Thursday, May 31, 2012

Anticipation Of Calls Or Messages Leads To Car Crashes

Mobile phones have been around for years now, and drivers ought to be well aware of the dangers of using one whilst driving. However, most of us don't switch our phones off while we are in the car and new research has shown that merely expecting a call or text to arrive can mean your attention is distracted from the road. Less attention on the road is often the first step to a car crash.
Young people are the worst offenders for mobile phone use while driving; particularly those who own an iPhone or a BlackBerry. This trend has led researchers at the University of Washington in America to look into the different ways compulsive mobile phone use could be contributing to car crashes.
Using a sample of 384 students, researchers used a Cell Phone Overuse Scale (CPOS) to assess four different aspects of mobile phone use that can be dangerous. The CPOS has 24 points covering four characteristics of excessive moble phone use: frequently anticipating calls/messages, interfering with normal activities, having a strong emotional reaction to the mobile, and recognising problem use.
The students in the sample participated in an anonymous survey online featuring questions about driving history including any previous crashes they have experienced while driving, as well as questions to assess how risky their behaviours and a psychological profile.
While it may seem obvious that taking your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel increases the risk of causing an accident, the research showed that in particular, a higher score for anticipating a call or a text had a significant association with a higher number of previous crashes.
This shows that the distraction caused by mobile phone use in the car isn't solely a direct result of actual calls or texts. The relationship between young drivers and their mobile phones is more complex than that. A switched on mobile phone in the car can, for people who are particularly 'addicted' to using their devices, cause the driver to be wondering if or when they will receive a call, message or notification from a social networking site.
The students with higher scores on the CPOS also were more likely to have had a previous car crash. In fact, an increase of one point on the CPOS, was linked to an increase of approximately 1 per cent in the number of previous crashes the driver was involved in.
This research will naturally lead to further investigation into how mobile phones affect drivers' focus, but in the meantime it is further encouragement that drivers should switch their phone off when they get in the car. It should be as automatic as putting on your seatbelt and switching the car's lights on at night. This is another area where education, of young drivers in particular, needs to be improved. Young drivers seem to lack knowledge in certain areas such as safety and regular car maintenance; whether we are talking about checking your car tyres or turning your mobile phone off, education is key.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Five Cheapest Cars To Insure in America

When it comes to the cost of owning a vehicle, one of the primary concerns is the cost of insurance over the life of any model. Most consumers don't really consider that certain cars are actually cheaper to insure than others. Instead, most people simply believe that smaller, less luxurious cars are the standard for a cheap auto insurance plan. While that's generally true, it should be noted that the car's actual size classification and domestic-versus-import status have little to do with insurance premiums. Instead, it's all about calculated risk, safety features, and crash test ratings. Knowing this, there are five cars in particular which are among the cheapest to insure.
1. Chrysler Town & Country (Minivan)
It might be hard to believe, but the Chrysler Town & Country minivan is actually rated as the single cheapest automobile to ensure in the United States. And that's not just a ranking that it holds when compared to other minivans or sport utility vehicles. Indeed, among all cars in the country, of all sizes and varieties, this minivan has the lowest average premium among U.S. consumers. That's likely because the minivan is a domestic model, is relatively popular, and has received high crash test rankings and evaluations from U.S. regulatory authorities and independent organizations. It has maintained this high ranking for much of the vehicle's production period, beginning more than two decades ago in 1989.
2. Nissan Murano
The inclusion of the Nissan Murano crossover on this list is a sure sign that imported makes and models can be insured for low rates that are quite comparable to domestic brands. The Nissan Murano consistently gets ranked as one of the safest crossover models sold to U.S. consumers, and it consistently wins awards for its roomy interior, smart handling on the road, and overall durability in a variety of uses and applications. Insurance companies have noticed that the vehicle is less likely to be the cause of both minor and major accidents; for this reason, their premiums for owners of the Murano are among the lowest among any vehicle segment. The combination of a soundly-produced imported crossover with bargain insurance pricing is sure to attract many new customers to the brand itself.
3. Toyota Highlander
Toyota vehicles have always been well-regarded for their safety features, and the company's Highlander crossover is no exception. Since being released to the North American market in 2000, the car has continually been called one of the safest mid-sized crossovers available from any manufacturer. That parallels Toyota's success with the popular Camry and Corolla, so it's no surprise that insurance companies would be willing to give the Highlander a great insurance policy assessment.
4. Toyota Camry
As mentioned above, Toyota's safety features have always been well-reviewed and ahead of the game when compared to domestic competitors, and that bodes well for the long-running Camry sedan. Often cited as the longest-running and most popular car in all of North America, insurance companies treat this model virtually like a domestic model from any North American manufacturer. It's exceedingly affordable to insure for virtually every average American issuance buyer.
5. Chevrolet Cruze
It's no secret that Chevrolet, and its parent company General Motors, has had a tenuous relationship with vehicle safety in previous decades. From the infamous 1960s Corvair to scattered problems with its Cavalier line of vehicles, Chevrolet has had to fight its way back into the safety zone. It has successfully done so with its Chevrolet Cruze model, entering its third year in production. The car is consistently rated as one of the safest on the market and, when combined with its domestic manufacturer, it's easily one of the cheapest cars to insure at any level. Combined with its durability and high fuel economy, it seems like Chevy might finally have a real winner on its hands.
Remember, Insurance Companies Charge for Risk
Insurance companies are in the business of evaluating how likely a vehicle is to be damaged in an accident, or cause an accident itself, when they calculate a policy's amount. Consumers who purchase the vehicles above are going to get a great deal on insurance because they've chosen an inherently safe car. Of course, that also bodes well for driving down the highway at any speed, so these vehicles should be considered a double victory for consumers. Affordability and safety are the two hallmarks of a great purchase.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Make It Easy For Customers To Contact You

Sure you want more service customers, but are you making it easy for them to contact you? While calling our Clients one morning to review their Profit Blueprints reports, I found out it isn't always easy to get to the service department. I'm not talking about the insufferable wait that happens between the phone being answered and actually talking to someone, or even the "parts-hold" routine. I'm talking about being connected to the service department in the morning. I was calling a service department that opens at 7:30 a.m. Here I was at 8:30 a.m. getting the dealership answering machine that said, "Our hours are 9:00 a.m. till 8 p.m., please call back during business hours or leave a message in the General Voicemail Box." YIKES!
There was not even a chance to get to the service department, Parts department or the Body Shop which all had been open for at least an hour. Guess what? It wasn't the only dealership. Now imagine you're a customer wanting to bring your car in for an emergency-you just call someone else-someone who answers the phone. Take a few minutes tomorrow morning and call your dealership and see how your call is handled.
What about your website? While most dealerships do a stellar job for the Vehicle Sales department, the results are not so good for service. If your customers can request an appointment via the Internet, where does that request end up? You'd be amazed at how many website requests end up in never-never land. Your website is a great opportunity to save time and money, while improving customer Retention-if you don't annoy the customer. I went to a dealership's website and requested a service appointment. After pressing "send" it came back saying, "If you don't hear from us within 24 hours, please call the service department." When I contacted the service Manager he said, "I didn't even know you could request an appointment on our website." Obviously, you can't.
Another request was directed to the BDC where the email response was, "If you want a service appointment, please call XXX-XXXX." Of course when I called, it took over four minutes for someone in service to answer the phone-the reason I tried to make an appointment on-line in the first place.
When a customer requests an appointment on-line, this is your opportunity to start selling. A prompt and courteous email response can also suggest other services: "While your vehicle is in for service would you like us to detail it for you for only $79.95?" Or tell the customer about your truckload of tires sale!
Even if the customer doesn't enter the mileage on the screen, you can look at the history (if he or she is a previous customer) and see if they are due for any services or declined any previously recommended repairs. Soft sell those items in your response.
Everyone needs more customers today, but are you answering the phone like you want more customers? Does your website make it easy for your customers to do business with you and promote your services? If you can't say yes to those questions, let's fix it before we complain we need more customers.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Auto Detailing: Choosing a Service You Will Love

There's nothing preventing you from washing and cleaning your own car, unless you have a disability of some kind. People pay for a professional auto detailing service for one of two reasons (or a combination of both): they don't feel like doing it themselves, or they want the job done to a level they aren't able or willing to meet themselves. But even if the first reason is more to the point than the second, no one wants to drive away wondering what exactly they paid for and why. Here are some tips that will help you choose a company that won't disappoint you with their service.
Find Multiple Packages
The best auto detailing companies will give you a choice when it comes to the service you want. The more expensive services will net you more work, while the basic package should get your car clean. It should be up to you to look at a list that details these packages so that you can pay only for what you want and nothing more. Having such a list will also ensure that you know what you're getting. You won't have to drive away with that wondering feeling that so many lesser companies tend to leave you with.
Hand Work
You should never pay for auto detailing that is just going to be run through a car wash machine. You can get that for $5 at most larger gas stations and it will take much less time. Make sure the people doing your car are actually going to get their hands dirty. They haven't yet invented a machine that can wash a car the way a human with the right tools can. Besides, the only machines that can come close are actually rougher on your car than you probably want. Not to mention the fact that they have no way of knowing if they missed a spot. Insist on hand work.
Don't just take an auto detailing company's word for it when they tell you they are the best in town. We live in an age where reviews, ratings, and complaints are but a Google search away. Don't let this opportunity get away from you. Browse online and see what people recommend. Throw a shout-out to your Facebook friends. This is one of the best advantages of having a friend list filled with people you barely know. Even strangers will rush to recommend or slam a company they had dealings with. Use this information to make a good choice.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The World's Strangest Parking Mishaps

Parking should be a relatively simple process; the driver gauges the size of the parking space, backs neatly into it, and leaves. If you park in the wrong location at the wrong time, you might be risking a ticket, but most people would never dream of parking on the subway stairs, halfway off a dock, or turning their vehicles sideways so they'll fit a too-small space. All these things have really happened, however, plus a huge range of other hilarious and dangerous parking mishaps. Here are just a few of the weirdest ways people have been caught parking their cars.
Subway Parking
French pedestrians were probably surprised and appalled in February 2012, when a confused man driving a Dacia Duster SUV thought the sign for a subway entrance was really advertising a parking garage. Before the mistake could be corrected, he drove right down the subway stairs, putting his front wheels seven steps into the metro station entrance. Unable to back out, the driver chose to park. Police and a tow truck were required to remove the vehicle.
Outside the Box
The lines painted on the parking lot asphalt help indicate where it is and isn't safe to put your car. Some drivers take these lines more as guidelines than as rules, however. Especially in non-Western countries where parking enforcement is lax and spaces are hard to come by, drivers have been known to turn their cars sideways to fit into a space that's currently occupied by another car.
Between a Dock and a Hard Place
if you're not paying attention, it can be easily to run off the road. One unfortunate woman found that this is even more of a hazard when you're driving on the docks. She overshot her intended parking space and ended up with her car parked half on the pavement and half hovering over the water. Only a convenient boat stopped it from falling in entirely.
All Iced Up
This parking spot may have seemed like a good one before the weather changed, but one unfortunate cold-climate driver found his car turned into an icicle after a big melt-and-thaw cycle. Meltwater pouring down from the top of the parking structure flowed right onto his car, freezing solid and keeping the vehicle from going anywhere. Sources don't say how long it took the driver to chip the car back out, but it had to be an arduous process.
Where There's a Will
Most drivers stop when they see their way blocked by a tree, a concrete piling, or a big pipe. This isn't true of everyone, however. More than one traveler has decided that an obstruction is just a challenge in disguise. Even more surprisingly, at least one SUV driver made it over a set of huge steel pipes to park neatly in front of a garage door at a construction site. Most of these situations don't end up going as well, with cars stranded half-on, half-off of the barrier.
All You Need is a Parking Brake
The parking brake is meant to keep your car safe on a steep hill, but that hasn't stopped some drivers from using it a bit more creatively. At least one person decided that the best location for a car was at the top of a narrow stairway at the end of an alley, wedged between a shop and a sturdy stone wall. In this instance, the parking brake was just about the only thing keeping the car in place.
Not Quite Blocking the Disability Spots
Everyone knows that blocking a parking spot meant for people with disabilities is a bad move. One driver decided that it's okay if you're not actually blocking the parking spot. He pulled his compact hatchback in on the slanted yellow lines between the handicap parking space, keeping disabled drivers from getting out of their cars, but not preventing them from parking.
This one is pretty common, especially at malls and in large parking lots. Drivers who aren't paying attention or who are very worried about having their cars scratched by other drivers don't pull quite all the way into the space. The result is enough room to dock a Smart car and an increased risk of being rear-ended by other inattentive parking lot natives.
According to the Law of Superior Tonnage
A bigger truck seems to be directly correlated with a driver who thinks he or she is entitled to ignore the rules. That's why parking lot and garage attendants so regularly see big cargo trucks parked across three spaces, wedged into spots reserved for compact cars, or trapped between concrete barriers that are just too small for them. For the owner of a big truck, there's always a way to make it fit.