Inspect, identify and capitalize
Rochester, Wash.—While diagnostics and digital inspections are vital to maintaining vehicle health, Leon Martin also promotes his “Know the TRUTH about your VEHICLE” program, which strengthens the shop’s mission statement that promotes keeping customers in a trustworthy, “no worries” vehicle, among other values.
“It’s all about ethics and exceptional customer care,” Martin said, “and it’s worked for us as we’ve grown our country shop dramatically since we’ve opened — 20 percent annually for several years and 10 percent the past two years. Trust, integrity, and building relationships are what we believe in.”
The “Truth” program is similar to what most shops offer with a no-charge inspection of basic systems. But the added “Comprehensive Assessment” program that Martin designed is the crux of the program that a large number of customers have endorsed. It is an extensive inspection of virtually every vehicle system from electrical components to an infrared brake inspection, as well as fuel trim condition to complete suspension system inspection. A colorful brochure, as well as a large sign at the front counter, details its $436 value, which the shop markets for $179. Once the inspection is complete, the customer is provided a booklet that outlines the results of the inspection, services performed, and what recommendations are suggested for extending the life of the vehicle.
“We like to take new customers on a tour of the shop so they can see how we keep it clean and organized, and we can show them the extensive diagnostic tools and other equipment we have on hand to keep their vehicles properly maintained,” Martin said.
There are more than 10 scan tools that include Ford and GM factory tools, four Snap-on tools, plus Launch and Autel tooling. There is also a ProlongPro Battery System for hybrid vehicle diagnosis and maintenance.
“When the techs tell me we need new or different diagnostic tools, we buy them so we are prepared to provide the highest level of maintenance and repair.”
With wide-ranging tracking of all aspects of the business, properly performed diagnostics, combined with digital inspections and the Comprehensive Assessment program, have allowed Auto Tech to have an ARO of $941 over a period of January 2017 to December 2018, Martin said. That equates to $1.7 million annual sales in six basic bays and an average monthly car count of 150 units.
The extensive use of BG Products fuel and other system cleaners has also helped extend the life of customer vehicles and increase the ARO by about $100, Martin said. “We have a 96 percent acceptance rate on intake system cleaning because customers understand the value.”
Located on 4.4 acres, Auto Tech is housed in four buildings. “Building A” is a 4,000-square-foot, six-bay main shop, parts department, and customer service area, while “Building B” is a 1,450-square-foot space with an 18,000-pound lift for heavy-duty vehicles. About 5 percent of overall business involves fleet service that Martin said will be expanded over the next year.
Between A and B, Auto Tech has a large covered space for its recycling processes that include virtually every vehicle fluid and oil, plus cardboard, engines, transmissions, batteries, converters, oil filters, assorted metals, and other products. “It’s all about our commitment to keeping our customer’s vehicle and the environment clean,” Martin said.
“Building C” offers 600 square feet of storage space and an additional lift when needed, and “Building D” is a 350-square-foot office unit.
The entire staff attends the Automotive Training Expo (ATE) each year, produced by ASA Northwest, as well as other training. He has also been involved with Elite Worldwide coaching and 20 Group programs for more than 25 years. “I’m a huge fan of Bob Cooper and what Elite offers shop owners, managers, and service advisers. My two sons have attended the Elite Masters Service Advisers Training Program.”
Martin is active with ASA Northwest’s Southwest Washington chapter and has served on the education committee that reviews courses and trainers for ATE.
Currently, Martin is finalizing a mentoring and coaching program for ASA Northwest shops called “Successful Shop Solutions” (SSL). “There is a need for coaching new owners and others that need a level of help before moving forward to a 20 Group,” Martin said.
Jeff Lovell, AMAM, president and executive director of ASA Northwest, added, “The SSL program is being designed for younger shop owners that are getting started, or the owner that has been struggling with their business. The goal is to get the owners to a place that they can afford to join a group such as RLO, ATI, Elite, etc. “It’s surprising how many times a technician will open or purchase a shop and not understand the business and management side of operating an automotive business. We want to help them be successful.”