Image of Your Franchise Automotive Outlet is So Important

Image of your franchise automotive outlet is so important. Some say image is everything, well then if you buy a franchise you should be constantly thinking of image and cleanliness. If you read Ray Kroc’s book “Grinding it Out” (McDonalds Visionary) or Tom Monahan’s (Founder of Dominos Pizza) book or Dave Thomas’ book “Franchising for ?” or Howard Shultz’s book; “Pour Your Heart Into it” (Story of Starbucks) you will see they all built brand on image. Even for those of you who are the extroverted sales type, plenty of examples such as “Customer’s For Life” by Carl Sewel and “Exceeding Customer Expectations” by Jack Taylor (founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car). But as I travel the country and have literally been to every city in the country over 10,000 population in the US;

I cannot tell you how many franchise automotive outlets are run down, awnings faded and falling apart, trash areas look like a bomb went off, grease stains out the back door and stains on the sidewalks in front of stores. Of course these stains are there for years? Why? When you buy a franchise you need to follow the manual from the franchisor and no where in that manual, I guarantee it, does it say to make sure there are stains on the concrete out front of your store at all times?

What can you do? Well there are many products available, one we found to work great is Pour-N-Restore. We use this product on a professional level with some of our team members who run The Concrete Wash Guys, which is a module of our WashGuys Franchise System. Concrete Wash Guys is a Concrete Contract Cleaning Franchise and is part of the Wash Guys Network.

We clean all kinds of stuff, some franchise automotive outlets, box stores, auto shops etc. But if you are trying to save costs, you can use this product yourself with you own labor onsite. We have tested and tried the Pour N Restore Concrete Cleaner and it Makes the Grade. Very simple to use on the toughest stains on concrete for automotive uses such as an oil changing business. Rust on your drive way or even cleaning tough jobs, which the Contract Concrete Cleaner often finds themselves dealing with. We believe that this product would be good for homeowners, builders, concrete contractors, commercial janitorial cleaners, coating contractors. It works on concrete, masonry, exposed aggregate, tile, paving, blocks, quarry tile colored concrete and patios.

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Automotive Cooling Systems and Emissions

When most of us think of modern cooling systems, we tend to think overheating, leaks, and maybe even poor cabin heat. But another valid reason for maintaining and inspecting cooling systems is their direct impact on the engine’s emissions level and fuel economy.

Let’s start by reviewing the combustion process. The engine compresses the mixture to raise pressure. This, in turn, increases the temperature of the air/fuel mixture and aids in combustion. If the combustion chamber is too cool, the process needs extra fuel to insure combustion. Think of the old carbureted days of thermostatically controlled chokes that enrichened the mixture on cold starts. There is even a powertrain DTC assigned to this very issue…P0128, Engine is cold too long. Some manufacturers have unique code assignments for this issue. If the combustion chamber temperature gets too hot, Nox emissions will increase. While normally the job of the EGR system, it can only cool so much. If the engine itself is running hotter than normal, the benefit of added EGR is reduced.

Diagnosing the P0128 Diagnostic Trouble Code

The ECM (Engine Control Module) is charged with keeping an eye on any system that will have an impact on what comes out of the tailpipe. Typically, the ECM monitors the ECT (Engine Coolant Temperature) sensor after a cold start, looking for the engine coolant to reach normal temperature in a preset time frame. If the ECM does not see its threshold value in the allotted time, it assumes there is a problem in the cooling system, preventing normal operating temperature from being attained. This is a 2-trip code, meaning that if the ECM gets the same results after 2 consecutive tests, it will record the code and turn on the MIL (Malfunction Indicator Lamp).

The code criterion provides clues on what to test. First, the ECT sensor must be reading correctly. The ECM can only base its decisions on the information it receives. Second, the cooling system must be functioning properly…coolant levels must be correct, no air in the system, cooling fans cycling normally and the thermostat opening and closing as it should. Fortunately, all these factors can be tested at one time with minimal effort.

In my experience, the thermostat is usually the culprit. But to make sure, I set up a few monitors of my own during the test. First, I hook up the scan tool and display the ECT reading, positioning the scan tool under the hood where I can watch it. Second, I use a temperature probe attached to my DVOM (Digital Volt-Ohm Meter) and place the probe in the radiator fins as close to the outlet hose from the engine as I can get. (Make sure it is the outlet from the engine and not the return.) Last, I use an infrared temperature gun to measure temperature on the inlet side of the thermostat housing. Now I can start my test.

Start the engine and watch the ECT reading. It should climb smoothly. You can even graph the data if your scan tool has this feature to see if the signal drops out during warm-up. I use the infrared gun to measure the temperature on the inlet side of the thermostat housing to compare to the ECT reading. While not accurate, it is usually within a few degrees if the sensor is reading correctly. The color of the surface, and the material it’s made of, will affect your temperature gun’s reading. At the same time, I’m watching the temperature reading on my DVOM. If it, too, climbs almost immediately after start up, I know the thermostat isn’t closed. Of course, you can tell this by feel as well, but bear with me…I’m not done yet.

If the DVOM reading stays cold, I keep monitoring the engine temperature readings. As soon as I see the ECT reading near the specification for opening of the thermostat, I look to see if the outlet temperature begins to increase. If so, the thermostat is opening as it should. If not, the thermostat is stuck closed, or there is potential air in the system affecting its operation. If the thermostat opens prematurely, it may have been replaced with one of the incorrect rating, or have a damaged spring or seat.

If all is well to this point, the fault is not present at the time of testing. This could indicate a problem in the wiring from the ECT sensor to the ECM, and electrical checks may be in order. Remember, the ECM can only base its decisions on the information it receives, and if the ECM thinks the engine is cold it will still adjust its initial fuel calculations accordingly.
Of course, if the cooling fans come on immediately and stay on, the cooling fan control system needs to be diagnosed and corrected before proceeding.

While You’re At It

Since I’m already connected, I continue to run the engine to normal operating temperature, making sure it stabilizes. Running at idle, with no airflow across the radiator, will allow the engine’s cooling system to be stressed to perform at its best. I can test the operation of the electric cooling fans by measuring the temperature at which they come on, and by how much of a temperature drop I see as they cycle. In my experience, the fans should come on between 210-240 degrees F as measured at the radiator, and continue to run until temperature drops by 40-60 degrees F. Try out your measurements on known good cars to establish a diagnostic baseline of your own.

On vehicles with viscous fans, temperature should remain relatively stable. If engine temperatures persist in rising after running them for awhile, it’s time to look at system coolant flow and air flow as contributors to the problem. Now we’re in the area of higher than normal engine temperatures and emissions…specifically the formation of Nox. Higher combustion chamber temperatures can also cause “spark knock”, and this, in excess, can lead to engine damage. Troubleshoot these systems as you would normally.

Driveablity?

Proper cooling system function is also an important contributor to fast idle or idle surges complaints on many vehicles that use Idle Air Control systems that rely on coolant temperature as a control. In these systems, typically, a wax pellet is built into the valve and is heated by engine coolant. If the lines are restricted, or there is air in the system, the valve never adjusts and the engine can race at a fast idle speed or more. In some vehicles, this situation is complicated by the ECM’s need to control idle speed. The ECM will first try to adjust the IAC system, and failing that, start varying timing in an attempt to get the idle speed to where it should be. Look for IAC systems that use both an IAC stepper motor and a Fast Idle Air Valve when dealing with this type of complaint. A quick test to verify the fault is to remove the intake boot and close off the IAC port in the throttle body with your finger. If you feel high vacuum, or the engine idle tries to smooth out and stabilize, you’re on the right track.

Today’s engine cooling systems are more complex than ever, with multiple flow paths and some with multiple thermostats and water pumps. While their main job is protecting the engine from excessive heat, they also play an important role in emissions control and fuel consumption. So next time you speak to your customer about cooling system maintenance, educate them on the total job the cooling system is expected to do.

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Automotive Franchises Travel to New Destinations

Washing cars at home with soapy water of detergents is a thing of the past. The practice of self cleaning of cars was quite time consuming and never gave the expected results. Being the 21st century the automotive franchise sector has also grown tremendously offering new services and leisure. The increasing number of automotive franchises is leading to emergence of lot of car wash brands in the segment. Car-care service centres not only wash the cars but also maintain them.

Automotive franchise: Unorganised to organised

No doubt car wash segment is still dominated by unorganised brands, but the industry is gradually moving from unorganised to organised segment. Gauging the rise in the sector lsome of the players have taken the franchise route. Anckur Sama, Founder and Director of CarzSpa said, “We entered into this industry four years back with one outlet, but today, we have around 25 outlets across India. The idea of switching over to car beauty clinic hit me from one of my foreign visits where I saw such centres flourishing. I liked the concept of grooming cars to perfection. Hence my profession of selling cars coupled with a passion of grooming cars brought me into this business.”

Need of car care centres

Increasing awareness regarding maintaining cars is the first and foremost reason for the popularity of car care centres. Earlier car owners used to get their vehicles cleaned from local car cleaners, as they had no other option, however now with the availability of car care centres people prefer to get their cars cleaned professionally. Various other factors contributing to the increasing popularity of car care centres are:

Increased car owners: With cars becoming purchasable for the middle class, there has been a rapid increase in the number of car-owners. Clients who have spent over Rs two lakh to two crore for a car do not want to spoil it by washing it at home. This had lead to the popularity of organised car centres.

Increase in disposable incomes: With increase in disposable incomes, people do not mind spending a few extra bucks on the care and maintenance of their cars.

Hectic work schedule: Cleaning a car is a long and a tiring work. Usually people do not have the time or enthusiasm to wash cars due to lack of time. The best substitute for them is the car-wash centre.

Proper maintenance: Organised car care centres not only wash and clean cars but also maintain them perfectly. They do a complete check-up of cars, which make them worth-while for each penny that a customer pays.

Why franchising of car- care centres?

Car-care has emerged as a popular business concept due to its need in the Indian market. Smart entrepreneurs who had seen the vast potential in this business had started small but later on took the franchise route. The reason for expansion through franchising is the well-established brand name. Clients always prefer to send their cars for cleaning to a well-established and reputed centre rather than an unorganised washing unit. Sama shared, ‘Franchising has always been the preferred route for business development. It becomes very difficult for one company to handle the entire business across the country hence we require entrepreneurs to run the show in different cities and locations for further development and success.”

Moreover this sector does not require huge investment for its set up. However, keeping expensive machines and a large workforce would increase the budget.

Players in this field

This is a growing segment with not many players but the car-care business shows great potential for future. The main players in this segment till now are CarzSpa, Express Car wash, Speed Car Wash, Pureshield Car Glass Sealant and 3M Car care. All these payers are successfully expanding via the franchise route.

Challenges for success

The car-care franchise may have many benefits but also has a few drawbacks.

Firstly many aspirants enter the arena with big dreams of making fast cash. Like any other business, there is a lot of hard work in car washing business. Aspirants take a franchise believing that there are machines to do work and staff to manage it. However it should be kept in mind that even the owner (franchisee) has to struggle. As said by Sama, “To create sufficient footfalls and business in initial months is a challenge for an automotive franchise. We can overcome these challenges with low budget marketing advertisement and good services so that the customers become our permanent clients.”

Secondly, the competition from the unorganised players is another challenge that can be dealt with by providing excellent services and showing professionalism.

To conclude, it would not be inappropriate to say that current trends certainly favour the automotive franchise business. People are spending huge amount on expensive vehicles, and are ready to spent few extra bucks in keeping their cars in a excellent condition and the preferred choice would always be a branded car-wash centre. There is definitely a large potential for aspiring entrepreneurs as, ‘No matter what happens, it is likely that as long as there are cars, there will always be a need for car wash’.

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