Redefining the Auto Repair Shop
Greeting cards cover wall of our lobby, expressing thankfulness for the special care that was given to the patient. No, this isn't a maternity ward of a hospital. It's – believe it or not- an auto repair shop, and the “babies” are Jaguar xj8s, 1967 Mustangs, and Jeep Grand Cherokees.
Brian Ferriter, co-owner of Elite Auto, remembers a customer that had been to four other shops and was told, “ that the problem with his car just couldn't be found, let alone be fixed.” Brian's partner, Ken Bowling, finishes the thought for him. “Then he brought his car to us, and we were able to care of it.”
The result was another greeting card for our wall, this one being homemade with an image showing the customer doing cartwheels of joy.
Another customer's card remarks, “ All I have to give them are the symptoms. They always come up with the problems. They must have a super stethoscope.”
The path that led to Brian and Ken earning their “Doctorates” in auto repair was a long one, but worth it to their customers.
Bantering like the old friends that they are, they detail their earliest encounters with each other.
“In 1986, we were each managing different auto repair shops that belonged to the same company.” says Brian with amusement, “ and we had a friendly rivalry going to outperform the other.”
Later, they would team up as specialist installing and training local garages on the latest electronic diagnostic units being sold by Snap-on Tools. After several years, Brian asked, “Do you want to open our own shop?” It was only a partly serious question at the time, but the more they thought about it the more it made sense to them.
Brian explains, “We were going in and out of all these different repair shops. We were able to learn from other businesses what worked and what didn't work.”
In 1998, we opened our own small garage. Our reputation began to grow by word-of-mouth. We got a bigger garage. The auto shop began repairing fleets of trucks for local businesses. We got a reputation for our outstanding work with diesel engines. Then customers weren't just trusting us with any old car , and we got a reputation for being able to handle the “classics” - particularly Mustangs – and the “exotics” - limited edition automobiles.
Although we have ASE certified technicians, and the latest in electronic diagnostic equipment, it's more than the mechanical know-how that sets us apart from other repair shops. They believe in doing the little things that please the customers. Like offering free shuttle service. Above all else, we believe in communicating with our customers.
Ken admits, “ We spend a lot of time on the phone, but we want to make sure our customers understand the problem, their options, and the costs”.
Elite Auto makes it a point to be available, making sure that someone is around when the customer picks up the car. It gives us a chance to connect with the customer, and be part of the relationship between car and owner.
Ken said, “We want open communication. We never want the customer that remains silent because we will never know if they aren't completely happy with what we've done. Elite Auto has built a solid reputation on making customers happy.”
If your car is sick, the “Doctors” are in.