FTR 049: Tom Lambert – Discount Model Marketing

Tom Lambert, owner of Shadetree Automotive. Tom Lambert got his start right at home.  His dad and uncles always had projects going on in the home garage.  During the summer vacation, his dad would have Tom remove engines from the vehicles that were being sent to the local machine shop for rebuilding.

In the past three and a half years, Tom and his dad have made strategic adjustments in the business.  They are now a $2.5 million dollar a year shop with 10% annual growth and profitability. They continue to improve every day.  Tom says he has the best team and a strong culture. In January 2017 Tom bought his dad completely out of the business.

Tom struggled for many years because he had lost his passion for the auto industry.  After receiving all the guidance and coaching over the past few years, he is rejuvenated and has more passion than ever and is currently doing everything he can to pay it forward to other local shop owners. Tom’s previous episodes HERE.

Key Talking Points:

  • Three Leg stool theory of marketing
    • Everyone wins: Team, Customer, Tom (the shop owner)
    • Tom’s team is the largest leg on his stool
      • Take care of your team who will take care of your customers
  • Service advisor position is one of the most difficult positions
  • Owners job is to make everyone job easy
    • Provide the tools they need to get the job done and be successful
    • Se sets the vision and empowers the team
    • Marketing is one of the most important tasks to bring in the ‘right’ customer to keep his team busy
  • He markets himself as a higher price business than he really is
  • He believes he provides a great value to his customer
  • He has learned that everyone does not need to be his customer
  • He will refer people to the lowest price shop in town
  • Quality parts and how he pays his folks predicates his pricing
  • They market fun and they work to attract people who want that experience
  • They market to specific vehicle owners
    • A few makes and models that are more commonly knows that appreciate Tom’s culture
  • He believes that the discount model is hurting our industry
    • The gaps between shops give the consumer the wrong impression that the margins are huge
      • Customer’s perception is it
    • Problem most shop owners are only making a 4% Net
      • A $1,000 job the shop owner made $40 at a 4% net
        • A hobby job not a career
    • A shop that maintains a 20% net profit will earn $200 on a $1,000 job
  • He is a bottom-up pricing shop to cover all his costs and then create his labor rate and parts margin
  • Go after the customer that fits your shop


  • A special thanks to Tom Lambert for sharing his passion – For The Record.
  • Books mentioned in the content library HERE
  • Leave me an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one of them.
  • Email Carm HERE.




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About the author, Carm Capriotto, AAP

Carm is the founder and host of the Remarkable Results Radio Podcast and the pioneer of automotive aftermarket podcasts. Carm calls on his years of experience in the aftermarket to bring engaging stories from his guests.

Listen to raw, unfiltered, honest, and sincere stories that include insights, trends, best practices, and expertise. Each interview brings an opportunity to learn one new thing through the stories of personal achievement. Many podcast guests tell their story of transformation from working in their business to working on it.

As host of over 1,000 episodes, Carm uses his enthusiasm and passion for the aftermarket especially the service sector to take his listeners on a journey showcasing successful service professionals’ paths to Remarkable Results. He also enjoys interviews with aftermarket industry thought leaders who bring their industry perspectives to his listener.

Follow the podcast on your favorite podcast listening app and always listen to learn just one thing!