As part of the transformation of ShopOwner into a flagship publication for the Babcox Media Tech Group, I’m passing the torch to Doug Kaufman and leaving the magazine in his capable hands starting with the September issue. One of my favorite aspects of the job has been learning about the best practices of shops around the country. I learned so much from this month’s featured shop – McNeil’s Auto Care in Utah – that I couldn’t fit everything into the story.
In my interview with owner Pete McNeil, he shared a number of ingredients in his shop’s recipe for success. They include:
Over-communicate with customers. McNeil learned from his dad “to always stay ahead of any questions or concerns the customers have.” If a customer has to call to find out what’s going on with their vehicle, you haven’t done your job.
Stay on the cutting edge of technology. McNeil’s Auto Care started conducting digital vehicle inspections via tablets four years ago (“when everybody thought it was crazy”). The shop developed its own digital menu board to display pricing and educational videos in the waiting room, and the technology has evolved into a separate company – truDigital – that powers digital signage in other NAPA AutoCare Centers as well as for corporate clients such as Costco, Verizon and Coca-Cola.
Focus on continuous improvement. “We continue to believe that every year we need to update our equipment and send technicians out to training, and have meetings with advisors in the mornings about best practices and talk about good experiences the customers had – or if we dropped the ball, what happened and how we can improve it.”
Give back to your community. In addition to volunteering to cook for their church at the Church Youth Conference, McNeil and his wife support a number of local charities and community fundraisers. McNeil’s Auto Care recently donated a van to a deserving couple after the husband was paralyzed following a bicycle-riding accident two months after they were married. Giving is great marketing for your business, but much more importantly, it’s just good karma.
If I’ve piqued your interest, read the McNeil’s Auto Care shop profile on P. 4 for more. And stay tuned to ShopOwner for some big changes in September!