World Wide Automotive's Formula For Success: A Daily Commitment To Customers, The Community And The Environment -

World Wide Automotive’s Formula For Success: A Daily Commitment To Customers, The Community And The Environment

Combining Owner Don Seader's expertise in the automotive trades and his wife Melinda's experience in marketing and environmental management, WWAS has gone on to be recognized as both an automotive service and an environmental business leader in Indiana.

A prime example of a green ­independent automotive repair facility, World Wide Automotive Service in Bloomington, IN, has received accolades for its environmentally friendly practices on a state and national level. And, Don Seader takes his commitment to the environment ­beyond basic recycling.

For starters, he buys as much as he can in bulk, ­including 55-gallon drums of full synthetic oils. He went out of his way to install a double-walled tank for virgin oil to protect against leaks – his supplier didn’t even have them in stock, as the state of Indiana didn’t require this extra precaution.

The shop’s new facility, which opened in September 2009, also boasts on-demand hot water; Photo Voltaic awnings; “Cool Roof” roofing technology; a radiant in-slab and floor heating system; a ­geothermal heating and cooling system; a rain garden; and many other impressive eco-­conscious design features.

Seader’s efforts to minimize the impact of his business have not gone unnoticed. He and his team helped the Indiana ­Department of Environmental Management develop a 5-star program for pollution prevention for shops, and the shop has been in the spotlight for its green practices since the day it opened its new facility.

Return on Shop Investment
“We put our money where our mouth is when we built this building,” says Seader. He estimates that he spent $150,000 more than what was needed to make it more energy-efficient and, in addition to recouping a substantial energy-savings, it generated a lot of “buzz” for the business. “Every week, we get one or two people here who say they came to us ­because of what we did with our building,” explains Seader. “We won ‘Small Business of the Year’ last year. All of these things were possible because of our commitment to the environment and green building practices.”

Seader’s commitment to quality mirrors that of his target customer. The shop specializes in European and Asian nameplates, and capitalizes on the fact that the closest BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Lexus, Acura and Infiniti dealerships are 60-plus miles away in Indianapolis.

“I don’t have a lot of competition, and our target customer is someone who values customer service and quality over cost.”

To that end, Seader sees himself as the brand’s (his shop’s) ambassador to the public. He checks in most customers personally, and he not only has a handle on his customers’ cars, but he knows what’s going on with the community, and that’s important in a small town like Bloomington – it’s all about building trust and customer loyalty.

Going the Extra Mile
World Wide Automotive focuses on making things as easy as possible for the customer. “I do not charge to replace bulbs or wiper blades, and if the customer’s problem can be taken care of outside in the parking lot and takes less than 10 minutes, it’s free. We also check engine codes for free,” explains Seader, who doesn’t think he’s giving away potential revenue with this approach; instead he sees it as part of his plan to build a great level of trust with his customers.

Using quality parts plays into that customer-service mentality. “If price is an issue to the customer, we give them some options,” he notes, “but I do not offer options that would adversely affect the quality of the repair.”

Parts do create a special challenge for World Wide Automotive, not only due to the wide variety of nameplates the shop specializes in, but also due to its small-town location. “We do pay attention to who was the original manufacturer of the part, and we typically for most parts try to stick with the original manufacturer, but not ­always,” explains Seader. For example, we have found in the braking systems on European cars in general, in our harsh braking environment, the OEM part is not the best choice. So, in those cases, we seek out solutions that are better for the customer.”

Not only has Seader’s honest ­approach to business built a loyal ­customer base, he’s seen very little employee turnover since opening in 1995. He currently employs a staff of five technicians, two of whom have been with the business since the ­beginning. Two more have been on board for eight years each.

“My service advisor was the hardest to recruit,” says Seader, who admits it was difficult to give up the control. He finally found a service writer with 10 years of dealership experience writing service for Toyota, Ford and GM.

In addition to offering his techs a generous hourly salary based on longevity and their level of certification, he also offers generous benefits, including a $25 a week tool ­allowance, 4% toward retirement, 100% of employee health insurance and 50% for family members.

“People don’t want to leave here. We do all that and still have a very healthy net profit. That’s what it’s all about,” he concludes.

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