RR 261: Jim and Shelly Fleischman from Automotive Alley

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.

Talking Points:

  • 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.
Shop Profile
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
SMS: RO Writer
Paperless: Soon
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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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.

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