Looking Ahead to the New Normal -Part 1 [THA 170]

Kevin Eckler is a native New Englander who moved to New York State’s Hudson Valley with his parents back in the mid-1980’s. Kevin began his automotive career at the age of 14, pushing a broom in a mom and pop shop in Rhode Island, he attended a trade school, graduating at the top of his class and went right to work as a tech in a prestigious Porsche/Audi dealership in Cape Cod. Kevin continued his dealership work when he moved to NY and eventually came to work for two brothers who owned Foreign Car Specialists. When the owners retired in 1995, Kevin bought the business and the rest is history. Kevin’s previous episodes HERE.

Greg Buckley is the CEO the 50 + year young Buckley Personalized Auto Care in Wilmington, DE. He’s a member of ASA, an ATI Coach, a member of the Delaware Automotive Service Professionals, past member of the NAPA advisory board council, is vice-president of NAPA business development groups, and is involved as an advisory board member of Kukui, along with AutoVitals. Hear Greg’s previous episodes HERE.

AJ Nealey got the mechanical bug at a young age playing with Legos. The bug quickly escalated to wrenching on his own car in high school, to his first full-time job as a technician and also to a racing career.

He started Nealey Auto Service, Edgewater, MD, out of his one bay garage in 2011 after his racing career came to an end. After he married his wife, Stephanie, in 2014. AJ and Stephanie decided to focus all energy and resources to grow Nealey Auto Service. It all started with taking RLO Training’s Guerilla Shop Management course. Since then, they have grown to a 9 bay facility with 8 employees and have increased sales a total of 1172% since then. Listen to AJ’s previous episodes HERE.

Key Talking Points:

  • Family dynamic will change keeping safe at work as to not risk bringing COVID-19 in the home and visa versa
  • We must be on our ‘A’ game and create a clean work environment, produce a sanitized customer experience, to present a clean work environment to our customers and team.
  • Telecommuting may become more prevalent than ever. Work centers, call centers, and cubicle farms may become a thing of the pastA decline in commercial property rented for these purposes
  • New software to help in work productivity while telecommuting
  • Miles driven will be affected.
  • Will public transportation decline because of close proximity and sanitary conditions?Will affect miles driven to the plus.
  • What about ride-sharing. Will that be considered clean/safe
  • Wearing a mask should be standard until there is medicine or a vaccine that will treat COVID19
  • Customers, like a fleet, will want to be sure you are providing a clean and safe environmentYou’ll need to create and instill protocols to manage clean, safe and sanitized
  • Get the local health care experts to help you in creating the right sanitizing program
  • We will have legal obligations that are yet to be determined, but you need to demonstrate extreme responsibility and the ‘do right rule’
  • The perception of your customer to the safety at your shop will be critical. Just because you do doesn’t mean they know. Put your safety concerns upfront to your customer.
  • Will concierge service be included in your labor rate or be an add on?Will pick-up and drop off become the norm. Many different thoughts
  • Protecting your team during pick-ups and disinfecting
  • Not all your people will be willing to risk exposureYou need to get on top of this
  • Building a strong ‘board of director’ type advisors. Your banker, attorney, accountant and insurance agent. These relationships have always been important but now with the pandemic, you realize the value of them.
  • Be a Warrior!
  • New car sales will have an impactVIO, miles driven, age of the vehicle will have both positive and negative impact on the aftermarket.
  • Electric Vehicle sales may slow because of the price of gas. A short term impact
  •  Reaching out to clients to see if they are OK is not a bad thing. Being connected and feeling of fulfillment may be important in the future.
  • Client follow up to see if they need anything and they are safe
  • Share your protocols with your clients so that they understand what you do for the safety of your team and them.
  • Put more humanity into your relationships
  • As you have discovered yourself as a more caring business person who is at the ready to help … continue it post-pandemicSupport beyond automotive repair
  • The pandemic has made us more responsible and will continue
  • Stop believing: This Is The Way I’ve Always Done It!  
  • Having a coach has made a world of difference to all shop owners that engaged one. Going forward the need for the mentor/advisor/accountability partner will enhance and strengthen your business.
  • Opportunity for growth is on the horizon


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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!