Diversify Your Business
Sometimes three is better than one. And that’s what you will find if you go to Motorwerks, MW Carline and Tekmetric in Houston. Not only is the shop and the business one of the most interesting, beautiful and successful in the country, it’s really all about the people behind the business. It all started in 2007 with one of the most interesting and motivated men I’ve ever met, named Sunil Patel. Sunil was doing his residency in internal medicine in Detroit in 2005. During this time, he had to go in for an alignment at a local auto shop. There, he met the owner, a former radiologist who started the automotive shop. After this chance meeting, Sunil left the shop knowing he would finish his residency but would never practice because he, too, was going to open an automotive shop.
Sunil finished his residency and immediately moved to Houston. There, he found a large building to purchase and to start his shop. He opened with zero technicians, zero customers and a focus on Mercedes/European vehicles. To market this new brand, he put his shop on some Mercedes forums and then starting adding services that no one did at the time, like adding mobile electronics to vehicles before they were common on new cars. Within four months, he hired a Mercedes technician and went to $750,000 in year one and then $1.2 million the next year. He built out his custom lobby with all glass between the waiting rooms and the shop (with nine bays) so customers could see what was happening and the managers’ offices were built out of glass walls. It was all about trust, transparency and an open industrial look for his high-end customers.
In year three, he decided it was time to hire a service advisor so that he could focus on growing other aspects of his growing business. That’s when he found a young man who he knew had a future named Travis. He was a boat technician and had the drive to become best service advisor in town. Travis moved up from service advisor in 2010 to general manager in 2017. Now that the repair shop was operating under Travis, Sunil could look to grow another business.
In 2009, Sunil partnered with Omar Harris to operate a European dealership out of his large shop. The large lobby with glass offices were ideal to operate a full European dealership in the building. They offered all of their customers looking for high-end European vehicles a hands-on approach of dealing directly with the owner so they received that personalized service. This business was symbiotic with the repair shop because when someone purchased a vehicle, they had the full European repair shop right there and when repair customers were ready to make their next vehicle purchase, they knew right where to come. So, you can imagine watching your vehicle get repaired in front of you through the glass walls and be able to walk the showroom to look at beautiful European cars!
During this time, Sunil had the time to also get his green belt in six sigma so he could figure out to make operations more efficient, like shrinking cycle time by more than 30 percent. Once this was completed, his next adventure in life was to go to law enforcement school at night, where he served on the SWAT team for one year. He still serves on the criminal warrants team for abused children. Hearing all of this would make any average person tired but Sunil was not done yet!
His repair shop was using a well known industry software and he was not impressed by the software or the customer service it provided. So, he started looking for another option. When he didn’t find what he was looking for, he decided to develop his own software. The goal was to have a cloud-based, state-of-the-art software that was not only easy to use and efficient, but also offered innovative texting, DVI and communications programs between customers, advisors and technicians. Today, he has over 200 shops using his software called Tekmetric and it’s growing each day.
He built the software company in the upstairs portion of the building and it worked seamlessly to have the downstairs operations consistently giving feedback and beta testing the program. During this entire time, Travis, who was now operating all aspects of the repair shop, was growing the business each day by having one of the most multifaceted communications program and customer service for his customer base. As Sunil realized Travis was ready for growth, he gave him the chance of a lifetime by selling the business to him. Next, Omar realized he wanted a chance to own the majority of the dealership, so Sunil worked with him to make this happen. This all allowed Sunil to fully focus on developing and running the software business upstairs, while working with the feedback from all the day-to-day operations downstairs.