Your name: Tim Bouwsema
Shop name: Subway Auto Service Ltd.
Location: Lethbridge, Alberta
Number of employees: 9
When did you open your shop? 1967
Do you specialize in anything? Propane diagnostics and repair for fleet vehicles, fully digital inspections on every visit to the shop, all make and model diagnostics and repairs!
Main parts supplier: NAPA AutoParts
What has been your biggest challenge(s) as a shop this year and how have you navigated through them?
TB: I think this will be a common refrain, but COVID-19 has been an exceptional challenge, both with navigating new policies, and keeping the safety of staff and customers at the top of our priority list.
What’s your biggest success story this year?
TB: We were lucky enough to keep everyone working and were able to hire on another Service Advisor during the past 6 months. We are connected with a lot of business owners in our city, and many were not so lucky, so we’re thankful to be able to keep everyone employed and busy.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
TB: COVID-19 has been challenging, but it seems like customer confidence in what we do is at an all time high. We have had one of our best years on record, and we’re incredibly grateful for the success we’ve experienced. Not all industries have been affected equally, and we have many friends and co-workers who have suffered through the pandemic.
What kinds of digital technology are you currently using/implementing?
TB: Our one-two punch for digital technology is Protractor Management software and AutoServe1 for digital inspections. These pieces work so well together, meaning we spend less time inputting data and more time estimating and connecting with customers. People love seeing the transparency of our inspections, and have much higher confidence giving us the “thumbs up” to do those much-needed repairs and maintenance items.
If you could see one change in the aftermarket, what would it be?
TB: The Right to Repair is forefront for everyone in the aftermarket, the right for consumers to be able to have their equipment serviced (whether it’s an iPhone, their home kitchen appliances, or a giant John Deere tractor) is under threat. Everyone should have access to detailed repair information on equipment they have purchased, so it can be maintained if that person needs it. It’s better for the consumer, it’s better for a healthy aftermarket, and it’s better for the environment to be able to maintain and reuse.
Tell me an interesting fact about your shop?
TB: We’re a third-generation business. My grandfather started the shop back in 1967, my father bought the business 1984, and I’ve been working ever since I could push a broom. Multi-generation businesses are becoming rarer, so we’re proud to be serving our community for decades, and hopefully decades more.
Name a part/product you and your team are particularly enjoying this month and why?
TB: An aspect of our AutoServe1 subscription allows us to text our customers, which is incredible when you just need some quick communication. Most people do not have time for phone calls these days, and texting them helps keep everyone informed, and we do not have vehicle’s sitting on hoists for hours on end waiting for a call back (or charging for re-assembly when we need to get the hoists freed up).
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