Owner Walee Gon at Faxon Garage’s business has grown continually by retaining his technicians and finding customer-centric service advisors.From left: Technicians Tony Kaplli, Michael Leung and Justin Wong have been working at Faxon Garage for more than 15 years on average. Service Advisor Jan Villarta is a recent hire.

Customer repair tracking and follow up builds strong client base

Strong work ethic, OE parts and community involvement drive Faxon Garage

San Francisco—By accessing a wide range of informational tools and working hard to find and hire people that share his passion for customer service, Walee Gon, the owner of Faxon Garage, has watched his business grow and hitting better numbers every year.

Gon, 47, immigrated to the U.S. from China when he was seven years old and still lives in the same house his grandmother bought in the early 1960s. After owning and operating a car accessories store that sold and installed car stereos and performance parts for more than a decade, Gon said he decided to jump into the world of mechanical repair in 2005. 

Today, Faxon Garage fixes approximately 200 vehicles a month out of a 3,800-square-foot facility in San Francisco’s Ingleside Terrace neighborhood. With three techs and two service advisors, Gon’s winning strategy is built on customer service and being a hands-on owner.

“In this industry, we are like doctors in many ways, because we take care of our customers’ cars just like a physician takes care of your body,” Gon said. “We run tests and make recommendations and sometimes put two techs on the more intricate diagnoses, so that our customers get a second opinion.”

To get new clients and stay connected to his existing customer base, Gon said he uses MyShopManager to coordinate his text messaging, call tracking, emails and direct mail. “I’ve used as many as five of these types of programs in the past, but MyShopManager has proven to be the best. With every job, small or large, this platform texts the customer to follow up and solicit their feedback without any phone calls. Fifteen days later, it sends out another text with a link that they can use to review our service if they choose. We always want their feedback, whether it’s good or bad, because in the end we want a happy customer and an ongoing relationship.”

Listed as a brake specialist on their shop’s website, Faxon Garage changed his approach to fixing cars eight years ago, Gon said. “We used to resurface rotors, but we started to encounter issues like noise and vibration, so now we always replace all of them. With these hills in San Francisco, brakes can get worn out fast, so we always use coated rotors to avoid rust and we have a policy of only going with OEM ones. The customers are fine with it, because ultimately it costs maybe $25 more to replace versus resurfacing.”

When it comes to parts in general, Gon said his policy is to use the aftermarket rarely and never with parts that are crucial. “For electronic parts or parts that are labor-intensive, we go OE without exception. Oxygen sensors, camshaft sensors and ignition coils are good examples of the types of parts we don’t want to take chances with, because we offer a two-year, 24,000-mile warranty. We’ve learned over the years that we can’t risk using the aftermarket with oil seals when we do clutch work, because they often don’t fit properly.”

Faxon Garage has received top reviews and accolades for being a reputable and proven shop and a few years back, it was designated by San Francisco as a Legacy Business for being a longstanding, community-serving business and a valuable asset to the city, Gon said. “It’s nice to play a role in the community and be honored for it. We don’t focus on getting awards, but when we do, it means a lot.”

In two years, when his youngest son graduates from high school, Gon wants to balance his time with his immediate family compared to his extended family (shop colleagues).

“My goal is to take time to see the world,” he said. “I started helping out at my grandmother’s restaurant in Chinatown when I was in the seventh grade, and worked through all these years, so I’m ready to take a break and enjoy life. I’ve enjoyed working in the automotive industry and have been rewarded with the life experienced gained. I would like to pursue other passions I have not yet started.”


Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.