Owner Ben Schaefer’s average RO is $600 and business has increased, on average, $100,000 per year over the last three years. He’s set to break that mark this year.Technician Nat Eacho installs ball joints. Alignment and ride control is just as important as maintaining an engine,Ben Schaefer says, adding that proper braking and stopping distance can mean everything when it comes to customers’ safety.Technician Trevor Kleb adjusts steering on a customer’s vehicle. Schaefer Automotive makes sure to educate their The waiting area at Schaefer Automotive offers pinball on a custom machine made for the shop.Schaefer Automotive was started in a one-bay shop in front of a machine shop and now sits in a prime location with traffic count. Potential customers are drawn to hot rods and custom rides that sit in the lot.

‘Safety first’ is ride control mantra

Schaefer Automotive uses routine maintenance and inspections to educate customers on ride control service and replacement

Belleville, Ill.—As shock and strut manufacturers introduce fall promotions to get the word out on the importance of ride control, Ben Schaefer, owner of Schaefer Automotive, says customers should be prepared for the upcoming winter months by properly maintaining those systems.

“We like to make sure our customers are educated on the importance of ride control maintenance,” he said. “When we’re doing inspections or routine maintenance, we make sure to check for any current issues as well as cues for future problems that may occur.”

Schaefer added that his shop is fully equipped to handle many ride control issues such as shock and strut replacement, ball joint and tie rod replacement, steering column repairs, and brake replacements, on top of handling general automotive service and repair.

“Sometimes a customer’s vehicle will not show any symptoms of ride control issues at first glance. That’s why it’s important for us to have all of the latest equipment to be able to diagnose those issues before it becomes a safety concern. Customers may not notice ride control issues until it is too late. When we do brake jobs, it’s a good opportunity to educate customers on the importance of stopping distance and proper braking habits.”

Schaefer relies on Monroe shocks and struts when it comes time for replacements.

 “Monroe has been our go to since we started out,” he said. “They offer several different promotions throughout the year that benefit us and the consumer. The quality and coverage are also a big reason we use them.”

When it comes to brake replacement, Wagner brake pads are the shop’s preference, Schaefer added. “Wagner ThermoQuiet brake pads are the go-to for us, as well as Perfect Stop. Federal Mogul really provides a quality braking product.

“We get a lot of our ride control parts from Al’s Automotive. We also source from O’Reilly and NAPA.”

Tires and TPMS are further ride control products that the shop has recently taken on expanded coverage in.

While Schaefer doesn’t actively promote tire sales, it has recently brought on the Nexen line through Friend Tire. “They’re a high-quality tire that I was familiar with and now we like to use them in the shop,” he said, adding that they are equipped with a Coats 7065EX tire mounting machine and a Coats 1050 balancer.

Recently, Schaefer was approached by O’Reilly Auto Parts, which offered a product that has benefited his shop when it comes to TPMS programming and replacement.

“We purchased an X-tra Seal Smart Sensor Pro+ and it really gets the job done. It can program just about anything that we service and the sensors that X-tra Seal have are a good quality product.”

Schaefer opened his present shop’s location in 2011 after graduating from Universal Technical Institute in Chicago and originally working in a diesel repair facility.

“I realized that cars were more of my thing. I started out in a one-bay shop that I rented from a buddy of mine that had a machine shop. The building we are currently in came available, and I took the chance on it and hit the ground running in August of 2011. Business took off and has allowed for us to expand to our current state. I now employ five technicians and a service writer and still work on cars myself when not handling the day-to-day,” he said.

The shop has nine bays, four of which are fully dedicated to late model repairs. The shop also has up-to-date equipment, tools, and software that can handle whatever comes in, including Snap-on diagnostic tools and Mitchell 1 shop management.

Schaefer and his staff also specialize in hot rod restorations and repairs. “My goal is to ultimately expand the shop to two locations so that we can do fabrication and customizations in one and handle all repair work at the other.”

Working on hot rods and custom cars has been a driving force behind the shop’s success, he said.

“We would work on guy’s cars that other shops wouldn’t touch or think of doing work on. We were also able to gain the work for our customer’s daily drivers, as well.”

Schaefer added that a lot of the shop’s success can be credited to its culture:

“We don’t treat this as a job. We all have fun. We all enjoy what we do and make sure that we approach every day with a positive attitude. The camaraderie we have as a group is what drives us to succeed now and going forward.”

That success can be backed up with numbers. The average car count is 100 per month and the average RO is $600. Over the past three years, Schaefer has seen the shop’s business increase an average of $100,000 per year.

“Last year we did very well in total business, and we are on top of that by $120,000 already this year. I couldn’t be happier with how things have been going lately. We look forward to carrying this growth into the future for many years to come.”

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.