Articles by Jim Baumer

Giving Back: Truckin' For a Cause

Amalee Mueller is someone who drag racing fans at National Hot Rod Diesel Association (NHRDA) events have been hearing a lot about over the past few years. This has been especially true during the current 2018 racing season. In a sport dominated by men, this female has been making a name for herself. She’s been leading NHRDA’s Pro Stock and Limited Pro Stock sled-pulling classes in points all year. She’s also near the top of the leader board in points in the Super Diesel class of NHRDA’s Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Racing series. But Mueller’s story is much more
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Finding and Buying Your Dream Car

Do you like cars? By that I mean, do you view your vehicle as something more than mere transportation? If so, then you probably have that “dream car” that you’d own if you won the lottery or suddenly came into a stow of cash. Of course, then there are the serious car enthusiasts. They’re the ones who wait all year for events like Monterey Car Week —a week-long extravaganza of car exhibitions, rallies and social events. The entire week takes place in and around Pebble Beach, California, and features many of the world’s finest and most expensive exotic and
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Hiring Workers In a Tight Labor Market

Last May, the U.S. unemployment rate dipped below 4 percent, the lowest it had been in 18 years. June’s rate ticked up to just over 4 percent, but the current tight labor market is here to stay. This is posing problems for anyone hiring both skilled and unskilled labor. All industry sectors are affected, especially those with a customer-facing component, like the quick lube industry. In an interview with Marketplace, Tony Lee, vice president and head of talent acquisition at the Society for Human Resource Management discussed how companies are going to have to adapt. “Companies are scrambling to
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A Classified Success Story: Jose Cervantes

Jose Cervantes got his start in the auto service industry in 1999. You can say that he got his start on the ground floor. “I started in courtesy,” Cervantes said. “I’d greet the customer when they came in, and help with windows and checking the tires.” A classified ad in National Oil & Lube News back in 2008 found him driving two hours to a small shop for sale north of where he was living at the time, in Broward County. Speed Lube was located in Stuart, Florida. He was living and working in Miami at the time. “My
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Chatting with the SheCANic, Patrice Banks

NOLN recently sat down with Patrice Banks, author of “The Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide,” and founder of Girls Auto Clinic, an auto repair shop she owns outside Philadelphia, staffed by female mechanics, to talk about women, the industry and her book. NOLN: You mention being an “auto airhead” in your book. Do you think it’s a learned cultural trait, where women generally don’t pay attention to their vehicles? Banks: I do think it is a culturally learned trait. It seems much less common for young girls to be encouraged to pursue interests in these types of fields,
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An Essential Guide for Your Customer’s Glove Box, Written by a SheCANic

Women now outnumber men as drivers in the U.S. According to Frost & Sullivan, this isn’t simply in the younger demographic categories, either. The trend is accelerated in women over 55. That means that women are now the auto industry’s main customer base. Patrice Banks, author of “Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide,” someone who admits to being a “former auto airhead,” recognizes that women represent an important demographic in terms of marketing and being potential customers to auto-related business owners. Banks’ own journey is one based on education, which led to empowerment. From there, Banks ended up founding
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The Nuts and Bolts of Offering Total Car Care to Your Customers

Next to purchasing a home, the acquisition and ongoing maintenance of a vehicle is likely the next largest expense in most people's monthly budget. Depending on an owner's choice of vehicle, that cost can consume up to half of their take-home pay or more. And while technology and the Internet of Things have impacted vehicles in many ways, cars still can't fix themselves. With the proliferation of quick lubes in the 1980s and 1990s, getting your oil changed and performing routine maintenance is easier than ever. At the same time, some operators are reconsidering not offering more than the
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Worth a Listen: Podcasts to Help Better Your Busy Life

Once upon a time, business leaders committed to lifelong learning and growth read books. Many of them still do, but in a busy world where we’re being pulled in multiple directions, having the time to settle into a comfortable reading chair with the latest business bestseller isn’t always an option. What if there was something as educational and informative as a book, but as mobile as music? Something you could access on your phone while stuck in traffic during your commute, or while unwinding on your way home. There is, and it’s called a podcast. You might already be
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Increasing Profits by Reducing Waste

Organization and downsizing are topics that frequently show up during morning news features and in polite conversation. Bookstores have good-sized sections devoted to books hammering home the need to reduce our amount of stuff. Japanese author, Marie Kondo, has ridden her best-selling book on organization, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” to fame and fortune with American consumers tired of their junk-filled homes and lifestyles. So what does all this talk about organization have to do with your auto service shop? Can I bring organization and a passion to declutter to work? Even better, is waste and lack of
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Taking Convenience to the Next Level Co-branding Your Business

People are busy, maybe busier than ever before. Multitasking is the new norm. Forcing them to focus on simply one thing while getting work done on their car — like an oil change or repair — is running the risk of inconveniencing them in a major way. Not only are we busy, but we’re on screens, seeking a wi-fi hotspot when we lay-up and come to a stop. In light of that, considering value-added options for your customers is no longer an unrealistic expectation if you own and operate an auto service shop. “Service-based industries are hot,” said Dallas-Fort
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Lighting Up Your Wash and Shop

The car wash industry generates more than $15 billion in retail sales in North America. Discerning drivers recognize that washing their cars is one aspect in protecting the sizeable investment they’ve made. A survey conducted by the International Car Wash Association (ICA) indicates a trend that consumers now prefer to have their cars washed for them, rather than dragging out the hose and bucket and doing it themselves. Over the past 20 years, the number of vehicles washed at professional car washes has increased from 47 percent to 72 percent. Carwashes have been part of the culture for 100
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Making the Case for Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations

What comes first — a critical mass of electric vehicles (EVs) or a national, coast-to-coast network of charging stations? Perhaps there isn’t a choice to be made. The market for charging stations appears to be growing simultaneously, along with the increased popularity and number of EVs being driven on American roadways. Of course, like many burgeoning movements in America, where you are located geographically is often a factor. It’s no different when finding the enhanced charging infrastructure that’s required in addressing basic charging needs for EVs. Then, there is the discussion about offering the same convenience to EV owners
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OnStar’s Proactive Alerts

Imagine having a vehicle that provided real-time diagnostic updates, including possible maintenance issues before they resulted in your car not starting? Rather than relying on listening for a rattle, a strange sound or simply hoping your vehicle doesn’t let you down, General Motors (GM) is introducing the industry’s first predictive technology with OnStar’s Predictive Alerts. Now, your vehicle will warn you about a potential maintenance need before it stops you in your tracks. OnStar’s latest technological feature is similar in concept to what’s on the Boeing 787, which alerts ground crews to parts and issues requiring inspection before the
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Dealing with Your Local Food Trucker

Food trucks are the culinary scene’s hot commodity right now. About a decade ago, they started popping up in major metro areas like Los Angeles and New York City. Today, there are few small and mid-sized cities in America without at least a handful of food trucks regularly out on the streets and set-up in parking lots on any given day.Truth-be-told, the food truck concept isn’t a new one. These kitchens on wheels have been around for years, once predominantly serving construction sites, factories and other locations where blue-collar workers desiring quick, low-cost food could grab lunch and get
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Are Your Customers' Cars Safe From Hackers?

Imagine your favorite customer is in her brand new, networked vehicle and suddenly, it comes to a halt in the middle of an intersection. She looks around and notices all the other cars around her have stopped and can’t start back up again. Guess what? She and her fellow motorists are part of a cyberattack.That fictional scenario hasn’t happened, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t. As the complexity of vehicles has been ratcheted up due to ever-increasing technological enhancements and innovation, so has the risk a hacker could acquire control of the various functions and systems of
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The 2016 Concept Vehicles: Will They Be Showing Up In Your Bays?

Concept cars have a rich place in automotive history. The first prototype dates back to 1938 when legendary GM designer Harley Earl unveiled his Buick Y-Job. This visionary coupe design would leave its legacy and serve as a primary style influence on Buicks through the 1940s and early 1950s. This commenced the tradition we’re now familiar with when concept designs get rolled out alongside the year’s anticipated new models at the major auto shows in places like Detroit, Chicago and New York.If you’ve attended one of these glitzy events, you’ve witnessed how concept cars have the power to steal
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"Steve McQueen: Full Throttle Cool" A Review

Hollywood’s star-making machinery can be unforgiving in terms of longevity and staying power. Yesterday’s matinee idol becomes today’s has-been and is easily forgotten tomorrow. And yet, some manage to defy becoming merely a footnote for movie buffs and historians.Steve McQueen was known as “The King of Cool” during his heyday, but might fall into the latter category for the younger set. However, a thrilling new graphic novel from MotorBooks, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group, captures McQueen’s larger than life legacy, as well as providing a great introduction for anyone not familiar with the actor’s life and work.“Steve McQueen:
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