Owner Greg Migliore at Greg’s Automotive Service has made fleet work a significant part of his business by dedicating his resources to it.From left: Manager David Hood and Technicians Steve Botosh and Robby Harris repair 12-15 vehicles every day at Greg’s Automotive Service. Front Office Manager Linda Newcombe works with fleet managers to accommodate their ever-changing needs.

Geared up for fleet work

It’s more than just a niche for Greg’s Automotive Service

Hayward, Calif. — With more than half of his shop’s workload derived from fleet repair and maintenance, Owner Greg Migliore at Greg’s Automotive Service is always striving to serve his fleet accounts better. When he opened the business 38 years ago, Migliore saw an opportunity and seized it and now fleet work is his bread and butter.

“We’re located in a commercial area and when I saw a lot of vans and trucks with their company names on the side, I knew that fleet work might be something we should do,” Migliore said. “It’s now more than 60 percent of what we do and something we’re comfortable doing it. We still value our customer work, but in the end the fleet aspect of our business has grown considerably over the years. The fleet managers we work with know that we’ve dedicated our resources to serving them and that’s why we’re known for being a reliable source for repairing and maintaining their vehicles.”

Fleet work isn’t something one can do by simply adding it to your menu of services, Migliore said, because it’s a completely different business model. “You can’t just put it on your sign upfront and hope fleet managers will contact you. It requires dedicating your staff and resources to doing it right. We’re buying new tools and equipment all the time to accommodate our fleet accounts, including larger brake lathes and large tire machines for the bigger trucks we work on. We also carry more than $125,000 in parts in-house in order to have them when we need them. We always have a large supply of front and rear brake pads, rotors, oil, coolants and oil filters, because we know we’re going to need them at some point. If we can get the vehicle out here more quickly as a result, why not keep them in stock?”

Fleet management companies need to get their vehicles back on the road as quickly as possible, because time is money and serving their customers is vital, Migliore said. “The turnaround is crucial and every fleet customer has its own particular needs, but in the end meeting deadlines is a priority. If we have to wait for a part for even a few hours, it can impact our entire production adversely, so we have to be prepared and plan ahead. The upside is that they pay us quickly, usually within two to three days. We call them, they assign us a purchase order and we get paid promptly, which helps us with our cash flow.”

For his parts, Migliore uses a handful of vendors including ACDelco, local dealerships, WORLDPAC, City Auto and Allied Auto Parts, depending on what he needs and carries 500 tires in-house in order to save time and money. “Our fleet accounts often need tires and if we don’t have them right here they will go elsewhere,” he said. “That’s lost revenue and once the car leaves the shop, we lose control at that point. They appreciate it, because they realize that we are more about customer service as opposed to making as much money as we can on each job.”

To be a one-stop shop, Migliore never upsells his customers and often does small fixes for them, even though they aren’t in his wheelhouse, he said. “We don’t do inspections and don’t try to add anything to the invoice, unless they request it. If they bring the car in for a specific reason, that’s what we fix. Also, if they need a molding or their mirror vibrates for whatever reason, we will fix it while the vehicle is here. There are a lot of shops out there that won’t do any repairs that they’re not familiar with, but we know that doing those extra things will pay off over time.”

 

Bay Area tech shortage

With a technician shortage in the Bay Area, Migliore is always struggling to find new talent while placating his current crew, he said. “My guys can only work so long and so hard and when we’re very busy, morale can suffer at times. It is so expensive to live in this area; I can’t pay them enough money so that they can survive here. We have always had a problem finding good techs, but now it’s really bad. We used to find new people by asking our tool vendors, because they’re out there in shops all the time. The good techs around here are already employed elsewhere and the green ones right out of school need to be trained, so it’s definitely an industry-wide issue.” 

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.