Taking care of business
Ontario, Calif.—Brian and Laurie Noppert are off to a fast start this year.
Since increasing their shop’s diagnostics capabilities and hiring experienced service manager, Rob Neil, the repair shop is already on target to have a “great 2019” with higher AROs.
“Our car count is on the uptick and our average repair order is $650,” Brian Noppert said of their business, Brian’s Automotive Service, opened in 2012, (and Pacific Auto Glass, opened in 2016).
“However, last week we had several big ticket jobs, which will increase our ARO. Rob is responsible for a lot of our repair order increases because he knows how to sell needed service. He’s a good man who’s been in this business all his life and he’s a real people person who can explain everything so customers understand it.”
Laurie Noppert runs the mobile auto glass company, which has made money since the day it opened, going from one tech and 7-14 calls a day, to two techs and 14-20 calls a day.
“Laurie has 20-plus years experience in the auto glass business, including office manager at All Star Glass,” he said. “Since opening, Laurie has gotten glass work for Mercedes-Benz of Calabasas, Infiniti of Montclair, and U-Haul.”
Diagnostic investment in tools, training
To handle virtually any diagnostics, Noppert has invested heavily in the latest equipment, including a Snap-on Zeus wireless diagnostic and information system, and a PC-based scan-and-tune system from HP Tuner with a vehicle control module (VCM) suite that includes the MPVi and MPVi2, VCM editor, and VCM scanner.
“The Zeus has everything needed to diagnose and repair any issue, and even guides you through every step needed to find the solution, while avoiding unneeded steps, and it has an integrated multimeter,” he said.
Noppert added that the Zeus also has recalibration capability and they’re able to reset side glass sensors on vehicles such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus, so they also use it for some glass repair jobs.
“And the HP Tuners system, with the VCM suite is one of the most powerful, scanning, diagnostic, logging and calibration products on the market. I’ve used it on my car.”
Before buying the new scan tools, Noppert said he did a lot of research, including reading reviews and asking fellow shop owners and friends in the industry what they use and recommend.
“To remain current on new diagnostic and repair procedures and products, we try to send techs to as many classes as we can. We attend vendor classes, Automatic Transmission Service Group (ATSG) classes, and online training. Our next training seminar, from Automotive Training Group (ATG) is later this month on the Powerstroke 6.7L engine.”
His next objective is to get everyone in the shop ASE-certified, and to become an AAA shop.
In addition to diagnostics, the shop performs a lot of scheduled maintenance and worn parts replacement on customers’ late-model gas vehicles, as well as transmission and engine rebuilding, performance engine upgrades, and diesel maintenance and repair.
“I’ve been in the business 25 years, Noppert said. “I went to WyoTech for diesel mechanics and became certified to work on the Cummins D through Cummins in Irvine. My son, Cody, who I started teaching when he was six years old, does most of the transmission work and I have always used Jasper for reman engines, which we buy from our rep, Randy Lewis. We buy parts from Transtar, and Steve Stiteler or Mike Valdez at Express Brake Supply.”
Bringing in business
To stimulate new wholesale business for Brian’s and Pacific, Noppert makes weekly outside sales calls. Major accounts now include the California Department of Insurance Fraud, and Department of Corrections in Chino and Norco.
Noppert also uses Google Ads, Instagram, Facebook, and Mitchell Pro Social CRM. The shop’s website, built by MotoRevShopMarketing.com, also helps bring in new customers, but word-of-mouth referrals are still the shop’s best source of new customers.
“I spend a lot on advertising the glass service because it’s a different business model,” he said. “Glass customers are primarily one-time customers who need a windshield or other glass repaired or replaced after an accident, so we use Google Ads to make sure Pacific comes up on the first page of a Google search.”
One of the most popular features of the shop’s website is “Your Online Garage,” which is free and combines everything in a single personalized online garage, including money-saving discounts and special offers, access to the vehicle service history, and automatic service and recall notices, he added.
The biggest challenge Noppert sees today is the lack of available training to keep techs up with the rapidly changing technology.
“It would be nice to be able to get more training and information on hybrids and electric cars (EVs) because we’re starting to see more of them come in for service.”