Why and How to Invest in the Latest Technology
Rick Allen Auto Repair sits between a church, a cemetery and a farm in a community of only 1.5 square miles. With a direct market of only 1,400 residents and 900 households, how does Rick Allen Auto Repair continue to be so successful? The answer: owner Rick Allen, and his determination to keep his shop up to date with the latest technology and tools.
Allen has owned his shop for 34 years and has always strived to fill his Hampton, N.J., facility with the newest and up-to-date technology. Just a few of the newest integrations include the use of Identifix, Mitchell 1, ALLDATA, diagnostic scan tools, electronic check-in sheets and a plethora of high-tech tooling.
Why to Invest
One of the largest reasons Allen chooses to constantly invest in the newest auto repair technology is because of his rural shop location.
“Obviously, I can't rely on [just] my town supporting me, so we have to go outside of the community,” he explains.
Allen says that, “hands down” the updated technology and tools help to bring in individuals from outside of Hampton. Customers from surrounding communities bring their vehicles to Allen because his shop has all the equipment needed to fix their cars in a timely fashion.
“We try to purchase everything to make our job easier,” he says.
Beyond the timeliness factor, the updated technology allows for Allen’s shop to have stronger communication between his team and their customers. Allen says they have begun using electronic check sheets, which help improve how they communicate.
“We used to use our cellphones constantly for sending pictures, but then the customer would want to reply to the cellphone,” he explains.
Investing in technology can be costly—especially if done constantly. In order to know which new programs and tools to purchase, Allen stresses the importance of research.
“I read every trade magazine,” he says, “that’s when you see the new stuff coming in.”
Allen also looks to his Snap-on tool dealer for information and recommendations.
“The key thing is to try to have the right stuff before you need it,” says Allen. “Because when that job comes in and you're like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t have this [tool I need],’ you'll be scrambling to borrow it.”
Allen says that, luckily, his shop has a great rapport with the local dealerships in his community, so they tend to be open minded about lending a tool, but they usually invest in everything they could possibly need.
Schools are also a great resource for information on new technology for Rick Allen Auto Repair.
“A lot of times at schools, they will come up and say, ‘Hey, this is something that you're going to have to invest in, not should invest in, but have to,’” says Allen.
Technology is ever-changing, and a lifelong investment, says Allen.
“The main thing is, you have to invest in (technology), and you have to invest in it constantly,” he explains. “If you fall behind in technology, or tools, or equipment—it’s so difficult to keep up.”
Allen has shop owners turn to him on advice for keeping their shop up to date with the newest and most useful technology and tools.
“I tell them all, ‘You have to read trade magazines see what’s going on, and [you have to] get your guys into training so they can see what’s going on,’” he explains.
Rick Allen Auto Repair continues to bring in surrounding communities’ business because of its ever-updated technology and tools.
“The main thing with the results is the turnaround time of the vehicles—getting them in and out as quick as possible, and the technology and the tooling allows you to do that,” Allen says.