMs rushed GDI engines to market in an attempt to
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Unintended Consequences Drive GDI Engines to Your Shops: Knock, for Customers & Service Writers

Here’s an exchange between a customer and a service writer: Customer, “My fairly new vehicle seems to have lost power and fuel mileage. Can you help?” Service writer, “Our check indicates that your knock sensor(s) caused changes to save your engine from damage.” Customer, “But I haven’t heard knocking! What’s going on here?” Both are likely correct. Read on. For the Service Writer — Knock Evidence Knock can destroy turbocharged gasoline direct injection (TGDI) engines — a dominant design including all Ford EcoBoost engines. Research showed that, “[With TGDI] downsizing and increasing power output, the failure mechanisms started to
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Unintended Consequences Drive GDI Engines to Your Shops - Part 5

Let’s “turn up the heat” with an overview of GDI’s closely-connected:1. Fuel injectors2. Combustion chambersIn gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines, gasoline injector tips are directly exposed to combustion chamber heat, pressure and contaminants. As a result, according to VehicleMD, GDI fuel injector deposits are similar to combustion chamber carbon deposits. Meaning they’re harder, more tenacious, more difficult to remove and more benefitting from preventive maintenance.In the past, techs were familiar with port fuel injection (PFI) where fuel injectors, located in lower-temperature intake runners, sprayed gasoline at 40–60 pounds per square inch during the relatively lengthy period of intake valve
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Unintended Consequences Drive GDI Engines to Your Shops - Part 4 - Intake Valve Deposits

A well-documented gasoline direct injection (GDI) problem is intake valve deposits, caused by the absence of intake valve washing.Why is this important for NOLN readers? Owners learn of GDI issues — including reports of a leading manufacturer replacing cylinder heads due to excessive intake valve deposits at only 20,000 miles, the same OEM introducing a completely redesigned GDI engine for 2017 and expect their service providers to know what’s going on.This series provides valuable training because, as reported by ASNU, “In 90 percent of the motor industry, keeping up-to-date with changes in technology is beyond most workshop owners’ budget.
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Unintended Consequences Drive GDI Engines to Your Shops - Part 3

Foundation recap; Part 1 (see May issue for details, sources, etc.) addressed how:Due to emissions and CAFE fuel economy mandates, manufacturing turned to gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine technology that now arrives in shops suffering from unintended consequences as they age.·       GDI engines differ from previous engines — including port fuel injection (PFI) — in ways that change their “…repair process and maintenance program.”·       GDI engines arrive “…with mysterious complaints. … Problems can affect engine performance in as little as 3,000 miles. Neglected treatment may require a costly upper-end teardown...” Note: costly.·       GDI engine owners can research and assume
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Unintended Consequences Drive GDI Engines to Your Shops - Part 2

Recap and addendums to Part 1 (for details including sources, see Part 1 in the May 2016 issue of National Oil and Lube News):• Gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines differ from previous engines in many ways that change their repair process and maintenance program. This becomes critical because, due to emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandates, engine manufacturing turned to GDI engine technology. These engines now appear in shops suffering from unintended consequences as they age.• Need-to-know: Many modern vehicles powered by GDI engines are showing up in service departments with mysterious complaints. Diagnosing and remedying these
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Unintended Consequences Drive GDI Engines To Your Shops

“The Law of Unintended Consequences” indicates that actions of people — especially of government — often produce unintended, unanticipated, unforeseen and consumer-costly effects. In the case of Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engines, “unintended consequences” of federal mandates drive aging vehicles into service provider shops for costly repairs potentially avoided with preventive maintenance.Federal mandates? Today’s engine manufacturers turn to complex GDI engine technologies in attempts to meet federal mandates for emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements including 54.5 mpg average for cars and light-duty trucks by 2025.Unintended consequences? While direct injection (DI) functioned well in diesel engines since
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Build Trust, Build Value

What is trust? Is trust something that can be built with others? Is it something that can be broken? Can trust be rebuilt once it has been broken?You have a choice. You can choose to build trust and value with your customers. If you hold on to what is of value, you will hold on to your customers. The ultimate goal is to build a lifelong friendship with your customers. For example, a person walks through the door and the first words out of the employee’s mouth are, “Hey, it’s the black sedan.” What just happened here? Ask yourself,
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Our Best Customer is An Educated Buyer

We have had this as our motto for years, “Our best customer, is an educated buyer”! Training, service, values, knowledge, learning and skills all play a role in how we help educate or how we are educated. Think about it, if you are making a decision wouldn’t you want to make an educated decision?Customers should trust and believe in you, they should not feel they are being told what to do or given one-word explanations. A customer deserves to understand the value of your services. Picture this, “Ma’am, uh, I have your air filter here and it is dirty.
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Listen and Understand

“Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply.” Steven R. CoveyHow important is it to listen? Listening to someone and understanding their point of view can sometimes be difficult; however, to sell, educate and build trust, listening plays a major roll. Being approachable is definitely one way to build on this foundation. When you are approachable, your customers and associates will find you to be likable, pleasant and friendly. When someone is approachable, they will most likely be humble. Many may think humility is a quality of weakness. However, it is quite the opposite. Humility
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Listen and Understand

“Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply.” Steven R. CoveyHow important is it to listen? Listening to someone and understanding their point of view can sometimes be difficult; however, to sell, educate and build trust, listening plays a major roll. Being approachable is definitely one way to build on this foundation. When you are approachable, your customers and associates will find you to be likable, pleasant and friendly. When someone is approachable, they will most likely be humble. Many may think humility is a quality of weakness. However, it is quite the opposite. Humility
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Be Prepared

Have you prepared for your first impression? Being prepared will help you stay on top of your appearance, confidence, communication and what is the best value-added service to offer. If you hesitate, you may lose out on a second opportunity.We are human. We draw conclusions from what we see with our eyes. Personal appearance can say a lot about us. When we are clean and well groomed, others will more likely be drawn to us. Not only does our personal appearance matter, the entire store’s appearance matters when we are dealing with customers. If we take pride in caring
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Fuel System Cleaning

How important is fuel system cleaning? It is important to know what your competition is providing. Are the dealers performing an actual fuel system cleaning?  There are so many things to think about, especially when it comes to what is best for your customers. You want your customers returning because you separate yourself with the level of services and benefits you offer and the education you provide. You want your customers to trust you!With that said, today’s engines must meet the conflicting demands for power and performance, while also providing improved fuel economy and meeting reduced emission requirements. In
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