We received dozens of nominations from all parts of Canada for our annual Shop of the Year issue. Congratulations to all the nominees who had such a great story to tell about advancements to their shops over the last year. Among the stories we heard, here are the ones that came closest to taking the top spot this year. These are our honourable mentions.
Erol and his team in front of the shop.
Major renovation expands service and office areas
Erol Yersol describes the last 12 months as “crazy busy.”
The owner of Erol’s Automotive in Cochrane, Alta., finished a $600,000 expansion and renovation. Three additional service bays were added to the facility – for a total of 10 – and the office and reception area was expanded and beautified.
Erol now employs seven journeymen technicians and two apprentices, as well as four full-time people out front and one part-time person.
“It has been a lot of work with the renos,” he admits. “Staying open and working around all the construction has been a challenge but we are starting to see the results.”
He was nominated by Greg Alfred of Wakefield Canada (Castrol) in Edmonton, who called the shop “one of the best I’ve seen.”
According to Alfred, Erol continually exceeds customer expectations.
“His staff respect and trust Erol as much as his customers do and he is always supporting local charities and his community,” he said. “Not only is he an amazing business leader but he is a crucial part of the community!”
Josh Braithwaite of NAPA agreed, stressing Erol’s focus on the community.
“They grow their business every year and Erol is the most involved member of our industry, sitting on the AMVIC board, chairing the most progressive Business Development Group in the country in NAPA Autopro, and just being an all-round great guy, doing business the right and ethical way.”
The team. From left, Peter Foreman, Wayne Sharpe, Nic Nelson, Justin Smith, and Joon Sunwoo. Not shown is Kevin Lee, an apprentice who is away at school right now.
Keeping clients in control of their time and money
Peter Foreman has spent much of the last 12 months focusing on the client experience at his shop, Foreman’s Integra Tire Auto Centre in Langley, B.C.
In an effort to make customers more comfortable – both in the facility and through the entire process of having their vehicles maintained – he’s made a number of significant advancements, starting with a major renovation.
“We had the very specific goal of reducing barriers between the staff and our clients,” he says. “I just didn’t want a big ugly desk in our reception area anymore!”
He also introduced a completely paperless system, complete with digital vehicle inspections, and introduced some new work processes specially developed for his facility, all designed to streamline repairs and keep clients in control of their time and money.
On top of all that, the company is celebrating 40 years in business this year.
“We have a long legacy of client care and we have many clients still with us after all these years, including the second generation of those clients,” he says.
Foreman is very active in the industry, belonging to two local tech school PACs, and the sector advisory group for the Industry Training Authority. He also belongs to an independent 20 group, and has his own business coach from outside the industry.
“I wanted to make sure I have an outside perspective on business rather than the usual inward-looking nature of most automotive business coaches.
From left: Aleksander Swoboda, Stefano Damassia, Najib Farib (back row), Erwin Noronha (kneeling), Jason Keeley, Susan Le Tual, Carlo Sabucco, and Corey Haight.
Developing a culture of professionalism
New staff, more training, and better systems have been the hallmarks of the last 12 months at Sil’s Automotive Service, a 10-bay shop that straddles the border of Mississauga and Oakville, Ont.
Owner Carlo Sabucco has been focused on developing a culture of professionalism, putting into practice what he’s learning in his Dale Carnegie training and at ShopPros management groups.
In February, he took nearly all of his employees to the Midwest Auto Care Association’s Vision training in Kansas City. It turned out to be a great team-building experience that brought tangible improvements to both the front and back of shop.
Sabucco says one of the real lessons has been the power of forward thinking and goal setting. Taking the staff to Vision was not just to hear the latest ideas, but also to create a new dynamic where employees see the big picture, not just the day-to-day activity.
In the past year, Sil’s has made major strides in improving digital platforms, such as digital inspections and texting systems. Customer feedback has been incredible about these initiatives. Clients appreciate the speed and transparency of the communication.
Finally, as part of its culture, Sil’s has been donating time and funds to a variety of local organizations, such as women’s shelters, food banks, and children’s aid groups.
It’s a way for the shop to give back to the community that has supported it so well for years.