Yorba Linda Auto increases shop size and makes staff changes to help business grow

Placentia, Calif.—Dan Guy, owner of Yorba Linda Auto Service since 2000, said his business has grown considerably in the past two years, thanks to making staff changes, implementing new marketing strategies, and increasing the shop size by 2,500 square feet.

“We took over the unit next to our shop about a year and a half ago,” he said. “The main reason for the expansion was to increase the efficiency of the shop and allow us to get a customer’s car to them quicker.” 

Before the expansion, the shop had three hoists in line and if the car being worked on at the forward hoist was done and the car in the next hoist wasn’t done, it created a bottleneck.

“The additional space allowed the hoists to be spread out, eliminating the problem, and gave us enough room to eventually add two more hoists.”

Guy said 2015 has been a transitional year in which some staff members were replaced with his sons, Travis, who started in July 2014 as a service writer, and Tim, who joined the staff in February 2015, also as a service writer.

Guy uses R/O Writer for shop management, which revealed that car count is up 12 cars a month to about 175, gross sales are down about 3 percent over last year due to a lower average repair order of $419.

“Three years ago, before my sons were working here our average repair order was under $400 so that’s not too bad considering that my sons have been writing service for less than a year.”

Guy said Travis and Tim are working with Jeremy O’Neal’s Advisor Fix and they take every ESi and Elite Worldwide class they are able to attend.

“Tim also does our marketing and community outreach,” he said. “And he’s continually working on his service writing skills by taking classes in his spare time.”

About 14 months after opening Yorba Linda Auto Service, Guy, who was a technician at an independent Honda shop for more than 10 years, said Lakeview Honda, a nearby independent repair shop, was closing so he purchased all of the business assets including the inventory, contact phone numbers, and its database.

“It gave us access to a whole new customer base which had just been orphaned when Lakeview closed,” he said. “So I put all the names into our database and sent out a mailer introducing myself and saying that we would honor all Lakeview Honda warranties. It gave us a real kick, and we’ve retained most of those customers.”

Guy recently had a marketing analysis done, which showed that 25 percent of his customers are new and the shop’s overall customer retention is around 80 percent.

For the first eight years after opening, Guy said he primarily focused on customer retention and it worked well.

“Then I found out about search engine optimization and I knew I had to do it,” he said. “So we put our efforts into branding and SEO. We have had great results and it’s all been organic.”

Ten years ago the shop became an AAA Approved Repair Center, which Guy said has helped his bottom line because of the nationwide warranty and brand recognition.

“AAA offers a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, but we extend it to 36-month/36,000-miles on most repairs,” he said. “Because of the warraty we try to use the best parts we can get.”

The shop is also Repair Pal Certified, a California Certified Green Station, ASE Blue Seal, and an Ask Patty Certified Female Friendly shop.

“Well over half of our customers are women,” he said. “They are smart, know what they want, and don’t like to feel talked down to. So we do our best to explain in detail what work we’re doing and why.” 

Guy said all services and repairs are doing well but alignment, ride control, brakes, tires, and smog checks are becoming a larger part of his business.

Five years ago he purchased a Hunter alignment system and recently bought a Pro-Cut on-car brake lathe, a Snap-on Verus, and an IMClean DAD and smog check system.

“We love our Hunter alignment system, and the Pro-Cut brake lathe saves the technician time and is more effective at reducing brake rotor run-out,” he said. “The IMClean is easy to use and we don’t need a dyno.”

 Maintaining vehicle alignment is becoming increasingly important, Guy said, as auto manufacturers use computers more and more to control the increase in vibration and loss in ride quality caused by using lighter materials and electronic steering, and radar to enhance road and lane control.

“We use OEM or equivalent parts, which we buy from WORLDPAC, One Stop, Fast Undercar, and the dealer, and we have a Bosch tire balancer and tire changer, which are excellent,” he said. 

Unfortunately, a major highway construction project is going on in the area until 2017, which Guy said has presented a challenge in getting to the shop.

“In addition to regularly sending out mailers reminding everyone of the construction and how to get to the shop, we pick customers’ cars up and deliver them so they don’t have to deal with the construction. Our older customers love this,” he said.

To help boost business, the shop began sending out its first monthly newsletter in September. “And we recently started with Repair Pal and we’re starting to see a return on that,” Guy said.

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.