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INDUSTRY NEWS


Finding ways to use big data to help small shops
The New York Times
A wealth of information that some call big data is becoming increasingly available to small businesses. Such information was once available only to big corporations with vast computing power and deep information technology departments — and more recently to online start-up companies with data-mining capabilities. In 2010, just 1.7 percent of small businesses were using business intelligence software, according to a survey of companies with fewer than 100 employees conducted by IDC. By last year, 9.2 percent had adopted such tools. Tools that help small businesses address customer feedback — not just by pooling and parsing emails to customer service reps but also by monitoring Facebook feeds, Twitter comments and Yelp posts to help quell brush fires promptly.
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A 3-step approach to tire aging findings
Modern Tire Dealer
Tire aging is an important issue, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, it does not need to be addressed with further legislation at this time. NHTSA recently released its 42-page report on tire aging and concluded that it is not necessary "for motor vehicle safety to add a tire aging requirement" to its light vehicle tire standard. Here's why.
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5 tricks to lower credit card processing fees
Business News Daily
Credit card processing fees don't seem like a lot at first. But those few cents here and there and the small percentage cuts processors take for every transaction quickly add up. Combine those costs with minimum, statement, gateway and other monthly fees, and the next thing you know, you're staring at your monthly credit card processing bill in utter sticker shock. Sound familiar? The bad news is that these credit card processing expenses are unavoidable. The good news is that there are several things merchants can do to take control and save up to hundreds of dollars every month.
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The forgotten power of handwritten notes
American Express OPEN Forum
The next time you consider sending an email or a text message to a client, customer or employee, take a moment to think about composing a handwritten note instead. "The tradition of writing notes and letters has been compromised by the information age, and we seldom find time for it," says Dawn Bryan, founder of The Qualipedia. "This paucity, however, imparts even more value to the rare handwritten note because it makes the recipient feel special."

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Online reviews, the good and the bad
Tire Business
The online reviews arena can be tough. There are quite a few websites out there and it might seem overwhelming to keep track of them all. However, with these sites, the consumer has a lot of power in their hands. It is not just one customer with a bad experience about a product, service provider or retailer telling everyone they know. It's that one customer having the ability to tell a mass of strangers searching for service reviews online.

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Consumer Reports executive talks tires
Rubber News
There is no such thing as a perfect tire, according to Eugene A. Petersen, tire program manager of the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut. But most tires are good, and some are very good indeed. "'Who makes the best tire?' is a popular media question, and it's not that easy to answer," said Petersen. But with its annual comparison tests, Consumer Reports magazine tries its best to answer that question.

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Lifts: Raising vehicles and expectations
Tire Review
If you've been in this business long enough, you've heard stories or have seen photos on the Internet of lifts that have given way, hurling a vehicle to the concrete shop floor. Too many times technicians are hurt in these scenarios. Every time it happens is going to cost the shop more than it saved by buying a cheap lift. Needless to say, it's a shop owner's responsibility to keep the shop's lifts at the highest possible safety level. While safety is a huge factor in the buying process, there are many other features and benefits that need to be considered as well.
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EPA seeks real-world tests of mileage claims
Tire Business
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to put auto makers' mileage claims to the test. An EPA proposal would require auto makers to road test vehicles to verify mileage claims posted on window sticker prices, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing EPA officials. The move follows the recent restatement of EPA ratings on several cars and light trucks by Hyundai, Kia and Ford. It's part of a broader effort by the agency to more carefully scrutinize mpg figures published by auto makers.
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Coalition rallies to dump the state franchise tax in 2015 legislative session
Texas Public Radio
A group of Republican lawmakers, business alliances and tea party activists are hoping to gather enough support ahead of the 2015 legislative session in order to do away with the Texas franchise tax. The state's franchise tax, also known as a margins tax, is accessed as a privilege to do business in the state, similar to a fee. The Texas franchise tax has existed in some form since the early 1800s. In 2006 the state faced with a potential shutdown so lawmakers revamped the franchise tax along with a handful of other tax reforms hoping to glean additional revenue. Since that year, reforming it has been one of the most talked about tax reforms.
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