Coffee, Cars and Casual Conversations

Coffee, Cars and Casual Conversations

Our passion may resonate with the driving public, but our production is geared to everyone who keeps the public driving.

A few weeks ago, we conducted a very interesting experiment at our Akron, OH corporate headquarters. Normally closed off by razor wire, electronic alarms and roving packs of junkyard dogs (well…), we decided to open the doors of the Babcox Media headquarters to the general public.

Well, not quite the GENERAL public – because for all the change our business has gone through over the past 103 years, we are still focused on professionals serving the automotive industry.

We invited vendors, suppliers, manufacturers and shop owners to visit with us, have a cup of coffee and have in depth conversations about the challenges we’re all facing these days. We’re proud of the facilities we have developed and the resources we can bring to bear to tell the stories that can educate and inspire everyone to be that much more successful.

Many of my conversations were eye-opening. And, frankly, they couldn’t have come at a better time. 

One of the most dramatic changes in the way we do business can be seen in our planning process. Back in the old days, usually around August or September, a bunch of us editorial types would get together in a closed room and hash out an “editorial calendar” for the next year. Each would bring our topic recommendations and, after a process that was neither family friendly nor civil, we would emerge with the tablets upon with the upcoming list of articles and opinion columns would be carved.

It was a satisfying feeling, because we reckoned that we had successfully solved the mystery of what this industry’s participants needed to know to be successful in all aspects of their business operations. In actualilty, these stone tablets were really a living, breathing document, and we gradually began to adapt our direction each year more on what you told us than on what we told you. 

That is part of what made our recent open house so valuable – as much as we were telling our story, we were listening to yours. Several topics that came up in casual conversation have already been turned into videos, podcasts, feature articles and even an editorial column or two.

I want to encourage you to continue that dialogue. ShopOwner is looking for technicians, shop owners or trainers with a passion to share knowledge, expertise or experiences with other professionals in the industry. Using our powerful combination of media platforms, you have an opportunity to contribute to the conversation – to share that something new.

If you have a story you’d like to contribute under your name, you can visit our website (ShopOwnerMag.com) and click on “Content Submission”  to quickly complete our registration and submission form. If you have a story you think would be better from another voice, reach out to me, Andrew Markel or another editor so we can calk about it. 

Or, ignore my total exaggeration from the first paragraph and give me a call the next time you’re in Akron. We’ll be sure to call off the dogs in order to meet with you and talk topics. 

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Everyone likes to feel appreciated, but will a tip make your techs work any quicker or more precisely?

You have probably seen many more businesses and retailers asking for tips during checkout. It is the screen typically seen before you approve the charge. I started to think about what would happen if shops would try asking for tips when customers picked up their vehicle. 

Asking for tips would probably not have gone over too well with customers in the past or in today’s constantly shifting tipping culture. I think it is a question of how people think technicians are compensated. If you are paying 20% gratuity on a meal, it is understandable. But, technicians and shops provide more than a service, they provide expertise and tools that should be compensated through the number of hours billed, not a tip from the customer. 

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