Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2009   by CARS Magazine

Garage Of The Year Finalists: Bento’s Auto & Tire Center

Bento De Sao Jose has owned and operated Bento's Auto & Tire Service Centre for more than 40 years, although over the course of those four decades that hasn't stopped him from acquiring several ot...

Bento De Sao Jose has owned and operated Bento’s Auto & Tire Service Centre for more than 40 years, although over the course of those four decades that hasn’t stopped him from acquiring several other properties across Toronto. At one point, Bento was the owner of as many as four locations, which included a Shell Canada station, an Esso station, a Chrysler Canada dealership and a used car lot.

Today, Bento devotes his work full-time to helping the community with its automotive maintenance and repair needs in Toronto’s West End along Dundas Street West, including operating a tire centre that supplies tires to customers and neighbouring service centres.

“Today we’re more careful in how we invest in the business because profits are less. So we have to be careful when it comes to expenses,” says Bento De Sao Jose. “The other thing every independent must be aware of is the staff training that they have. The owners themselves have to be trained in how to handle their customers, to become more customer service oriented, putting ourselves in the shoes of our customers on the other side of the desk.

“What I see today is most of the problems we are facing are because of a lack of communication between the service writers and the consumer, and giving the mechanic the right information. I believe it’s very important that service writers take special training to turn this around, so they can become more aware with their customers.”

In addition to regular repair and maintenance service on most domestic and import vehicles, Jose stresses the importance of customer loyalty. One of the ways Bento’s Auto and Tire Service Centre achieves this is by supplying them with printouts and phoning them before and after repairs so that he can show customers how the car was and how the car is after the repair. His shop is also capable of handling emissions testing, alignment services, and his technicians have specialized knowledge in dealing with diesel cars.

“The other thing is to be honest. Honesty is the most important thing. In the past, I’ve had mechanics that have come from other places and tried to cover up their mistakes to the customer. I’ve told them not to do this, tell the consumer the truth. You tell them the truth and they’ll understand, we’ll correct the problem and do whatever needs to be done. If things don’t go to plan, tell them we’ll do our best to fix the problem. The best message I like to give to everybody is honesty. This helps create a better understanding between us and the consumer. The problem is in a lot of places the consumer doesn’t trust the garage and this creates all of the problems.”


— Nine bays

— Five licensed technicians, one apprentice and three service writers.

— Door rate $99.

— Supports Hospital for Sick Children, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Shield and Safety Seat program in conjunction with Toronto police, as well as various community charities and organizations in the surrounding neighbourhood. (416) 531-9981

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