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Name: James Marshall
Shop name: Marshall Automotive
Location: Barrie, Ont.
Number of employees: Five
When did you open your shop? 2007
Do you specialize in anything? Hondas and sour cream glazed donuts
Main parts supplier: Parts Source and Tim Horton’s
What has been your biggest challenge(s) as a shop this year and how have you navigated through them?
JM: As with every business this year, COVID-19 has had a major impact in a lot of different aspects in our industry. We had to lay off one of our mechanics, and we’ve had to reconfigure our space for customers who opt to wait for services to be performed on their car. We’ve also had to discontinue our shuttle. But through it all, our customers were very accommodating and adapted to the changes, by arranging their own rides, or using the drop box and leaving the car for the day. Customers have been greatly understanding and supportive; even the new ones. We all may not be in the same “boat”, but we are all in the same “lake”- coping with all the issues that affect us all. Definitely this all puts a lot of things into perspective as the pandemic continues to cause issues more than one year later. When all of this is “over”, we will all look at things differently and appreciate the services and freedoms we all took for granted not so long ago.
What’s your biggest success story this year?
JM: There was that Porsche Cayenne injector catastrophe, the Fiat engine fiasco, or even the Silverado transmission stupidity… but the biggest success of the year, were a lot of new customers from word of mouth, and that is always a good thing. That, and surviving COVID-19 amid all the shutdowns. Also keeping all of our employees from the late spring all the way through to the fall.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
JM: Suspending shuttle services and keeping on top of cleaning high-touch surfaces, wiping down customer keys, mandatory mask wearing, and limiting waiting customers to one in our waiting area. Sometimes, it feels like we are over-reacting, but with Barrie, being an epicenter of the Covid variant, maybe we wonder if we are not doing enough.
What kinds of digital technology are you currently using/implementing?
JM: Our Snap-On Modis Edge has been a valuable asset in a lot of diagnosing scenarios. We subscribe to the Identi-fix website, as well as the Mitchell Pro-demand services. We use the Lankar shop management for our invoices and work orders and it has been well supported. We have found a lot of on-line resources for parts and pricing as well.
If you could see one change in the aftermarket, what would it be?
JM: Most aftermarket part have better warranties and seem to have made improvements over OEM parts (Dorman is an excellent example). However, aftermarket suppliers need to look at their pricing, as a lot of their cost prices are higher than dealer list prices. We also find there are a lot of discrepancies on many VW suspension and brake parts in terms of fit and listings. It also would be nice if they included normal nuts with any sway bar links instead of those troublesome distorted nuts…but that’s just one opinion.
Tell me an interesting fact about your shop?
JM: We don’t hide the fact that we are Christian mechanics, (it might be a bit obvious though, when we have bibles in the waiting area and we do all our radio advertising on the local Christian radio station LIFE100.3). It can sometimes be a challenge to work on some customers cars, but when viewed through a certain perspective, and taking into account another person’s journey, you try to get a different idea how they perceive the stereotypical ‘mechanic” and their view on what is important. As ambassadors to our trade, we all should endeavor to be honest in our dealings, and putting yourself out there as a Christian, definitely sets the bar that we daily need to reach. It’s not just a job, it’s a higher calling.
Name a part/product you and your team are particularly enjoying this month and why?
JM: Donuts…because they are so healthy. We have also have been enjoying the use of our Lincoln MIG welder for a variety of repairs and life/time saving hacks. The ‘Partslink” website has also been pretty helpful with it’s access to dealer pictures and part number references. We only wish more dealers were online with it. We are curious on the uses for the induction heat tool.
I have used Marshall Automotive for years and I trust them with all my automotive work.