How to Find Community
Jay Huh moved into his shop’s current Durham, N.C., location back in 2016, where he now shares his strip mall location, and walls, with four other repair shops.
“There are 17 repair shops in a two-mile radius from us, and we are definitely the youngest shop [of them all],” Huh says.
His six-bay shop, Carmedix, holds its own when it comes to additional convenience amenities. Huh recently started providing a successful pickup and drop-off service for his customers—which includes bringing their customer a rental vehicle while picking up the individual’s car, servicing it and then bringing it back to the owner—Jay calls them “free rentals.”
“From the very beginning we wanted to make auto repair as convenient as possible for the customer,” he says.
But this sense of direct two-mile competition doesn’t seem to penetrate past city lines—Huh is heavily involved in creating a community that helps to connect shop owners.
“I am very heavily involved online, I like networking with other shop owners, and I meet with a lot of them quarterly,” he says.
Get Your Questions Answered.
Huh first turned to the internet to aid in some of his industry questions.
“Initially, I was looking for a place where I could get help. I was very new to the business and I was kind of making things up as I went along,” he says.
While searching for help, he stumbled upon an online shop owner community—in the form of Facebook groups and forums.
“I just had so many questions—about how to run a business, what I should be doing in this situation or that situation. I was just posting a bunch of stuff asking for help,” he says.
That’s when Huh began receiving comments and messages of advice and support from fellow shop owners. He was then able to assist other owners running into similar issues.
“Once I got the help and I got the knowledge, I just wanted to share that with other owners,” he explains.
Eventually, one of the groups became so large that they were looking for people to help out on the backend. Huh decided to become more deeply involved in the online community and step up.
“I definitely wanted to do my part, because I’ve gotten so much help from them (the group),” he says.
Above asking for, and giving advice, Huh says these online spaces are specifically designed for sharing resources. He explains that these groups have file-sharing sections, where owners can post their employee handbooks or their shops’ specific policies and procedures.
“Anything that's part of running an automotive repair business, everything’s on there,” says Huh.
A lot of the resources that Huh has run across in these online communities, he has implemented into how he runs his shop now.
“Almost everything I do now, I got the idea from another shop owner,” Huh says.
With a large number of shop owners starting their business from scratch, these resources can act as a lifeline.
Beyond being a haven of resources and advice, these spaces also serve as a type of support group, Huh says.
“There is a business standpoint of [the online community] and then there is an emotional standpoint of it,” he says.
The stress of money and providing can easily become a heavy weight on those in the industry.
“I feel like as shop owners, it’s very difficult being where we are, it’s kind of a lonely place. The industry itself is so expensive,” Huh says. “I think there are a lot of people in the industry that are hurting.”
Huh says that these communities bring owners together and can create a support system for those seeking solace.
“I just want everyone out there to know that they are not alone. There are other people in the same situation, and we definitely want to help because we’ve all been there,” he says.