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In the year that Judi and Bob Harvey, owners of Auto & Fleet Mechanic in Modesto, Calif., have worked with Elite, they’ve seen their sales increase by 30 percent and have hired three additional employees.

The Harveys have slowly built their business from the ground up, making improvements every year. The couple opened their first location with only $2,000 to their names in 2000, and it was 13 years before they hired anyone else to work for them. In 2013, they hired their first technician, and a year later they moved locations. Both of these decisions caused their sales to increase, which they were thrilled about, but they wanted to continue to grow. However, they were unsure about what the next move was—until they heard about Elite.

The couple first heard about Elite, a training company for automotive professionals, when they were out to dinner with another shop owner couple during a Motorcraft-sponsored trip they had won to the Homestead NASCAR Sprint Cup series. The couple was talking about their recent retirement, and mentioned the fact that they were clients of Elite and their coach had played a major role in helping them build their business and set up their succession plan. The Harveys, who plan to retire in the next few years, were immediately interested.  

“We had thought about working with consultants before, but we didn’t want it to be all about money,” Judi explains. “We wanted to put our people and our customers first.”

As soon as the Harveys got home from their vacation, they began researching Elite. They were immediately sold on the company based on what they had read on its website and heard firsthand about the support that Elite provides.

Once they joined the Elite family, Judi says they were lucky enough to be paired with Jim Piraino, who was the first coach that Elite founder and president Bob Cooper ever hired, and the previous owner of one of the top shops in America, Camarillo Car Care in Camarillo, Calif.

Piraino explains that when he is first paired with a client, he gathers a tremendous amount of information to get a better understanding of the client’s business and needs. The Harveys wanted to grow their business, so Piraino got down to the nuts and bolts of how they could do that, and created an action plan.

The Harveys and Piraino speak every Wednesday and discuss what’s going on in the shop. During the phone call they review the shop’s customized action plan, go over the shop’s key performance indicators (KPIs), and discuss anything specific that might be a current struggle. After every phone call, Piraino sends a report of everything that was discussed that week.

Carolyn Welch PhotographyAfter first speaking with the Harveys in January of 2016, Piraino says that one of the problems he noticed at Auto & Fleet Mechanic was that they were not consistently performing in-depth vehicle inspections on every job that came in the shop. By not performing these inspections, Piraino says they were missing out on a number of jobs and sales. After pointing this out to the Harveys, the team was able to create a procedure for accurately inspecting every vehicle. This has not only led to an increase in sales, but most importantly, has enabled them to take even better care of their customers since complete inspections ensure that customers won’t have to deal with undiscovered problems, or spend more money down the road.

Another goal that the Harveys had was to grow its staff. Judi says that with Elite’s help, they learned how to look for the right people for each position—not just a person that owns a toolbox. Elite helped the Harveys find quality candidates by working with them to identify candidates that have passion, talent, and a desire to take that extra step.

Carolyn Welch Photography“Jim made us realize how important it was not to settle,” Judi says. “We learned that we needed to work with employees that we wanted to work with and that in order to do that, we needed to build an environment that they wanted to work in.”

Working together, the Harveys were able to discuss candidates with Piraino and determine whether or not that candidate would be a good match. Since working with Elite, Auto & Fleet Mechanic has doubled the amount of technicians that they employ, growing from two to four, and also hired a great service advisor.

The number of techs they employ is not all that’s doubled, as the Harvey’s say their car count has also doubled since they began working with Elite, primarily through maintaining better relationships with their customers and improving retention.

The relationship between an Elite client and coach takes effort on both sides, but if both parties dedicate themselves to the process, the results speak volumes. As far as the Harveys go, Piraino says he knows that they will continue to see results and be successful.

“The Harveys are the type of client that I know moving forward will be successful because they get it,” Piraino says. “So many shop owners out there just need the information, numbers and systems, then once they have it, they’re able to apply it and grow. It’s always so rewarding to be able to help great people like the Harveys reach their goals, and to give something back to the industry that we love.”

Click here to learn more about Elite, and how they may be able to help you build a more successful shop

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