As surrounding shops close doors, Inland Auto & Truck sweeps up clients
Norco, Calif.—In the time since Parts & People first featured Murrieta Diesel & Auto in 2009, Jesus Serrano has been busy — moving his business twice to accommodate growth and renaming it Inland Auto & Truck, located in Corona.
“My mission has always been to keep our customers’ vehicles running right and repair them right the first time and minimize vehicle down time, that commitment — and my training — really helped me grow the business quickly.”
Serrano is a Ford Senior Master Technician for both gas and diesel, a licensed Smog Inspector and Repair Technician, and an ASE Master Technician.
After opening the Corona shop, Serrano also acquired phone numbers from local shops going out of business, which has paid off.
“I didn’t buy the customer lists, only the phone numbers,” he said. “I have it set up so when a call comes in on those numbers we know it’s from one of their customers and we answer and explain who we are and assure them that will receive great service from us.”
A major factor in the shop’s early growth was becoming an AAA Approved Auto Care Center, a NAPA AutoCare and Truck Care Center, and an authorized Jasper gas and diesel engine and transmission installer in 2010.
“The NAPA products and warranty are unbeatable,” he said. “And the peace of mind it gives the customer to know they’re covered if something happens while traveling is important to me. It’s nice to know that both NAPA and AAA will stand behind the repair.”
His latest move was in 2016. After completely remodeling a stand-alone building inside and out, including painting the exterior in NAPA Pro signature colors and signage and displaying AAA and Jasper signage, Inland Auto & Truck opened.
“Moving the entire business and all of the equipment from Murrieta, 40 miles north to Corona, and renaming it has definitely been a challenge, but we have experienced slow, steady growth,” he said. “Average car count is 77 to 100 vehicles a month and average RO is from $520 to $780.”
Serrano said because of the quality and price of his work, many of his existing customers who live or work in the Corona area continue to come to him.
“At this time, 20 percent of our business is fleets but we expect that to rise as we become known in the area and the local fleets find us.”
For his diesel customers, Serrano said he offers mileage-based services that prevent common Power Stroke, Cummins, and Duramax issues from occurring.
“Pattern failures occur across all diesel lines, from carbon buildup to clogged air filters,” Serrano said. “When you have a clogged air filter on a diesel, it creates a restriction on the inlet side. The turbos create so much vacuum under load that parts of the filter are pulled through the housing and create a massive amount of damage.”
He noted that on the 6.0L Power Stroke engine, carbon issues within the EGR and turbocharging systems are common. His remedy is a BG Products service package that treats EGR passages, as well as the fuel and oil sides of each injector. The treatment, he said, has been effective and cost-efficient.
The most important equipment in his shop are scan tools, and he has several, including a Snap-on Verus, Ford IDS, and a Snap-on PRO LINK iQ.
“The Verus is the workhorse. It has proven to be very capable for most of the diagnostics. I use the Ford IDS mainly for the Ford Diesels.”
Technician training comes from Factory Motor Parts (FMP), and O’Reilly Auto Parts, as well as hands-on training in the shop by Serrano who also attends as many vendor training classes as possible and requires technicians to become ASE certified within a year.
One of the shop’s techs graduated from WyoTech and the other from UTI. Serrano is the lead tech and the service advisor now, but he is training them in both areas.
“As part of their training, every week I pick one vehicle as a training platform and we go through the entire process from the RO and diagnostics to the repair process.”
The biggest challenge Serrano faces is getting customers to understand that the old thinking that diesels will run forever is not true without proper maintenance.
“The modern diesel is more complicated and advanced than most gas engines and therefore requires a diesel/truck specialty shop.”