From left: Salerno’s co-owners Mark and Robert Salerno, Office Manager Elaine Salerno, and Bailey, official customer greeter, work hard to maintain the shop’s five-star Yelp rating.ASE Master technician Jim Baldwin repairs the heads on a customer’s Subaru engine.Technician Blaine Mitchell removes the coolant from the radiator on a Ford van using the shop’s power suction system.James  Heisler, ASE Master technician, prepares to perform an electrical check on a customer’s pickup.

Salerno’s Yelps its way to 5-stars

Shop focuses on general repairs done well, increased ROs and new smog revenue

Redlands, Calif.—Salerno’s Automotive Servicenter is a full-service auto repair shop, founded by Robert Salerno, who has served the auto, truck, and RV repair needs of the Inland Empire community since 1966.

“My dad worked at local dealerships, owned service stations, and leased and operated a Mobil Gas Station in Redlands just prior to purchasing Moore Automotive, which was built in the 1960s, where we repaired cars and travel trailers. We changed the name to Salerno’s Servicenter in 1976,” Robert’s son and co-owner, Mark Salerno, said.

He worked at his father’s gas stations since he was a child, and during junior high and high school, he worked in the summer as a service writer.

“Immediately after high school I attended Cal State University Northridge, and graduated in 1990 with a BS in business administration, with a double option in finance and real estate, and came back to help manage the business in 2006,” he said.

Today, the Yelp five-star-rated shop is an ACDelco Professional Service Center specializing in preventative maintenance, tune-ups, alignment, complete engine and transmission rebuilding and repair, and air conditioning.

“We also perform general oil changes and repairs using the OEM-recommended fluids,” Salerno said. “From there, we sell additional items as needed, and, if it is a possible warranty item, we then advise the customer.”

If the vehicle has an extended warranty that allows them to perform the repairs, Salerno said they work with the warranty company.

“The shop has also been a California-licensed brake and light inspection station since the late 1960s, Salerno said, “which brings in a lot of business and frequently allows us to retain them as regular repeat customers.”

When replacing is a better option than repairing, the shop buys crate motors from local dealerships and from Jasper, Salerno said, because they are reliable and the nationwide warranty is a real plus for customers.

“Our ASE-certified technicians are qualified to service and repair all domestic and import cars, trucks, SUVs, and RVs, as well as classic vehicles,” Salerno said. “And I have a passion for four-wheel-drive and off-road vehicles, so we have been increasing that part of the business.”

The shop is also a STAR-certified smog test and repair facility, which Salerno said is a growing profit center for them.

“Currently, the smog technician rents a space from us, but we plan to have him join our business once his license comes up for renewal,” he said.

Mark Salerno is shop manager, his father still works part time, Robert’s wife, Elaine Salerno, is office manager. They use MasterLink for repair order software, and Identifix for repair procedures and estimating.

“We also have two ASE Master technicians, and one young technician, who is working on his degree in automotive repair at San Bernardino Valley College,” Salerno said.

The shop prefers to use OEM parts, most of which it buys from Moss Brothers, but also buys from WORLDPAC, Warren Distributing, IMC, Cal State Distributing, and Parts Authority, Mark Salerno said.

Salerno said he recognizes the ever-changing technology in new the vehicles and he just purchased new Snap-on Modus scan tool to work on the latest models.

“We are also gearing up for more diesel repair, including turbocharger overhauls, which we have done by Diesel Injection Services.”

In the past few years, the shop has experienced increased car count, average repair order, and double-digit growth, which Salerno attributes to the improved economy, and getting involved with social media and networking groups.

“A big help has been placing a listing on Yelp and Google search, and maintaining a five-star rating,” Mark Salerno said. “We recognize the importance of maintaining a great rating on these websites and we read every review.”

Mark Salerno is also the president of the Inland Empire Executive Association, a local business-networking group, and both Robert and Mark are active members of the Redlands Elks Lodge, which he said is bringing in new customers.


The ASCCA advantage

The shop has also been a member of ASCCA Chapter 14 since the 1980s, and Robert Salerno has held several local and state board positions including state president in 2001.

“One of the great benefits of ASCCA is repair networking. We can call on other shops for help with questions on the repair process and they can also call us,” Robert Salerno said. “There are also a lot of referrals to vendors and other shops when our customers are out of town or move. The association also keeps us informed on changes to the industry.”

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.