All posts by moran

Recognizing the Signs of Vehicle Engine Damage

With each new light on the dash, we hold our breath as the thought of expensive bills flashes through our minds. As a car owner, preventative engine maintenance is one of the most important things you can do to keep your vehicle healthy and your wallet happy. Although it’s not always black and white when it comes to our finely tuned machines, technicians at Milex Complete Auto Care share some of the more obvious signs that your vehicle may be experiencing engine damage.

Check Engine Light

You may be patiently waiting in the carpool line when an immediate anxious moment hits every vehicle owner; your check engine light illuminates. We all know that dreadful feeling when our stomach sinks and we can only hope the light is informing us of a loose gas cap. As unnerving as it may be, an illuminated check engine light is a useful tool to inform you of potential engine trouble. Although issues may range in severity, it is always a good idea to have your vehicle serviced for preventative measures by a reputable auto shop.

Jerky Driving
Other than aggravating potholes, driving your vehicle should be a relatively smooth operation. If your vehicle often jerks or stalls, it could be a sign of engine trouble caused by clogged fuel lines, bad spark plugs, or any number of things. Take your care to get inspected before it causes a problem for you on the road or fails to start.

Smoke Show
If your engine is producing an excessive amount of smoke, whether white or black, it is most likely a sign of engine trouble. Smoke coming from your vehicle can be caused by many different things such as a cracked cylinder head, blown head gasket, or even a clogged air filter. However, it is important to note that small amounts of smoke coming from your vehicle are often normal.

What’s that Sound?
From the start up squeal to the grinding noise that appears when you make a right turn, most car owners are quite familiar with their vehicle’s day-to-day noises. Although our vehicles sometimes have a mind of their own, it’s important to listen for abnormal rattling, screeching, knocking, and hissing. Unpleasant and questionable sounds are often tell-tale signs of potential engine damage.

Strange Odors
Much like odd sounds, strange smells coming from your vehicle may be a cry for attention. Forget the dirty dog smell and stench from leftover fast food — focus on particular odors such as rotten eggs, gasoline, burnt rubber, hot oil, or even sweet syrup. You may want to head to an auto shop if your vehicle doesn’t pass the sniff test!

If your vehicle is presenting any of these symptoms, it is recommended you have your vehicle serviced. The trusted professionals at Milex Complete Auto Care can help you identify what might be causing the above so that you can continue to drive safely. And, of course, we also recommend that you stop in periodically for routine automotive service so that you prevent any issues and avoid nerve-racking moments on the road from the start!

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Alta Mere Franchisees in Denton, TX Thankful for Family, Staff and Community

When you’ve had as much success as John and Jaime Blanton, there is plenty for which to be thankful this holiday season.  But the Blantons, who own an Alta Mere/SmartView store in Denton, Texas, are grateful for more than just their store’s prosperity.  Their loving family, supportive community and dedicated employees are all reasons for which the Blantons can give thanks.

John, an ASE certified technician and former member of the U.S. Coast Guard, opened Barebones Auto Repair in 2011.  The goal was, and always will be, to offer customers quality service at a reasonable price.  He and his wife, Jaime, expanded their business by becoming Alta Mere/Smartview franchisees in 2016 after cultivating a loyal customer base, and they continue to see success.  Jaime, who earned her B.A. in Journalism from Texas Christian University and her M.A. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Louisville, plays a big role in the business.  While John tends the shop, Jaime takes care of the accounting and marketing, and oversees the Alta Mere/Smartview staff.

Jaime says they are incredibly thankful for their employees, and that a business’ success often comes from the hard work of its staff.  “We have a terrific staff that’s really dedicated to the craft,” she says.  “They get along really well and treat their customers with the care that any business owner would want.”

Running their own business has allowed the Blantons the flexibility to spend time with their children and get the entire family involved in the community.  “To be able to watch them grow and learn and contribute to their community is a real joy,” says Jaime.

In return, Jaime says she is grateful for the trust the community has given to her family’s business.  She says they have seen tremendous growth in the year since they opened their Alta Mere/Smartview store.  “We’re grateful our community is embracing our business and the values we uphold as owners and in our staff as well,” says Jaime.  “It’s a competitive industry.  Any time you can encourage a customer to choose a small business over a big box, it’s a win.”

While Jaime says they are thankful for the success they have already experienced, they expect it to continue.  “I think that our success we saw in the last year is only going to grow in the new year,” says Jaime.  “I’m just thankful that people are trusting us in the services we offer.”

Their primary goal for the rest of this year and on into 2018 is to elevate their profile as a business in the community.  “We want to finish strong and take those sales and give them back to the community in some way,” says Jaime.  Coming up, she hopes to be able to give back to schools and charities, and possibly partner with the area’s chamber of commerce.  “We’re hopeful that 2018 will give us enough growth that we can give back.”

But for now, the Blantons can relax this Thanksgiving and appreciate the success of their family’s business.  When you’re as involved in the community as this family, there isn’t much time to stop.  So, on Thanksgiving they plan to enjoy some quality time at home together before hitting the ground running with their Christmas activities.  “The week after Thanksgiving, we have a lot of activities in our family,” explains Jaime.  “Our plan as a family is to stay in our pajamas, eat a lot of food, play board games and rest up for the Christmas season… and maybe watch a little football.” of Louisville

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The Importance of Headlight Care

With the sun setting earlier in the last few weeks after the end of daylight saving time, most commuters are driving home at dusk or even in total darkness each evening. To stay safe in the darkness, it’s important to take time for necessary safety precautions.  That means properly maintaining your headlights to keep you, your passengers and other drivers safe on the roads.

Clear, Bright Headlights Make a Difference
Headlights are obviously a necessary component of your car, and it’s important to keep them in top working condition for many reasons. Properly adjusted and cared-for headlights can literally make the difference between life and death. Headlights allow you to see road markings, signs and unexpected obstacles. Over time, headlights inevitably get covered in grime, and the bulbs dim and burn out. Bright, clear headlights will give you the advantage of an extra second or two of response time to better react to an unexpected obstacle such as a pothole, deer or debris in the road. Headlights also let other cars know you’re coming. Brighter headlights mean more visibility and a safer ride.

Headlights Need Maintenance
Just like your car’s fluids, brakes and air filters, headlights need to be maintained regularly. A recent study indicates that 34 percent of drivers have never changed out their headlights, and 63 percent said they would only replace one burned out headlight. That data is in spite of 83 percent of drivers agreeing that better down-road headlights are connected to increased vehicle safety. Headlight maintenance is quick and easy, so why not take the time to increase your vehicle safety?

Get Professional Help for Best Results
An easy way to keep your lights in top condition is through Alta Mere’s headlight care and restoration services. Whether it’s a simple bulb change, total restoration or glass protection application, Alta Mere is equipped with the tools to get the job done right. Alta Mere technicians are able to buff out scratches and make your headlights shine like new using a highly specialized cleaning processes. It’s a simple procedure and can make a world of difference in your driving experience.

This holiday season, Alta Mere is committed to keeping your car as safe as possible, and their services don’t end with headlight restoration! Find your local Alta Mere location today, and explore safety features like window tinting, paint protection, accessories, security products and so much more.

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Moran Thanks its Veteran Franchise Owners

In honor of Veterans Day, Moran Family of Brands would like to salute the 15 franchise owners in our system who served in the military.

We are also proud to announce Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Mr. Transmission/Milex Complete Auto Care as one of the top franchises for veterans.  The magazine based its ranking on each company’s veteran incentive, support by the company in the franchise-buying process, and the company’s ranking in the 2017 Franchise 500, the magazine’s yearly assessment on the health and growth potential of the country’s best franchises (Mr. Transmission/Milex Complete Auto Care ranked #474).

George Kok is an example of a Moran franchise owner who has successfully transitioned from military service to civilian life.  Kok purchased a Mr. Transmission/Milex auto repair store in Louisville, Kentucky in 1983 and another store in Clarksville, Indiana 15 years ago.  He credits much of his success as a business owner from the experience he gained during his three and a half years teaching operations control for Chinook helicopters in the United States Army in the early 1970’s.

“I received excellent training in the military about the hydraulic systems in helicopters, which I now apply to automotive transmissions,” said Kok.  “I also learned the importance of discipline, accountability and chain of command, which has been the core of my operations as a franchise owner for more than 30 years.  There is a business hierarchy with customers, employees, vendors and others, and it is my job as franchise owner to oversee this interworking system and make sure it runs correctly.”

While many of Moran’s owners received technical training while in the military that they have applied to their careers in automotive repair, others get into franchising to achieve entrepreneurial success in their careers.

Former members of the military make strong business leaders because of their experience motivating others, improving processes and carrying out a defined mission.  Like the military, successful franchisees lead their employees to accomplish the mission as a team.  The military also has extensive training and teaches unique skills used to carry out very specific tasks, much like franchising.  This means a veteran can enter a completely new field and be likely to succeed by following the franchisor’s proven business model and completing the training program.

“Many of the veteran prospects we meet with have the work ethic, discipline and leadership we look for in franchise owners,” said Pete Baldine, President of Moran Family of Brands, and franchisor of Mr. Transmission/Milex.  “One benefit franchising offers is the opportunity to become a business owner without having a background in marketing, accounting or sales.  Franchise companies offer comprehensive training in all areas of business operations, and provide an established business model to follow.  That often helps veterans overcome any lack of experience in a given field and gives them guidance on what they will need to do to become successful.”

Moran Family of Brands assigns experienced owners in the system to serve as mentors for first-year franchisees.  Baldine also noted that as veterans entering the workforce during slow times may find it difficult to find high-paying job, business ownership can be a great alternative.

Moran Family of Brands is an active member of VetFran, an initiative that provides a $5,000 franchise fee discount, mentorship and training programs for any honorably discharged U.S. Veteran transition to civilian life.

Becoming a franchise owner with Moran is a great chance for those who have served in the military who are looking for the opportunity to apply the skills they have learned and be their own boss.  For more information, please visit our website – http://moranfamilyofbrands.com/career-opportunity/.

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Moran Franchisee Profile – Mr. Transmission/Milex’s Chris Robinson of Sycamore, IL

In order to earn a customer service award, you have to do more than deliver exactly what the customer needs, when they need it. You must go above and beyond the norm to offer an experience unlike any other for each person that enters the store. That’s why this month, we’re highlighting Chris Robinson, owner of the Mr. Transmission/Milex Complete Auto Care in Sycamore, IL. Earlier this year, his location was ranked as the best automotive shop in his area by the Northern Star student newspaper of Northern Illinois University.

Chris started his career doing vehicle repairs in automotive dealerships after he graduated high school. He gained experience with several dealerships and out-of-market shops, and also worked at the Chicago branch of AAA. He said this early experience helped him gain an understanding of what would improve the customer experience at an auto shop, a perspective that helps shape his business to this day. He left the automotive industry briefly to earn his college degree, while also selling insurance and then brokering investments. This business experience came in handy when he decided to go into business for himself nearly four years ago.

Chris felt inspired to open a shop of his own when he realized how often a customer’s needs deviated from what he saw as ideal. One of the biggest issues he saw with other auto shops was that many seemed limited in what they could offer its customers. For example, a shop that specializes in engines would often not be able to address transmission trouble. Chris thought this kind of limited service options inconvenienced customers and drove business away. The desire to offer all the services customers needed factored into his decision to join Moran Family of Brands. With Moran, Chris found a franchise that not only had an excellent system and reputation, but also shared his outlook on customer service.

Chris developed his reputation from scratch in the Sycamore area. He has slowly built a legacy of customer service excellence, and his hard work is beginning to pay off two and a half years after he opened. His area is very close to Northern Illinois University, and he serves a large number of college students. He markets directly to the students, and even though they can be a price-sensitive and fickle population, they have become his biggest advocates. He was ranked as the best auto shop in the area by the student newspaper this year, an honor he displays with pride in his shop. He thinks the difference between his Mr. Transmission/Milex Complete Auto Care location and other shops in the area is his team’s willingness to go the extra mile to make sure customers are getting the absolute best service, without any excesses or mistakes. His approach builds trust and makes his shop the go-to location when someone in the area is having vehicle trouble.

Chris’ Mr. Transmission/Milex co-branded store in Sycamore, IL, is an example of what happens when a commitment to improving the customer experience is the guiding principle of a business from the very beginning. Chris earned more than just the loyalty of a notoriously hard-to-win consumer group — he’s changing the preconceived notions people have of automotive professionals, one rebuilt or repaired vehicle at a time. So this month, join us in congratulating Chris Robinson on his most recent honor.

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Hints an Auto Repair Shop Isn’t Up to Snuff

Most vehicle owners share the struggle of finding an affordable and trustworthy auto repair shop. Without knowing the market, it can be difficult to find a knowledgeable and skilled mechanic with honest values. Don’t let the search discourage you! Every industry is plagued with a few rotten apples but for the most part, companies like Milex Complete Auto Care are in the business of providing a one-stop shop for reliable, unmatched repair and maintenance with superior service. To avoid the poor performers when shopping around for an auto repair shop, watch out for red flags like these:

Lack of Certifications
A list of mechanic certifications is a perfect way to judge the experience and expertise of a repair shop. Relevant certifications establish trust and instill a sense of security with customers. The Automotive Service Excellence Certification is standard when it comes to the repair industry. A shop that lacks various certifications may not be as dependable, so don’t be afraid to ask about these before having work done.

No Warranty on Services
A mechanic or repair shop that doesn’t extend a warranty on services performed likely isn’t up to par. That being said, a written warranty is very different from a verbal warranty. Be sure to receive a warranty in writing and not rely solely on goodwill. Written estimates are also a great way to hold a repair shop accountable for quotes and services. Make sure the estimate states the repair shop should contact you before performing work if it exceeds a certain cost. Protect yourself and your vehicle from dodgy workmanship and be sure to seek out a quality and reputable shop that stands behinds its work.

Excessive Recommendations
Do you ever feel like your mechanic is trying to cheat you by insisting you need more work done on your vehicle? What if you visit a repair shop for a cracked windshield and they insist you need proper wheel alignment and a new timing belt? While this may be true, you should be mindful of excessive recommendations. Don’t let a pushy mechanic pressure you into unnecessary work. Your mechanic should be honest and transparent about servicing your vehicle and whether the work is crucial or insignificant.

Service Mistakes
An obvious sign of a questionable repair shop is careless mistakes made while servicing your vehicle. Having your car in the shop is frustrating and inconvenient alone, but tack on some mistakes and it’s enough to send you over the edge. If a repair shop somehow manages to snap a belt or forgets to tighten a few lug nuts, you’ll be back in there before you gas up next. Be sure to take note of the condition of your vehicle before leaving it with a repair shop to ensure you are not faulted for their mistakes. A good shop will own its mistakes and be upfront with their customers.

Excuses, Excuses
Have you ever requested a repair shop to save your car’s old parts after servicing and then return to find some excuse for why they weren’t? Even if they are broken or covered in rust and oil, asking for old parts is a great way to guarantee the shop actually replaced them in the first place. If a repair shop doesn’t follow through it might be a sign to seek out a new mechanic.

Aggressive Demeanor
Another potential red flag when it comes to auto repair shops is their inability and unwillingness to answer customer questions and concerns. If a mechanic becomes aggressive or agitated by your query regarding costs or service specifics, it usually means they have something to hide. A good business will understand that questions arise, especially when expensive repairs are at hand. As a customer, you should feel comfortable inquiring about your vehicle.  After all, it is your money being spent.

When it comes to seeking out a reputable auto repair shop, remember to consider these tips. Economical and dependable automotive service is not too much to ask for. With Milex Complete Auto Care, you won’t have to settle for anything less than you deserve.

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The Advantages of Paint Protection

Paint protection film is a unique service offering that will not only protect your car’s paint job, but also ensure that every aspect of your car’s maintenance and preservation is taken care of for the secondary automotive market. Many drivers don’t realize that paint protection film is something that automotive accessory shops can offer their customers, and that ignorance can end up costing customers when it comes time to sell or trade in their car.

The world is a scary place for a brand-new car; with all the flying rocks, errant shopping carts, door-slamming passengers and unexpected hail storms, a car’s paint job has to survive a lot. And paint can be surprisingly delicate, especially if it is routinely exposed to high heat or sunlight which softens it. Damage to your car’s paint job is not easily fixed without repainting the entire car, and color-matching to patch up a small area is nearly impossible. And if the damage is noticeable? There goes your car’s resale value.

While selling your car might be the last thing you’re thinking of when the ink is still wet on your vehicle’s title, taking maintenance steps early on is the best way to preserve its value for when you want to sell or trade in your current vehicle. According to the car valuation experts at Kelley Blue Book and Car Care Council, having a clean and good-looking car can make a difference of anywhere from $300 to $2,000 in the car’s ultimate resale price. Fortunately, damage to your car’s paint job can be prevented, with the easy, one-time application of paint protection film from Alta Mere The Automotive Outfitters.

Finding an automotive accessory shop that offers paint protection services can be difficult, by virtue of the fact that not many people are aware that this service can do so much to preserve the value of a new or used car, so demand is low. This means that many businesses aren’t willing to add on a service that they would have to market so heavily, but for Alta Mere, the reward to our customers is well worth the investment. Alta Mere technicians are trained in applying paint protection films and other accessories, and customers are consistently blown away by the results.

Paint protection can help keep winter debris and summer temperatures from damaging your car prematurely, and can give you a huge advantage in the car resale market. To find your local Alta Mere and schedule your paint protection service, visit AltaMere.com.

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Bad Habits That Are Destroying Your Car

Damage to your car begins accumulating the moment you drive it off the lot. We all know this, but there are ways to speed up this damage without even realizing it, setting yourself up for some hefty repair bills in the future. Unfortunately, many of the following are common habits, and Milex Complete Auto Care technicians see drivers unwittingly shortening the lives of their cars every day. Here are some of the worst habits we’ve seen, and how you can turn them around to prevent damage to your car.

Driving Habit: Letting gas get too low
The temptation to drive with a low gas level is pervasive. After all, who wants to take time out of their day to fuel up, or spend the money to do it? Unfortunately, letting your gas level get too low can damage your car in the long term. Here’s why: Over time, sediment can build up in the bottom of your fuel tank. This is fine, provided your gas level doesn’t get too low. But once your fuel injection system starts draining from the bottom of your tank, it can pick up this sediment, and it can get caught further along the fuel system, even in the engine. This sediment tears up the inside of your fuel system and engine, ultimately requiring expensive repairs.

Maintenance Habit: Going too long between oil changes
Yeah, we get it — you’d rather do anything but get an oil change. But your engine oil serves a vital purpose in your vehicle, and waiting too long to get it changed is asking for trouble. Your oil cools the engine, cleans engine parts and lubricates the engine as it passes through your drivetrain. As a result, the oil becomes dirty, and it can no longer perform these functions well. Oil can also burn off, which can quickly deplete your car’s oil reserves and leave you broken down on the highway. So, make sure you know your car’s service intervals, and get your oil replaced before the wear and tear adds up.

Driving Habit: Rapid Acceleration & Braking
You might feel like a racecar driver, but your little family car is not equipped for quick maneuvers or sudden changes in speed. Your car is designed for safety first, which means that precision, handling and other advantages that performance vehicles possess are completely foreign to your car. Rapid acceleration can cause damage all along your drivetrain, and braking too rapidly can wear down your brake pads and cause them to overheat, which will reduce their effectiveness as you drive. In the end, moves like this can cause rapid wear and tear on your car, which earns you no street cred, no adoring fans at the car show — just a hefty bill at the automotive shop.

Maintenance Habit: Carrying Too Much Extra Cargo
Always Be Prepared. It’s the motto of the Boy Scouts, but it doesn’t have to apply to your commute each day. How many of the things in your car do you need on a daily basis? If you can purge your car of any extra weight it might be carrying, you’ll probably end up relieving some of the burden on your vehicle. This will ultimately reduce the amount of work your engine has to do to accelerate and make braking easier. It will also protect your suspension system by reducing the resistance it meets as it navigates your car over rough or uneven roads.

Driving Habit: Not Using the Parking Brake
Because it is also known as the emergency brake, many people only associate the parking brake with situations in which they have to brake suddenly. But using the parking brake every time you turn off your car’s ignition, even if you aren’t parked on an incline, will protect your car’s transmission. Even if you drive a car with automatic transmission, when you park without engaging the parking brake, the weight of your car rests on a single piece of the transmission system, called the parking pawl. The parking brake, once engaged, can distribute your car’s weight more evenly, and keep your transmission safe from damage.

Maintenance Habit: Ignoring Subtle Warnings
If you begin hearing odd noises from your car, smelling odors or feeling a difference in your car’s handling, you could be one of the lucky few who gets a warning before a major problem with your vehicle. Don’t waste this opportunity! Quickly report what you’re experiencing to your trusted automotive technician, so they can evaluate the issue and recommend a course of action to prevent extensive damage. Simple preventive maintenance could keep you from getting stranded on the side of the road.

It can be easy to think that your bad car habits are no big deal. That’s because most of them cause damage over a long stretch of time. But trust us, letting these behaviors continue can be disastrous down the line. Don’t let some easily-fixed habits ruin your car before its time. Visit your local Milex Complete Auto Care or Mr. Transmission for routine maintenance and tips on how to preserve your car’s good health.

 

 

 

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Mr. Transmission/Milex Franchisees Help Hurricane Harvey Recovery Efforts

In late August, southern Texas was pelted with heavy rains, storm surges and high winds, which devastated property in much of the area. Stories are still surfacing of the damage wreaked by Hurricane Harvey, and many experts estimate it will take at least a year for the area to return to normal. Gordon and Carolyn Ricossa and their employees of the Mr. Transmission & Milex Complete Auto Care in Beaumont, TX, found themselves in the thick of the storm with very little in the way of preparation. When Hurricane Harvey first hit the area, Gordon sent all the technicians home to wait it out in safety. That would be the last time they would be able to reach the store for 10 days.

The Beaumont store was fortunate to avoid flooding, but all of the roads leading to the shop were closed due to high water for more than week.  Once Gordon, Carolyn and their technicians could reach the shop, they had to get straight to work, and were only able to use small generators to charge the phones and computers (no lights, air supply, or lifts) for two weeks while the power was out in their area.

The team had had a long list of vehicles to work on prior to the storm, but almost immediately after reopening, people began visiting the shop with water-damaged vehicles that they desperately needed to get running again. Gordon and his team of technicians prioritized these vehicles, because they knew what people in these situations were already going through, and wanted to help them. In many cases, these water-damaged cars were a family’s only mode of transportation. Gordon said giving back in this way has been an important part of helping his community recover.

Gordon and Carolyn know that they were very fortunate.  Their shop was spared the worst destruction, and they are now in a position to help others get back on their feet.  Going forward, the Ricossas plan to continue supporting relief and recovery efforts.  The couple has so far been helping at the church evacuee center by cooking meals and donating clothes and supplied to the church distribution center.  They are also helping two of their technicians whose houses experienced flood damage by assisting them with clothes, food, and time off to recover what items are salvageable.

Gordon said the best way to assist others affected by the hurricane is through monetary donations. All of the money Donated to local churches and organizations involved in the recovery process will go directly to the people affected by the hurricane.  “If people want to help, I would recommend finding local churches and donating money to them,” said Gordon. “The churches in our area are doing a lot of work in housing people, feeding people and helping families get back in their homes. They’re in the area helping people who have lost everything.”

Hurricane Harvey delivered destruction to parts of Texas, but the strength and perseverance Gordon and Carolyn have seen in their community have assured them that the community will get through this difficult time.

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