Interview with Aaron Stokes, Part 1
ALLDATA recently interviewed Aaron Stokes, the founder of Shop Fix Academy, owner and operator of five auto repair shops, and the radio show host of “Fixin’ Cars with Aaron Stokes” on Nashville’s 99.7.
Read on for Part 1 of our exclusive three-part interview or watch now.
ALLDATA: If saving time throughout the workflow is a key profit driver for shops, how exactly do you calculate the value of that time savings?
AARON STOKES: I think that a lot of repair shops try to go about calculating the savings. I don’t think you can calculate the savings. I think you have to instead look at the possibility of loss. And the possibility of loss is so great if a technician does something wrong, why in the world you would ever risk that is beyond me.
There are too many brands, too many models, too many new pieces of technology coming out. And if we don’t get that exactly right and a technician breaks something, the one item they break could cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars or multiple thousands of dollars. That, in comparison to a small fee for repair information is beyond me why anyone would ever even consider it.
So I don’t look at it as savings. I look at it like stop-loss insurance. The amount of money ALLDATA saves me from possibly things going drastically wrong every month is probably in the tens of thousands of dollars. So why in the world would I only rely on a technician’s memory or knowledge, or especially a brand-new technician that I just hired? It’s a cheap insurance policy. Why would I ever risk it? It makes no sense to me.
... more than ever we need to have that information readily available to us so that we can make the right decision and save the company money, the customer time and money, and be able to get that repair done correctly and as fast as possible.
ALLDATA: How does the average shop view using repair information platforms and how important is it to have access to OEM repair procedures for mechanical repair shops?
AARON STOKES: Well, I think the average shop thinks it’s not that big of a deal, because they’re not there with the technician realizing how fast things are changing. I think a lot of technicians have an ego they like to protect, so they don’t always want to admit they don’t know something.
So with OEMs rolling out vehicles every single year, more complicated things that we’ve never seen or heard of before, more than ever we need to have that information readily available to us so that we can make the right decision and save the company money, the customer time and money, and be able to get that repair done correctly and as fast as possible.
ALLDATA: How do we get around that mindset?
AARON STOKES: I think it starts with the owner, starts with the top-down. We have to be willing to admit we’re human, we make mistakes. We have to give our employees a place where they can actually say, “You know what, I don’t got it all figured out” and that’s okay.
We have to see concern for the customer’s car above all else. Their vehicle is number one. And we’re going to make sure that we do it right, whether the bolt is a torque-to-yield or there’s a testing procedure for a component that we think might be bad, whatever it might be. We need that employee to follow that step by step by step.
And so I think it’s a huge deal that we do it the right way. And anyone that, in my opinion, doesn’t place the right way, the absolute top quality at the top of the list, if they don’t say, “Hey, this is how we have to do it, this is what we believe in our repair shop, we got to do it this way,” if they don’t take that type of attitude, they’re not really putting the customer’s car first.
And I would even go as far to say that even if they do put the customer’s car first, even if they say, “Hey, this is what we believe” but they don’t put their money where their mouth is, honestly, they’re a liar. Sorry, that’s strong. But they got to do it right. They can’t fix this car shooting from the hip. You just can’t do that anymore.
ALLDATA: On the collision side, shops are taking the risk of liability seriously, and there’s increasing support for following OEM procedures. How do we get general repair shops to think about repair information as their own “insurance” against liability?
AARON STOKES: Well, I think they are comparing it to safety like the body shop industry. And they’re going, “Oh, well, we know to tighten lug nuts, we know to tighten brake calipers, we don’t need it.” They don’t think that it could affect also the way something operates or runs or is designed to run and that that could somehow come back on them and cost them money.
So every time something goes wrong, instead of saying, “Oh, how could I have not caused this,” they blame the technician, they blame anything and everything. They don’t ever say, “It’s my fault.” And when you say, “It’s my fault” and you go, “How can I stop this from happening in the future,” you have to take ownership and start looking at the ways you’ve created stopgaps in your business. And if you don’t have it in a certain area, how can we go get it now? And that’s where ALLDATA comes in.