Articles by Ragan Holt

Procedures

I had an interesting conversation last month with a customer test group. Now I’ll admit, when these conversations started, I had no idea this was going to be a test group. But maybe because this was not a planned idea is why it worked so well. You see, from time to time I get asked by different operators to come out and spend some time with them to discuss different aspects of their operations. It was during one these times this transpired.My typical schedule whenever I am in the field is to arrive late in the afternoon and visit
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Operational Training Policy

Happy Birthday to the grand ol’ United States of America! Can you believe it? Two hundred and thirty-nine years old and still looking good! Now, before you start to chatter about all that is wrong with our country, consider the hot topic on Capitol Hill this year — the immigration mess.Why is it such a mess?  Because the U.S. is still the most desired country on earth for people to live. Even with all of our problems, people are trying by whatever means possible to get here. Regardless of how you feel about the immigration problem, the reason it
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Operational Training: The Checklist

Can you believe we’re already halfway through another year? As they say, where did time go? Summertime is coming, and if history repeats itself, we need to get ready for summer driving. Our customers have been planning their summer vacations. Soon, they will be rolling into the shop. An inside joke we used to play between shops during this time of year was counting the number of times we heard, “My family and I are going on vacation, and we need to make sure everything is ready for the car,” or some variation of that. It was as if
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Give 'Em What They Want: Operational Training for 2015

A few months ago I had a conversation with an operator from the state of Arkansas. He told me his career started at the same place a lot of people from the state of Arkansas start their careers. I would rather not name the place, but most of us have heard of them — let’s just say they put the big box stores on the map.He and I were having a conversation about how successful operations did business and what made them unique to the market. That reminded him of his earlier career. This particular business was not in
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Let's Recap

Wow, what happened to the first quarter of 2015? I still haven’t gotten used to writing 2015 instead of 2014, and all of a sudden it’s the second quarter of the year. The first quarter has been robust for the industry, and many shops are seeing an uptick in business. If the first quarter is any indicator of 2015, it looks like it will be a good year.Many operators are experiencing an increase in both ticket averages and car counts. It’s the “perfect world” that’s referenced by many. In this space, we have looked at this new normal. From
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Employee Expectations

Everyone has expectations of whatever it is they do. This column considers the ideas of customer expectations and customer profiles and, in the future, will discuss customer service issues and what our customers’ expectations are in that area.Believe it or not, great customer service begins with happy and satisfied employees. For the past year, I have continued to research and develop a training schedule for this interesting concept. I have called it, “the new normal.”The new normal embraces changes that have occurred as a result of the worst economic decline since The Great Depression. This great downturn was referred
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The New Normal: Customer Expectations

I have been conducting an ongoing research project for myself hoping to discover what our industry is going to look like over the next few years. As a former operation manager for a chain of quick lubes, one of my duties was to try to forecast what the future would look like. If I was successful in my prediction, then the company would benefit from the forecast; unfortunately, when I was wrong, the company would miss out on some opportunities. Trying to predict the customer was always the most complicated, but just because it was complicated didn’t mean I
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The Customer Profile

For a year now, I have been asking who are you, and what are you going to be? The vehicle maintenance industry has separated into two different industries. On one side is the traditional quick lube, or as some say, the 10 minute or less service center. These shops focus on getting a customer in and out quickly. Car count is the No. 1 statistic management keeps a close eye on. The services of a quick lube have stayed consistent throughout the years with a simple philosophy — if the service can be performed in 10 minutes or less,
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Radiator Services, Part II

According to U.S. Department of Transportation, the leading cause of breakdowns on the highway is radiator failure. Your customers expect you to be an expert when it comes to properly servicing their vehicles. Checking and servicing radiators is a critical function of that service. The following information and tips for our customers is from the National Automotive Radiator Service Association and is part two of a two-part series on servicing radiators. For part one, go here.Preventative Cooling System Maintenance ProgramProduced by the National Automotive Radiator Service Association (NARSA)Higher Incidence of Cooling System Troubles in Older VehiclesVehicles five years and
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