The Next Generation
I don’t often get to spend time with another female in the industry (especially one that is such a humble, smart powerhouse) like Ashleigh (Lucas) Civitello. I first had the privilege of meeting Ashleigh when speaking at an event. I noticed everyone in the room gravitated toward her in general, asked her opinion often, and I could tell she really cared about the people she was talking to.
The reason this story is so strange is that she is in her early 30s, a leader in the automotive industry and has already worked as a consultant and speaker to other shop owners. It’s a path you just don’t see often, if ever.
Ashleigh grew up in the business, with her dad opening Lucas Auto Care in 2007. She was in the shop growing up and didn’t even realize that she was learning the business by default, going from bookkeeper, service writer, manager, and, finally, as an operator in 2015 when her dad closed on a second shop in Austin, Texas.
Today, Ashleigh’s location has 8 bays, 12 employees, and does $2.5 million in revenue. It has become so successful that she currently coaches other shop owners around the country. I was so excited to get learn more about this amazing woman and how she’s come so far in such a short time.
What was the best and worst part of growing up and running a family shop?
The best part was having the ability to naturally learn the business and not even realize that it was happening as I worked in it each day growing up. I was able to learn the automotive industry, bond with my family and learn business overall. The worst part is that I sometimes make emotional-based decisions when it comes to the impact on family members that I may not normally make if it would be someone else in the position.
What has been the best and worst part of being a young female running a shop in the automotive industry?
The best part is I feel that I have a natural ability to empathize more with my team members, which has resulted in an amazing shop culture that was lacking in our shop before my tenure. I feel that when issues escalate, my presence and demeanor naturally helps to diffuse the situation in a way that may be different than a male in the same role. The worst part was when I took over operations; I had to replace most of my staff because the team at that time didn’t want to have the previous boss’s daughter calling the shots. So, I had to make the tough decision that if they weren’t on team Ashleigh then they couldn’t be on the Lucas Auto Care team.
Why do you think that the shop has become wildly successful since you took over operations?
Having the clear focus to create processes and systems that would allow for me to be a multi-shop owner. I knew I had to have systems so streamlined that I wouldn’t need to be at the shop every day, allowing me to focus on growth. By focusing on perfecting these systems I’ve made our business operations much more efficient in the process.
Why do you want to continue to be a consultant, trainer and speaker in addition to running your shop?
I love giving back to others the way that other coaches selflessly gave to me, first and foremost. Secondly, I find that as I coach and train other shop owners, it helps me to be even more successful. As I coach a business owner to get better at a certain process or system, I find myself really examining my business to see if I’m practicing what I’m preaching. Secondly as I talk to other owners, I learn new things every day that they are doing well from marketing, operations, hiring, training and so much more. It keeps me engaged and excited about the business.
Why do you think Euro shops are more successful than domestic general repair locations?
I don’t think they are more successful necessarily, but it is different. I draw from a much larger area because a high-end European owner will drive 20–30 miles to get his or her car fixed by an expert in that area. We don’t have the issue of our customers not being able to afford their repairs usually. If they can afford that high-end car, they can usually afford to fix it. Next, we generally attract top-of-the-line managers and technicians. The high-end, specialized nature of our vehicles and customers really draws the best of the best in the talent pool.
What does the future hold for Ashleigh Civitello?
I’m so excited to continue opening more locations and learning more about acquisitions and real estate. Since I now don’t need to be at the shop as often, I will continue to do more coaching, training and speaking. I love what I do every day.