Baltimore Auto Service

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Lessons Learned Visiting Shops

Lesson learned from Auto Body Consulting


My blog has allowed me to create consulting services with various auto body shops across the country.  One element of my consulting services is to visit an auto body shop, perform a walk through and give feedback.  This post is all about sharing what I learned from these visits and what people can do to apply the best practices I have learned after visiting with other mechanics.

1. Keep your shop clean:

I get it you are running and auto body shop and your job is to fix cars not run a cleaning company.  But still there is a standard that needs to be upheld in order to present your business as a professional location for your customers.  Fixing cars is a dirty job, but what I am mainly talking about is the trash your crew generates on a daily basis.  I used to make my crew clean up, but I recently hired a cleaning service to come in 3 times a week.  They take care of the basic cleaning services and it functions as a relief to my crew when i don’t harass them for being messy.

2. Keep your website updated:

In visiting my clients, I am blown away how many of them have changed their operating hours over the years and never updated their website or other online properties to match their current hours.  My most recent visit was with a company that expanded their hours by opening earlier and staying open later.  Their complaint was that the additional hours didn’t translate to additional customers.  I asked if he updated his website and google listing.  We looked and he hadn’t.  He updated his operating hours online and sure enough customers started visiting during these new hours.


What to do when you think your Mechanic is Lying?

How to approach a lying mechanic.


Recently a friend of mine asked what he should do if he thinks he mechanic is lying to him?  The simple and most straight forward answer is to find a new mechanic.  Just like every industry the auto mechanic industry has people who lie in order to generate more money for their business.  It is a fact of life, people, lie, steal, and cheat.  But lets keep in mind like every industry you can also find professional people providing professional work.  If someone is lying to me, I personally take my business somewhere else where I can trust the recommendations they are suggesting.  But below are a couple steps that someone can take when they have a feeling their mechanic is lying but aren’t sure.


  1.  Take your car to another mechanic and get a second decision.  Don’t tell them what the first mechanic told you.  Simply let the knew mechanic perform a diagnostic serviceon your car and learn what service they suggest.  If they make the same suggestions are your typical mechanic then you can be confident that your car needs the service that is being suggested.
  2.  Ask your mechanic how urgent he see’s the suggested work being.  Sometimes a mechanic will recommend work but when asks how urgent my so in the next 2-3 months.  Their response will give you a feel for how soon you should get the work performed.  If you have a couple months, it may allow you to get a second opinion like mentioned above and if confirmed save over a couple months so you can pay for the work and not worry about the financial commitment.
  3.  Ask questions about the work so you understand the work that is being done and why your mechanic is recommending it.
  4. Find a new mechanic.  Thea reality if you have options.  If you don’t like the service or the price, find a new mechanic.

Working with local service contractors

How networking builds your business and your life:

As a mechanic, I learned the power of referrals.  In an earlier post, I talked about how to find a mechanic you can trust, and the importance of asking friends and colleagues who their mechanic was. Just how customers ask their friends for a mechanic they can trust for service, business owners or service providers like myself connect with other service providers to build a network. This allows each one of us to get to know and recommend one another when our customers ask.  With each stop, whether that was Baltimore, Houston, or Burbank my business has grown first by taking care of my customers, but also by building professional relationships with other service providers in the local community.


By supporting and recommending one another we build our businesses together.  His book or business gets recommend to use my services and my book of business becomes aware of their services.  By working together we leverage and maximize our relationships for the benefit of each other.  Both of our businesses grow.  The key when making service recommendations is knowing that the other business provides great service and is an expert in their job.  For me personally, I make sure to use the service provider first.  If I am happy with the result, then I consider them a great candidate to network with.  I can recommend their services with confidence and integrity because I have experienced the quality of their work first hand.

Recently the weather here is Burbank has been getting super hot.  In fact over the last couple of days we have had some heat warnings.  Today while I was working in the shop an individual named Adam brought his truck into my shop.  He had ladders and a power washer and so I naturally asked him what he did.  Turns out he is a local business owner that cleans windows and gutters in the Burbank and Glendale communities.  His busy season is summer and fall.  We got to talking and he is the next service provider that I am going to try and see if I can add him into my network of referrals.  He asked the last time I cleaned my gutters.  It has been years, we traded some light work on his truck for a window cleaning and gutter cleaning.  Once he stops by for the service I will let you know how it was. Until then you can check out his website and see what services he provides.  His name is Adam, and his team is professional window cleaners.

But the bigger point is that meeting people and networking is key.  When we network with key people we learn something new.  We may become aware of a new experience that we really enjoy that we otherwise would not have had.  We may also stumble upon a new business opportunity.  The sky is the limit when it comes to meeting new people.  My dad used to tell me to be kind because never know what kind of day they are having and I never know what new information or opportunity I can learn by just listening and getting to know someone knew.  I hope that inspires you today not just around your car, building a mechanic shop, but more importantly around how you treat people on a daily basis.

As always, thanks for stopping by.





Crazy Things I have found in a Customers Car

A person car in a personal space.  Look no further than road rage across America and realize we do consider our car as an extension of our self.  This translate to the way people care for their car to waht they keep in their car.  When I first started as a mechanic in Baltimore, I was always surprised by some of the things people would leave out in their car.  They either forgot a complete stranger was getting in the car or they simply did not care.

Under the seats:

  1. Seasoning: I have found, salt, pepper, and even Basil underneath the drivers seat of a car.
  2. Cd’s – not that weird but I often wonder how long it has been their.
  3. Their wallet.  Seriously, who leaves their wallet in the car, plain stupid.

Glove Box:

  1. Condoms – because you never know when a good time may be just around the corner.
  2. Cash – seriously people stop leaving cash in your car
  3. Gun – Depends on the state


  1. Trash – like a lot of trash.  It aways makes me wonder if you got out of the car and opened the trunk to throw your trash could not you just as easily have pulled into a gas station and thrown the trash out instead of left it in your trunk to grow mold and other straight nasty smells.
  2. Food – Like groceries that they forgot about.
  3. Wedding dress.  One of the more surprising articles left in a car trunk.

Under the Hood:

  1. Plastic Straws
  2. Food
  3. Animals, rodent nests.  Yes one time i opened the hood and was greeted by a family of squirrels.
  4. Not surprising, duct tup.  Like a lot of it.  People use duct tape and super glue to try and fix their car all the time.

I hope you enjoyed this list.  My suggestion, next time you take your car to your mechanic just know they are going to look through your car, so if you do not want them to see what is in there then you best take it with you.


Find a Mechanic You Trust!

Tips for finding a mechanic you can trust.

One of the most common questions I get asked by friends and family, is how do they find a good mechanic.  Today most people do not know very much about their car outside of how to drive it, kind of :).

The upside is that every city has at least a handful of qualified and honest auto mechanics who are honest men and women doing great work for a fair price.  The downside is that every city also has auto shops that do borderline work but over pay and charge customers for work they did not even perform. Many of us have been victim to taking our car in for a $30 oil change only to end up paying $300 for a part of our car to be fixed that we have never heard of.  The below steps will assist you in finding a mechanic in your city that will be honest and put your interest and a long term relationship with you as a priority.

  1. Referrals: Work with a mechanic that a friend or family member recommends.  When you make your appointment be sure to tell them about the person who referred you to them.  This will let them know how they treat you will impact another customer of theres as well.  They’d rather keep two customers long term than over charge one short terms and have two customers never return.
  2. Routine Maintenance: Work with an auto mechanic on routine maintenance.  If you are getting up charged when your vehicle is also scheduled for routine maintenance then you may have found an invoice happy mechanic.  If they simply perform the routine maintenance as scheduled they you may have a great mechanic on your hands.  Also it is best to find a good mechanic when you dont really need one.  By finding a great mechanic when only routine maintenance is required you can have a broken down car towed into this mechanic with much greater confidence that they are going to be fair and honest.
  3. Check Reviews: Look the company up on google or yelp and check their reviews.  When looking at reviews toss out one off comments whether good or bad, good ones may be company employees bad ones my be an unreasonable customer.  Instead focus on the trends.  What is consistently mentioned within the reviews.  Reflect on that and consider an abundant of reviews saying similar things as fairly trustworthy. When arriving let them know you chose them based on reviews, this lets them know treating you poorly could result in a bad online review.
  4. Get Multiple Estimates:  Use your rights as a consumer to get multiple quotes, especially for more expensive work.  This will teach you more about what is actually wrong with your car and what the cost to fix it can be.  Plus this gives you potential ability to negotiate and find the best price possible.
  5. Don’t choose only on price: While price matters do not make it the only thing.  We have all heard the saying you get what you pay for, so be ok paying a fair market rate for quality and trust.
  6. Be loyal:  When you find a greta mechanic be loyal and refer them customers.  Mechanics are people trying to build a business and make an honest living.  Help them in their goal and they will treat you like one of their prized customers.

I hope these tips help you in making the right choice and finding a mechanic you can trust.



Yes, your mechanic really does this!

This is not my style but having worked in different mechanic shops both in Los Angeles and Baltimore, I laugh at some of the things mechanics do when a car is left with them for the day.  Below is a list of some of the funnier to more harmful thigns fellow mechanics may consistently do.

  1. Take the car for a joyride.  This can start out as making sure the service was completed and that the steering alignment was done properly, but it often translates to a mechanic taking your car on their break to pick up lunch or a coffee.
  2. Stealing from your car.  I worked with mechanics who became obsessed with taking at least one thing from your car.  Most of the time it was something minimal like, a piece of gum, or mint.  But sometimes it can be more frustrating like your phone charger, a music cd, or even cash.  So if you want to keep it, then make sure you take it out of the car.  Otherwise assume your mechanic took a mint as a service fee.
  3. Overcharges for parts.  A particular shop that I worked out of in Burbank used to consistently tell customers the part they needed was rare and they would have to order it.  They could get it rushed, but their would be an extra work order charge.  Half the time this part was sitting in the back.  This extra charge was pure profit to the auto body.
  4. Suggest work was more urgent than it really was.  Look their is also extra work a mechanic can perform on your car beyond the oil change or tire rotation, but some auto shops are extra aggressive when making suggestions.

Check out this funny video that highlights some crazy things mechanics do.  And then be sure to check out next weeks blog when i detail how to choose a good mechanic.