Auto Service World
Feature   October 1, 2009   by CARS Magazine

The Ability To Hang On

How Doctor H Honda Specialist in Toronto Attributes His Success

Dave Redinger has been the owner and operator of Doctor H Honda Specialist for 29 years now. After hearing the name of this Toronto-area service centre one might get the impression that the independent garage deals exclusively with Hondas or import cars only; however, when it comes to automotive repair and maintenance, nothing could be further from the truth.

“We’re a NAPA Autopro centre. We started our company 29 years ago with Honda because we felt there was a need for it in the aftermarket. I would say 40 per cent of our business is Honda and the rest is everything else. It’s a result of the NAPA sign that brings in the more domestic owners.”

In a city like Toronto, there are always issues when it comes balancing a high influx of customers versus what a garage can take on; but Redinger says his biggest hurdle is changing how customer’s maintain their vehicles over time.

“Our biggest challenge is changing the customer’s relationship with the service centre from a break down shop, such as only coming in when the car breaks down, to a maintenance shop where we basically call them in like a dentist’s office every few months to see that their car is properly maintained. Every four months they get a postcard that calls them in for service. So we do that to try and teach them to maintain their car versus to come in every time the car breaks down.”

Redinger offers incentives every four months whenever a mailer informs his customers that regular maintenance is due on their vehicle. If they appear for a second maintenance interval, they are eligible for a free oil change, which include a free oil filter and an inspection.

W hen asked what he attributes the long-term success of his shop to, Redinger answers tongue-in-cheek “the ability to hang on.” Truthfully, as Redinger explains, it’s a multitude of factors.

“Without your staff you’re nothing. Basically, when I retire the guys I work with will take over. To them it’s their future too, so they’re basically wired in. How good the company does is how good their future is. I’ve told them that when I leave they are free to take it over. We don’t turnover staff. Once you’re here you can be here forever. One guy’s been here 24 years, one’s been here for 22 and they’ve all been here for at least 15 years. We work with each other 8-10 hours a day and I don’t want to work with people I don’t like.

“Managing the clients, making sure the clients leave happy, investing in our own business like buying our own real estate and buying equipment, but everything is within moderation. Tarrying the money back into the business at a reasonable level versus sucking all of the money out, otherwise the business doesn’t have money to operate.”


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