Shop of the Week is a weekly column devoted to showcasing the efforts of automotive shops and their teams across Canada. Want your shop to have a turn in the spotlight? Send an email to email@example.com!
Name(s): Audrey Gottlieb and Tanya Lavertu (co-owners & operators) Shop Name: Audrey’s Auto Repair Ltd – NAPA AutoPro Location: Saskatoon, SK Number of employees: Six (owners included) Opening date: April 2007 Specialty: Preventative maintenance Main parts supplier: Napa Auto Parts
What has been your biggest challenge as a shop this year and how have you navigated through them?
AG & TL: The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a big challenge as we had implemented many changes to our safety procedures, in accordance with the Saskatchewan Health Authority protocol. Some of these include vehicle valet service; disinfecting vehicle procedures; disinfecting common and work area procedures; plexiglass barriers; social distancing markers and public notifications. Not only were these implementations time consuming to set up, but time consuming to keep up. We believe that these changes are for the better though and I believe we will be continuing these practices in the future. People have often commented on how clean and organized our shop is, back when they were able to tour through the shop. Well, now it is still clean and organized, but also disinfected regularly!
What’s your biggest success story this year?
AG & TL: Even though we experienced a huge drop in business during the first half of the year, we were able to come back strong in the second half of the year due to the support of our very loyal retail and commercial customers. We also found an increase in our much appreciated, new customers, that were either referred to us by our customers or found us on the web. However, our biggest success story here is our team! The number of members on our team may be smaller right now, but each and every one of them is a strong, hardworking, and dedicated individual, who advocates and supports one another, creating our super team!
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
AG & TL: During the COVID-19 order to stay home and with businesses shut down, we experienced a huge drop in sales. We had to lay off staff during that period. Gradually, we brought back most of our staff, minus one service advisor, a shop foreman, and our shop maintenance/shuttle driver. Tanya and I (Audrey) have been taking on more work as a result of the staff cutbacks.
Top Left: Audrey Gottlieb, owner/general manager; bottom right: Tanya Lavertu, owner/service manager; top centre: Crystal McEwan, service advisor; bottom left to right: Dean Boire, journeyman technician; Ed Arndt, journeyman technician; Jeff Hedin, journeyman technician.
What kinds of digital technology are you currently using/implementing?
AG & TL: We have many digital resources and programs that we use for customer service, and technology tools for our technicians. These are the following programs that we use on a daily basis:
Loyalty reward/gift card program
Car rental program
Digital inspection reports – with videos, photos, emailing and texting capabilities
Online customer appointment booking and car maintenance schedule referencing
Digital CRM (customer retention management
Social media presence through our website, Napa AutoPro’s website, Facebook, Google, Yelp, Indeed and LinkedIn
Online retail and commercial finance applications
Customer e-transfer payments
Online business management programs
Vehicle repair data information programs & multiple technician training programs
Vehicle computer and module flashing programs
Vehicle data link connector to app-based warning lamp info shared with customers
If you could see one change in the aftermarket, what would it be?
AG & TL: More vehicle information shared by the dealerships. This quote from Napa Auto Pro sums it up for us: “Access to vehicle data is an issue that directly affects all members of our network. If consumers cannot choose an independent repair shop for their maintenance and repair needs, our entire industry will suffer.”
Tell me an interesting fact about your shop?
AG & TL: We have 3 women and 3 men working in our shop. All who have extensive knowledge and experience in the automotive trade. There is approximately 95 years of vehicle repairs and diagnostics experience combined, with our three automotive service technicians and me (Audrey) as owner. There is approximately 17 years of vehicle related customer service experience combined with our service advisor and service manager/owner (Tanya).
Name a part/product you and your team are particularly enjoying this month and why?
AG & TL: We are really enjoying the Autoserve1 digital inspection reports. We can attach pictures and videos to the inspection reports to help us communicate effectively with our clients, so they know exactly what their vehicle needs or does not need. Once the customer receives the inspection, they can thoroughly review it before we contact them, and the inspection practically sells the work for us. Customers feel more informed and confidant about recommended repairs and can set a budget for future repairs and maintenance.
Check them out! More info on Audrey’s Auto Repair Ltd. can be found here.