We began in 2011 officially but our story begins years before when Norm, our lead technician and shop manager, answered a craigslist ad for some part time work. Our owner, Mark, also owns a lawn care company with the accompanying fleet of trucks, lawnmowers and all manner of gas powered machines that need constant servicing and maintenance. At the time, Norm was working for one of the largest Ford dealerships in the area and was looking to make a little extra money on the side. The prospect of working mostly on small engines was very appealing to him at the time. There is no need for a lift or heavy machinery, and it turned out to be a pretty decent little side gig for him.
Meanwhile, back at Norm’s day job, the dealership that he was working for had started pushing their techs to sell services and repairs that weren’t necessary and he didn’t want to do it. It bugged him to see people taken advantage of, especially because they didn’t have the mechanical knowledge to know if what the advisor was telling them was the truth or not. This speaks volumes to his integrity and the standards he holds himself to. The time did come when Norm and the dealership parted ways and Norm was without full time work. So he started working for Mark full time and went to town on the machines and trucks that Mark owned.
Norm has always been a big stickler for fixing things the right way with the right parts so they’re as good as new, or at least as good as they can possibly be. He doesn’t like half measures or Band-Aids that only mask the issue. Norm applied this mentality and standard of excellence to the work he did for Mark on his trucks and other machines.
After Norm really got going on catching up on the repairs and service, Mark thought the money that it was costing him to have Norm bring everything up to par was going to break the bank, but something amazing began to happen. The cost of repairs started to drop AND they weren’t sending out a tow truck every month or two to bring back a broken down truck.
Instead of dumping hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of dollars into repairs for his fleet, the cost dropped to few hundred a month for the basic maintenance on each truck. Over the last three years, he’s only had to send a tow truck out twice and neither instance was due to maintenance related breakdown. Norm almost worked himself out of a job though, because there wasn’t anything to fix anymore. By now they had moved to a fairly large shop that could fit all the machines and had plenty of room for the trucks and trailers, but after the lawn crews left, there wasn’t much for Norm to do. He quickly discovered you can only sweep the floor so many times before all you’re doing is wearing out the broom.
Norm and Mark were talking one day after all the crews had left and their conversation turned toward the idea of utilizing the shop space to repair cars. Seeing that the shop was empty all day, there was more than enough room to do some service and repair. It started mostly with Mark’s cars and trucks, then friends and then some family and it wasn’t long before they had an ad in the phone book and soon there was a website. But Norm was doing all the customer service AND the repairs, and he’ll tell you himself, he’s much better at turning a wrench than he is at dealing with people.
Mark happened to meet someone who said he could help, someone who’d been in the auto repair business before and knew the ropes and sold himself as someone who could help get things set up and running profitably. He helped them find the software to allow for invoicing, helped set up Norm with online repair manuals and helped make it possible to accept various forms of payment. Now they just needed to get the word out
John was originally hired to do advertising for the fledgling shop while the previous manager was still working with them. John had spent four years doing door to door sales many years ago so going out to talk to new people was second nature to him, so off he went with business cards, some tri-fold brochures and a great attitude to tell the world all about All Auto Repair.
It was shortly after this that they lost their manager and customer service rep. Although it was a difficult time and Mark wondered for a moment whether or not this was going to work, we gained a lot of knowledge about how an auto repair shop is set up and we developed a handful of procedures that are still with us today. Seeing that the opening in the shop needing to be filled by someone with some customer service and sales experience, Mark approached John about signing on as the full time service advisor. That was February of 2011.
At that time our shop was literally out in the middle of the fields and the obvious go to joke at the time was that “We’re outstanding in our field. Literally.” It got a regular laugh from most everyone who heard it, especially after they’d seen the shop, but we began to really want it to be true and not just a funny one-liner. No matter what business you’re in, there is truth to the saying about location, location, location. We looked at a few shops but everything we found was either not the right size, just as bad a location or exorbitantly expensive, so we put the idea of another shop on the backburner and focused on doing the best we could where we were at.
On the morning of December 28th, 2014 we got a call that there had been a fire at the shop overnight. This changed everything.
The usual freak-out was had by all of us and we each began to ask the questions, what are we going to do? How are we going to support our families? What about the thousands of dollars in tools? Will we be able to stay in business? These and a thousand other questions plagued us all. There we sleepless nights for sure but the insurance stepped in and started to do what they’re good at and there began to be a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe we could salvage some of what we’d built.
Days passed and turned into weeks as the cleanup began. Right away we discovered that even though there had been a fire, there was very little that was lost or destroyed. The majority of the damage was from smoke, thick, black, oily smoke that covered everything. Most of the hard tools were salvageable and other items here and there. We were informed that it would be months before the shop itself would be refinished enough to work in it again so we started looking for a shop to rent until the cleanup and rebuilding was finished. In the process of looking, we found the shop that we now inhabit, but it wasn’t for rent, they wanted to sell it.
There was a lot of prayers and pondering, studying and research but it looked like a really good location and it wouldn’t take nearly as long to get it up and ready to work out of as it would be to wait for the original shop to be ready.
Ultimately the shop became ours and looking back, it’s easy to see that, in the long run, the fire was probably the best thing that had ever happened to us. It helped us end up in a far better location than we had been, even though that location was also surrounded by a handful of other repair shops. In the beginning, that was a little daunting. But it made us ask the questions, how do we separate ourselves? What do we do better than anyone? Why are we special? During this time of rebuilding and putting all the pieces back together, we took the time to really look at ourselves and what we do and what we’re WILLING to do. And we looked at the other shops around to see what they did and how they did it. We went to seminars, found online coaches, searched out anything and everything we could to find the best practices for the best shops across the country and began to formulate what has become our MPS2, our Member Protection System and our Maintenance Protection Services.
We know you can go anywhere you want, but we also know that once you experience our level of service and find out why and how we want to stop you and your family from having major repairs.