John Eppstein from John’s Automotive Care in San Diego, CA was recognized in 2016 as the NAPA ASE Technician of the Year.
Started Like So Many Others
John Eppstein started in the automotive industry in 1983 because he wanted a job where he could help people. Like so many others in the industry, John pumped gas at a Texaco station and serviced vehicles which soon turned into working on cars exclusively.
It didn’t take long for John to figure out that he wanted to run his own shop. Every chance he got he was taking classes offered by Sun, O/E dealers, various parts stores, and NAPA.
First shop, then expansion
In February 1998 John opened John’s Automotive Care. John opted to stay in his neighborhood because of the relationships he had built with his customers. John’s business model was going to be based on customer service, high quality repair and giving back to the community. In 1999 John completed his ASE Master Technician certification. For the first 2 ½ years in business John was a solo-entrepreneur; he worked by himself.
He expanded once after 2 ½ years. Then his third expansion came when he was offered a chance to move into a much larger facility by a shop owner that wanted to retire but he didn’t want just anyone to take it over. The seller wanted someone who would take care of his customers and employees as John had demonstrated over the years. He’s been in his current location since 2003.
John has a big community involvement with the Boys and Girls club leading the list. John is also a donation site for the ASCCA Cars for Careers program and is the Southern California contact for the program that raises scholarship funds for up and coming techs going to college.
John is also on the Advisory Committee for Cuyamaca College’s Automotive Technology Program as well as being a part of the NATEF re-certification team in 2009 and 2014.
Customer Service Strategies
With customer service being one of John’s strongest strategies, he says, “There is no silver bullet but you must spend time and money on customer retention. Sure your good looks and charm will bring some people back but it takes a little more than that. Listen to your customer’s as many of the below items were started by customer comments.”
- Spend a minute talking to the customer when you walk them to their car after repairs are completed talking about what they want
- A bag of candy with a thank you and next visit coupon after every visit
- Thank you letter and coupon to all new customers
- Follow up calls after repairs to all customers
- Customer of the month drawing announced by email
- Thank you letter and coupon for a referral
- Monthly email newsletter
- Preferred customer “VIP” card
- Oil change punch card on their key ring
- Customer surveys and call people that don’t give 100%
- Special giveaways throughout the year such as Roses at Valentine’s day and calendar’s around Thanksgiving
- Every child that comes in gets to pick a toy from the toy box
- Dog treats and water for all the dogs
- Buy customers lunch when they are waiting at lunch time
- Candy , fruit, snacks, water, coffee and soda anytime a customer comes in
- Free car wash
- Service reminder email and postcards
- Clean and updated waiting room and bathroom
- Thank EVERY customer for putting their trust in you
- Doughnuts and/or lunch for your accounts
- Referral program with free service to referrer
Overview of John’s Automotive Care
|Years in industry:||33|
|Years in business ownership:||19|
|Number of technicians:||4|
|Number of lifts:||10|
|Number of bays:||12|
|Team members:||3 Service Advisors – Office Admin – 1 Service Manager – 1 Shuttle Driver – 2 Tech Assistants|
|Annual estimated volume:||$1.9M|
|Industry involvement:||ASCCA – ASA – NATEF|
|Trainer/Coach:||RLO Trainings Bottom Line Impact Group|
|Certifications:||ASE Mater Tec (A1-A9) – ASE Master Med/Heavy Truck (T1-T8) – Exhaust X1 – Service Consultant (C1) – Auto Maintenance and Light Repair (G1) – Auto Advanced Engine Performance L1 – Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis (L2) – Automobile Parts (P2)|
|ASE Blue Seal:||Yes|
|Philanthropy:||Boys & Girls Club among hundreds of community support programs|
|Supplier:||NAPA Auto Care – AAA – AC Delco|
John’s Automotive Care web site here.
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