Advanced Towing & Automotive in Vernal, UT, has been under Mark Showalter’s ownership for the last five and a half years, and it shows. Since taking control of the business from the previous owner, Showalter, owner of the DRIVE Shop Of The Month for January, has been able to grow it through new marketing tactics.
“Every year has gotten better, but it’s been over the last year and a half that we have really taken off and made ourselves a formidable shop in town with a solid reputation and an ever-growing customer base,” Showalter says. Recognized as the top towing business in their area, he credits his dedicated team of nine for helping to fine-tune their work to perfection.
Showalter has a long history in Vernal, with multiple generations of his family living in the town. He has a deep love for his community and the people who live there. “The members of this community are hardworking and close knit,” he says. “I’m proud of where I’m from and I’m always happy to give back to it.”
One thing that makes Advanced Towing & Automotive stand out from its competitors is customer service, Showalter says. “Customer service can go a long way, so we make sure to maintain a high level of it. When you take care of and value your customers, they’re more likely to become a repeat customer and recommend your shop to people they know. Keeping and growing your clientele is essential part of owning a business.”
One way Advanced Towing & Automotive does this is by owning up to and fixing any mistakes the shop makes. “We’re all human and we’re all going to make mistakes, but if you handle them right you’re not going to lose a customer because of it,” Showalter explains.
As the only heavy towing operation in his area, Showalter knows there’s always something that needs to be towed. To run a successful towing business, one needs to be up to face any challenge, and Showalter says he has faced many in his five and a half years in the business. The Uintah, UT area is known for large deposits of oil and natural gas, so there are lots of terrain difficulties when it comes time to do his job. By having a dedicated tow manager, he is able to have every tow documented in great detail on the invoice and get bills set out quickly.
One way Showalter keeps his eye on the bigger picture is by focusing his efforts on his shop’s marketing. Before becoming a DRIVE client, he recalls that days were very quiet and filled with a lot of stress due to the lack of business. He was so overwhelmed with the multitude of things that needed to be done that he couldn’t put anything into action. As he started working with DRIVE, he was able to prioritize what needed to be done and where to start. “As each piece was completed, things began to fall into place,” he says.
DRIVE’s push for him to establish a strong online presence has been one of the largest contributors to his success, Showalter says. This is especially evident from May to September, when his town receives a lot of tourists in the summer months. With DRIVE’s help his business now has the highest Google rating and most reviews out of any independent shop in his town, which helps consistently bring in new customers. That along with a professional website has helped to set Advanced apart from its competitors.
“With DRIVE doing our website and content online, it keeps us relevant and at the top of the search listings in our area,” he explains
A key piece of advice Showalter received as a DRIVE client that has gone a long way is to invest in advertising his business. “At first it was a hard pill to swallow,” he says. “To put money you don’t feel like you have into something that may not pay off right away feels silly. But, after sticking with it, the benefits came back tenfold. We have gotten so many new customers from advertising and from having a presence on the web. New customers are right around the corner and advertising is how you get them from the street into your business.”
Another way Showalter motivates himself is to remember to never give up. When he believes in himself and his team, he says his performance improves, and his shop does better. He remembers where he started and how far he’s come since he took over. “You can have an awful day or week and just want to crawl in a hole and hide. But it all passes, and life moves on. Don’t live in the one bad moment – look at the bigger picture and keep putting one foot in front of the other,” he explains.
This attitude allows Showalter to allow a healthy amount of time for himself. When he isn’t at the shop you can most likely find him drag racing. He actually proposed to his wife in 2017 while participating in a street legal shootout at the Western Colorado Dragway. His home county of Uintah recently completed construction of Diamond Mountain Dragway, the only dragstrip in the State of Utah. Just eight miles from his business, Showalter is looking forward to spending a lot of time there this year. He also loves to spend time with his family. With a two-year-old son and a little girl on the way, Mark and his wife are kept very busy.
With all of the improvements to his business, Showalter says he has definitely seen a payoff. Just last year Advanced Towing & Automotive was voted the #1 Towing Company and #3 Automotive Repair Facility in Vernal in the “Best of the Basin” by readers of the Vernal Express and Uintah Basin Standard. Showalter says he’s humbled to place in the Top 3 for both categories in the newspapers’ awards, especially because they came directly from his community. He says he can’t wait to keep growing his business in new, exciting ways this year.