Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Photo courtesy of MN Historical Society
One of the best parts of being a licensed driver, is the ability to make the decision you want on when you go... and where! So if you haven't gone on a road trip lately, or you just went last week, I have five stops you should consider before you get back in that driver seat.

Split Rock Lighthouse
If you haven't ventured north of Duluth yet, I highly suggest a spontaneous road trip. About 200 miles south of the cities, Split Rock Lighthouse can be found on the North shore of Lake Superior in Two Harbors, Minnesota. With walking trails, gorgeous views and a bit of history, it's a desirable getaway from the chaos of the cities. There are guided tours available on site, and an adorable gift shop. It can be a romantic stop for two, or a family adventure. Just make sure you wear your walking shoes, and are ready for a decent trek to the shore.

Spamtown USA
Who doesn't like spam? Austin, Minnesota is home of the Hormel's Corporate Headquarters, and is also home to the Spam Museum. You can learn everything from the makings of Spam to some great recipes on how to use Spam in your home cooked meals. Or in the event that you don't care for canned meats, Austin has also been named "One of the Top Ten Inexpensive Towns You'd Actually Want To Live" in 2015. It lies about 100 miles south of the cities, and is just waiting for a new visitor or three.

Schell's Brewery
Beer is great. Local beer? Even better! 96 miles south west of the metro you'll find one of the oldest locally owned breweries in Minnesota. It’s the second oldest family run brewery in Minnesota, to be exact. After your time touring the brewery and visiting the gift shop, make a weekend of your trip and stop down at the Deutsche Strasse Bed and Breakfast for a German themed stay to match all that German crafted beer you just drank. 

Jeffers Petroglyphs

130 miles out of Minneapolis in Comfrey, you'll find peaceful prairie land, a tiny town and lots of history. Jeffers Petroglyphs are vast expanses of rock covered in the 7000 plus year old artwork and depictions of stories of the way of life of Native Americans. You can find humans, deer, buffalo, turtles and other creatures sketched out on these rocks. There are guided tours available, as well as various classes you can take. Ever wanted to learn to throw atlatl and hunt buffalo? The Native American Survivalist class is the place for you!

Franconia Sculpture Park
A short drive 50 miles out of the metro will land you in a bizarre wonderland, also known as the Franconia Sculpture Park in Franconia, Minnesota. Located on a 43 acre plot of land, Franconia Sculpture Park is an active artist residency working to showcase 40 new artist each year. The park always changes, new sculptures are worked on regularly and you're always in for a fun surprise.

As with any other adventure in a vehicle, make sure you're practicing safe driving techniques. Be aware so you can go on multiple more adventures with your loved ones, or alone. In case of an accident, or any road mishap, think of us at Oakdale Collision. We'll take this stressful situation off your shoulders and get you back in your vehicle in no time!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Distracted Driving

You constantly hear about texting and driving, and how many accidents that causes, but did you know that the biggest cause of accident is purely driving while distracted? Distracted driving of any kind can lead to a devastating accident, all because you wanted a piece of gum or were reaching to change the song on your stereo. 

Even if you are at full attention while driving, on average during the day there are 660,000 drivers using their cellphones while out on their commutes. Imagine how many other drivers are out driving without their full attention at hand. That puts you and your family at risk. Taking your eyes off the road for even a moment can be the split second an irresponsible driver veers into you. 

Before each drive you should be verifying that your mirrors and stereo are preprogrammed to the way you need. The less you have to fix while on the road, the fewer distractions you have to deal with. Your turn signal is a great way to warn other drivers of your intentions, and while it's unnecessary if used miles before your turn, you still want to give ample time for a quick response if needed. Using your turn signal early can help keep other drivers informed and prevent accidents. 

Avoid driving your vehicle late at night, or during hours you're not fully awake. Thousands of car accidents a year are attributed to driving drowsy. Add that to driving at night and you're looking at your chance of being in an accident tripling, simply because your visibility is impaired. If you're on a long road trip pull over for a nap, or find a hotel close by. Make sure to pull completely off the road and give yourself ample space for passing vehicles. Your state of mind is extremely important while operating a vehicle, for your safety and for others. 

Teach your children and loved ones a valuable life lesson – make sure they know how detrimental picking up their phone or any form of distraction during a car ride can be, and make sure they're spreading the word. Being vocal with your peers and adults about their driving habits can be the difference between life and death. In the end, accidents do happen, and are often times unavoidable. We are here for you when life gets in the way. Bring your car down to Oakdale Collision for an estimate in your time of need.

Monday, March 27, 2017

That Bumper Is More Than Just An Eyesore

Car accidents most often occur within 25 miles of your home. That means they’re not from driving on the freeway, or a crazy person ripping through the drive-thru, they’re happening close to home while you or your neighbors are on auto-pilot. Let's say you’re driving down the back roads by your house on your way to pick up the kids from soccer practice and BAM! Just like that. You hit black ice and slide into a guardrail. Now, your bumper looks to have suffered some minor damage, there’s a decent dent and some ugly scratches, but it’s still attached. Safe, right? Wrong.

The bumper on your vehicle is aptly named because it’s main purpose is to keep you safe in the account that you hit or “bump” into something in your travels. The original bumper was essentially a hunk of wood bolted onto the front and rear of a vehicle. That wood was meant to cushion the impact of various accidents. New vehicles have beautifully sculpted metal and in some cases plastic covers to hide the extremely important internal pieces of a bumper. 

The main internal piece of your bumper is called an impact bar, or in some cases an absorber, depending on the make of your car. That impact bar/absorber is specifically designed as a (generally) one time use part that will absorb the impact of your hit. Underneath that plastic or metal shield is an entire slew of parts that when shifted from even a minor accident can mean the difference from experiencing a stiff neck, to serious injuries.

Now, with that being said, you’re likely not driving around with a bunch of worthless junk in the car. You’re driving around with your loved ones, your friends, and other precious cargo that you wouldn’t want harmed in the event of another collision. The best way to prevent injury in an accident is to maintain your vehicle at it’s top operating condition. Let us take a look at your car and potentially save you and your loved ones from more damage than is necessary. Our estimates are free and have no obligation of repairs. It’s better safe than sorry, so bring in your scrapes and bruises today!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

City Driving Tips

Even if you don’t work in the city, chances are you may drive there from time to time. Navigating one-way streets and finding a place to park can be a nightmare, especially if you are unfamiliar with where you are going. Here are a few tips to help the next time you find yourself driving to a Vikings Game or checking out the latest Brewery that just popped up in St Paul:
  1. Watch Out for People on Bicycles: You may not be used to seeing them as much in the suburbs, but a lot of people use bicycles in the city. Make sure you keep an eye out as they change lanes or you do!
  2. Brush Up On Your Parallel Parking: We know you don’t have to parallel park at Hy-Vee or most places you may be use to going. Chances are if you’re downtown, you may have to parallel park. 
  3. Find a Spot Your Car Fits In: If you’ve got a big SUV, make sure you find a spot that your vehicle fits in. You don’t want to anger your parking mates by trying to fit into a “compact” space.
  4. ALWAYS CARRY CHANGE: Want to park on the street and save a few bucks? You may not be able to if you don’t have change. While many of the new parking meters are equipped to take credit cards, not all of them do. 
  5. Map Out The One Way Streets: If you’re driving to a new area, do you know which streets are one-ways in Minneapolis? It can be important to figure out which major streets are one-ways prior to departing so you don't end up going the wrong way!

Friday, January 27, 2017

4 Reasons Referrals and Online Reviews are Important For Our Business

In the collision repair industry, taking your business from a frustrating stop in a customer’s day to a helpful experience in an unfortunate time is extremely important. Referrals can set you apart from the competition. When a customer gives you a referral they’ve taken the time out of their day to spread news that your shop has exceeded their needs to thousands of potential customers. For many shops this can mean a huge increase in door traffic and billed repair time.

Referrals are much more than word of mouth, these days you have to leave a review online which essentially gives your “seal of approval” to thousands of people in your area. More than 90% of consumers say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews! 90%! So if you’ve been given exceptional service, wouldn’t you want to tell the whole world about it?

Here’s why Reviews and Referrals matter so much:
  1. About 88% of consumers read online reviews to determine if a local business is a “good” business or not. If the business doesn’t have any reviews, it can hurt. If a business has a lot of quality reviews, consumers feel it represents what type of business they are and are more likely to trust your company. 
  2. A personal recommendation is the only other referral process that people trust more than online reviews. If a business has a proven track record, you may get several recommendations for the same business. 
  3. Reviews have a dramatic effect on the businesses search engine position! Yup, that’s right. The more reviews you have, the better your ranking will be with Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Yelp and any of the other search engine directories out there. Now you’ve helped us in more ways than one!
  4. With a referral or even sometimes a review, it builds the trust in to the job. Trust can be hard to come by with a cold call, but with a referral or a review, you’ve already got an established base of trust to work from. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Preparing for Your Winter Road Trip

The key to having a safe and enjoyable winter road trip lies in the preparation. Being prepared for any situation will give you confidence that your family will be safe throughout the trip, allowing you and your loved ones to relax, kick back, and enjoy the ride.
Car maintenance is a critical step in preparation and safety. Things to check up on could be any of the following:
  • Oil change
  • Tire rotation (or tire change)
  • Check antifreeze level and fill if necessary
  • Test your car battery (especially if it’s older)
  • Make sure your gas level remains above a half tank; the more gas there is, the less condensation in the tank, which leads to an easier start
  • Have a spare tire on hand

You can become stressed if you don’t have your trip planned out ahead of time. Important things to have planned before the trip are:
  • Have an updated, tangible map of your route (in case your phone dies)
  • Let someone know where you should be and when
  • Anticipate the weather conditions during your trip
  • Book hotel rooms ahead of time if possible

Your phone is going to be your best friend on the trip (this does not mean distracted driving!), your phone could potentially be your lifeline if you get stranded or in a crash. Be sure to have a charging cable with you, two to be safe. Along with this, keep your phone at a high charge at all times.

Many people like to keep “survival kits” in their cars, in the event of an emergency. A few appropriate items to keep in your survival kit are:
  • A First-Aid kit
  • Non-perishable foods (nuts, granola bars, etc)
  • Bottled water
  • Blankets
  • Warm clothes
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • An ice scraper

We hope you travel safe this winter and enjoy your road trip.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Asked and Answered: What to Look for When Buying a New Car

This month, we're posting a little differently. We wanted to talk about what people might think about when looking to buy a new car, specifically young people.  We enlisted the help of a young woman who's name is Catey C. and we were pleased with the well thought out questions she came up: 

Hi, I’m Catey, your friendly Millennial who’s in the market for a new car, and I have a few questions, besides which shade of pink should I pick. I’ve put my Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte down long enough to research them, so here’s my three top questions about cars from a Millennial.
  • What’s the best feature(s) should I be looking for in a car? This is going to vary from person to person, obviously. I don’t really like taking selfies and posting them on Instagram all that much, therefore interior wifi isn’t a huge concern for me. However heated seats and backup cameras are a must for me. I live in Minnesota (I don’t think that needs any further explanation). Also, I have the wonderful skill of managing to hit either a tree or the only car in the parking lot. I completely joking, I’m not that bad of a driver. Overall, the features that are going to keep you safe and not bumping into trees are going to be your best bet. If you can afford the leather seats and the massage feature, go for it. Otherwise focus on what's going to be more practical and what’s going to pay off in the long run. 
  • Which car is more fuel-efficient? Bankrate.com has a list of the most fuel-efficient cars in their category. Once again, it depends on what you’re in the market. For me, I’m leaning towards a compact SUV, because I like bigger cars, but I don’t want to become an Uber for my sister and her friends. Bankrate.com suggests the Toyota RAV4, it 23 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway. It also has 176 hp and it’s starting price is $24,350. Just because the RAV4 was suggested by one website, doesn’t mean that is the car I’m going to chose. I probably pick which ever car is going to get me to Canada the fastest after the election. 
  • Should I Lease or Buy? Here’s the thing for me. It would be more cost effective for me to lease a car, however I can’t surpass the set mileage. I mentioned before that I have a younger sister who has a tendency to make spontaneous plans that usually involves quite a bit of mileage, and guess who my parents are going to send to drive her all over the place. However, I really don’t have the funds to purchase a car, and I would like to avoid taking out a loan. It would be easier to buy a car since I have the tendency to bump into things (Once again, I’m joking). Overall, I will be leasing a car, because it’s more cost effective for my situation at the moment. Yes, the limited miles is going to be a pain, but I would rather be able to drive a newer car every few years than being stuck in the same car. Because what may have been cool seven years ago, will be outdated and impractical. 

You made it through all my jabber! If I could give you a cookie, I would! I don’t speak for everybody, especially for Millennials. I’m just a kid in the market for with a couple of questions. I hope you all can take something away from this, or at the very least, enjoyed my ramblings. Thank you for reading.

If you were in the market for a new car, what are some of the questions you would want answered?