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Name: Jeff Colton
Shop Name: Colton’s Garage
Location: Flesherton, Ont.
Number of employees: 7
Opening date: My grandfather, Howard Colton, started Colton’s Garage in 1974. My father, Frank Colton, worked alongside my grandfather until 1986 when he purchased the business. Then, my father ran Colton’s Garage as his own until 2016 when I purchased the business. My father still works for Colton’s Garage, the only difference is that now I’m his boss!
Specialty: We don’t only run as a tire and auto repair shop. We also specialize in diagnostics.
Main parts supplier: Carquest Markdale, Ideal Supply NAPA, Auto Ceylon
What has been your biggest challenge as a shop this year and how have you navigated through it?
JC: One of the biggest challenges this year was dealing with the winter tire shortage. We are a tire discount affiliate member, which gives us access to the largest stock of tires and wheels currently available, but we still had vehicles where we couldn’t get the specific tires that the customer had requested, simply because the manufacturers couldn’t make enough tires due to COVID-19.
What’s your biggest success story this year?
JC: It would have to be when the health and safety inspectors came to Colton’s Garage for an inspection. They made a few changes to our current policies but left us with a thumb’s up and told us to keep up the great work. This is not something that I can take all of the credit for; we have a great team of employees who all chip in.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
JC: Like everybody else, it’s changed our daily routines, like how we take payments and deal with our customers. There is a lot more picking up and dropping off of vehicles, but this has become our new normal.
What kind of technology are you currently using/implementing?
JC: We use a combination of text and email to send images of customer vehicle problems. We also use a program called Moto Visuals from our Technet program that we use for sending small informational videos about any repair work that’s needed. It helps to explain what we do and how we do it without me drawing a chicken scratch picture. These videos can be texted or emailed out.
If you could see one change in the aftermarket, what would it be?
JC: Better access to service information systems–we still find that sometimes, we can’t get all of the pieces to the puzzle. Also, forcing us to pay for those OE subscriptions.
Tell me an interesting fact about your shop?
JC: We are currently working on getting our Blue Seal and that means that 75 per cent of our technicians will be ASE certified. I have completed my ASE master technician and I prefer the ASE program over the Ontario Red Seal. I wrote my Red Seal 12 years ago and since then, I haven’t had to do anything other than pay my membership fee to keep my license. With ASE, I need to continually educate myself to pass the test in order to maintain my certification.
Name a product you and your team are enjoying this month?
JC: We added four additional service bays to our shop last year and we have been enjoying the extra space and the extra hoist. It makes the days run a lot smoother.