By Debbie Briggs
From the outside looking in, one would never guess that Servando Orozco, owner of two successful Orozco’s Auto Service shops in Long Beach, CA, had any regrets about starting his business. After all, starting out as a technician, he realized his dream of opening his first shop in January 2000. But a wakeup call came in the form of a rather large tax bill six years ago.
“It was in March of 2005 when my accountant gave me an envelope to pay my taxes, and believe me, when I opened the envelope and found out I had to pay $10,000, that day was scary for me,” Orozco recalls. “All that time, I thought I was doing the right thing. I asked myself, why? I could not answer my question.
“That day, I promised myself to look for help, and I did.”
Soon after, Orozco’s Auto Service became a NAPA AutoCare Center, and Orozco signed on for training from Elite Worldwide, coaching that helped Orozco realize he needed to become a business owner in addition to a technician.
“When I started training seminars and coaching with Bob Cooper of Elite, and then NAPA, finally I understood the concept of business,” he explains. “I went from doing $36,000 a month, and in less than six months, I jumped to $100,000 in sales per month.”
Now Orozco says he understands the concept of business: The principle purpose of business is to create a customer. And that’s exactly what he’s done with his ASE-certified techs and his Elite-trained service writers.
“Communication is extremely important between the customer and the service advisor, and is just as important between the service advisor and the technician,” he explains. “When we have good communication, we can avoid costly mistakes and/or downtime. Production requires procedures and job descriptions to be followed in an organized manner while working together as a team.”
Orozco requires his employees to complete a minimum of eight training classes throughout the year, and because he is the president of the local NAPA AutoCare Centers Business Development Group, he buys six classes through NAPA every year.
“We hold those classes most of the time in my shop or in my other friends’ shops,” he says. “That’s a way to minimize the cost because we buy the classes for $2,000, and we share that cost among 10 shops.” Orozco adds that they are good, quality classes, too covering hybrids, coding, programming and troubleshooting.
“My main (training) provider for my service advisors is Bob Cooper (with Elite),” he continues. “I have a lot of gratitude to him, for what he’s done for my business in the last five years. He told me that I have to not only work on myself, but help my people become better people as well. He also said, ‘When you work on yourself your knowledge, your skills your job is going to be easier. What you don’t know is going to affect your business; so you need to learn.’”
Orozco also knows that while image is only part of what makes a shop successful, he and his staff realize the importance of making a good impression on their customers and they do. He has one employee dedicated to cleaning the shop, and he also has the shop’s epoxy-covered floors re-painted at least once a year.
“I want my shop to be impeccable,” he says, and it pays dividends. “The number one compliment we receive from female customers is, ‘What a clean shop.’”
Shop Marketing Tools
Orozco swears by a well-thought-out marketing plan that encompasses both traditional methods coupons, ads and mailers and non-traditional marketing, which involves being heavily involved in his community. He is the president of Kiwanis Club, president of the local NAPA AutoCare Centers Business Development Group, vice president of public relations for Toastmasters, board member of the YMCA, member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, member of the City Chamber of Commerce, board member of BKBIA (Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association) just to name a few. “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to help and be a part of these organizations,” remarks Orozco. “I get to meet new people within the community, whom by the way drive cars, but, more importantly, I can create a relationship of trust and eventually a customer.
“I didn’t understand in the beginning that you have to be in the community; you have to be outside,” he says. “That made a big difference for me. Now I’m all over the place I hardly come to the shop! It’s a great benefit. Anybody who I meet is a potential customer; they drive a car. I can create relationships and trust and eventually a customer.”
Lately, he’s been heavily involved with the schools in the area, as well as the local hospitals. One of his most successful customer service programs has been “Change Lives & We Change Oil,” a program held in conjunction with the Long Beach Memorial Hospital Blood Donation Center.
“We gave away a free oil change to anyone who donated blood,” he explains. “The hospital gave away a little over 500 complimentary oil changes. Of those 500, about 300 people made it into our facility, giving us the opportunity to meet them and potentially turn them into repeat customers.”
Those oil changes are also cost-effective for not only the customers, but for the shop as well, since only premium oils are used. Instead of the customer needing service at 3,000 miles, their next oil change won’t be due until 5,000 miles, or, in some cases, even 10,000.
“This cuts thousands of gallons of waste oil, contrary to our competitors,” he says. “This also helped our average repair order. Our target is to help the customer by using better quality oils, and, in turn, we have cars in our facility less frequently but with more miles. This gives us the opportunity to conduct full inspections, which result in sales.”
Ultimately, Orozco says to run a successful independent repair shop, you must set high standards and never compromise your ethics or go back on your word. Profit, he says, is the result of giving back to the community and good, quality repairs.
“Money is not a target; money is a reward for doing the right things.”
Internet Presence Boosts Marketing Efforts
An internet presence isn’t a novelty anymore; repeat customers and potential patrons alike expect it for just about any business. Servando Orozco understands that all too well, with two Orozco Auto Service locations in the Long Beach, CA, area.
“The website is a very important these days,” he says. “We believe it’s ‘love at first sight.’ It must be compatible with all new devices, and it must be clear on the services offered by your business. Most of all, it must appeal to your target customers. It’s a first impression in the media world that counts.”
To that end, Orozco’s website (www.orozcosautoservice.com) features a clean design that highlights the shop’s designation as a NAPA AutoCare Center, as well as user-friendly navigation. Customers can find out more about the staff of eight technicians who will provide the repairs to their vehicles in one of the shop’s 14 bays, select an appointment time or find out more about the community involvement that Orozco prides himself on.
Potential customers can also see a video clip from Servando, who expresses the shop’s commitment to “quality service all the time.” They can also hear testimonials from current clients that showcase the reasons why they feel confident taking their vehicle to Orozco’s for quality repairs and top-notch customer service. Coupons are also available on the site, as well as gas-savings tips, both of which appeal to a younger, more frugal generation.
“We have found that the new generation is not as loyal, and they are interested in getting more for their money,” Orozco explains, adding that the website is an important piece of a marketing puzzle. “To grow our business, we must do multiple marketing all the time.”