Longmont’s Best Auto Repair boosts online presence, marketing, bottom line in 2017
Longmont, Colo.—Tucked away in a cul-de-sac, Best Auto Repair of Longmont faced headwinds in recent years, but management at the nine-bay shop anticipates 10 to 15 percent growth this year.
That growth is set to put the shop ahead of its numbers three years ago, when Owner Gregg Perry stepped in and began to transform it, from internal organization to online presence.
Spread across several leases to encompass a 6,700-square-foot shop, which features nine lifts and alignment equipment.
Best Auto’s recent transformation first began with an inventory overhaul. Perry then hired a new service manager and worked with staff to fully utilize the NAPA TRACS system.
In addition to Perry, staff at the AAA-approved shop comprises five technicians, including two ASE-certified master technicians, a heavy line mechanic, and two service writers. Because AAA approval does not grandfather from one owner to the next, the shop had to requalify with its new systems in place.
“We’ve grown from a ‘however you want it’ shop to doing what we do very well and choosing our business accordingly,” said Shop Foreman John Everly, ASE-certified master technician.
“I love what I do now, and I feel like I get to do it right,” he said. “We’re more close-knit than ever before, so low drama, and we’ve worked to create a space where women feel comfortable, not just bringing their cars in, but learning from us. That really sets us apart.”
To further that offering, the team works with The Pearl Group, a single parent community support group, inspecting and repairing 10-12 vehicles 10 Saturdays a year. Perry pays staff to attend the events, and NAPA donates parts to provide the free service to single parents.
“Four teams run a fine-toothed comb over these cars — the owners don’t have to be here for it — so we can give parents this important resource to keep them on the road and able to work and care for their kids,” he said. “It builds trust in the community, too, for these parents who might not have a mechanic they trust yet.”
The shop uses seven scan tools, everything from Snap-on to Autel to Genisys, and technicians work to share resources and take turns making purchases that benefit their team.
Once buried behind pages of Google search results, word-of-mouth marketing on and offline, an online rebrand and email marketing campaigns have boosted the shop’s numbers and online presence. He uses email marketing campaigns once or twice a month, and tested the shop’s success with a Valpak mailer coupon this year as well.
“You won’t accidentally drive here,” Perry said. “I spent my first six months, maybe a year, on the computer getting us in shape. I looked at what shop was No. 1 online, and I hired their Web developer. He knows what works geocentrically. We had to look at what actually gets people through the door of a shop they probably haven’t heard of before.”
The website rebuild occurred two to three months after Perry took over, focused on vibrant brand presence, soliciting reviews and robust search-engine optimization.
Once customers enter the shop, the team bands together to create a review-worthy experience, said Service Manager and Writer Sara Tefft. She does not schedule more than one to two waiting clients in the shop’s Wi-Fi waiting room at a time. The entire team works together to shuttle customers and communicate thoroughly.
“Anyone we see, we try to get them in and check their vehicle in the most timely manner possible,” she said. “They shouldn’t have to wait around worrying about their car, but we’re not a quick lube, and they don’t expect us to be.”
The team takes an involved approach to emissions-test preparation, going so far as to take customer’s vehicles to the testing center themselves to ensure they pass before handing them over.
“We’d rather be the ones to bring it back if it needs more attention than to inconvenience the customer,” Everly said. “And Sara and Service Writer Ange Mardick make it so we have time to offer that level of service.”
To encourage customers to seek a pre-purchase inspection and ensure vehicles pass emissions testing before sale, the shop charges $79 to current customers for the service, $89 to others.
Because the shop enjoys the benefits of a strong relationship with NAPA, it uses the company’s line of oils and supplies over others based on customer preference, Perry said. The team also has a strong preference for BG products and equipment as well.
Best Auto Repair of Longmont is a Repair Pal, TECHNET Professional Automotive Service Center, and Better Business Bureau A+ member. It will soon make a transition to AutoVitals as it now integrates with NAPA TRACS, Perry said.
“I’ve got a great team for integrating AutoVitals, because they’re all really focused on what works for the customer, not just the sale,” Perry said. “If I can show them why this works for both us and the customer, buy-in just won’t be a problem, and that’s typically your biggest barrier to entry with new systems. Our guys, though, they train and help each other.”