Automotive Alley is a half hour ride from my home. So I got the grand tour and we interviewed in the customer lounge on a Saturday morning. Shelly and Jim’s hospitality was great and I was impressed with the breadth of work this shop performs.
- Jim attended Alfred State College for Automotive Tech.
- He went to work for a Ford Dealership as a shop foreman.
- Jim’s racing and organizational experience came by being part of a race team that ran Busch and NASCAR.
- He was recruited from his alma mater, Alfred State College, and became an instructor.
- Jim always wanted to teach and it was fate.
- Spent fourteen years as an instructor.
- He loved building relationships with his students.
- Mid-career technicians may want to become an automotive technology instructor
- Some institutions require having a teaching degree. Some do not. It depends on the degree they bestow on the student.
- He was balancing his teaching job and owning a shop while Shelly ran the business for him.
- Jim ultimately left his teaching job and went to work full-time in the business.
- Shelly’s background was accounting which was good for the business overall.
- Jim is a planner. They picked the name Automotive Alley because it can embrace many different business models and allow the business to scale.
- Jim believes in a strong process driven company. He is all about improving efficiency.
- Saving steps for productivity gains.
- Anyone can study their inefficiencies and make changes to improve productivity.
- He templated his systems against NASCAR. Immaculate, organized and tools quickly reached and found.
- Jim perpetually works on streamlining to increase his productivity.
- He misses teaching, but he does get his fix by helping his techs and shares insights with his customers.
- Automotive Alley also specialized in street rod, hot rods, upgrades, and restorations.
- For Jim, the word “can’t” is not in his vocabulary.
- He feels that he has the facility, the people, the reference materials, the capabilities, and the procedures to do just about anything.
- They have a daily meeting with the entire team.
- He worked on a SEMA car and helped integrate a 2005 Mustang powerplant into a 1967 Mustang.
- Jim and Shelly have plans to grow into more locations and even additional business models such as an off-road center.
- They are finalizing the companies standard operating procedures to paper.
- An impressive element in the business is how Jim integrated Smart Home Control Technology into his business.
- Light switches, alarms, telephones all controlled by software and easy to monitor from a smartphone.
- Every door lock has a code and he wrote a rule to turn on lights and set up the company for the start of the day to include the open sign. All of this is based on software rules.
- Jim is a giver and will help friends in the business from his town.
- He sees the technician shortage from a retention perspective.
- There are many reasons some techs leave the industry yet they love working on cars.
- Jim says his facility is clean and organized and techs like to work in a facility like his.
- His advice to a start-up shop owner.
- Find your niche.
- It is not easy to do all makes and all models.
- Only two paths to fix a car:
- You have a code or you have a symptom.
- Find your niche.
|Number of locations:||1|
|Years in industry:||30|
|Years business ownership:||4|
|Number of technicians:||5|
|Number of service advisers:||1|
|Number of lifts:||5|
|Number of bays:||9|
|Days open:||Mon – Fri|
|Percent Repair vs Maintenance vs Other:||70% vs 30%|
|Technician training hours per year:||20|
|Service adviser training hours per year:||8|
|Specialty:||Technology throughout the shop is to aid in the repair process|
|Platform specialization:||European and Asian|
|Personal Certifications:||Automobile Service Consultant, ASE Master Certified, L1 Advanced and ASE Parts Certified|
|Primary supplier:||Auto Plus|
|Particpated in supplier advisory council:||Yes|
|Performing hybrid repairs:||Yes|
|Biggest challenges:||Changes in technology|
|Involved in a mastermind group:||Yes|
|Entrepreneur hack:||A very unique use of the Google Chrome Platform|
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