To upload multiple files at once using an Android phone, follow the below instructions. The following screenshots came from an Android phone running Marshmallow.  The Browser being used is Chrome, as the default Samsung browsers don’t work with multiple pictures.

 

If you are having issues with other versions of Android, please contact us and we will provide separate instructions.

 

Go to the task and tap ‘Choose File(s)’       



 Tap ‘Documents’ to pick the images


   


 

 

Tap on the ‘Photos’ icon                                     

  

Select the images


 

Tap ‘Upload’ and the images will be loaded.

 

Essentials of Operating a Shop Seminar

EFI University and My Shop Assist have teamed up to provide you with a new course called Essentials of Operating a Shop!

In this 1-day seminar, we will be discussing topics related to helping you run your shop more efficiently and make more money in the process. Topics include:

Time Management

Job Management

Customer Service

Managing Employees

Revenue Sources

Parts/Inventory

Capital Equipment

Tool Selection

Managing Overhead

Accounting

Marketing


 

To find more information and sign up for a class, please visit 
2016 Schedule

Portland, OR               Feb 6
San Jose, CA                Mar 5
Orlando, FL                 Apr 16
Phoenix, AZ                Apr 30
Philadelphia, PA       May 28
Denver, CO                 July 16
Charlotte, NC             July 23
Houston, TX               Aug 13
Chicago, IL                  Sep 3
Los Angeles, CA       Oct 22
Las Vegas, NV           Oct 31
Indianapolis, IN         Dec 7

Todd Earsley, President of My Shop Assist Inc. tells his story of how he got involved in the performance automotive world.  Todd also shares his side of the MSA story and offers advice on how to run your shop better! 


 Be sure to check out all the episodes of the Do It For A Living Podcast by subscribing, and check out the webpage at www.doitforaliving.net


Check out the Do It For A Living Podcast, and visit the page, www.doitforaliving.net


in the Latest episode Reid Interviews Kevin Dubois, Co-founder of My Shop Assist!  Hear his story on how he struggled running Evolution Dynamics, and developed MSA to improve the shop.


We want to spend some time profiling shops that utilize My Shop Assist and understand the benefits of it.  Within the first month of our public release in 2012 Sebastian Chacoff, owner of Specialty-Z in Chatsworth, CA signed up for our trial.  Specialty-Z ran through the free trial but as a early product, the interest wasn't there to continue.  



Fast forward a year, we took a trip from the 2013 SEMA show to head out to compete in the Global Time Attack Superlap Battle at Button Willow with the MSA EVO.   We had several days between the end of SEMA and the SLB event to visit shops around Los Angeles.   Since Specialty-Z had given our free trial a shot, we made a point to visit them in person.   We managed to make it out to their shop right before they closed and Sebastian was gracious enough to stick around and talk with us.    

We spent about an hour checking out their 2400 sqft operation and talked shop.   They specialize in Nissan performance, with several 300ZX being worked on as well as some GTRs.  They handle all aspects of the builds including repair, engine building, and they had an in ground Dyno for tuning.  Sebastian has 3 other guys on his team in addition to himself so they make good use of the layout of the shop.  We spent some time also showing Sebastian and his team the new features within MSA they hadn't seen from when they originally signed up.  The in person demo along with the desire to make their shop more organized sparked them to give it another try. 

Here we are now 2 years later, Sebastian took a few moments to give us some feedback on how it has been working for them.  When asked how has MSA helped them, Sebastian responded "It has tremendously helped keep track of our labor time and parts. Its been very helpful in situations where labor time may have been underestimated and we can make a change if need be. Keeping track of the work to be performed and making notes is also a tremendous help. Losing paperwork and written notes is a thing of the past."  Its clear his team have utilized MSA to improve their process'.  By using task timers and notes they can better estimate and bill customers moving forward.  Tracking parts on jobs is key, and this is a great way to do that which the Specialty-Z guys have found.


We asked Sebastian if there was any feature in particular they liked and he said "Our main "like" is tracking feature of old completed jobs. If one takes the time to enter the data its great to look back at an old job to remember a certain function or part used".   Documenting work is critical in every industry so mistakes aren't repeated.   Sebastian realizes this and above all else pointed it out as their favorite feature.   

We look forward to continuing to work with Specialty-Z, and we thank them for taking a few minutes of their day to answer our questions!
            

About English Racing

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple years, you have probably heard of English Racing.  They are a premier destination shop in Camas, WA which is about 15 minutes outside of Portland, Oregon.  English Racing has been a go-to shop for Evo, DSM, and Honda tuning for many years.  More recently, they have been taking in Subaru work as well as building several of the fastest GTRs on the planet.  


 

English Racing's race rig at TX2K15


 The shop is owned and run by Lucas English who, like most shop owners, wears many different hats.  Lucas divides his time among managing the shop, answering phone calls, tuning cars, and writing invoices.


Lucas at his desk working on invoices


 In the front office, he is supported by Myles who handles a bulk of the phone calls, emails, and customer service/scheduling.  


Myles spends a great deal of his time answering the phone


The shop itself is spread out over a couple buildings including one for their AWD Dynojet, a smaller two lift building primarily for GTR work, and the main building with the waiting room, office, engine assembly room, parts storage, and the primary work areas with 5 lifts.  There is a large, recently paved parking lot where they keep the customer cars in for work. The parking lot has a slew of every type of car they work on ranging from simple tunes to ground up builds.  English has a team of techs who divide the work up based off specialty.   


The back side of their main building 


The Situation

We have known Lucas for several years because we both come from the Evo world so we were intimately aware of the struggles associated with running this type of shop.  The most obvious issue is the sheer number of cars they had to work on.


Their parking lot had a lot of cars in for work


It is quite the daunting task trying to track all the work that needs to be done and all the parts needed for each car.  Without a good system to do this, shops will spend too much time on overhead activities.  This includes tracking down parts, trying to remember the work done, answering phone calls from customers wondering what is going on with their car, pushing cars around, and even directing technicians.  This cuts into the profitability of the shop.  The guys at English did have several systems in place to try and help their process.  The most useful was their use of Google calendars to track appointments.  They were also using the multi-user QuickBooks for accounting.  And Lucas had created his own Excel worksheet for tracking the status of all the cars in the parking lot/  But this was a very labor intensive process in itself.

I spent day 2 entering jobs from google calendar to MSA


The Plan

After talking with Lucas a couple times about My Shop Assist, we decided it would be of huge benefit to him for us to simply fly up there and help implement a complete shop management system.  Lucas fully understood that his time is extremely valuable and he simply didn't have any to spare to try and learn a new system on his own.  


We at My Shop Assist realize that this is a pretty common struggle for shops who are aware they need to improve things but can't devote the resources to do so.  We addressed this issue in December, 2014 by offering a consulting service where we would visit the shop in person and do the heavy lifting for them.  This includes importing all of the customers, tasks, parts, and users, then adding all of their current projects, and finally training all of the staff.


We agreed a good time to visit would be right after he returned from the California Shift S3ctor half mile event.  This would give him two good weeks of use on his own before they head down to Texas for the Texas Invitational.  This trip to the TI event would give him a chance to meet us in person again where we can go over how its working out for him. We can address any questions he may have and keep him going in the right direction towards better efficiency and higher profitability.


Getting Started

On the first day of the visit, I was introduced to several of the guys on Lucas' crew.  Lucas gave me a tour of the shop and explained several of their current processes.  Lucas said that over the past 6 months they have been pushing hard to clean up the shop but that it was still a work in progress.  Years of hard work with not enough time devoted to cleaning and organization can takes its toll on the shops efficiency.  It also makes the shop look less appealing to higher end clientele.  The first big change was his parts room.  English Racing stocks a large amount of competition clutches which were neatly organized on the shelves and labeled for each application. 


Their move to organize the shop was obvious in the new parts room


This same thing applied to Wiseco Pistons, GSC, ARP, ACL, and even a bunch of Magnus Intake manifolds for Evo's.  English Racing buys direct from the manufacturer on many of these products and also helps with some R&D.  This is excellent for maximizing profit margin and establishes himself as a resource the manufacturers can use to test their products in practice.  Having a good amount of product on the shelf also means they can turns cars around faster because they wont have to wait for parts to be shipped to them.  


Myles likes their parts room


Another area of the shop was reserved for parts to be used on scheduled cars.  Lucas was using the shelves to tag parts with the customers name and made it clear to the team those parts were not to be used for anything else  That way, cars can come in and leave the same day because everything is there for it. 

The last change I will point out was the use of rolling racks to store parts for customer cars.  When you tear down a car for a motor build, there are a lot of parts that need to go somewhere until the new engine is ready to go.  The use of these rolling racks minimizes the footprint on the shop floor these parts take up.  It also keeps things off the floor which adds to the professional look we strive to achieve. 


 

The rolling racks behind the lift contain the parts from disassembled cars


A bulk of the remaining work Lucas’ team had left to do was cleaning up used and old parts throughout the shop.  It's often difficult to throw good old parts away because you know at some point another car will need it.  The downside is that those parts will be in your way until that time comes (which could be years).  We advise shops to take a good hard look at their pile of used parts and determine if they really need to hold on to them.  Most of the time, if a customer needed a part to fix a car, just make them purchase a new one.  Lucas and I looked through several of his shelves and he started coming to the conclusion that keeping many of the used parts is just a waste of space.

Moving Forward

My work with Lucas began after our tour.  The first part to setting them up with My Shop Assist was to integrate their customer list from QuickBooks into MSA.  This gives them a good start to adding jobs and makes each job a little easier to create from here on out.  Next, I went in and reviewed their parts and services within QuickBooks.  They had a very extensive list of OEM parts used on the various cars they work on but much of the aftermarket parts were missing.  The services were grouped under just a few distinct line items.  On my flight to English Racing, I anticipated needing to make a good service list for them to work from.  I built a good base of tasks organized by type of task and broken down to specific areas and even specific vehicles when appropriate.  Since we at My Shop Assist have been in the aftermarket automotive industry for many years, we have a pretty good idea about what the task list should look like.  And this list would be a great start for them to build off of as time goes by.

Throughout the first day, Lucas was working hard to get invoices printed for me for the cars already at their shop (and it took essentially his entire day).  I needed these invoices so that I could enter the jobs into MSA for his techs to begin working from.  This process was very time consuming for him because the QuickBooks database he originally had didn't have many of the parts or services they commonly use.  He would manually have to enter it every time a car needed it.  When you’re doing that 5 or 6 times a day, I would estimate between 3-4 man hours a day would be saved with a more complete service and parts list available to pull from in MSA and then export as complete invoices back into QuickBooks.  This simple process improvement of streamlining invoice creation and having more data to pull from could potentially free up 80/hrs a month of Lucas and Myles time (at $100/hr that’s $8000 dollars a month more potential earning time without having to hire another person or work longer days).  In the coming weeks, we are going to be working closely with English to continue to enter more data with them and to better fit the spreadsheets created for them to the pricing structure they use there.

By the end of the first day, I had MSA connected to their QuickBooks via the web connector and was able to transfer jobs from MSA into Quickbooks as invoices. This is a critical component that shops who implement other “General” project management programs overlook.  I also had entered in all of English Racing's technicians into the system and even had several of the invoices entered as jobs into MSA.  One of the techs began tracking his time late in the day with MSA  This is a key component to what Lucas was wanting to fix from his previous system of hand written time cards.  I gave myself some homework for the night to begin creating groups within MSA and to further customize the labor list to their needs..


System Implementation

Day two began with showing several more technicians how to use the system and explaining the purpose of what its being used for.  It took several hours to explain it, answer questions, and demonstrate the functionality to them.  By this point, Myles was proficient at adding jobs and had begun using MSA in place of their Google calendar for new appointments.  He also successfully took an email thread with a customer for a staged power package they offer, entered it into MSA, and emailed the work order to the customer with a request for a signature to authorize the work.  The customer digitally signed the request within a few hours and Myles was able to follow up with a deposit placed and parts marked to be ordered.  Because the work order was created in MSA, Myles already had the work allocated to the specific technicians (which automatically appears on those techs to-do lists when they log in), had the job listed on the calendar, and will be able to export it to QuickBooks as an invoice once the job is completed.  The biggest struggle with explaining MSA to shops is how the dots are connected through the work flow in a shop.  Over the next few months, as Lucas and his team are more comfortable with using it, things will become increasingly apparent about how seamless MSA makes running the shop.

By the end of the second day, many of the cars at their shop had been entered into the system and we were ready to start the third day training the rest of the technicians about using MSA

.  

By the second day, the techs were tracking hours on the cars they were working on.


I spend the night building out specific groups that Lucas can use for engine builds and short block assemblies.  This will reduce the time to quote and invoice a full engine build.  Additionally, fewer things will fall through the cracks.  Lucas and I went over several motor build invoices and found he was grossly underestimating the “misc fluids, seals, cleaning supplies” charge he was using.  And there were even discrepancies on certain parts pricing from one invoice to another.  These are the small things that cut into the bottom line without even realizing it.  By building out specific groups of parts and services, every engine build going forward will have identical pricing without missing the small (but significant) supplies he was overlooking.  These supplies are no longer grouped into “misc supplies” and are called out as individual line items which makes his invoicing more professional to the customers.

I spent the third day training the remaining technicians and making sure all questions were answered.  I also entered his dyno waiver legalese into MSA and showed them how to take signatures for the waiver

.

Aaron at his home away from home on the dyno.  Now able to upload the dyno sheets and get waivers signed with MSA.


Lucas also wanted to start using the Time clock within MSA because it was difficult to edit times using their paper time clock system which required manually totaling out each employees times every week.  The MSA time clock report generates this report automatically and it is easier to make corrections.

Conclusion

Overall, the visit was extremely productive!  It took Lucas away from the task at hand many times throughout the day, but I did most of the heavy lifting to get them moving forward with the new system.  By the time I left, everyone was actively using the system and the active jobs screen was growing rapidly as new cars were being entered into the system.  I plan to follow up with Lucas and his team several times through the next few weeks to make sure all their questions are addressed and they continue to smoothly transition to using MSA.  I want to thank the team at English Racing for inviting us to come help them, and for the opportunity to see their operation!

This service is available to anyone interested.   If you think your shop would benefit from a visit like this, please Contact us.


Every mechanic and engine builder knows how essential it is for engine components to be free of any contaminates. Traditionally, shops have used labor intensive and/or crude methods to get parts as clean as possible.

Every machine shop will wash your parts in a hot VAT cleaner. It spins your parts around and sprays them with a hot and caustic solution to remove contaminates. This machine does a pretty good job but it has many downfalls. Parts cannot be left unattended because the solution can actually eat away at the material. And the solution rarely gets down into all the holes and passageways leaving many areas unclean.

Within the shop, technicians use copious amounts of brake cleaner and countless hours hunched over the mineral spirits parts washer. Brake cleaner is very expensive on a per-bottle basis and is extremely toxic to your skin. And we know that everybody has accidentally sprayed it in your eyes at least once in their lifetime!

A typical mineral spirits parts washer.  A staple in almost every automotive shop.

While the traditional parts washer is great for getting dirt and grime off parts, is very labor intensive and not 100% effective. If you do not change the mineral spirits often enough, you end up trying to wash parts with dirty fluid.  

Well, a new series of machines have started to become available for the automotive industry - the Ultrasonic Cleaner. The idea of using ultrasonic waves to clean parts has been around for many decades in the jewelry cleaning business. But the availability to shops is just starting to take shape.

Manufacturers are designing ultrasonic cleaners with performance shops in mind. They are large enough to handle engines but small enough to be financially within reach. They also come with features such as pneumatic rising tables and oil skimmers.

Here is an entire engine block submerged in the tank.  Every single passageway and surface gets treated to remove harmful contaminates.

After seeing many of these machines popping up at the SEMA and PRI trade shows, we at Evolution Dynamics decided to investigate the feasibility of owning one.

First, we set out to determine how much time we spent hand washing “clean” parts from the machine shops and how much time was spent cleaning everything else we put on cars. The numbers amazed us!

Using My Shop Assist to track time, we discovered we spent about 4 hours PER ENGINE BUILD just cleaning parts. This includes hand washing the blocks, head(s), pistons, rods, and rings. It also included washing all the brackets, bolts, pulleys, throttle bodies, intakes, oil pans, and anything else going back on the car in the mineral spirits washer. 

When you consider that we build approximately 1 engine per week, this equates to 208 hours every year just washing parts. To put that in a dollar figure at $100/hour shop rate, that is over $20,000 of labor!

This figure alone convinced us that we needed to invest in one of these machines. Our decision on which manufacturer to choose was based on talking with salespeople at trade shows, features of each machine, and availability for support. The machine we ended up with met our needs, but that doesn't mean it is any better or worse than another option.

Here is a breakdown of how we made the final decision to purchase an ultrasonic cleaner:

Purchase Price12000
Additional Equipment (RO filter, sink, and trays)1000
Loan Period (years)2
Interest Rate5
Monthly Payment570
Additional Charges (cleaning fluid/month)150
Charge per Service150
Minimum Services to make Payment4.8

The machine we decided on cost $12,000 and there was an additional $1000 for the RO filtering system, stainless steel sink, and various stainless trays/bowls. The loan was for 2 years at a 5% interest rate. This brings the monthly payment to $570. We also figured we would change cleaning fluid once per month, adding $150 per month. Since cleaning parts in the ultrasonic cleaner is a premium service, we will add an additional $150 each time we clean the engine components. With these numbers, we found we needed to clean 4.8 engines worth of parts every month.

To make up for the remaining operating cost, we can clean parts for other services (head gasket replacement), offer the service to surrounding shops, and clean parts for walk-in customers.

This machine also frees up a valuable resource; manpower. As mentioned above, it originally took about 4 man hours to hand wash all of the parts for an engine assembly. With the ultrasonic cleaner, it now only takes 1 man hour (this includes time to load, unload, rinse, and dry all the parts). Multiply that 3 hours of savings times 4 engines per month, and you just freed up 144 man hours per year. 

This creation of 144 more man hours can equate to as much as $14,400 (at $100/hour shop rate) of revenue with no additional expense. So this money goes straight to your bottom line and into your pocket!

One last benefit of this machine is that it allows us to advertise to customers that we provide the cleanest possible engine assemblies. And this is why we can charge an additional fee for the service.



To complement the machine, we installed a RO water filtration system to fill a 50 gallon trash can with clean water to aid in the effectiveness of the chemicals. We also installed a 3-portion stainless steel sink to be used as a rinsing station for the cleaned parts. Finally, we purchased a 120V fluid pump to move the waste fluid from the machine and sinks to be disposed. This pumps also transfers the RO water from the trash can into the machine and sinks.

Here you can see the divided sink used for rinsing parts after they are cleaned in the US machine.


Literally everything for the engine gets thrown in there to be cleaned. Makes the reassembly process much less messy.

In addition to cleaning all the components during engine assembly, we have also rolled this service into head gasket replacements. For this, we clean the head, valve train, intake manifold, valve cover, fuel rail, throttle body, thermostat, and hardware. Not only does the customer get shiny, nice parts, but the mechanic doing the reassembly is working with clean parts.

Here is an intake manifold that was cleaned. Before is on the left and shows all of the road grime and carbon deposits.  The right shows a perfectly clean part!  Notice that all of the carbon buildup has been removed from within the intake manifold.

Shown is a full load of control arms being cleaned. Normally, this would have taken hours in the sandblasting cabinet.

A turbo failure on this particular car meant that all the charge pipes, couplers, and sensors were drenched in oil. The ultrasonic cleaner removed all of that in no time.

To greater utilize this machine, the cleaning service can also be provided to surrounding shops and walk-in customers. This will help speed up the payback period.

In conclusion, the savings from this machine are as follows:

  • Gets parts as clean as possible - a premium service not many can offer
  • Frees up time normally spent manually cleaning parts - more profit
  • Allows for cleaner re-installation of parts - a visible improvement to workmanship
  • Can be provided to other shops and walk-ins - additional source of revenue
Given all of the benefits mentioned above, purchasing this machine made sense to us. Even if you cannot justify purchasing the machine yourself, we strongly recommend finding a shop in your area that has an ultrasonic cleaner and test it out for yourself! You will find that the time savings coupled with the cost rolled into the service makes it a good choice.

Introduction


Evolution Dynamics is a relatively small shop just outside of Dallas, TX specializing in the Mitsubishi Evo platform.  It has anywhere from 20-30 cars at the shop and between 15-20 engines being built at any given time.  Handling 15-20 engine builds can be a daunting task if you only have 1 person building the engines.  Keeping the parts straight, knowing what each customer wants, and various components going to different machine shops adds to the difficulty of getting every engine exactly right.  To top it off, building race engines isn't just putting parts together using manufacturer supplied specs.  Race engines can exhibit undesired behavior when built to unsuitable specs.  So having detailed records of each and every engine built can help a builder dial in clearances and fine tune the build process.  If an engine fails, being able to quickly look back and see every detail about the engine can save countless hours and dollars by not repeating the same mistake again.


Handling the Process


When a customer drops a car off or places an order for an engine, you begin by entering the job into My Shop Assist.  Evolution Dynamics has streamlined the engine building process with My Shop Assist by building out groups and setting them as default tasks as seen below.  



In a matter of minutes you can create a job for the customer which includes their information, the list of tasks, all the parts needed, and an estimated cost for the work.  If the customer wants different parts or specs, the details can easily be changed.  In the case of Evolution Dynamics, they only build Evo engines so the same build sheet can be used and filled out accordingly.  The build sheet is built into the task called Shortblock Assembly.  So every time that task is added to a job, the build sheet comes as seen below.
    


Taking Pictures, Making Notes, and Tracking Time

To get the assembly process started, the builder lays out the parts for the build.  Parts are thoroughly inspected for defects then washed in a soap bath to remove any contaminates.

 

The block is also hand cleaned after the machine shop has finished reworking it.  Brushes are used to clean out oil passages and ensure there is no remaining metal debris inside.  It is pretty well known that most early engine failures are due to oil contamination.  This is almost always caused by poor or inadequate cleanliness standards during assembly.  By using My Shop Assist to track the time of each individual task, they found that it takes more time to clean the engine and components than to actually assemble the engine! 



With the parts inspected and cleaned, the rotating assembly is balanced.



These values are recorded as details in the task within My Shop Assist.  Knowing what weights were used makes it easy to order replacement parts if any issues arise.  

All details of the engine assemble process, such as main and rod bearing clearances, are also recorded into the task details.  They have found that knowing every engines bearing clearance enables them to fine tune engine parameters for things such as operating oil pressure for road racing cars vs drag racing cars.   
  



As the crank is bolted into place, torque specs are recorded and pictures are taken for the customer to view using the Customer Login option of My Shop Assist.  It is very reassuring to the customer to see every little detail that is put into assembling a motor.  This also helps to boost the shop’s reputation and customer service levels.



As the block is flipped back over, ring gaps are measured and filed to meet the specs refined for the use the engine is expected to see.  What works best for a 900hp car may not be ideal for a daily driver at 400hp.  Knowing the difference helps build an engine the customer will enjoy (and not have to constantly worry about oil levels, crank case pressure, and if they need to tear it down to "refresh" it every year). 

Evolution Dynamics has noticed the biggest difference in the road racing cars.  Ring gaps were made smaller and smaller to reduce crank case pressure and blow by into catch cans.  Running a 40 minute session with an engine normally built for 900hp meant several quarts of oil filling into the catch can.  This was unacceptable.  Through several revisions, the specs were adjusted to meet the needs of sustained periods of time at full throttle.




An easy way to ensure all these specs are input immediately is to use a tablet by the work station.  It provides the user with a camera for taking pictures of the work, a keyboard to make notes, and a convenient way to start or stop the timer on every task.  



Final Steps

By tracking hours to do a complete assembly, Evolution Dynamics has adjusted their assembly pricing to reflect the care taken in the build process.  My Shop Assist has increased the profit of the job by easily tracking that time.  "Without knowing the total time, I was simply charging less than the other guy doing it," Kevin said.  "Now that I know how long it takes me through countless revisions to my process, and knowing the specs that work the best, we are not afraid to charge more for a better product."


The final assembly picture is taken as the engine is bagged up ready for the long block assembly task.  The picture is loaded to the task in My Shop Assist and the email is sent to the customer.



This year while working our My Shop Assist booth at the Professional Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show, we spoke with a lot of fantastic shops about our software.  We try to make time to venture out into the halls and see the new parts, tools, and cars people bring to the show.  It was especially difficult this year as we had a good location for our booth and the traffic was great!  People who visited our booth also noticed the 4G63 block we brought on an engine stand to assemble.  We did this to demonstrate how the software functions while actually working on cars.  By the end of the show, only the main studs and oil squirters were installed, a testament to how busy we were!

Kevin Dubois standing in the My Shop Assist booth.

During the show, we were speaking to a group of people who own a shop that restores and races Porsches and they pointed out a friend who made tools for assembling engines.  His name was Steven Stomski of Stomski Racing.  He handed me his brochure of tools and mentioned he has a patented tool for installing the wrist-pin cir-clips.  Now, if you have ever built a motor with these, you know how difficult they can be to install.  Every single Mitsubishi engine that I assemble uses this style wrist-pin clip.  Over the years I have stabbed myself with picks, launched the clips across the shop, scratched the side of the pistons with the picks and clips, and cursed more times then I care to admit.  There were times where I would spend upwards of 10 minutes fighting with a clip to try and force it in.  At one point I even attempted to make my own tool out of copper pipe with no success.  So I thanked Steven for inventing the tool and promised him I would make an order as soon as we got back from PRI.
This morning, I received my 22mm Circlip Injector just in time for 3 more engines I was about to assemble.  It is comprised of a female sleeve to hold the clip and a male punch to press it into the piston.


Stomski Racing Circlip Injector(TM) Assembly.

Male and female parts of the Circlip Injector(TM).

This little clips are pretty stiff and I couldn't pinch it hard enough to push it into the tool.  Knowing it had to be easier then my previous pick method, I took a quick glance at the provided diagrams and directions.  It said to use a notched flat blade screwdriver to press the clip into the injector.  Then you can press the clip into the piston.  


Circlip inserted into the sleeve.


The first piston was quick and painless, albeit a little slow trying to build a technique. 




Pressing the circlip into the piston.

Inserted circlip. Very easy to install and no damage to the piston.

By the 4th piston, it was taking me less then a minute to do each clip.  When I moved on to the second engine, I felt like it was taking only 10-15 seconds a clip.  This was a huge improvement over my original method of trying to pry each clip in with pics and screwdrivers!  This tool has greatly simplified and streamlined my engine building process and ensured I don't damage the pistons installing clips ever again.

The takeaway from this post is that tools serve a purpose.  This purpose is to make your job easier and allow you to work faster.  Both of which translate to more money.  By streamlining my engine building process by approximately 2 minutes per clip, I save about 15 minutes on each 4 cylinder engine that I assemble.  At $100/hour, that's about $25 per engine in savings.  If I build 100 engines per year, I have just freed up $2,500 in labor.  As an added benefit, this tool eliminates the chance of me damaging a piston which can cost about $150 if I have to replace it.

We want you to look at My Shop Assist in the same way as tools like this.  Sure, you have a method for installing cir-clips into pistons.  But this tool helps you do it more efficiently.  Similarly, you may have a way to write down what work needs to be done and has already been done to a customer car.  But is that method easy for you?  If you want to grow your business, is your current method going to scale up easily?  

My Shop Assist takes care of keeping track of the progress for each car.  It can greatly streamline your operations and allow you to spend more time and effort actually working on cars rather than trying to remember if you ordered that one little part for that car that is being picked up tomorrow.  We urge you to sit down and think about how much time you spend trying to manage the builds.  How long does it take you to order the correct parts each day?  How many times do your technicians come in and ask what they need to work on next?  How many texts, emails, and phone calls do you get from customers inquiring about the progress of the build?  Wouldn't you like to reduce the times for these tasks and concentrate on billing more hours?

Improving your workplace processes will reduce the number of mistakes, make managing the builds easier, and allow you to make more money on each job.  And my shop, Evolution Dynamics is a testament to this claim.  I am able to deliver more cars with fewer mistakes because of My Shop Assist.  With the year end only a few days away, the revenue of my shop is up 20%.  And this is with a smaller building and fewer employees compared to last year.  This proves how being organized and efficient can greatly boost profitability.   

Feel free to contact us at anytime if you have questions about how My Shop Assist can help you run your business more effectively!

And thanks again to Stomski Racing for the innovative tool to simplify engine building.  Information for purchasing his tools is on his webpage Stomski Racing.  They also have a quick video link for a demonstration on using the tool:  Circlip Injector Video

My Shop Assist – Winner of the 2013 SMU Business Plan Competition

My Shop Assist is pleased to announce that we have won the 2013 Business Plan Competition at Southern Methodist University!  Competition was tough, but Todd Earsley and Sean Tremblay managed to capture the win in front of three judges. 

The judging panel comprised of Joel Fontenot of Trailblazer Capital, Joseph Hoffman of Andrews Kurth LLP, and Hubert Zajicek of NTEC.  My Shop Assist scored high marks in product and competitive differentiation.  The judges were impressed by the presentation (hyperlink) and their industry knowledge.

Todd and his business partner, Kevin Dubois, have a long history with automotive related businesses.  Todd grew up around cars and co-founded a mobile car wash business in high school.  He now races a Mitsubishi Evolution built by Kevin Dubois’ shop, Evolution Dynamics

My Shop Assist originated out of Kevin’s need to run his shop more efficiently.  One night, working late on race cars, Todd and Kevin dreamed up the idea for My Shop Assist.  They hired Third Corner to develop the software and introduced the product at the 2012 SEMA convention.

My Shop Assist was awarded cash and in-kind donations totaling more than $30,000.

Other business ideas that My Shop Assist competed against include a rapid prototyping stereo lithography machine, a B-to-C online portal for resale businesses, a kale-based healthy food snack, and a suite of medical mobile apps.

Sponsors include: V-Rooms, TechWildcatters, Caruth Small Business Institute, Andrews Kurth, NTEC, The Coulter Group, and Booth Albanesi Schroeder LLC.

We created My Shop Assist out of a need.  That need was for a simple-to-learn and easy-to-use project management software system geared specifically for performance and aftermarket installation shops.  Our shop, Evolution Dynamics was surviving off of shear enthusiasm by the employees.  We knew we were losing money due to inefficiencies in communication, scheduling, and prioritizing work. 

There were numerous occasions where we would forget to bill the customer for a part simply because somebody forgot to write it down on the invoice or the whiteboard.  We were being bombarded by customers calling and asking about the progress of their build; eating up an estimated 2 hours each day.  And I can’t even begin to count how many times the technicians would come into the office and say “What should I work on next?”  They often had to wait 15 minutes for the manager to finish a call before finding out what to do next.

We talked to dozens of other shops and found out they these scenarios were shared by all.  Lots of stories about accidentally giving parts away for free, forgetting to order parts for a customer’s car and then missing a deadline, and difficulties keeping up with hundreds of texts, emails, and phone calls.