Hitting the reset button
Downey, Calif.—The term, “re-branding,” is a familiar one. A marketing strategy where a new name, logo, symbol, term, or a combination thereof is created for an established brand with the intention of repositioning itself in the market or developing a new, differentiated identity in the minds of consumers and competitors.
National fast-food chains, beverage companies, and even car companies use this strategy often, and for a number of reasons – most of which are intended to improve their bottom line.
Such is the case with Glenn’s Auto Service, established by Glenn Rudd in 1954, sold to “Bill” Winfield Close in 1979, and currently owned by Mike Grosse, who began working for Winfield in October 1989, shortly after high school, and took possession of the shop Jan. 1, 2004.
“In the beginning, I learned primarily through on-the-job training, augmented by an automotive fundamentals class at Fullerton Junior College,” Grosse said. “Plus several two- and three-day classes at the ACDelco training center during my first three years of employment. Now, I am an ASE-certified master tech with L1 certification.”
Since purchasing the shop, Grosse has taken numerous vendor classes, but it wasn’t until he joined ASCCA and signed up for a WTI Smart Group that he really saw the need to re-brand the shop.
“The shop hadn’t had much growth in the past several years because I had lost my focus, fallen out of touch with my market, and I struggled to regain it – until I joined the Smart Group.”
Most of Grosse’s parts are purchased from Warren Distributing, where Steve Arthur has been his rep for 30-plus years. But he also buy parts from WORLDPAC, which created the WTI Smart Group program.
To re-brand the shop, Grosse needed to talk to industry experts who face the same challenges he does, such as attracting and retain new customers, finding qualified technicians, buying the right diagnostic tools, and other ways to improve his business, such as adopting a new CRM.
“We meet via conference call on a monthly basis, and in person for two days four to five times per year,” he said. “The group also offers improved financial understanding, front office training, facility inspections, and helps get you on track and keep you going forward.”
A more recent decision Grosse made to help his re-brand and grow his business was joining North Orange County Chapter 48 of ASCCA.
“I have been an active member of ASCCA for 2-1/2 years,” he said. “I enjoy attending the monthly dinner meetings and all the new information I get from the guest speakers. I have received a lot of valuable information from other members that has greatly improved my attitude and my business.”
One of the offers Chapter 48 made to Grosse was to have members of their 20 Group visit his shop and make suggestions on what he could do to help his re-branding and improve his bottom line.
“It was a very valuable visit,” he said. “I immediately implemented some simple suggestions such as creating a contemporary logo for the shop, making business cards, and redesigning my website.”
At the suggestion of both groups, Grosse just purchased a new diagnostic tool. He chose an Autel Maxisys and is also planning to buy a Snap-on Modis Edge in the very near future.
“We’ve heard good things about the Maxisys from other shop owners and we have been using Snap-on scanners for several years and really like them,” he said. “We always keep our scanners updated with current software.”
The shop has also re-positioned itself as a dealer alternative, offering 30-, 60-, and 90-thousand-mile routine maintenance, as well as complete repair and rebuilding services.
“We also now offer smog test and repair for 2000 and newer passenger cars and light trucks, with a Drew Technologies IMclean DAD from Opus,” he said.
The shop has been an AAA Approved Repair facility for 22 years, which Grosse said helps his business through AAA member referrals and brand identity.
“I feel that it is very affordable advertising,” he said. “They have special offers for AAA members that drives new or repeat business. However, the most recent promotion, a free 40-point inspection with no service required, has only drawn people who want to know what’s wrong with their vehicle, but don’t set up a repair schedule.”
Grosse said the shop has been using Justice Brothers products for 12 years, performing brake, transmission, power steering, and induction fluid exchange services, which is a good value for customers.
The shop uses Identifix and, as a result of peer group suggestions, just switched from AllData to Mitchell ProDemand for repair information, which Grosse said provides full OEM repair, estimating, maintenance, and real-world experience-based information in one product to help his staff work faster and more accurately.
“I knew the shop needed a more modern, robust CRM and so far, ProDemand is awesome. And we’re implementing Digital Vehicle Inspection (DVI) from Bolt On, which now integrates with Mitchell,” he said. “We will also be purchasing tablets to perform the digital inspections.
Currently, the bays are without computers, but that will change in the near future, another suggestion of the Smart Group. Grosse has also installed a 15,000 lb. Atlas hoist outside for larger vehicles, such as fleets.
“Thanks to the help of the Smart Group and ASCCA, we now have three full-time employees and two part-timers, including my son, Hunter,” he said. “We currently have an average of five cars per day with an ARO of approximately $350, and our bottom line is up.