April 29, 2016

Mobile Diagnostic Techs Have it Good.

There is no doubt that mobile diagnostic and programming techs have it good these days. Their costs are low, their customers are easy to identify, and their competition (dealers) are easy to compete against. That is a great business model. What makes all this work, though, is the ease of getting factory information and tools. Especially the information – that’s what fixes today’s vehicles. Specifically, OEM scan tools place current information in the tech’s hands, and are more affordable than one would think.

To prove that point that let’s look at three examples. As we begin, remember the first time you used an OEM scan tool. “How nice!” is the typical reaction after years spent using generic scanners. First, consider the Chrysler Witech. Estimate that it, like most OEM scanners, would cost you about $1,250 to purchase. Budget an additional $2 per day for ongoing data and license fees. But put that price into perspective. If you were not mobile, but instead rented a shop to work in, your rent would be, say, $1,000 monthly for an out of the way, industrial shop space. For a prime highway location, with high traffic visibility, figure rent at two or three times that amount, easily. Often even higher. Let’s say you finance the Witech’s purchase price of $1,250. Payments spread over 19 months at, say, 7% interest, with no money down, would give you a monthly payment of about $71. Cheaper than rent. 

The Witech home screen gives you a map of all possible ECUs of the vehicle you are working on. The map shows which ECUs are active on that vehicle, tells you which ones have trouble codes stored, and even tells you which ones have TSBs or reflashes available. So far all you’ve done is look at one screen, and you already have all that info.Goodbye paging through screen after screen endlessly, and then wondering how you can charge for all that diagnostic time! Just pick an ECU, then point and click. You’re on your way to accurate diagnostics. Tons of up-to-date factory info is now at your fingertips. With a Techauthority subscription you get full factory service information and wiring diagrams. You are all set to go as a dealer.

Second, look at the Nissan Consult 3 Plus OEM tool with Nissan service information – Nissan ASIST. Remember we said that mobile programming techs have it good, and that their customers are easy to identify? Who are their customers? All the repair shops that don’t want to spend $5,000 (or more) on an OEM scan tool, for each line they work on. (Don’t tell them it’s only $86 a month over 6 years. That’s our little secret). Say an independent repair shop replaced a 2006 Nissan Pathfinder transmission valve body. Good. They call you, saying the TCM won’t adapt. And they are tired of driving the car, trying to make it relearn (or the car won’t even run). But actually Nissan had sent them a blank TCM with no calibration. Now it needs to be programmed (thanks to Nissan for shipping a blank TCM). No problem for you. You come to them. That saves them the hassle of getting the vehicle to a dealership (and the towing fee), leaving it there, and then losing control of the repair process. Not to mention the time and delay of getting the car back to their customer, and paid for. 

So how do you find these repair shops, and introduce yourself to them? Simple. Buy a list. Typical mailing lists will include the business name, address, phone numbers, their email, the owner’s name, and more. A good list vendor should charge you about 50 cents per name. Maybe more, though, if the list is small. So pick several counties that you don’t mind earning money in. Cheap indeed, compared to paying rent on a shop space. Then mail each shop a postcard with your contact info and list of services. Mail one to them every month. 

Oh, the Consult 3 Plus sells for about $4,500, depending on what options you choose with it. So at the same 7% interest, and 3 years to pay, with no money down, your payment would be about $140 a month. Forget about renting a space. 

Lastly, look at the Toyota Techstream. It’s the easiest way to reprogram keys. Suppose a body shop calls you. You do mail your postcards to body shops too, don’t you? Every month? They have a collision repair finished, and want to avoid the expense of transporting the car to a dealer – just to have keys programmed. You are the right person to call, respond quickly, and will likely charge them a little less than the dealer would.

Remember we said that dealers are easy to compete against? They are immobile, expensive, and often have a slow, cumbersome repair process, due to their size and complexity. Don’t forget to get your locksmith license and to have the LSID.

On the other hand, you go directly to the body shop, you bring OEM tools and information, and you save them time and money. That’s a great business model. So forget about generic scanners. In the big picture, generic does not save you money or time. Give some serious thought to stepping up to OEM quality. It’s the only way.

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