Customers in Fort Wayne, Indiana, have come to know they can rely on Donny Yeoman and his team to always deliver an awesome auto repair experience. From the initial phone call to picking the vehicle up, customer service is what it’s all about at Yeoman Service Center.
Originally opened by his grandfather in 1962 as a 2-bay gas station, Donny is a third-generation owner. His Dad took over in 1989 and Donny took control in 2014. He says he had a vision from the outset – he wanted to be successful, to change the perception of the industry and to have a great team and pay them what they deserved. In short, he wanted to be a leader for his business, community and his industry.
“We have a great reputation as a leader in auto repair and I hope to lead by example to provide quality repairs and employee growth,” he explains.
In 2015, against the advice of some, Donny expanded by adding 6 bays to his existing 13-bay shop with 12 employees. Since this addition, Donny says he has seen a 53% increase in revenue. While many factors go into that increase, of course, Yeoman believes the new clean, professional and customer-friendly shop certainly contributes.
In fact, during 2020 Yeoman Service Center saw over a 14% increase in revenue vs. 2019 to over $1.5MM.
“I love that some of my goals and dreams are already becoming a reality in just 6 years. I love the challenges that it brings because I like the reward when you overcome it,” he says.
High standards are a key element of Yeoman’s and Donny has placed a big emphasis on training. He doesn’t plan just an occasional class for his team, but emphasizes on-going and regular sessions. Donny has built a space at his shop specifically for training that includes a 102˝ screen, comfortable chairs and tables and a state-of-the-art speaker system. Each Wednesday afternoon, the crew sits down and has dedicated time for the latest training.
Because of this training, he says his crew is able to diagnosis and troubleshoot issues that other shops in the area can’t fix. To complement the training, he has invested in dealership-level equipment and diagnostic tools to perform any repair needed on today’s complicated and tech-centric vehicles. This includes leading the way with ADAS and any electrical vehicle repair.
Donny says one of the best lessons he learned from his first DRIVE consultant was “Do you want to be steering the boat or rowing the boat?” “We keep that in mind each day at the shop,” he says.
Donny says he’s proud of the shop, not only as a third-generation business, but because it has employed people through the years and provided for their families. “We’ve seen young, inexperienced techs with a great attitude come on board and grow into seasoned professional A Tech’s who now have their own families,” he says.
“In order for us to grow, I had to start working ON the business as much as I was working IN the business,” he explains. “That includes empowering others to do job duties for me that I was doing.”
Of course, he recognizes that learning doesn’t end. In addition to training his crew and making sure they are experts with the latest technology available, he loves learning from his fellow shop owners, often through networking with other DRIVE shop owners. “Yeoman’s may be in Indiana, but I regularly interact with shop owners across the country,” he says. “Knowing you have that support system of owners who have gone through both the good and not so good, is a valuable asset. I’ve developed close relationships with many of them and, in addition to business discussions, we also go on vacations and travel together.”
Yeoman’s uses various shop systems, including the BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY DVI system. He says his customers appreciate the ability to see photos of the issue at hand. “If they can see it and understand it, they are more likely to buy it,” says Donny. “It also helps Yeoman’s keep better records and protects the shop if an issue comes up. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.”
Yeoman says his advice for someone opening up their own repair shop is to have a structure in place. “Have your policies and procedures set from the beginning. Understand the numbers and measure your progress using KPIs. Make sure you have a business coach and surround yourself with smart people,” he says.
“We work with DRIVE and, for me, DRIVE was a crash college-level education in how to operate a business. I needed this guidance and help to take me from a technician to a business owner. I could not have reached my vision on my own,” he says.
He says his DRIVE Marketing actions – from his website to search – is something he’s come to consider a huge reason for his success, especially during 2020. “The phones keep ringing!” he says.
“I love the accountability that I get from DRIVE,” says Donny. “I have more structure and time in my life and it keeps me on track to prevent old habits.”