From left: Service Writer Ally Clark, Technicians Trevor Parque and Gary Melton and Owner Don Tupper at Tri-Valley Auto Repair use autotext.me and Kukui to boost repairs throughout their shop.Digital inspections save nearly an hour on repairs and allows Service writer Ally Clark to invest more time in the shop’s CRM platform and website.Technician Trevor Parque works primarily on Asian brands, which has been a recent new focus away from domestics.

Digital inspections, CRM build efficiencies

Don Tupper embraces new technology to increase productivity and customer outreach

Dublin, Calif. — Don Tupper, the owner of Tri-Valley Auto Repair, isn’t located in Silicon Valley, but many of his customers work there and that’s why he said he is constantly looking for new technology to do a better job.

“I’m not afraid to try something and if doesn’t fit, I’m also not reluctant to replace it,” Tupper said. “The Bay Area is probably the most high-tech place in the country, so our customers use it and appreciate it and that’s why I’m continually using new systems to differentiate ourselves from the competition. You can’t survive here without using the latest technology, and shops that are still operating in the dark ages won’t succeed.”

With two technicians and a service writer, Tri-Valley features four bays, three lifts and an alignment rack. The shop specializes in repairing Asian brands (60 percent) with domestic and European nameplates making up the difference, said Tupper, who is also a technician. “I’m a Honda, Acura and Subaru guy, so we jettisoned a lot of the domestics recently and tightened up the funnel. We are more skilled and experienced on working on Asian vehicles, and the diagnostics on the domestics have proven to be a little trickier, so we began gravitating more toward the foreign brands.”

 

Digital inspections

Earlier this year, Tri-Valley entered into a contract with autotext.me, a company that is enabling the shop to perform digital inspections and improve their workflow, Tupper said. “Digital inspections have become a big part of what we’re doing here. My techs have tablets and document everything with pictures and videos if needed. The first thing we do when the car comes here is document any dings or dents on the vehicle so that we’re covered. If there is a part to be replaced we photograph it, whether it’s a dirty air filter, fouled spark plugs or a dying battery. My guys like it and they gave me zero pushback when we integrated it into our daily routine.”

He said he frequently uses autotext.me’s “Virtual Vehicle” feature. “They have a library of 30-second animated videos that explain different systems in the vehicle and the customers have said they really like them. They educate them about things like how a braking or steering system works, so that if we need to fix something or replace it, the answers are right there.”

Tupper’s workflow is also streamlined through constant communication with his customers via text or email that is facilitated by autotext.me. “We text them a total of six times during the repair process and it’s proven to be a great tool. We keep them in the loop and send them the digital inspection right after we do it. At the conclusion of the repair they can pay over the phone if they prefer. By using this feature, we are saving 40-60 minutes on every repair, which allows our service writer, Ally Clark, to do other things and be more efficient.”

Autotext.me also features a rewards referral program. “Our customers often recommend us to their friends and this gives them an incentive to do it. They can get things such as movie tickets, restaurant coupons and Amazon gift cards by using this program and it’s all done on autotext.me.”

 

Shop marketing

Five years ago, Tupper said he began using Kukui to promote his business and market his services, including monthly email blasts that change seasonally. “With winter approaching, we’re currently doing a promotion we call our ‘Winter Visibility Special,’ which includes replacing the windshield wipers, polishing the headlights, cleaning the windshield and applying Rain-X, and rotating the tires with a full vehicle inspection. We get people to come in for the package and then they need other things done, so it works out well.”

Kukui also designed Tupper’s website which has proven to be a sage decision, he said. “It was up and running in two to three weeks and I’m able to change the content myself. We had other companies doing our websites in the past, and every time we wanted to change anything, we had to get them to do it at an additional charge. Kukui does all of the things we can’t do, like devising keywords and meta tags that are really helping us with our SEO.” 

When it comes to parts, Tri-Valley relies on local distributors rather than the dealerships, Tupper said. “Our top three sources are WORLDPAC, Monument Parts and NAPA for the majority of our parts and their prices are excellent. If we need something fast, the will accommodate us, which is ideal for a shop of our size.” 

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.