Updated: Feb 13, 2020
Like so many other young boys I always looked for any excuse to spend time with dad. He’s a little older now but still races motorcycles (literally) and rides snowmobiles over open water for fun. He’s a topic of interest with most of my friends… My father’s story goes back to Poland during communist times where he smuggled corn into the country on his moped. Private commerce was illegal then, and Dad identified a need (hunger) knowing he could deliver a solution. Dad was able to save some money, and like so many others during that time in history, brought his family over Canada to provide us with an opportunity for a better life. Within a day of arriving in Canada, my dad had already secured a newspaper route to begin earning money (in the wee hours of the morning), and called auto shops in the afternoons looking for a more fulfilling job.
Due to the obvious language barrier, my father, a certified mechanic who was trained in Germany (on real cars if you ask him), secured a “shop boy” position where the only tool he was allowed to operate was a broom.
Fast forward to today, Dad has been running Eurocars, a successful auto shop, for over 20 years where he still likes to sweep the floors (sometimes).
Needless to say, the entrepreneurial bug is deeply rooted in our family.
When I was a kid I would often ride my bike to his shop and tinker with engines, tools and that propane torch that I loved to melt my toy soldiers with.
As I became older and needed Dad to fix (list anything in a car – I broke it) I would watch him interact with people, manage the staff and run his business.
Among all the lessons I absorbed I’d have to say some of the most valuable are the following:
DELIVER MORE VALUE THAN YOU REQUIRE IN PAYMENT.
Customers love Eurocars because they don’t nickel and dime. Dad would always make sure that if a client came for service that he didn’t itemize the $6 wiper blade or the 0.2 liters in oil he had to top up.
If a car was in for a lengthy repair he would have the interior cleaned.
If it was fall or winter and a customer didn’t have a snow brush, his mechanics would automatically leave one in your backseat for you.
People loved it.
BACK YOUR STAFF PUBLICLY. TRAIN PRIVATELY.
Dads auto shop enrolled in a program to give new mechanics a placement once they finished school. These “mechanics” in training would always need to get their work checked and approved before returning the car to a customer.
Even still, at times customers would come back with issues. Dad and his senior people would always take direct responsibility for the error (however small and regardless of who caused it) and attend to the matter immediately.
Once the issue had been addressed, and the customer was on their way, they would train/retrain the team.
COMPLIMENT YOUR COMPETITORS BUT NEVER COMPARE YOURSELF TO THEM.
Getting zoning for an auto shop is quite difficult which is why so many of them are clustered together in a few areas of town.
At times a potential customer would come to Eurocars and ask how they are different than “Ed’s place” down the street or that so and so quoted the job at $500 and if they could beat it.
Dad’s first response would typically be “ I know Ed, he’s a good guy…you should definitely work with him if you like”.
Most customers were not expecting that as many mechanics badmouthed their competitors hoping to get the business.
Dad would focus on what Eurocars could do for the client, years they’ve been in business and guarantee on work.
Then he would proceed to say… “Here’s my card, let us know once you’ve made up your mind,” and he would get back to work.
After 2 decades Eurocars is doing quite well and people still love Dad’s candid approach, good nature, and way of doing business.
This posting has been quite personal to me as I didn’t quite realize how much I’ve absorbed from Dad over the years. I hope this article can help you build your business as it’s helped guide me through mine.
KEY POINT: SET THE BAR SO HIGH THAT YOUR COMPETITORS CAN'T HELP BUT ADMIRE WHAT YOU DO.
To Your Success,
Marcin has been instrumental in building several businesses including commercial & multi family real estate investment partnerships, a consulting practice and a smart home security business serving customers nationwide. Marcin has secured over $100MM in growth capital for various businesses and has collectively spoken in front of thousands of entrepreneurs, business owners, investors and those just starting to explore living life on their own terms. Outside the office Marcin can be found at the gym lifting heavy things or on the road zipping along on an extended bicycle ride.
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