My Journey Toward Car Literacy

I Married A Car Guy: My Journey Toward Car Literacy

Hi, I'm Debbie Nol, and I married a car guy. My 14 years of working at Arie Nol Auto Center has been an incredible journey, building amazing relationships with customers and learning so much from our experienced technicians.

Now I'm launching a blog to share what I've learned about cars and some of my most memorable customer stories. Hopefully you will find my blog both helpful and entertaining!

Articles:

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day

On this upcoming Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day. One of the biggest blessings in my life is my business partner who is also my husband and our children’s father. We began as a young couple with three children and became business partners out of necessity, not design, when we purchased the family business from Jeff’s family. I’m thankful for a man who worked hard all week and still coached his kid’s soccer teams on Saturday. For several years he wasn’t able to attend many weekday kid’s events but made a point to take what little free time he had to spend with them. They always knew they were important to him. Jeff modeled commitment, a strong work ethic and love to his kids every day. The kids getting up at 6:00 in the morning to see their Dad before he left for work wasn’t something I thought about at the time but on reflecting back, I realize how precious that time was. When we purchased the business, he asked me to begin working with him, even though I had n ... read more

Do you Tweet?

Do you Tweet?

It seems like social media is this ever changing and evolving animal. Seventeen years ago when I began working with Jeff at Arie Nol Auto Center, marketing was simple. ‘Which sized Yellow Pages ad would you like?’ was the big decision for the year. Now, there is a plethora of platforms and new ways to reach our customers. Customers are reached several ways based on certain criteria. Age does play a factor but I’ve had 75-year old customers who’ve said they follow us on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. We dipped our toes into the water of Twitter a while ago to kind of see what it was all about. Being restricted to 140 or less characters is an adjustment but it’s easier to find something relevant without wasting a lot of time reading paragraphs of information. Leonardo da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”. You don’t find long rambling posts on Twitter like you may on Facebook. One of the things I do like about Twitter is the fact t ... read more

A Day in the Bay

A Day in the Bay

Have you ever wondered about the process of auto repair? When you drop your vehicle off, what happens in ‘the bays’? While not every auto repair shop has the exact same process, I’m guessing that most processes are similar to ours. When you schedule your appointment, based on what type of work you are having done, the service advisor takes an educated guess at the amount of time needed to perform the work or diagnose the problem. We have a finite number of labor hours a day so we work to fill those hours and schedule the vehicles accordingly. Our goal is always to meet the timeframe stated to the customer. I’d like to say that always happens, and it usually does, but there are times when the bolt breaks or a part doesn’t arrive and that changes the time frame. The service advisor takes all the information and enters it into his computer. This information is then sent via an iPad to the technician chosen to work on your vehicle. The technician brings your vehicle ... read more

There’s Always a Story

There’s Always a Story

I think of them as the ‘summer cars.’ They’re usually MGs, Datsun Z cars, and Mercedes convertibles. They roll in as the summer weather arrives. These cars usually have their own idiosyncrasies and their owners often have a story about how or why they own that particular vehicle. These cars haven’t been exposed to snow, salt or in some cases, even rain. Nostalgia plays a part in the ownership of these vehicles. Many times, their parents had the same type of vehicle and it brings back great summer memories. Other times, the owner was bestowed the vehicle when someone passed away and the car stands as a memento. For other folks, it’s simply been their dream car for as long as they can remember. We’ve had forty-year old vehicles come in that have had only one owner. Some of them—since we’ve been around over forty years—we’ve been taking care of since they were new. For Jeff, these cars are like old friends pulling into our lot. He remembers working on them as a tee ... read more

Work Environment and Cat Grass

Work Environment and Cat Grass

It's important that people enjoy their ‘work space’ as much as possible. Going through our bays, you see family pictures, screen savers of favorite cars and photos of family vacations. I have photos of my family in my office but not any of my cats. That would push me to close to the “crazy-cat lady” title I'm trying to avoid. While many work spaces have changed and evolved over the years, automotive service areas have as well. Many shops you enter are cleaner, brighter and more welcoming than they were in the past. Not just for customers but for employees as well. The mechanical service area used to be a space that you rarely brought a customer. They're still not a place that customers spend much time but if the need arises to look at something on your vehicle while it's in the shop, it's much more inviting than it used to be. Motorized floor scrubbers have made keeping the shop floor clean much easier than in the past. I appreciate it because I don't have to wo ... read more

Quality Matters in Dresses AND Car Parts

Quality Matters in Dresses AND Car Parts

My daughter was looking for bridesmaid’s dresses several years ago. She wanted rose-gold dresses and wanted to keep the cost reasonable for the women in her bridal party. Searching everywhere, she found some gowns online that fit the bill. They were relatively inexpensive and they looked fine. As long as you didn't look too closely. These dresses were beautiful in pictures and comfortable but the quality was less than what you would normally purchase. They also left a trail of rose-gold sequins everywhere we went. This was fine because we didn't expect anything more than that from these lovely rose-gold dresses. This is similar to car parts purchased online (there IS actually a point to this story). People will want to source their own parts because “They can save a lot online,” but you get what you pay for. Especially as it pertains to mechanical car parts. You may wonder why your auto repair facility doesn’t want to install the parts you’ve purchased online. T ... read more

Preparing For Summmer Pt. 2

Preparing For Summmer Pt. 2

Summertime means a switch to summer-mix gas for your car— and a switch to iced coffee for me. It also is an important time to check that your coolant/antifreeze is up to the task of protecting your vehicle’s system from heat. It's important for several reasons. Your coolant removes excess heat from your internal combustion engine. It's often called antifreeze because it needs to resist freezing in northern climates. Coolant needs to have a higher boiling point as well as a lower freezing point. Essentially, we’re asking a lot of this liquid. Drivers used to just grab a gallon of antifreeze at the corner gas station and add some to the reservoir if it was low. With recent changes, there are more coolants to choose from. If you add coolant and let your technician know, they'll probably ask you what color it was. Why? Different manufacturers are recommending different coolants. It's important to use the correct one. In an emergency, you can add water to the system ... read more

Preparing for Summer

Preparing for Summer

Michigan is such a fickle place to live when it comes to our weather. If you've lived here long enough, you really will have worn a coat and gloves in the morning and shorts in the afternoon. Some days it feels like Mother Nature looks into my car and says, “You forgot your gloves? Time for snow and cold wind and by the way, you need to fill your gas tank. Have fun standing outside of the car!” Now think about your car. You want it to be prepared for any weather Michigan dishes out. Check your coolant. Can it handle the heat? Make sure your windshield wiper fluid is full and that your wipers are in good shape. Are all of your vehicle’s lights working? Here’s the most important thing to do in the spring. Turn on your air conditioning. Don't wait until you need it. Remember last year when the A/C wasn't quite as cold as it usually is? Or it was making a noise? But then it became cold and you switched over to heat in your car. The lack of cold air flowing through y ... read more

Lambos and Peep Toes

Lambos and Peep Toes

I was just down south and noticed two things. One, lots of Lamborghini, Aston Martins and Ferraris. Two, lots of peep toe shoes. Being married to a car guy, i usually have those shiny, engine that purrs, crazy-expensive vehicles pointed out to me. I do appreciate how beautiful these vehicles are as they cruise by us. Living in Michigan, I realize that I'd rather have an all around vehicle that can be used twelve months out of the year. I'm obviously too practical to be an exotic car collector. A true car aficionado is willing to visit their vehicle wherever it is stored, visualizing the first sunny day they take it for a drive. In the southern United States, their shoe requirements are different. A southern woman can wear peep toes year round. Sandals, espadrilles, flip flops etc—all those open toed, strappy, pretty shoes sit in my closet waiting. It doesn't make me happy to visit them in my closet. I bypass them on the way to boots and wool socks. Their soft pa ... read more

Auto Repair Shops and Trust

Auto Repair Shops and Trust

Some people think that auto repair and trust don't belong in a title together. I was reading an article about a survey performed by AAA. AAA stated that according to their survey, ‘75 million drivers don't have a trusted auto repair facility and ⅔ of drivers don't trust auto repair shops in general’. Some people have had bad experiences or there's always that reputation that seems to persist for centuries. Mechanics! Argh! They're always out to get people! I'm going with my 17 years of experience in this industry and saying that 10%, probably the same in other service industries, of shops are…….less honest than they should be. The less honest ones aggravate everyone. We get the customers they've mislead and have to work to earn their trust. But that's OK. I understand. Technology is changing so fast and the average car owner isn't going to understand when your technicians says you have, “excessive noise on bit serial data line causing no communication wi ... read more

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