Rich Gregg, owner of Essential Auto Service, runs a 5-star shop that is known for its top quality and reliable work. Located in Waterloo, Ontario, Essential Auto Service is always clean, well-organized, and, most importantly, busy. With a full staff of six, the business has consistently grown since its opening in 1999.
He’s implemented digital inspections and CRM to create transparency and trust, with both the equipment and technicians, so his team can perform to the highest standards. This has gained them a great reputation. Recognized as DRIVE’s September Shop Spotlight, Essential Auto has a large returning client base that knows the shop will take care of their vehicle. Their work is high quality and high value.
With two large universities and a population of 600,000, Waterloo is a bustling city often called the Silicon Valley of the North. “I like to keep the shop up to date on the latest technology,” says Gregg. “This is a great community that accepts the digital and streamlined communication and services we offer.”
The shop was opened because Rich was tired of working for other people, he felt underappreciated and overworked. Now, he is in control of his work and life. He says he is most proud of the fact that he’s taken the chances he wanted to. He invested his time, money and energy into the business and it’s paid off. He says he’s not only successful but operational as well. “I have achieved my goals from dream to reality,” Gregg says.
Marketing is an important part of attracting potential customers to your shop, and Rich takes advantage of this knowledge. He has a weekly marketing budget of $800 that he uses with Google AdWords to drive customers to his website. From there customers can easily book an appointment. Essential Auto Service has consistent and continuous branding across social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.
Luck isn’t how he got this far, though; it was only after consistent effort that he was able to achieve this level of success. Gregg says he used to handle every aspect of the shop’s operation, acting in every position instead of simply being the owner. “I focused so much on trimming expenses, but I wore all the hats and it became too much to handle,” he says. “I often worked late or on weekends to stay caught up.”
However, once he became a DRIVE client, that started to change. “DRIVE has taught me a lot about running a business and being able to grow it successfully,” he says.
Gregg says he learned how to work on the business instead of in it and credits DRIVE for helping him to have the courage to make some of the more difficult business decisions. Now, he has more than enough time and energy to oversee the KPI’s and delegate to the shop’s manager. Between January and May, he says he didn’t set foot in the shop because it was fully operational.
This past August Rich Gregg attended the DRIVE EXPO, where he was awarded the Master Shop Owner Award. To reach this level, shop owners must improve their management skills, increase profit each year, collect and analyze KPIs weekly, establish a workflow that is used by the front and back, create an incentive program that rewards production, consistently market their shop, create a shop playbook, and reduce debt.
Before he started his journey to earning his Master title, Gregg says he would talk to the Master Shop owners at EXPOs and wonder how they were so relaxed. This networking allowed for him to hear about their policies and procedures, leaving him with new things to implement when her returned to his own shop. Now, Rich is the relaxed one giving advice to new DRIVE clients and be says he’s looking forward to doing just that at DRIVE EXPO 2023.
When Rich is not in the shop, you can find him restoring various vehicles in different stages of repair. Or, he might be outdoors hiking and kayaking. He even enjoys stock trading as a hobby and form of passive income. His advice to other shop owners? “Create a long-term plan. Know where you want to be then work backwards. Break your long-range plane from years into the next year then the next quarter, then the next month and finally the next week. You must have a detailed plan and the discipline to follow it, then your goals will always become a reality,” he says. “I feel if I were to open another location, I would be able to have it operational within a year instead of multiple years because I now have a solid plan and I know what to expect.”