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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
Your name: Mark Bergasse
Shop name: Mark’s Auto Service
Location: Oakville, Ont.
Number of employees: Five, plus myself and Sandy
When did you open your shop? April 1995
Do you specialize in anything? Legendary customer service, European, domestic and import vehicles
Main parts supplier: NAPA and Worldpac
What has been your biggest challenge as a shop this year and how have you navigated through them?
MB: Well like everybody, dealing with the pandemic while keeping the team and customers healthy and safe while going into work every day. I remember last March 27th it was Friday, I thought maybe I should build a partition or barrier if this “thing” is going to last a few more weeks. So, I went to the hardware store and bought supplies and built a temporary protection barrier, and it’s still in operation and has allowed our staff and customers to feel safe when they drop their car off for service.
What’s your biggest success story this year?
MB: We celebrated our 25th anniversary since we opened Mark’s Auto Service in 1995, but it was a quiet celebration. Our biggest success was keeping the doors open, and the staff busy.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
MB: When the first stay at home order was announced [April 2020], sales dropped like a blizzard in January, appointments were cancelled and I think everyone was just scared and unsure what the next week would bring. I know I was concerned but we stayed open.
We also had to modify our check in process. We have seven loaner cars, but nobody wanted one, so we parked the shuttle van, and added a Pick Up Drop off Concierge service. We always had afterhours secure drop box and a coded lock box for customers to pick up their keys after hours, but I think a few customers who were uncomfortable with this came around in the end.
We communicated more from a safe distance with phones, email, or texting, if a client did come in the office you could see the relief on their faces because the safe barrier was in place, we would sanitize the keys on the way in and out, The techs wore masks in there cars and we sanitized the cars after service, we call it the “New Normal” for now.
What kinds of digital technology are you currently using/implementing?
MB: We use Protractor for our invoicing, AutoServe1 for DVI inspections “a picture is worth a thousand words” and that is true, All Data and Identifix for technical Information, ShopPros call centre for incoming calls, appointment booking, and CSI calls.
If you could see one change in the aftermarket, what would it be?
MB: A better apprenticeship program to help attract and train young technicians.
Tell me an interesting fact about your shop?
MB: Just over three years ago in the fall of 2017, I was working the front counter and felt minor chest pain. After work I went to the hospital for testing and needed emergency quadruple bypass heart surgery. Unsure of what to do about the shop, my wife, Sandy, called my colleague Carlo Sabucco from Sil’s Auto Centre to see what she should do. Carlo said leave it to me and called Glenn Colling [Eastside Auto Service] and Todd Sarson [Stop n Go Automotive Centre] and the three of them tag teamed and ran my shop for me for two months while I recovered. I am forever grateful to these guys and get choked up whenever I tell that story.
Name a part/product you and your team are particularly enjoying this month and why?
I just received a set of intake manifold Vacuum adapters for Carbon Walnut Blasting Intake Valves so its not a messy clean up after the clean up.