Mighty Auto Pro, located in Medina, Ohio, is an example of one of the best shops in the automotive repair industry. Owner Bill Hill has set a standard with his business that all other repair facilities should strive to emulate. Beyond excelling at customer service and offering top-notch vehicle repair, Mighty Auto Pro has raised the bar in service excellence by going above and beyond the call of duty, each and every day.
The shop’s success is truly a culmination of the work and effort put in daily by Bill and his staff.
“I’m just very proud of my staff because they embrace it. They take how we feel about our customers and about our clients and put those beliefs into action,” Bill says.
From Technician to Businessman
Bill got his start in the auto repair industry at 15 years old, pumping gas and repairing flat tires. Flat repair eventually expanded into other minor vehicle repairs at the gas station where he was employed.
“I just had a natural knack for it. I never really struggled with getting anything done. I just either figured it out, or I read the book to figure out how to do it properly,” Bill says.
As he grew older, Bill continued to learn more about auto repair. And, while all his other friends were out having a good time, Bill was attending an automotive night school.
After night school, Bill worked for two different tire dealerships; one as a technician and the other as a service director. When the opportunity to purchase his own shop presented itself, Bill jumped at the chance.
“I decided to put my money where my mouth is,” Bill shares. “I always said that I could run a successful business if I had the opportunity, and I had the opportunity, so I did it.”
Bill purchased Mighty Auto Pro in 1997 with a partner. After three years, Bill bought out his partner and has been sole owner ever since.
One of the most important lessons Bill learned moving from being a technician to an owner, is you can’t do everything alone. After a few years of long hour work weeks, Bill sought out a business coach to help him succeed in his new role. Today, he also serves as business coach for other automotive repair shops.
“You need somebody to help you, guide you through the things that you’re not good at,” Bill explains. “I was really good at fixing cars. I was very good at getting customers in the door. What I was not, was a good businessman. I was not a motivator of people. I was a leader probably by intimidation, which is not a good way to be a good leader. And, I didn’t know anything about marketing, so I needed to learn something about marketing.”
In addition to help from his business coach, Bill has also found support in his marketing director Leigh Anne Best and other long-time staff.
“There’s an old saying ‘Behind every great man is a great woman.’ Well, that’s really the truth in this particular instance, because [Leigh Anne] is really very much the heart and soul of Mighty Auto Pro. I think sometimes even more than I am,” Bill says. “And, honestly, we have a great staff…Our customers will tell you that Mighty Auto Pro is not just Bill and Leigh Anne, it consists of our great team.”
Bill co-authored a book on customer service: “Whatever Happened to Outstanding Customer Service?” Bill’s staff embraces his belief in superior customer service, and you can see it practiced every day at Mighty Auto Pro.
“We have a great team…. Everyone who works for us does everything they possibly can do 100% of the time to take care of our clients,” he shares.
Mighty Auto Pro is in more than just the service business; it is in the “people” business. From start to finish, a transaction at Mighty Auto Pro is all about the customer.
Bill says his staff strives to treat every customer who walks through the door as if they were a guest in his home. The shop offers complimentary food and snacks, and is both child- and Fido-friendly. There’s a pirate chest in the waiting room with gifts for kids who come into the shop. Mighty also allows dogs in the waiting area and has treats and a water bowl for their visits.
Convenience is a key part of Mighty’s customer service philosophy. While the shop schedules appointments, it also maintains flexibility to get customers in the same day, if they call. There are eight loaner cars for customers to use, a shuttle that will pick up customers within a five-mile radius, as well as a vehicle pick up/drop off service. Any customer who books a loaner car for use can get in and out of the shop in under five minutes, helping them get to work on time, as well.
Mighty Auto Pro is focused on building long-term relationships with its clients. They get to know their family and their needs. The shop sends out cards on Valentine’s Day to their elderly customers and just started sending out cards to veterans for Veteran’s Day. They even send out condolence cards for the passing of customers’ pets.
After every service appointment, a gift item is placed in each car as a token of appreciation. Gifts have included hot chocolate in the winter, cotton candy, lollipops and toy cars. All gifts feature themed packaging with Mighty Auto Pro branding, as well a marketing piece from the shop.
Expertise in the Bays
Mighty Auto Pro’s customer service extends into the bays.
“We’re about educating customers as to what they need and why they need it,” Bill says. “The way that I like to explain it to my staff is that we don’t sell batteries; we sell your car is going to start tomorrow morning. We don’t sell air conditioning; we sell cold air. That’s what we want our customers to understand. We tell them, ‘If you don’t replace this battery because it’s showing that it’s weak, when it gets cold outside or when it gets really hot outside, your car may not start.’ And we go through the process. We don’t really just say, ‘Hey, you need a battery. You need to do it now.’ That’s not how we operate.”
The shop services all makes and models of vehicles from its 17 service bays.
Boasting an ASE Blue Seal, Mighty Auto Pro employs five ASE-certified technicians. Two of these technicians are Master Technicians and another has set the goal of becoming a Master Technician.
Mighty Auto Pro rewards its technicians for keeping their ASE certifications current with raises for every two ASE tests passed, Bill says.
When servicing customers’ vehicles, Bill emphasizes to his employees that it is their job to make sure the vehicle is safe not only for the client, but the others on the road, as well.
“We can’t look at it as, they are just people with cars. They are our clients. They are our people. They trust us to do the best possible job for them,” Bill says.
“Our job is to make sure that we guide them in a direction that is best and safe for them.”
Every vehicle that enters the bays at Mighty Auto Pro undergoes a 67-point inspection, whether it’s the vehicle’s first visit or its tenth.
In an effort to educate the consumer and keep track of the vehicle’s history, the shop uses software to share its digital inspections with the customers. In fact, even before providers offered this software, Mighty Auto Pro was ahead of its time using a digital camera and performing inspections with photos, Bill says.
Another way Mighty Auto Pro educates its customers is through its annual Women, Wheels and Waffles event. The event features food, fun and education for all who attend.
“We don’t want it just to be about cars, if we want it to be an event. We want you to come and learn about cars, but also if you want to get a massage, you can. If you want to just sit there and have food, you can,” Bill says. “It’s a community event. The education part of it is the most important part for me, but it doesn’t have to be the most important part for them.”
During the event, Mighty Auto Pro sets up several educational stations for attendees to learn more about auto repair. Attendees learn about diagnostics, how to change a tire, how to check fluid levels and more.
“We want them to feel comfortable when someone’s telling them something about their vehicle,” Bill shares.
Bringing Customers In
Mighty Auto Pro uses a variety of tactics to bring customers through the door. The shop utilizes direct mailers, Google Ad words, and customer referrals to acquire new clients. In addition, the shop targets customers who it has lost.
Leigh Anne, who tracks the success of all the shop’s marketing campaigns, shares that when she came on they devised a “marketing wagon wheel” to set the shop’s marketing goals. The wheel was on display at Bill and Leigh Anne’s home.
“It was a pretty cool visual way of explaining it. We had the outer hub, which was who do you want to get into the shop?: We need new clients. We need, most importantly, to take care of our existing clients. And we need to bring our lost customers back. Then, there are the spokes that go into the hub — the hub is Mighty Auto Pro. The spokes represent all of the different things we do to make sure that we accomplish all of that,” Leigh Anne shares.
The top referral source for Mighty Auto Pro is Google. The shop boasts a nearly perfect 5 stars on more than 170 reviews. In addition, Mighty uses Google Adwords to drive customers to its website.
“Mr. Google is our best friend. I mean, we have a stellar website that works really well for us. So, if I look at the number one source of my ongoing referrals, Mr. Google does the best work,” Leigh Anne says.
The second largest driver of traffic into Mighty Auto Pro is customer referrals. Leigh Anne says the key to a successful customer service program is to have systems and procedures in place, and follow them.
“There’s a full process to it. When we hand them the referral card, we say, ‘We have a gift for you to give to…’ and then we direct them to a neighbor, co-worker, friend, because if we say anybody, nobody’s popping into their head. If we say co-worker, friend, neighbor, they’re already thinking about, Sue who I work with, or John who I lived next door to,” Leigh Anne explains. “We’re planting the seeds. The fact that we’re saying you can give the gift of a free oil change… they get excited about it.”
Beyond that, customers who refer their friends or colleagues are given $30 free “Mighty Dollars” to use at a future visit and entered to win $200 cash.
To target non-returning customers, Mighty Auto Pro will pull a report that measures attrition. If someone hasn’t visited the shop in six months, the staff tries to figure out why — did they move, did they get a new car, did they stop driving?
Those lost customers receive a letter from Bill.
“The letter simply says, ‘Hi, it’s Bill from Mighty Auto Pro. We haven’t seen you in six months.’ And it talks about, ‘Is everything okay?’ ‘What can we do?’ And, it gives them $30 in Mighty money to come back and see us again,” Leigh Anne shares.
Mighty Auto Pro is also very active in giving back.
Leigh Anne is a co-founder of Brakes for Breasts, which the shop has supported for more than 10 years.
As part of the Brakes for Breasts initiative, auto shops across the U.S. offer free brake pads to their customers during the month of October. For each brake service performed at one of those shops, customers will receive their brake pads for free and pay only for the labor and other parts. In return, the shop will donate 10% of that brake service to The Cleveland Clinic Breast Cancer Vaccine Research Fund.
In addition, Mighty Auto Pro works with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to help them earn badges. Staff has also spoken to children in group homes to help educate them to make smart automotive decisions.
As vehicles continue to evolve, so too will Mighty Auto Pro. Bill shares that in the next five years the shop will focus on educating and equipping its techs to service advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)-equipped vehicles and, one day, fully autonomous vehicles.
Each year, the WIX Driving Performance Award recognizes shops that go above and beyond in delivering outstanding customer service and performing expert vehicle repairs. This year, Mighty Auto Pro was named the 5th annual WIX Driving Performance Award winner.
As part of the WIX Driving Performance Award, Mighty Auto Pro owner Bill Hill received an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas to attend the AAPEX Show. His shop was recognized during the WIX Filters and Babcox Media Night of Excellence awards dinner at Canaletto Ristorante inside the Venetian Resort.
“It’s an honor for me [to be named the WIX Driving Performance winner] because it means that my beliefs, the beliefs I instill in my employees, the culture that we’ve developed over the years, and the relationships that we’ve built with our clients over the years, are being recognized,” shares Hill.