April 2014

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Check Them Out Before You Sign

As an independent operator I get inundated with many requests to try new products and once in a while I get lucky. Sometimes I make mistakes and try a vendor that believes we are just customers and "customers don't tell us what to do".  Well I just had that experience with a vendor that is in the video email business and the CEO himself told me that I was rude.  Well not so sir, those that know me will attest to the fact I bend over backwards to work with vendors as partners.  For now the vendor's name and company will remain a secret.  But time will tell and what goes around comes around. Just a thought.

Data Rich - Utilization Poor

In today's fast moving digital space most businesses collect an enormous amount of data but fail to turn that into useful information. In addition, those that have the resources and ability to turn the data in information, the majority continue to lack the ability to use that information in a positive manner.

Car Care: Tire Maintenance Taking care of the most important part of your vehicle.

Photo: Car Care: Tire Maintenance
Tires are hugely important to nearly every aspect of your vehicle’s performance. As the only portion of any car, truck, crossover and SUV that actually touches the road, they impact acceleration, cornering, handling and braking while also playing a huge role in fuel economy and road noise as well. Tires may not be as thrilling as sleek sheet metal or a high-horsepower engine, but there’s nothing more important to your vehicle’s safety than their care and maintenance. That means making sure your tires are properly inflated and regularly rotated and balanced. 
According to the experts at Goodyear, making sure your tires are correctly inflated is the most important aspect of vigilant tire care. Every tire comes with inflation recommendations – listed as “PSI,” or pounds per square inch – on the sidewall, but it’s worth noting that those are the maximum allowable pressures. While the tire can handle those inflation levels, they may not be what are actually recommended for your vehicle. Those figures can be found in your owner’s manual, on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door or on a door pillar. Lower than recommended inflation can lead to premature tire wear, uneven braking and early tire failure. It can also cause a serious drain on fuel economy, up to a 0.4 percent reduction for every single PSI below optimum levels, according to some studies.
On the other hand, overinflation can be just as dangerous. Extreme tire pressures can warp the tire’s tread, thereby reducing the physical area where the tire touches the road. Not surprisingly, this reduces your vehicle’s traction on dry pavement, which can lead to longer braking distances and unstable handling at speed. Like underinflation, overinflation can also lead to premature tire failure.
Tire manufacturers recommend having a rotation performed* to promote even wear and to extend the life of the tire. A qualified factory service technician will know the best rotation pattern for your tires and your vehicle, but the procedure typically entails moving the tires that were on the drive axle to a non-drive axle and vice-versa. The process is different for all-wheel drive vehicles and those equipped with directional tires, but the aim remains the same. This prevents one area of the tire from wearing down before the rest of the tread, and can save you serious money on a premature replacement.
While making sure that your tires are properly inflated and regularly rotated can save you hundreds of dollars a year in replacement costs and fuel economy, making sure that your tires are accurately balanced is also important. Your vehicle’s tires and wheels spin at a rate of thousands of revolutions per minute when at highway speed, and, as a result, any small imbalance can cause a significant vibration. While tire and wheel manufacturers strive to produce the most perfectly balanced products possible, some variance will always exist. Service technicians overcome those variances by securing small, incremental lead weights to the vehicle’s wheel to achieve proper balance.
Balancing is typically performed anytime that a new tire is mounted to a wheel, but as the tire ages, balancing may need to be rechecked. Those lead weights routinely fall off over time as well, which can lead to a harsh vibration in one wheel. That vibration is translated directly to the vehicle’s suspension components, which can cause premature wear to expensive components like bushings and shocks, and into the vehicle’s cabin. As the vibration increases, so can driver fatigue. If you notice a regular vibration while driving your vehicle, it may be time for a rotation.
As the only link between your vehicle and the road, your tires are monumentally important to your safety. Simple maintenance like keeping up with inflation, regular rotations and prompt balancing can extend tire life, save you money and improve nearly every aspect of your vehicle’s performance.

Regular Coolant Flushes Extend the Life of Your Motor Experts at Castrol recommend flushing antifreeze every two years.

Like all other fluid in your car, the antifreeze/coolant used by your radiator to keep your engine at peak operating temperature requires periodic replacement. There are some key differences between an oil change and changing your antifreeze, however, that make the process a little bit more involved than simply pulling the plug and draining out the old coolant.
According to the fluids experts at Castrol, one of the key aspects of cooling system maintenance is flushing out old antifreeze in order to keep ahead of rust and sludge formation. Your engine bay contains tubing and piping that is designed to transport coolant to and from the engine, and through the HVAC system, and the motor itself also features channels, which circulate antifreeze on a continual basis. Over time, these passages can get clogged up with corrosion or sludge – stuff that doesn’t always drain out easily on its own.
Fortunately, your dealership offers the specialized equipment and expertise required to flush out any cooling system contaminants and ensure that the antifreeze mixture running through your radiator is as pure as possible. Dealership technicians don’t just remove old coolant and fill your car up with a new mixture; instead, they employ a machine designed to run a unique mixture of antifreeze and distilled water through your engine’s entire cooling system and then vacuum it all out, creating enough pressure during the process to also remove any debris that might be lurking inside your radiator or its associated plumbing. 
There are a number of other benefits associated with going to the dealership for a coolant flush. The first is the time savings involved. Using a computerized radiator flush machine can cut the amount of time significantly shorter than the hours required for a gravity drain, garden hose refill, second drain for flushing purposes and then filling everything up again in the driveway at home. More important, using a dealership’s fluid flush service is much safer, both for you and for the environment. You don’t have to worry about dealing with the scalding hot antifreeze coursing through your motor, nor do you run the risk of spilling the used ethylene glycol coolant on the ground where it can seep into the water supply or even poison pets, which are attracted by its sweet smell and taste. Even if your car features “non-toxic” propylene glycol coolant, the coolant has still picked up nasty contaminants and trace metals inside the engine, so simply pouring it on the ground is extremely detrimental to the environment.
Dealership antifreeze flushes are a convenient, inexpensive and important aspect of your vehicle’s routine maintenance schedule. Castrol recommends flushing your coolant every two years, which gives you plenty of time to set up an appointment at your local dealer and benefit from the peace of mind that this type of service offers.

Gas prices rising - how to save $$$$

Basic maintenance and subtle changes to driving habits can add up to reduced fuel consumption. 

Photo: Simple Gas Saving Tips
As fuel prices continue to rise, many drivers are looking for ways to improve the gas mileage of their vehicles and stretch each tank as far as possible. Fortunately, there are a number of tips and tricks that have been proven effective time and again that you can use to help squeeze a few more miles out of each drop of gas.
The U.S. Department of Energy maintains an extensive website at dedicated to helping American drivers maximize their gas mileage. One of the most effective methods of improving fuel economy is to change your driving habits in a number of small, but important areas. First, it’s important to make sure that your car isn’t carrying anymore of a load than necessary. This means that you should clear out your trunk or hatch area of any items that might have accumulated there over time. This can include sports equipment, old toolboxes and even snow scrapers that have hung around well into the summer months. Every 100 pounds that you can pull out of your cargo area can save you as much as two percent on your fuel bill.
Another driving tip involves momentum and smoothness. Gasoline engines are most efficient when maintaining a constant speed, which is why fuel economy typically goes up during highway driving. Keeping your speed as consistent as possible on the freeway, by avoiding speed-ups and slow-downs, will go a long way toward extending the range of your tank of gas. Around town, where stops are unavoidable, gradual acceleration versus stomping on the gas from streetlight-to-streetlight will have a similar effect on lowering fuel use. In both cases, it’s also important to keep in mind that slower speeds equal reduced gasoline consumption. You might be able to get away with not getting a ticket, but you can never escape the extra fuel used by high rpm driving.
Properly maintaining your car can also help reduce your gas use. Underinflated tires can rob you of as much as 3.3 percent of your automobile’s fuel mileage rating, according to U.S. Department of Energy figures. Matching your tire inflation to the number listed on the door sticker is a great way to help save gas. Using the correct viscosity oil for your engine – and changing it at the factory recommended intervals – can additionally play an important role in keeping your motor running at peak efficiency. Information on correct viscosity is located in your owner’s manual. If you can’t find it there, visit your dealership’s service department and ask the experts.
While a two to three percent increase in fuel economy might not sound like much, using each of these tips in conjunction with each other over the course of a year can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings at the gas pump. With the summer gas price surge just around the corner, every little bit of extra fuel efficiency can help keep more money in your pocket.
These tips are sure to help, but it’s all for naught if your car isn’t running at its peak efficiency. Contact us at the dealership today to see what else we can do to help your car run as efficiently as possible.

Raynard M. Fenster

President LLC

5401 Meiers Endeavor Drive

Fairwood, MD 20720

(301) 805-4829 (office)

(301) 922-8311 (cell/text)

(301) 576-5064 (fax)

Stay Healthy on the Road and Abroad

Advice for the perfect travel experience. 

Photo: Stay Healthy on the Road and Abroad
It doesn’t matter if you’re a once-a-week business traveler or love cross-country road trips – regardless, certain precautions while spending time away from home can keep you at your best. There’s nothing worse than feeling ill, especially when matters are complicated by unfamiliar territory. Fortunately, however, there are steps you can take to ensure a safe and successful excursion. Here are a few to get you on the right track:
1. Think before you eat or drink: If you’ve ever visited a developing country, you’ve been warned to stay away from the tap water. You may be surprised, however, to find that discretion is advised regarding liquids and foods wherever you are in the world. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises travelers to drink plenty of liquids (boiled or bottled if the tap water is questionable), they also suggest you avoid overindulging in any type of food, as well as substances containing alcohol. Eat normally to prevent gastrointestinal issues, and don’t forget to bring vitamin supplements if you’re worried about getting your daily dose of nutrients. Find out more at

2. Work in a vacation workout: You may be looking forward to relaxing on the beach for your next getaway, but don’t forget that staying active makes for a more enjoyable trip. recommends utilizing all your vacation amenities such as the hotel pool and gym, to treat yourself to an invigorating workout. You’ll feel better physically and mentally, and will have more energy for sightseeing and other activities. Don’t forget to take some risks, either: Cruise down a zip line or take a kayak lesson for an adventure that won’t even feel like exercise.
3. Study up on the local bugs: Infectious diseases can be a major threat to tourists, so be sure to get both pre- and post-travel exams by your doctor. According to University of Wisconsin Health Services, travelers should be well informed on diseases specific to the time and place of their visit. Rabies is a major problem among domestic animals in Southeast Asia, for example, while influenza is prevalent in the southern hemisphere during our spring and summer. 
Before your trip, be sure to consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at for destination-specific advisories and updated vaccination and disease information. Also, talk to your doctor about any special circumstances like asthma, pregnancy or diabetes that may impact your ability to travel safely.
Don’t let poor planning slow you down while abroad; with the right information and a little common sense, you can enjoy a fabulous vacation or seamless business trip. Even minor pre-trip steps can get you ready to conquer the world and help you feel relaxed by the time you return home. More valuable travel tips for the whole family can be found at

don't let social take a byte out of your profits -

Tech Tips

Don’t Let Social Take A Byte Out Of Your Profits 
By Raynard Fenster

Today we have Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter making a buzz in the industry. The big question for most dealers isn’t whether to invest in social media, but how.

There are six basic choices on how to go about undertaking your social media initiative - go with an advertising agency, a SEO/Social Media wholesaler, a boutique automotive social media company, an automotive consultant, website provider, or to simply do it yourself. One additional choice is to do nothing at all, but after a quick review you will find this is not in your best interest. So, let’s briefly examine each of these social media operators and the benefits they can offer your organization.

  • Your advertising agency is already doing your offline media (and possibly your online as well), but do they have the resources and knowledge to keep up with the fast-paced changes? If you decide to have your agency do your social media, make sure you outline your objectives and what metrics are going to be used to determine success. These should be separate from other advertising and marketing efforts.
  • A SEO/Social Media wholesaler operates similar to your advertising agency and may deal with more than the automotive vertical market. These firms usually employ many individuals to build, post, and monitor your social media. Learn as much about how they operate (manual or automated posts) as well as what reporting platforms they provide before committing to a long term contract. Request the ratio of account managers to dealerships, remembering that a lower ratio should mean a quicker and more personalized support system.
  • Boutique automotive social media firms specialize on researching and building a loyal fan base, as well as posting. They usually provide an excellent service but the price tag for their full service may seem high. Most of these firms employ the latest digital tools and trained staff to keep up with the moving technology/applications.
  • Consultants in the automotive field are usually extremely busy working on developing a process that works for your dealership and most have had little if any hands-on experience with automotive social media. However, that is not to say that you won’t find a few that understand the power of social media. Get examples of their work and how they measure success. Don’t get caught up in “return on influence” branding because every dollar spent on social media can show a return on investment.
  • Website providers are running all over themselves to develop integrated platforms that will allow you to manage your social media, add content for variable and fixed ops, build search engine optimization, add specials for new, used, service and parts, etc. The only problem is the potential lack of resources needed to keep up and build your “fans” into customers.
  • The do-it-yourself option can also be utilized, but remember that doing it effectively will require a great deal of time. Some free software is available but may seem overwhelming because of the sheer number of platforms needed to be successful.

Whichever route you take to manage your social media, please be mindful that to get a true return on your investment will require money, time or both. The positive affect of your dealership’s diligent involvement will not only provide you with a continued flow of new prospects, but also an excellent opportunity for exceptional reputation management.

Raynard M. Fenster

President LLC

5401 Meiers Endeavor Drive

Fairwood, MD 20720

(301) 805-4829 (office)

(301) 922-8311 (cell/text)

(301) 576-5064 (fax)

Is it time to spring clean your car?

Things to take care of once warmer weather rolls around.

The changing of the seasons is often one of the best ways to time basic automobile maintenance. According to, the dawn of spring is the perfect reminder for you to verify that your windshield wipers are still in good shape, your tires are holding air and your air filter is still clean enough to do its job properly. Spring is also a great time to rotate your tires, particularly if you live in a region where you don’t need to swap on a set of summer rubber once the winter is over.
Warmer weather makes it easier to take care of all the cleaning you may have put off during the winter months. It is often far too cold to regularly wipe down the interior or hose off the exterior of your automobile during the December to March period, which means that the dirt, dust and grime associated with regular use can really build up.
Of course, winter brings with it several additional cleaning concerns that should be taken care of once spring rolls around. First and foremost, for those who live in a region where road salt is a fact of life, it’s important to make sure all traces of this corrosive substance are removed from your vehicle, inside and out. Road salt is tenacious; it clings to every nook and cranny of your vehicle’s undercarriage. Be sure your carwash, whether you do it yourself by hand or visit a self-serve or automatic carwash, includes your automobile’s wheel wells and underside, which means that it is very important to make sure that whatever carwash you choose, offers the ability to liberally blast your chassis with strong jets of water. Since salt accumulation is one of the biggest contributors to rust, keeping it off your vehicle goes a long way toward protecting your investment.
Salt, snow and ice are also very easy to track into your vehicle over the course of the winter where they melt together on carpets and floor mats. It can be frustrating to try to remove salt and mud stains from carpeting using traditional shampoos; fortunately, there are special enzyme cleaning products that are specifically designed to handle road salt, breaking it down so it can be removed from fabric. Simply spray on, wait and then wipe to take care of even the most frustrating lumps of road salt in your vehicle’s interior.
Spring cleaning isn’t just for houses and garages – your car can also seriously benefit from some extra care and attention. Taking the time in the spring to handle the little things can make a big difference in your car’s appearance and performance, and lengthen its lifespan.

Raynard M. Fenster, President LLC

5401 Meiers Endeavor Drive

Fairwood, MD 20720

(301) 805-4829 (office)

(301) 922-8311 (cell/text)

(301) 576-5064 (fax)

Great Recommendation

“Ray doesn't like to talk himself up -- he's low key, but don't let that fool you. This is a guy who understands automotive retail and how to leverage today's Web technology to increase traffic to your service department and showroom. He also has the right approach to using social media to drive business to the dealership. Hard working, great character and integrity, and knowledgeable - whether you're a dealer or a vendor servicing dealers, Ray's a great guy to have on the team.” March 4, 2011

Top qualities: Great Results, Expert, High Integrity

Cliff Banks,
hired Ray as a Business Consultant in 2010

Thanks Cliff, you are very kind

Do I need snow tires if spring is almost here?

Winter Tires – Not Just For Snowy States
Colder weather demands winter rubber compounds to ensure safe driving.

Anyone who lives where it gets cold during the winter months should strongly consider purchasing a set of dedicated winter tires for their automobile. The additional traction and control offered by winter tires makes them one of the smartest additions available for increasing your driving safety.

There are a few myths surrounding winter tires. Many drivers have been led to believe that all-season tires are sufficient for winter travel, and that winter tires are reserved exclusively for those who regularly have to plow through snowdrifts on their daily commutes.

Unfortunately, this is simply not true. While all-season tires are sufficient for driving in the rainy conditions many states encounter during winter months, once the temperature drops below a certain point, all-season tires can no longer be considered safe even on dry pavement. This is because the rubber used in all-season tires is incapable of maintaining maximum grip on the road once the mercury starts to drop. 

According to Goodyear, once the thermometer indicates 45 degrees F or less, the rubber in all-season and summer tires begins to harden to the point where stopping distances are increased and traction is limited. Even drivers piloting all-wheel drive vehicles will notice reduced braking performance, especially during emergency stops, as well as less control in the corners. The colder it gets, the less safe all-season tires are to use on your vehicle.

Winter tires avoid cold-weather performance problems thanks to the use of special rubber formulations specifically designed to remain supple and sticky in even the lowest temperatures. The technology and engineering that go into helping winter tires defeat colder weather is considerable; as a result, the rubber used in these tires allows for braking and cornering that is well within the limits of safety, even at colder temperatures.

Special tread patterns are another important feature of winter tires. These help the rubber bite into snow, ice and slush and deliver the kind of traction drivers need to keep moving forward through blizzards and over hard packed winter roads. Special tread blocks use sharp edges to cut into the snow while certain designs also trap snow in tires’ grooves to take advantage of its sticky properties and bond the tire to the snow that remains on the ground.

Don’t make the mistake of mixing snow tires and regular tires on your vehicle.  While this might seem like a thrifty option, Goodyear recommends against it because the difference in traction between winter tires and all-season tires can dramatically unbalance an automobile. Think of it as driving a car that is riding on two tires in excellent condition and two that are dangerously bald. The dangers of this kind of tire setup arise when trying to stop or turn sharply, as one end of the car could either slide out sideways or push forward, unable to respond to any driver inputs.

In the final analysis, owning a good set of winter tires is not only safer than driving on all-season or summer tires throughout the winter, but it also provides a financial advantage as well. Since each set of tires will only be driven for half the year at most, the lifespan of that rubber will effectively double, giving you many more years of service and evening out your costs over time. Winter tires offer a safe and economically sound method of getting from point A to point B during the colder months of the year.

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