Finding Matter in the Mission
Across the automotive industry, change is inherent and inevitable. Figuring out how to navigate ups and downs is basically in a shop owner’s job description, now more than ever.
According to the results from the 2022 Ratchet+Wrench Industry Survey, 38 percent of shop owner respondents lead by example by getting out on the shop floor and 25 percent focus on the big picture, inspiring their teams to succeed. These are both important areas of strength to have if a shop is going to face the rapidly changing automotive industry headfirst.
Change can provide perspective. It can present ideas and allow for an opportunity to pause and reflect. What can the industry be doing better? What gaps need to be filled? What decisions can be made that offer a lasting impact?
Some shops have risen to the occasion, tackling all of these questions and more. The team at Good Judy Garage in Sheridan, Colorado, has ensured that, from the start, their shop’s mission has revolved around inclusivity, acceptance, and establishing a comfortable environment for all.
This steadfast commitment is welcome considering the current challenges found across the aftermarket. As shops come face-to-face with labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and continued vehicle advancements, it is important to consider what lies at a shop’s core as well.
Establish A Community
The Good Judy Garage origin story starts out as many might. It began with co-owner CC Haug, who has been in the industry for years.
“My background growing up and my whole life was in the automotive industry. I started working as a mechanic when I was like 14 years old,” says CC. “Then, I got to a point in my life where I wanted more to expand my knowledge base, learn more, and have a better understanding of stuff. I pursued a mechanical engineering degree, so I have a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering.”
CC worked in the manufacturing industry, but always had the life goal of opening their own shop. Good Judy Garage is their dream fulfilled, with a mission to be a place where all are welcome, including those in the LGBTQ community.
“People come in, and we’re open about the fact that I’m transgender. We’re open about the fact that we have female technicians and female employees,” says CC. “Some of them are gay, and we’re very open about that. When you’re open and honest about yourself, I think that just inherently leads to people being more comfortable with themselves.”
Everything about Good Judy Garage aims to promote a space of acceptance, down to the name of the shop.
“Within the LGBTQ community, it’s sort of a common phrase to be a ‘Good Judy’. It does refer to Judy Garland who was a supporter of LGBTQ rights back in the day at a time when it still was illegal in a lot of places,” says CC. “[Good Judy] was code speak to let people know that they were part of the community.”
Make A Lasting Impression
For the shop’s team, being a Good Judy in today’s industry is something that adds a lot of value to a customer’s experience. Additionally, it serves their workforce as well.
“People that are happy at work and fulfilled at work and not feeling forced into acting like they’re someone that they’re not, I think they enjoy their work more and they can provide better service,” CC says.
This is a sentiment that many shop owners can resonate with, at least according to results from the 2022 Ratchet+Wrench Industry Survey. Fifty-four percent of respondents said that they have scheduled check-ins with employees. This is a surefire way to understand what the experience is like for an employee in the shop’s environment, and could open the door for finding improvements as well.
For Good Judy Garage, CC and co-owner Faith Haug make it a priority to maintain a clean shop. They have coffee, snacks, and television available in their waiting area. They are motivated to foster this space because they don’t want to fall into a dirty or unkempt facility, which can drive people away.
“You can do the best work in the world but if your place looks unkempt it’s not a good thing,” Faith says.
Combatting any past negative impressions is important for shops to consider, even if it feels easier to continue doing things the way that they have always been done.
“Most of our customers, whether they’re a part of the LGBTQ community or not, will say that they’ve had a negative experience in an auto shop, recently or even in their lifetime,” says Faith. “We’re trying to provide a good experience for them on top of just what they’re there for.”
CC and Faith believe there are many communities that are underserved in what can be thought of as the traditionally male-dominated automotive industry, from those in the LGBTQ community to those on the gender spectrum to women and beyond.
CC notes that there has definitely been a push towards female involvement over the last decade, but there is still a long way to go.
This is something that data from the Ratchet+Wrench 2022 Industry Survey suggests as well. Survey data reveals that, based on those who responded, the industry is 90 percent male and 10 percent female.
Incorporate Customer Education
Another area that the team ensures is not overlooked is customer education.
This is a strategy that can only serve to benefit shops looking forward into the future as many more vehicle advancements will lead to many more repairs that require education on both the technician side and the customer side.
“One of our shop policies is that there is no assumption that the customer does or doesn’t understand what we’re talking to them about,” CC says.
Repair terminology and procedures can be an intimidating topic for many customers, especially those who have had negative experiences with shops in the past. Good Judy Garage chooses to level with this.
“The goal is to help them understand what’s going on with their vehicle and what their vehicle may need on whatever level that they’re on and to do that without coming across as pushy or demeaning or belittling in any way to them,” CC says. “So we really try to explain things to the level that each individual customer wants to understand it.”
Build A Strong Foundation
As a full-service repair shop, Good Judy Garage sees everything from basic lube and oil and filter changes to suspension work and more. But it doesn’t matter if the service is routine or complex. They make sure that their customers and their employees feel valued, understood, and adequately communicated to the entire way through.
Considering that, according to data from the 2022 Ratchet+Wrench Industry Survey, 65 percent of respondents are concerned about the shortage of qualified technicians, it could be in a shop owner’s best interest to ensure that their shop is a place that people want to be.
Good Judy Garage has prioritized this effort, and it makes all the difference. Employees and customers are valued in their garage. Comfort for everyone is prioritized.
This ultimately promotes a space where everyone can get what they need out of a repair. No one is left out or overlooked. This is the kind of approach that can equip shops to face industry challenges and opens their doors to new opportunities.
“To make it a comfortable environment for not just our customers but for our employees and ourselves as well, I think it’s a very important thing,” CC says.