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PACE Certification Embraces Sustainability in Boulder County

green earth image -- PACE Certification Boulder Colorado

Independent Motors just received PACE Certification. This certification, locally based, is similar to LEED and Energy Star. It is a way of expressing a commitment to sustainability and an alignment with Boulder’s values. This article looks at PACE, as well as LEED and Energy Star, with which it shares core principles and objectives.

What is PACE?

PACE (Partners for a Clean Environment) is a Boulder County program that promotes and advises on sustainability. Its PACE Partners are organizations in the area that have been certified by Boulder County, demonstrating their environmental responsibility and waste diversion (see below). Along with the other organizations within PACE, Independent Motors has become one of hundreds of organizations that:

  • have dedicated themselves to helping build the local economy by adopting more environmentally friendly methods in various aspects of their business.
  • are committed to the local area and community
  • are concerned about the people and businesses who purchase their products
  • are geared generally toward the implementation of methods that are helpful to the local area’s economy, environment, and public health.

Applying for and receiving PACE Certification is a way for us to let you know that we have taken an initiative in deploying many key sustainability practices. According to Boulder County, the guidelines it uses for certification are “based upon and consistent with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria as well as Energy Star Building certification.

What is waste diversion?

Waste diversion is defined within legal resource Defined Term as “the sum of your recycled, composted, and donated/reused materials.” In turn, the waste diversion rate is the proportion of all waste that gets donated, reused, composted, or recycled. For instance, if your business creates 1000 pounds of waste and 500 pounds is either donated, composted, reused, or recycled, that gives you a waste diversion rate of 50%.

The diversion rate can typically be improved by increasing the number of items that are recycled. Organizations can find new ways to recycle through a waste stream audit, a standardized process that can also sometimes reveal revenue opportunities, according to facilities management resource Buildings.

Notably, waste diversion is especially critical for the construction industry, as indicated by these statistics:

  • As the largest source within the waste stream at 30% of the total, the waste from construction and demolition (C &D) adds up to 135.5 million tons.
  • The average amount of waste per square foot of a newly constructed building is 3.9 pounds.
  • Waste per square foot for the average demolition is 155 pounds.

While construction may create more waste than other industries, every organization can improve its waste diversion, resource conservation, and other sustainability policies.

What is LEED?

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Created and developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), it is a set of green construction guidelines that are used to certify facilities as having met accepted sustainability standards. Like EnergyStar and PACE, LEED gives companies and other entities a way to present evidence that they used environmentally sound construction supplies and methods, based on the perspective of an objective outside organization. The range of LEED is broad, covering the extent to which the facility conserves resources, allows for high indoor environmental quality, is efficient with water, limits carbon dioxide emissions, and saves on electricity usage, among other concerns. Again meeting a similar need to other certification methods such as PACE and EnergyStar, LEED gives the managers and owners of any building a way to determine and initiate pragmatic steps to improve the environmental friendliness of their properties – in terms of how it is architected and constructed, but also in how it is maintained.

The USGBC was created in 1993 by a group of people within the American Institute of Architects (a professional organization that is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has 90,000 members, promoting the value of architecture and providing architects with helpful resources). The initial USGBC members represented approximately five dozen for-profit companies and a few nonprofit organizations. The intention of this group was to advance sustainability within construction. The USGBC first introduced the LEED certification program in 2000.

What is Energy Star?

Energy Star is a certification program that was created and is maintained in collaboration between the US Department of Energy (DOE) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is used to allow companies and individuals to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by being able to choose electronics, appliances, office equipment, and manufacturing plants that have committed to strong efficiency standards and protocols. While that describes the initial Energy Star focus, other types of industrial buildings, as well as commercial and residential buildings, can now go through the certification and rating process as well.

Originally released in 1992, Energy Star was used in a modified version to assess all members of the European Union in 2007. New Zealand and Australia also now use a similar version of these standards to gauge their own governmental practices, as well as to provide certification for for-profit and nonprofit organizations throughout their nations. Because of these high-profile adoptions and use beyond the borders of the United States, the certification program is taken very seriously.

Energy Star program to end?

Energy Star was in the political headlines recently because it would have ended with Trump’s budget as he attempted to redirect an additional $54 billion annually into military spending. However, his efforts to terminate Energy Star did not succeed.

As Grist noted, the program had helped organizations develop efficiency that had huge financial gains, amounting to a reduction of $430 billion on energy spending. Meanwhile, the program only (relative to its benefits) cost taxpayers $50 million annually.

Congress was not completely onboard with Trump’s efforts. In fact, there was substantial funding for innovations within the clean energy sector in the spending bill. According to the nonprofit National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the bill “clears the way for the Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out an effective operation while guarding against many harmful anti-environment policy ‘riders’ that have no place in a spending bill.”

When Congress passed the bill on March 23, they did so without including (as wanted by the Trump administration) the removal of the Advanced Research Projects Agency –Energy (ARPA-E), the division of the EPA that oversees the government’s efforts toward clean energy innovation. It also did so without removing a large amount of money from the budget for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE); in fact, the budget expanded the EERE’s budget by 11% over 2017. Finally, the EPA’s Energy Star program was taken off the chopping block as well.

Trump may not like the Energy Star program because he reportedly once received a 1 out of 100 rating – the lowest possible score – for energy efficiency at the Mayfair Hotel in Manhattan (since converted into condos).

Supporting PACE-certified businesses

Are you interested in supporting Boulder area businesses that have committed to sustainability practices? You can look through PACE Partners here. You will see that Independent Motors is one of the Certified Partners listed. At Independent Motors, an honest mechanic committed to broad sustainability efforts, 90% of the auto repair we do is repeat business. Meet our staff.

Toyota Repair: How to Change the Door Lock Mode

Toyota Repair - How to Change the Door Lock Mode

If you own any recent Toyota model that has power locks and an automatic transmission, you have the ability to change the sequence for the locking and unlocking of the doors – as determined by the current mode.

 

This adjustment is not really a repair but will help you to “fix” the issue if the car is set in a mode that you do not like.

 

Your choice is between four modes that are preprogrammed into the vehicle:

 

  • Mode 1 – This mode connects the shift position with automatic door locking – but notably not unlocking. When the key is in the ignition and in the “On” position, and when all doors are shut, they will automatically lock when you move the shift lever out of “Park.”
  • Mode 2 – This mode simply turns off the feature. Automatic locking and unlocking will be nonoperational.
  • Mode 3 – Similarly to Mode 1, this mode ties both locking and unlocking of doors with the shift position. With the key in the “On” position and with all doors shut, you will auto-lock them whenever you move the shift lever from “Park.” In turn, the doors will auto-unlock whenever you bring the shift lever back to “Park.”
  • Mode 4 – This mode connects not just the shift position but also the key position to the automatic locking and unlocking system. With the key set to “On” and all of the doors shut, you will auto-lock the doors when you move out of “Park” with the shift lever. In turn, all the doors will auto-unlock when you turn the key to “Off” while the shift lever is in “Park.”

 

Switching between modes

 

Now that you know what your options are, how do you change from one to another? Here are the six steps:

 

  1. Look at the control knob for the dome light. Change the position to “Door.”

 

  1. Make sure all the doors are shut and that your shift lever is set to “Park.”

 

  1. Put the key in the ignition, and turn it so it is set to “On.”

 

  1. Once you are in the “On” position, and before 5 seconds has passed, push down the door lock switch on the driver’s side, keeping it down for 5 seconds.

 

  1. The number of flashes that come from the dome light will tell you the mode to which the automatic locking system is currently set. One flash tells you that you are in mode 1, while two, three, and four flashes signal that you are in modes 2-4, respectively.

 

  1. Push the switch to change to a different mode. It will flash to let you know the new mode. Keep pushing the switch until you get to the one you want.

 

You now know how to switch your Toyota car into any of the four different modes for automatic locking and unlocking – one of which (Mode 2) shuts it off completely, if that is your preference. Again, although not a Toyota repair, this project will allow you to have better control of the car and to fix the situation if you are frustrated by the way that this automatic feature is currently configured.

 

Note that your choice of auto-locking and auto-unlocking mode will be forgotten by the car computer if the car battery dies or becomes disconnected. If that occurs, the vehicle will be reset to Mode 1.

 

Toyota News & Information

 

Now you know how to switch your mode so that you are in control of how your automatic system is set to lock and unlock your doors. With that tutorial complete, we can turn to recent news stories that may be of interest to you as the owner of a Toyota:

 

  • Toyota wins 4 crowns in 2018 Consumer Reports list
  • Toyota develops more sustainable EV magnet

 

Toyota wins 4 crowns in 2018 Consumer Reports list

 

Each year Consumer Reports ranks the best cars, and the 2018 list amounts to an impressive display for Japanese carmaker Toyota.

 

Not all news has been positive for Toyota lately. It no longer has the planet’s leading volume of sales, eclipsed by Volkswagen and Nissan/Renault/Mitsubishi. Nonetheless, this Consumer Reports ranking shows that the carmaker is a strong choice for buyers, with critical assessments (drawing on many thousands of perspectives) that do not consider where a car stands in the popularity contest.

 

Consumer Reports is taken very seriously because it does not allow any potential bias to be introduced either by advertisements or by getting cars from automakers – instead purchasing cars directly from dealerships. Related to performance, that information is gathered from its subscribers, so that all its information is as scientific as possible (both objective and derived from a large sample).

 

Within the magazine’s 2018 Top Picks, 4 of the 10 categories saw Toyota at the helm. The categories and victors were:

 

  • compact car – Corolla
  • midsize car – Camry
  • midsize SUV – Highlander
  • minivan – Sienna.

 

The basic reasons that the carmaker was successful with this 2018 list, according to Consumer Reports, were threefold: reliability of the car; the focus on safety features; and the accessible, mainstream design.

 

The magazine’s director of automotive testing, Jake Fisher, stressed that “really impressive reliability across the board” was essential in setting the brand apart from its competition.

 

Fisher also mentioned that the automaker was excelling in applying safety technologies – particularly forward-collision warning systems and automatic emergency braking – standardly throughout its lineup.

 

Toyota develops more sustainable EV magnet

 

Electric vehicles (EVs) are embraced as a way to cut down our reliance on fossil fuels, at least creating a new format of automobile for which fueling at the pump is unnecessary. One key issue with zero-emission electric cars, though, is that they require a rare-earth element (REE), neodymium. Toyota has become concerned that we are mining this mineral too quickly to supply the growing demand. It is currently developing magnets for its motors that cut in half the amount of neodymium needed to build one of its hybrid or electric models.

 

This decision is exciting news for environmentalism, both because of Toyota’s scope and because it has announced it will offer an electric version of all its cars within seven years. To reduce the amount of neodymium, the carmaker has turned to lanthanum and cerium, both more affordable and currently in more abundant supply.

 

The reason magnet engineers have typically used neodymium is that it can maintain magnetization to an incredible degree and also has extraordinary heat-tolerance. The simple act of including more cerium and lanthanum instead of the neodymium would have been insufficient, since the important magnetic capabilities would be reduced. Because the project was not a simple task, Toyota invested substantially to innovate breakthrough technology that would allow the motor to perform just as well with only 50% of the neodymium.

 

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of this new magnet technology is that it can be applied to electronics beyond automobiles. Appliances, robots, and any other objects that might have use for an affordable, sustainable high-temperature motor could utilize this new technology. These more environmentally friendly motors will be used in production cars starting in approximately 2020.

 

Honest Toyota repair in Boulder

 

Toyota cars are owner-friendly, as suggested by the ease of switching between locking modes and the great ratings from Consumer Reports. Plus, the brand is easy to like, with its sustainability strides. Nonetheless, Toyota repair and routine maintenance is sometimes needed. For those tasks, you want a mechanic who is credible and straightforward. At Independent Motors, Boulder’s neighborhood auto repair shop for 35 years, 90% of the work we do is repeat business. See our Toyota repair philosophy.

 

Why Support Locally Owned Businesses?

Why Support Locally Owned Businesses?

A study highlighted by the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) assessed two independent, locally owned businesses in Austin, Texas (record store Waterloo Records and book store Book People), finding that they recirculated over 200% more money into the local economy than the estimate of what a Borders Books and Music location would have given back to the city.

 

The return of money to the local Boulder economy is a major reason to support locally owned, independent businesses. It is just one of many though. Let’s look at these reasons, explore a concept called the multiplier effect, and specifically review the satisfaction advantage of locally owned auto repair shops.

 

11 reasons to support your locally owned businesses

 

The Boulder County Independent Business Alliance (BIBA) notes that corporate franchises have become the standard for a huge range of products and services, such as coffee, groceries, and hardware. Big box stores often drive independent local businesspeople into having to shut down their shops. In turn, towns around the United States “are becoming marked by stark uniformity and lack of human scale,” says BIBA.

 

Here are 11 reasons to shop local, from BIBA and the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR):

 

  1. The money stays in the local area.

The entire local area will be boosted when people are buying more products and services from their neighbors rather than from corporate chains because a significantly larger chunk of the revenue from local businesses is reinvested locally (as indicated above).

  1. It enhances the sense of local community.

A business that is owned and run locally strengthens the community by giving to local charities and creating a more cohesive sense of place, creating a fabric of interconnected relationships between consumers and businesses, both economic and personal. Town centers are often revitalized by local entrepreneurs too.

  1. It gives your area a unique character.

When business and life are increasingly dominated by sameness and the overhyped supposed predictability advantage of large brands, being distinctive offers an advantage.

  1. Keep control at the local level.

The people in the local community will be most impacted by decisions that are made regarding the local area. By supporting businesses that are independent, you also support the independence of the area’s decision-making. As corporations accrue more power every day, they increasingly are able to control policies in local communities, explains BIBA. Think about companies that are absentee-owned being able to increasingly pressure and control local governments. In that sense, these companies threaten the democracy of the local area, according to BIBA. One example is subsidies and tax breaks that may be available to corporations to choose a certain place for a new store. Beyond that, huge companies can use their global presence and incredible funding to sidestep environmental and human rights laws through physical or financial transition to nations, states, and cities that do not have as many rules in place.

  1. Get access to a broader range of products and services.

A cookie-cutter model within a national franchise is expected. Within local businesses, though, you can find more diversity of offerings. When there are more small businesses, the needs of local people are the point of focus, leading to better access to a larger number of items locally.

  1. You have more competition, which cuts down the price.

Most people know that competition is a fundamental precept of a thriving capitalist economy. You both keep down the costs and see more innovation when there are hundreds or thousands of small businesses. When Walmart was studied in Iowa, the researchers found that 84% of its business was taken from local merchants. Box stores and other corporate chains mean less competition; prices may start low but gradually will rise over time.

  1. Buying local is a commitment to sustainability.

Independent shops often have agreements with local companies, reducing the need for shipping. There are fewer executive plane flights. Plus, independent local companies improve walkability – minimizing pollution (emissions), habitat loss, and sprawl.

  1. It increases pay and improves employment rates.

A typical local business generates more jobs locally than a corporate chain does. Pay and benefits are also often preferable to what is offered by chain stores.

  1. Your tax dollars are better utilized.

Everyone wants their tax dollars to be used as intelligently as possible. The costs and advantages of an independent company are both better; these businesses utilize public services more efficiently and do not have as much need for infrastructure as strip malls and box stores do.

  1. Buying independently is an investment in entrepreneurship.

Upward social mobility is central to the American dream. The entrepreneurship that is built into an independent business provides opportunities for people to move more solidly into the middle class. It also enhances innovation.

  1. It reduces costs for anyone local who wants to start a business.

Large Wall Street corporations force everyone in the area to pay more for their leases, since these heavily funded organizations can pay for huge amounts of space.

 

Multiplier effect

 

In the above list of reasons, we noted how local businesses tend to reinvest in the local economy. The extent to which independent shops reinvest locally is incredible. The impact of the difference between locally owned franchises and absentee-owned businesses can be described in three ways, through the multiplier effect, as indicated by AMIBA:

 

  • Direct impact – Directly, a local small business often spends locally for business operations costs such as wages, equipment, inventory, and utilities.
  • Indirect impact – This effect is seen as the money that an independent company uses for purchases locally is recycled within the community.
  • Induced impact – This form of impact occurs as the owners, staff, and affiliates make purchases locally.

 

Better satisfaction ratings at independent auto shops

 

One way to alleviate some of the frustration of taking your car in for a repair or maintenance, says nonprofit consumer research publication Consumer Reports, is to choose an independent shop over a new-car dealership franchise. (We have reviewed this study in this blog previously, but we will provide a bit more detail here.)

 

The service of 121,000 cars was included within the survey. 41,000 of the vehicles were repaired at independent, local mechanics, while the remainder were fixed at chain new-car dealerships. The locally owned, independent auto shops received better scores from car owners for a broad range of factors, including the accuracy of time estimates, friendliness of personnel, quality of work performed, cost, and general satisfaction. Nearly all the independent shops reviewed by the magazine had high scores from its customers for all those categories. Dealerships did not typically have high scores.

 

The only dealer that had strong satisfaction was Tesla. However, Consumer Reports noted that Tesla was a new entry to the market at the time (2015), and that it did not have nearly as large a pool of customers to keep happy as the more widespread luxury automakers. As Tesla continues to manufacture more and more automobiles, the magazine suggested, quality would likely decline. In fact, the Tesla Model X has been a dud in the dependability department, making the magazine’s most recent list of 10 Least Reliable Cars.

 

Setting aside the possible exception of Tesla, though, independent is clearly the way to go, according to the report’s findings.

 

Getting your car repair from an independent shop

 

As you can see, there are many reasons local outperforms corporate chains and should be considered when you make purchases in Boulder.

 

Would you like to start supporting the local community with car repair? We originally started Independent Motors because we felt our city needed an auto repair shop that was in line with Boulder’s values — Community, Loyalty and Honesty. Meet our staff.

11 Reasons You Should Be More Independent

11 Reasons You Should Be More Independent

The ability to become independent has changed during the digital era. Yes, we can find the answers to many of our problems and advice on how to accomplish tasks, directly from, well, anywhere – so we certainly don’t need to ask other people as many questions if we don’t want to. True independence goes beyond rooting around on the Internet, though. Independence also requires a certain amount of thoughtfulness and mental acuity, along with a personal belief in yourself that you will be OK even if there isn’t someone there to support you.

 

Independence is not always entirely positive: it can lead to isolation and lack of understanding the ways in which we are part of the broader fabric. However, there are many reasons why independence is beneficial. Here are 11 of the most prominent ones:

 

#1 – Self-assurance

 

People who are independent will tend to have a greater belief that they can approach any situation with positive results, notes Joel Brown of Addicted2Success. That is probably because they do not feel that they have to wait for someone’s approval in order to move forward. Strengthening your independence will allow you to explore new terrain that is outside your comfort zone without feeling afraid that you are in waters no one has fully explained to you and that feel unpredictable. When someone has less of a sense of independence, their breadth of experience should be narrower than it is for someone who is not tied up in the specific avenues and activities that have been presented to them by an outside party or by society as a whole. What’s more, as you continue to achieve things that are widely various and require a diverse skillset to accomplish, you will increasingly feel that you can take on any challenge by yourself, taking full responsibility for your success or failure (and using failures as fuel to improve).

 

#2 – Self-discovery

 

When you have proven to yourself that you can be responsible for your own actions and success, rather than feeling that you are leaning on others in order to make progress, you will be able to become exactly the person that you want to be. Once you have determined that you are powerful and that you completely accept yourself, then you will be able to have better relationships (in your career, romantic life, and with your other loved ones).

 

#3 – Lightened load on those around you

 

When you can figure out how to approach your own problems and arrive at your own decisions, you do not need to introduce the stress to your personal relationships. You also are not poorly impacting the society by failing to be responsible for your own actions since you are essentially establishing ownership of your life.

 

#4 – Improved decision-making ability

 

It becomes quite a bit simpler and more straightforward to decide the direction you want to take when you have determined that you are the ultimate responsible party who will get the greatest benefit or damage from the choice you make. When you rely on others for support, whether financial or emotional, you may have trouble figuring out the best way to go since others’ funds and hearts will be impacted. While it is helpful to think about the perspectives of others when you are deciding what you want to do, it is not easy to decide which option makes sense when you are worried about how another person will feel about it – or will possibly be hurt by it.

 

#5 – Broader perspective

 

When you feel that you are just one in a large group of people, you may have trouble looking at things from different angles. Broad thinking becomes easier when you are out by yourself, letting your thoughts wander and coalesce. “It’s good to be yourself sometimes and just think,” notes personal improvement site Hello Beautiful. Of course, independent thought is not just about being in a different physical space. When you move around, whether physically or intellectually, you will find different types of solutions that might have been concealed to you if you were more stationary or dependent.

 

#6 – Better value of your assistance

 

Having to get help from another person is not always negative; for example, asking for help finding a product in the store can be much more efficient than wandering around trying to find it yourself. On the other hand, if you can solve problems on your own and choose to do that, it can allow you to both care for yourself and help out other people as well. “People learn to trust you as a beneficial resource and look to you for assistance,” explains Darin L. Hammond in Lifehack.

 

#7 – Creativity

 

When you are truly independent, you are able to allow yourself to move freely in your daily life, as well as within your mind. With your thoughts less conformist and reliant on what has already been said or accepted, creativity flows more freely. Creativity has different applications, but one of them is business innovation.

 

#8 – Self-improvement

 

When you can really start to leverage all of the different capabilities at your disposal, you can self-actuate. There is self-improvement in terms of your response to anything that happens. You will more easily manage your feelings when you feel anxious, frustrated, or dangerously impulsive. This better control of your emotions allows you to optimize yourself interpersonally too.

 

#9 – Freedom of motion

 

No one wants to feel that they are stuck within a specific group or city. When you are independent, you can better do the things and be in the places that you want. By being able to get outside social and geographical structures, you are better able to pursue your goals and build toward success that would not previously have been possible.

 

#10 – Boost in happiness and reduction in stress

 

You do not need other people’s help in order to process things emotionally if you are an independent person – so you will be less likely to dump your problems on those around you. Now keep in mind that independence is an ideal and not a pragmatic goal as a totality; however, while all of us do need others, it is not necessary to burden other people so substantially with our issues when we are more independent.

 

#11 – Greater financial stability

 

The skills and knowledge that you develop and gather through an independent perspective will allow you to pay for everything you need today and put away some for the years ahead.

 

Independence in the context of auto repair

 

To see how independence relates to the car repair industry, we can look to a 2015 survey from Consumer Reports. The magazine polled its readers on their satisfaction levels with work performed on their cars. The survey gathered data from owners of 121,000 cars, with 41,000 taken to independent shops and 80,000 taken to franchises. The results for the independent mechanics were much more impressive on numerous factors, including the key ones of the quality of the job and accuracy of the initial time estimate. People were also more pleased with the friendliness of the staff and how much they were charged at independent shops. Beyond all these specific factors, independent mechanics scored higher on general satisfaction ratings as well.

 

Would you like to become more independent? At Independent Motors, we certainly embrace that value – as well as honesty. We tell each of our customers exactly what we are doing and why we are doing it. See our history and beliefs.

The Power of Listening

 The Power of Listening

If it matters to the customer, it should matter to the business.

 

Organizations should listen carefully to what their customers say in order to better meet their needs; it’s a win-win.

 

Listening is a simple concept… or is it? Actually, no matter how much businesses might recognize the importance of understanding their customers, many fail to listen to “us” (as consumers) directly. Sure, many companies will put together surveys to collect data and “listen” in that way. However, collecting feedback in that manner is not the only or the most important way to listen. By going beyond an obsession with surveying for feedback and instead listening actively and broadly, avoiding “leakage,” and implementing other tactics, companies can be more effective.

 

Why customer surveys do & don’t work

 

Having a systematized way to collect feedback may be one-size-fits-all and in a different category from listening during a conversation, but these responses do help businesses. Six reasons that companies should poll customers and listen to their feedback, according to Client Heartbeat, are:

 

  • Useful in development of a product or service, shaping it to meet customer needs;
  • Helps you to know how satisfied your customers are;
  • Gives you guidance to craft a more powerful customer experience;
  • Helps create better retention (keeping rather than losing customers) through better information about their frustrations;
  • Offers insights so that the organization can ground its decision-making in data rather than guesswork; and
  • The business can find out who its “brand ambassadors” (customer advocates) really are.

 

Now, those arguments for customer surveys seem compelling. But many point-of-sale surveys are poorly constructed, according to a study by Interaction Metrics (which notably, like Client Heartbeat, is a survey company). The 2016 analysis assessed the surveys used by 51 major US-based retail corporations, rating 15 different aspects of them. The average result out of 100 possible points was an abysmal 43! The most interesting specific finding, revealing a primary reason that companies are so bad at these surveys, was that they tend to be manipulative: “32% of all questions led customers to give answers that companies want to hear,” noted Interaction Metrics.

 

Surveys are used to generate “customer-experience metrics.” Customers want to be heard of course, but the term customer-experience metrics should already raise eyebrows in terms of treating customers like they are numbers. Even if these metrics are not a replacement for strong individual listening, businesses can have difficulty with them. Many companies have a hard time determining how customer metrics relate to their activities. Plus, it can be difficult for businesses to get their staff excited about metrics since they are so impersonal and often fail to give insight into sudden shifts in customer sentiment.

 

Businesses often cannot decide whether they should focus more on metrics that have to do with customer relationships or sales. (We choose the former.)

 

These metrics can also be skewed because the people who complete it will not necessarily give a business a good sense of its average customer. In Forbes, Todd Hixon suggests that the subset of customers who answer surveys can be an issue, suggesting that respondents are:

 

  1. People who are not highly active;
  2. Older customers; and
  3. People who are irritated and want to vent.

 

Hixon also says that key demographics including millennials and mobile users are probably not represented well.

 

Beyond issues with the information collected, the process of applying feedback from customers is difficult for businesses too. According to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, one of the primary reasons that businesses fail with listening in this way is that they “don’t have the culture to loop customer feedback through the front line to improve behavior or connect it to innovation.”

 

The importance of listening actively & broadly

 

To explore the topic of active and broad listening, here is the reasoning behind each element of that effort:

 

  • Why listen? You can find evidence of the sound value of listening within the business world in the classic organizational management text The One Minute Manager. This book, published in 1982 and authored by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard, suggested that the #1 way to create engagement among personnel is to set aside time to listen to them. While this book is about employees rather than customers, its high valuation of listening is on-point as it notes that it’s a way for managers to relate with people individually and make sure that they know their work is appreciated.
  • Why listen actively? If surveying customers can be viewed as a rudimentary and flawed effort at listening, active listening is a way to refine this skill. This technique is helpful in therapy sessions, and it is helpful in business as well. When we listen actively, we do not focus on throwing in our own opinion or solutions (unless requested) but instead repeat back what we think we have heard. This practice is an effort at clarification; if what the listener repeats back is at all flawed, the speaker can correct the message.
  • Why listen broadly? It’s not just about how we listen, but who we listen to – and our attitudes impact the extent to which we are willing to hear someone’s point-of-view. Being open to people means that you can keep revising your understanding of the world, explains therapist Rena Pollak via healthy psychotherapy network org. Pollak notes that it is important to remain flexible because our ingrained perspectives are often based on biased perspectives, misinformation, and control, such as when our parents instill in us their own insecurities, telling us that all women are liars or that we will not achieve our dreams.

 

Leakage: why listening cannot be faked

 

If you are trying to put on the front that you are paying attention to what someone is saying, but you really aren’t, you may leak out indications that you do not care, says Jeff Thompson, PhD, in Psychology Today. Thompson writes that “leakage, or unintended non-verbal communication” cues that give away when we are not listening are self-touching, eye-rolling, fidgeting, failing to make eye contact, and paralanguage or back-channel communication – the last of which Thompson summarizes as “huffing or audible noises and that teeth-sucking noise.” Seriously.

 

How companies & people can listen more effectively

 

Beyond being open to various speakers and listening actively, here are three additional steps you can take to improve the way that you listen:

 

  1. Be prepared. If you are underprepared, you will be more focused on understanding the basics than on deep problem-solving.
  2. Listen with both mind and body. Our bodies actually help to determine the way that we think, according to the notion of embodied cognition. Move your body so that it is positioned toward the speaker, nod, and look into their eyes.
  3. Self-monitor. Pay attention to yourself and ask yourself if you are listening in the moment. Also pay attention to whether you are conveying to the other person that you are listening – since their perception is ultimately the deciding factor in your ability to make them feel heard.

 

An honest boulder auto mechanic

 

Are you interested in working with a car mechanic that values listening to you? At Independent Motors, we believe great service starts with open, honest communication, in what we say and how well we listen. See our beliefs.

Why Values Are Important in Business

Why Values Are Important in Business

You may think that business and values do not have much in common. Perhaps business seems directly functional, while values seem to have to do with personal perspectives and cultural background. However, values are incredibly important to how businesses operate with their partners and their clients – whether the outfit is an auto mechanic in Boulder or any business.

 

Why is it important for a business to have values?

 

Ethics is not just important to the consumer or to affiliates of an organization but to an organization itself. In fact, W. Michael Hoffman has pointed out in risk assessment publication Corporate Compliance Insights that lack of values actually increases the risk of a firm. Here are a few key reasons why business management should be values-driven:

 

Pressures of the market – When you have to find ways to cut costs, you may not have as many checks and balances in place to maintain proper behavior. Employees might have their own ability to act one way or another, leading to possible ethical violations.

 

Diversity – In the United States, there are people interacting with different genders, religions, and ages. This diversity leads to different perceptions of what it means to act professionally within a business. While there must be commonly understood codes of conduct, the way that a person comprehends the exact same scenario and information can be very different from another person’s based on their demographic characteristics.

 

Globalization – People from various cultural backgrounds will not all experience different situations and circumstances the same. In certain cases, ethics becomes confusing related to the issue of culture, in which case the issue is sometimes considered a cultural sensitivity rather than a simple ethical precept.

 

Remote workers – Since so many people are working from a distant location part or all of the time, it is important to have values that infuse the organization at the management level.

 

Business partnerships – Your alliances with other businesses are another area in which ethical errors might occur. Values-driven tactics are effective not just at defining the ways that interactions occur internally but with external partners as well.

 

Team structure – There is more of a communal, integrated, team-based notion of internal growth in business today, with merit and individual aptitude leading the way to decision-making. Removing the top-down nature in which decisions have traditionally been generated has allowed all players to feel part of the process.

 

Entrepreneurship & intrapreneurship – Often now, companies are advocating that members of their staff, even at the entry level, become more innovative, try tactics (within structured confines) that embrace risk, and even get to use some funding. This method, called intrapreneurship, gives anyone working at a business a chance to feel like they are the owner and assume the relevant responsibilities.

 

Key values within a business setting

 

The above elements of business tell us reasons that values are important to business. However, what exactly are we talking about? What are the most common business values?

 

Here are some of the top values that are used by the world’s best businesses, according to responses to a questionnaire conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Alumni of the Stanford business school were asked to list the values that were most critical within a business setting. Here are a few key values, along with the comments that were made by those who responded.

 

Golden rule treatment – Wealthfront CEO Andy Rachleff noted that he thinks the golden rule is a fundamental precept of a solid business interaction. When a person approaches others with respect and with a goal of making a strong impression in a business setting, typically the favor will be returned. You will not only gain credibility but will also have greater peace-of-mind. You can put yourself at risk by acting in a manner that assumes mutual concern; however, even if you do get hurt occasionally with this strategy, you can simply discontinue your engagement with anyone who does not treat you in kind.

 

Integrity – Approaching your communications with all parties from a perspective of consistency and authenticity will point you in the right direction, according to Pagatech cofounder Jay Alabraba. Taking this honest approach will mean that you are not deceiving anyone or scamming them. In other words, you want to transparently convey what you are offering to everyone, regardless whether it hurts your immediate profits. University Games CEO Bob Moog also mentioned this value as a high-priority one in a business setting, noting that he had many handshake deals with other businesspeople, resulting in beneficial relationships that had lasted decades.

 

Straightforwardness – People often want to see a person who is going to talk with them directly and straightforwardly, advised Thought Leadership Lab CEO Denise Brosseau. Often people will want to work with startups or other organizations outside of Wall Street since smaller and less traditional companies can often have a greater degree of directness. This direct dynamic is aligned well with entrepreneurialism and the notion of getting to hand-select the partners through which one conducts business, said Brosseau. In that capacity, a company is able to not only offer straightforwardness itself but be able to filter for that quality in its clientele.

 

Mutuality – Tiny Prints co-founder Laura Ching noted that trust is built into a company that creates a familial, open-communication environment. When firms look for new employees, they can specifically have a desire to hire people who care about the strength of their bonds with others. The culture of an organization can also further enforce and enhance the notion that interconnection is critical to the mission of the company. People should be able to get courtesy from one another, but also friendliness. In that type of setting, people will feel comfortable to get even better at interacting with their peers. Loyalty and retention can both be high with employees and, in turn, with customers; after all, your clients become attached to certain members of your staff. When there is an implicit sense of honesty and having one another’s best interests at heart, you are able to acquire feedback that would otherwise be challenging to attain.

 

Transparent messaging – When a company has many different projects occurring at the same time, conducted by a broad array of players, there can be a huge range in the perspectives – leading, potentially, to communication difficulties between different projects that are ultimately interrelated. Empowered Careers CEO Steve Poizner commented that executives at companies should promote a business culture for which truth is critical to all interactions, regardless of all other factors. Additionally, said Poizner, being strong and unafraid allows someone to make the kind of impact they want with their customers and in their community.

 

Gratitude – We all want to be appreciated by businesses when we give them our money and invest in a relationship with them. As indicated by Ariat International CEO Beth Cross, organizations should remember that their clients care to know that they are appreciated.

 

Simple value – You can find out what the client needs in various ways, as noted by Design Within Reach founder Rob Forbes. Whether you use market research or simply release your offering to the market, you would be wise to think in terms of what the customer would actually value. By creating products that are high-quality and then communicating their story to your customer, you are able to give something to others through a business context that is authentic and can improve their quality of life.

 

Passion – Passion is another of those terms that may seem to be antithetical to the dry and serious needs of business. However, you really do want to care about what you do for a living – and be able to say the same about the people from whom you buy your goods and services.

 

An honest Boulder auto mechanic

 

It helps to get an idea of why values are important to business, and the specific values that should be high-priority for organizations. How can this search for values be reflected in your choice of car mechanic? We originally started Independent Motors because we felt our city needed an auto repair shop that was more in line with Boulder’s values – Community, Loyalty, and Honesty. See Our History and Beliefs.

How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by a Mechanic

 

Avoid Getting Ripped Off by a Mechanic

Roger White was in traffic with his wife Sue when a woman pulled up next to him and told him that his taillight was out. Concerned that the police might ticket them for it, they headed to what Roger later called a “franchise fix-it shop” (assumedly referring to one of these companies) and left the car there for the fix.

 

When the couple returned to the mechanic to get the car, the clerk brought up their bill, and the amount was 25% more than the estimate they had originally been given. When they glanced at a copy of the bill, they found the culprit: a rather costly “service fee.”

 

Sue immediately and loudly questioned what this item was doing on the bill – seeming to draw the eyes of everyone in the room. The man behind the counter quickly looked at the bill, acted puzzled, and said he would remove it.

 

The Whites were shocked, realizing how often people must have paid that item (which had nothing to do with the actual services performed) without questioning it. When they got home, Roger started looking for answers. Here is some advice from him and others on how to avoid mechanic rip-offs:

 

#1 – Get to know the shop.

 

Talk to your family, friends, and colleagues to see where they go for repair work. Get to know the philosophy of the shop, if possible; and consider reading a few reviews or testimonials. Finally, don’t be afraid to stop in and check it out before making your decision. Is the staff friendly and professional? Is the environment organized and clean?

 

#2 – Declare your independence.

 

Andrew Tarantola of Gizmodo agrees with Roger White that independent mechanics are the way to go. Tarantola notes that it is harder for a local shop to get away with systematic overcharging “because the business model dictates they build long-term relationships with their customers.”

 

While you may not be thinking in terms of a long relationship, there is another advantage beyond trust: documentation. When one central location has all your service history, it is easier to keep track of when routine maintenance of fluids and parts (belts, tires, etc.) should occur.

 

#3 –Take a crash course.

 

No, you don’t actually have to go to a car repair class. However, if you want to protect yourself from the slimiest of auto repair shops, skimming through your owner’s manual can’t hurt. By understanding typical service intervals, you will have a better sense when certain repairs are reasonably due.

 

#4 – Carefully assess the problem so you can communicate it clearly.

 

You don’t want a mechanic to waste time figuring out what is wrong with your car, noted auto repair author Lauren Fix. Specificity can be your best friend when you are trying to get a fast diagnosis and cure, she said. Ask yourself questions such as, “What is the speed when the problem occurs?” and, “Do I only hear the troubling sound when I’m turning a certain direction, or when I’m idling?”

 

#5 – Consider the shady mechanic’s perspective.

 

How does the shady mechanic think? Well, as you might guess, technicians are often (and probably in the vast majority of situations) more a reflection on the ethics and integrity of the shop than they are rogue con-men.

 

Take the perspective of Joe, a seasoned mechanic with four decades experience who spoke with ABC’s 20/20 about his experience in the past bilking car owners out of their money. Joe told the news outlet that the primary reason mechanics will swindle people with fixes that their cars don’t need is because many shops have tiny profit margins. Often the business owner or manager will push the technicians to recommend repairs that are purely intended to drive up the bill. In that kind of setting, mechanics feel compelled to give bad advice in order to keep their jobs.

 

Joe said that he himself had once intentionally misguided people. While he felt terrible to count himself among the shady mechanic population, he explained the conundrum: “[W]hen your boss tells you, ‘Either you do it here or the door’s right there,’ what are you going to do?”

 

Here are a few of the tactics and lingo used by technicians in corrupted organizations:

 

  • Pouring on gravy work – Would you like some gravy with that? If you’re talking about car repair, the answer is No. Gravy work refers to billing a longer period of time than is needed to complete the task. The specific example he gives of this kind of gouging is when a shop charges you for 2.5 hours of labor to turn the rotors and replace the pads – the better part of which is, you guessed it, gravy.

 

  • Flushing your wallet – A wallet flush is when you try to “flush” out as much money as you can from a customer via the recommendation of additional services – a typical occurrence with a discount oil change. Part of the reason it’s called a “flush” is that you are attempting to get the car owner to agree to numerous fluid flushes: coolant, power steering, transmission, etc.

 

  • Charging for nothing – An auto repair shop will often bill people for services it does not complete. For example, if an air filter is complicated to replace (as it is in some models), mechanics will sometimes not do it but charge for it anyway. The owner cannot verify the work because the air filter isn’t easily accessible.

 

  • Exploiting the idiot light – The check engine light, not so politely called the idiot light at some shops, is a facilitator of many costly parts replacements. Scammer mechanics love the check engine light because it is always associated with an OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics II) error code. “Guys kind of have the phrase where every code deserves a part,” said Joe.

 

#6 – Gauge the service writer.

 

The service writer, who produces the estimates and bills, should seem competent and well-informed on maintenance and repair issues. That person is your primary point of contact and should not leave you feeling uneasy or confused. When you see a tight-lipped, stand-offish service writer, head for the hills.

 

#7 – Expect an estimate.

 

You should not allow anyone to start working on your car without giving you an estimate for how much the work is expected to cost. Most estimates are given over the phone so even though a written estimate carries more legal weight it may not be feasible to obtain. Estimates are estimates, so it is possible that a bill will be slightly higher, but you should not see anything that is grossly in excess of that stated amount.

 

#8 – Go over the bill at the shop.

 

Think back to Roger and Sue. Make sure you check the bill carefully and discuss anything you don’t understand while you’re still at the shop. The shop should review your invoice with you before you pay.

 

#9 – Dispute the bill if it doesn’t make sense.

 

If the bill seems problematic, get the old parts from the shop if you can. Dispute the charges and ask to discuss it with the owner. As a last resort, you can go to the Better Business Bureau or even sue.

 

Conclusion: local + independent = better

 

What is the most important of the above tips? Number two of course: choose independence. “The one-on-one relationship between driver and mechanic that smaller repair shops foster can really help consumers have confidence in both the work that’s performed and in the vehicle itself,” said Edmunds.com.

 

Are you in need of auto service? At Boulder’s own Independent Motors, we believe great service starts with open, honest communication – and we back up that communication with sheer expertise. Meet our staff.