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Shop View: McNeil’s Auto Care

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SHOP STATS: McNeil's NAPA Autocare Location: Sandy, Utah  Owner: Pete McNeil Staff Size: 15  Shop Size: 11,000 square feet  Number of Bays: 16   Average Monthly Car Count: 475  ARO: $490  Annual Revenue: $2.8 million

A New Look

McNeil’s Auto Care moved into its location in Sandy, Utah, in 1999. The company, started by Mike McNeil, is now operated by his son Pete. Since 1999, the shop has undergone two remodels, first in the early 2000s with a terracotta design, then to a more modern look in 2016. 

Among the reasons for the most recent remodel was to reconnect with customers. In the previous setup, one large circular table separated the advisors from the customers. The table was scrapped, with several podium counters put in place, allowing advisors to walk out, greet customers and feel more accessible. The shop was brightened up with modern touches, including a swirled epoxy flooring. The shop also displayed classic vehicles, which are rotated in the showroom about every 45 days. 

“It’s a fun, unique showroom,” Pete McNeil says.

“Prioritizing the Mom”

The remodel also set out to serve a demographic that McNeil felt the shop was neglecting: moms. The shop now has two waiting rooms, one that serves as a workspace and another for relaxing. It also features a kids play area, wifi and complimentary food and drink. 

Even though the shop has begun to de-emphasize quick service, McNeil gets plenty of comments from moms who stay while the car is being worked on. 

“We like to focus on family, but we were mistakenly neglecting the mom. Not anymore,” he says. 

Doubling Down on Digital

In his time as a shop owner, McNeil has started and recently sold a software company that worked in digital signage. As you could expect, digital signage is present throughout the lobby and waiting rooms. 

Running on the waiting room TVs, the company loops different community announcements, happy birthday messages to customers, auto repair facts and other company marketing. It’s not uncommon for customers to ask about certain services that pop up on the digital signage and has provided the shop a non-intrusive way to market. Customers also appreciate the highlighting of community events, something about which McNeil is passionate. 

Blending Local and National

It was—and continues to be— a priority for Mike and now Pat to have a larger brand that the store can point align with for credibility. On the outside of the shop, NAPA’s branding is clearly displayed right alongside McNeil’s. To McNeil, it provides a perfect balance. Customers who want a national brand, McNeil’s offers that with its NAPA partnership. For customers that want a local feel, the McNeil’s brand offers a trusted, longtime family business in which they can find comfort. McNeil said the partnership helped in the early days to get customers in the doors. Then the McNeil brand sets in and helps win the customer over. 

“I still believe McNeil’s is the main brand,” McNeil said. But NAPA is a key partner and I also believe you have to have a partner to fully exhaust your potential.”

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