Auto Service World
Feature   May 1, 2011   by Nestor Gula

Victor’s Tire & Automotive Centre

A 30-year history of customer service, challenges

Located on Yonge just south of Eglinton, Victor’s Tire & Automotive Centre, has been serving Toronto’s car repair and tire needs for over 30 years. With six bays served by seven technicians, owner Frank Monachino says that he likes to make sure that a customer’s car is in and out the same day. “We do not have much room for cars, so we try to get them in and out the same day,” he said.
The problem Monachino faces with getting cars out quickly is that they have evolved a great deal in the last 30 years. “Cars today are not built the way they used to be,” he notes. “Sometimes it takes just a whole day to diagnose a car properly. If a technician does not know how to properly use a scanner then you will have problems. Scanners will just give you the proper direction to go to.
“You have a code – P0300 – multiple misfire – well you will still have to use your brain to find out why. It could be the wire, could be anything. It could be computer related. We are pretty lucky that we have a couple of guys who are really intelligent when it comes to that kind of work.”
The technicians, “Do a lot of online training with SnapOn, WORLDPAC and use TSS,” he said.
As a Bridgestone/Firestone tire dealer, Monachino said, this, “gives us the name. If you are driving down the street and you see a shop with no name or one with Bridgestone/Fire­stone on it, well that helps. It also gives us better buying power and therefore the customer a better price.”
He still faces stiff competition from the big box stores. “The customer always is complaining that they can get the tire cheaper somewhere else,” he said. “We usually can match them with the price. But if Costco makes five per cent on the tire they will be happy. While they are putting the tires on, the customer will be in the store and will spend 200 to 300 dollars.”
Monachino noted that the biggest problem he faces is the availability and quality of parts for the aftermarket, and information. “We had to replace a wheel bearing, so we replaced it with an aftermarket one,” he said. “Three months later the customer was back. We had to source an original manufactured wheel bearing and we put that in and had no problem. Sometimes even when we use the best quality aftermarket brakes, I would say that probably about three out of ten cars will come back with some kind of issue.”
Still, use of original equipment parts is, “Dependent on price,” he added. “You have to look at the customer’s pocketbook. You have to give them the choice. If you can find a part for your customer at half the price, you have to give them the option.”
Sometimes, the availability of parts presents a greater problem. “We are working on a Pathfinder and we can’t get the proper sprockets from the aftermarket, and we are forced to go to a dealer. But now, with what happened in Japan, it is even more difficult,” he exclaimed. “It took several weeks to find a camshaft for it. We finally found one in Arizona.”