Monday, February 4, 2013

My New Blog

As I stated in earlier blogs we have now renamed our business to Golden Rule Auto Care, and with that I have created a new blog I will no longer be updating this blog, but will leave it up as long as the internet will let me :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Business Web Design - Responsive!

I recently read this article about responsive web design ( and how it is becoming the norm. Luckily as a business owner I have a background in web development. In my previous life I worked 10+ years in software engineering and continue to still do this actively now (I even own my own web solutions company Software Status Solutions, but that is another blog). And I have to agree with this article 100%. Without making you read the article the idea behind responsive web design it creating one web site that will serve adjusted content to all different browser types: Your desktop browser, you Ipad browser all the way to you Iphone browser. In today's world everything is internet ready! I have had several customers mention that our previous website was not mobile friendly, and it isn't. But our latest website is! It will automatically scale per the device browser. And in the auto repair industry this is very important. I need for my customers to easily be able to find us and contact us.

My suggestion to any repair shop owner, or any business owner in the service industry would be when developing  your next web site make sure whichever company you decide to build your site can build you a responsive site. And also make sure they don't charge you triple for that feature, in today's world of web templates and open source frameworks it is too easy to build these things without adding a significant amount of added cost.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rebrand - Golden Rule Auto Care

I am excited to announce the re-branding of our Auto Repair shop from Lonestar Auto Repair to Golden Rule Auto Care! Check out for the latest pictures. I am finishing up the website, and if all goes as planned it should be up by the end of the year (That is of course if the world doesn't end tomorrow).

For those wanting to know why we changed the name now I will tell you. When Patrick and I first took over ownership I didn't want to rock the boat. I wanted to make a smooth transition between owners to let the current customers know we were going to deliver the same quality of work and set their expectations high. We have been slowly growing over the last 1 1/2 years in a positive direction. It was always our intention to change the name to something that means something to us. At the beginning of this year we started the process, new name, new logo, new colors, new signs, new paint, new EVERYTHING! It has been a long, but satisfying journey. 
I want to thank the following people who helped:
- All the guy at the shop! We went through a LOT of disagreements, but came together in the end. Thanks Pat, Colin, Jorge, Scott, Clifford, Trevor, Kyle!
- James Patton with Qabria Designs ( for all the design work! Excellent work! The logo and color schemes are magic!
- Mark Ulrich and everyone at ALLTEX signs ( for the new signs!
- Jorg and his crew at Spires Roofing and Remodeling ( for the painting
- Seth from All Things New for the parking lot re-paint (817-964-1418)
And of course all the customers!
I probably left someone out, and if I did I will make up for it in later blogs!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guidance is a gift I like to give!

I recently had a friend ask me a couple of questions in regards to a new position he is going to be taking. I was truly honored that he asked. It led me to type up a mini email book response. I am one not to waste content, so I am re-posting parts of the response in my blog for the world to see (or the 3 people who read my blog).


Question) How would you go about evaluating a development manager? New developers?

Answer) You are a great judge of character, this you must rely on. Attitude is everything. BUT experience is a necessity... With that said, test and measure. Then test and measure, then test and measure. If you are looking for a manager test him with technical and people problems. Make sure you give him enough problems to make sure he knows what he knows. Same thing with developers, make them struggle. I had one interview where I had to answer the same question with multiple right answers, and after answering the question right 3 or 4 times the hiring manager told me one more way I could have answered... Tough but he knew what he was getting (of course I got the job, and respected him for what he did). At my auto repair shop we take our time with meeting them and getting to know them. The interviews are typically longer than an hour. We want to make sure they play well with the others in the shop. But tech is a different world of course, in a typical short interview it is hard to get to know how someone really is. I am a big believer in empowering others. At SWA I built several engineers by giving them tasks leaving them alone and then seeing how quickly they either did or didn't provide a solution. Those that did I built, those that didn't I got rid of. Bottom line test and measure.

Question) How would I go about instilling great development culture? How would I go about facilitating great development collaboration and discipline?
Answer) The culture starts with you. William Wallace (from the movie Braveheart) bled with his men, he took time to understand his men, and he died for his passion... He was easy to follow because he made you believe, but he believed. Don't ask something of your men you aren't willing to do yourself. Also get to know them. Take them to lunch on one on ones. Yes they are going to tell you all the negative things you don't want to hear but the will tell you everything you need to hear. Something I learned from one of the previous CTO's I worked for was he wasn't afraid to get down and dirty with everyone. What CTO does that... Very few. Don't force fun and don't make them salute the company flag, they will tell you how the want to be treated, you just have to listen.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Staffing - The most important aspect of any business

I have heard this over and over again, and how this rings so true at the core of what it means. Herb Kelleher, the ex CEO/President of Southwest Airlines, said "We will hire someone with less experience, less education, and less expertise, than someone who has more of those things and has a rotten attitude." An employee is the core of your business, your customer service, and  your product. They are the face of what you do, and the brains behind how you do it. But you must hire people with the right attitude, and not just for the experience they may or may not have. We all need those who are willing to reach for the stars, and smile when things don't work out their way. Those who don't know everything, and are OK to admit it. Those who allow themselves to become silly putty. Those who value perseverance. Those who know change is the only constant, and embrace it.

One of the practices we have adopted when hiring people at Lonestar Auto Repair is putting our new hires through a trail run. Not like a 90 day trial, but a 1 day trail. We allow them to come into the shop for an hour or two and work with everyone. We don't pay them during this trail period either (I am sure my lawyers are going to read this and tell me about all the liability and laws I am pushing and/or breaking). This allows us to get to know the personality of this person, and their work ethic, and of course their attitude. You can really get to know a lot about someone in 1 hour. Then if we decide to hire them then they go on the 90 probation period.

I have not always been the ideal employee when working for others because I get caught up in pride, and that pride turns my silly putty into a dried, crumbly mess. Even as an owner I sometime become the ambivalent leader just for the power trip. What I am saying is I am flawed, but at my core my attitude is positive.

Your people who are a part of your business should be your business. It should not be just a "job" to them. It is up to you to find those with the right attitude, and mold them with your business!

One last thing I would like to say:

Treat your employees like diamonds, and they will treat your customers like gold!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Customer Service Online Update

We have implemented a new system at our place of business Lonestar Auto Repair. We are now sending text message updates to our customers as part of our customer experience. This is a tool we developed in house because the market didn't have what we were looking for. At first we were just going  to keep the tool exclusive to our business, but I was convinced that we should put it out on the market and see if other shops would be interested in using it. We decided it would be worth it in the long run. We are convinced that eventually every business and auto shop will offer something similar so why not be the ones who deliver it. Now that is customer service! One of my other brothers, Mark, and I have now created a company called Software Status Solutions LLC to sell the software to other auto shops. So far we have a couple of early adopters that we have partnered with in a trial phase, and we are anxiously awaiting the results of that.

The one thing that I do know is our customers at Lonestar Auto Repair have been very appreciative of this new way of notification. The like to know what is happening to their car and when it is happening. They can now plan their day better, and not feel like they dropped their vehicle into the big dark vortex that is auto repair. We had one customer text us back on the system we developed and said "Nice, love the customer service, hardly exist in ur industry", now that is what I am talking about (or texting about)!

I know we are not always perfect, but we will continue to try and improve not only our customer service, but the quality of work that we present. As with any service industry you can only do your best, continue to do your best and pray for the best.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mark Cubans Book... I read a lot...

I just recently read Mark Cubans winning at business book, and although short it had some good things in it. I read a lot, or at least try to. I typically am trying to read about 4 books at any given time. Some I start and don't finish, most I finish within a month or so, and every once in a while I read one in a few days. His was short enough and intersting enough that it only took a few days. One of the things I really liked was he stated how books have the answers people are looking for, but people choose not to read books and would rather just not find the answer. PROFOUND and so true. We do it all the time, we accept what is because that is the way it always is, instead of searching out why it is that way... I drive the boys at the shop crazy with my constant list of ideas. Some they like some they don't, and usually all these ideas are driven from some book I read.

Another thing he said was that it only takes one succesful idea in business to make it. Sure that is obvious, but you may have to fail at 101 before finding the right one. If you would have asked me about owning an auto repair shop 3 years ago I would have laughed, but I believe now it is one of the best things I have ever done to this date. I have been in software my whole life (and music), but maybe this is the out of the box experience I needed. You never know what that one idea is, only that you have to pursue them all (or most) to find it. I am glad I am on this idea... it feels good.

Books are great! If you look to read I highly recommend his book. You can't buy a print version of it, but you can download it on most of your tablet devices. Enjoy, and if  you happen to see me in the shop, tell me what you thought of it.