A Community Focus
On Monday morning, CoAuto Repair is ominously quiet. You won’t hear any engines running or power tools whirring, despite the entire team being on the shop floor. Vinnie Lucido, co-owner of CoAuto, and his employees start each week with Budokon yoga, in an attempt to find the balance between the warrior and the yogi. As unusual as it may seem, this is just one way that Vinnie and his older brother, Anthony, cultivate their unique teamwork.
Lucido wears many hats throughout the course of a day. He is a brother, a husband, a yogi, a self-described thrill seeker, and co-owner of CoAuto in Reno, Nev. Lucido and his brother, Anthony, have been business partners since their lawn mowing days at the age of 15, and CoAuto is their most successful venture yet.
This July, CoAuto celebrates five years in the business the only way they know how—by expanding their shop, planning for the future, and continuing to give back to their community.
At CoAuto, we start our Mondays with reflection, goal setting and Budokon yoga. Imagine your auto technician doing the downward dog on the shop floor. That’s how we kick off our week. If we’re crunched for time, we do a simple breathing exercise, but it’s all about being mindful. Our morning yoga sessions inevitably lead to flack from other shops, but it’s important to start your week with a clear vision in mind.
Tuesday mornings are reserved for the owners breakfast meeting where my brother, Anthony, and I talk numbers and check in. Anthony and I, despite being co-owners, don’t see each other in the shop very often, so our breakfast on Tuesdays give us time to catch up, assess our shop’s growth, our goals, and of course, eat breakfast.
My brother and I learned the industry through our father, working with him on cars for resale. Then we started working at a full-service gas station together doing oil checks, windshield repairs, and other small, but vital, tasks.
I was the more adventurous of the two, always chasing after one experience to the next—whether it was white water rafting, snowmobiling, or kayaking. But I always came back to auto repair because it’s how I make my living.
As the marketing director, I am usually away from the shop attending one networking event or another in the afternoons. Mondays are reserved for Rotary Club, Wednesdays are for Business Networking International (BNI) and, once per month, I attend Western Industrial Nevada meetings. We haven’t put money into traditional advertising so I have to be out there, making connections and being seen.
On Wednesdays after BNI, I like to do what I call a “one-to-one.” I bring a member from BNI back to CoAuto to tour the shop, meet the crew and get a better idea of what we’re about. What I do best is building relationships. Regardless of where I go or whom I am speaking with, I am talking about CoAuto.
The majority of my days are filled with public relations, building connections, and problem solving. I don’t like working on cars, but I do like working with people. Thankfully, Anthony is the opposite; he is the operations manager and oversees the shop. We have very different strengths and we play them to our advantage, which leaves little room for disagreement between the two of us.
With nine staff members and 5,250 square feet of shop, we average roughly 190 repairs per month. This July, we expanded to 7,000 square feet and our revenue was roughly $1.5 million to $1.8 million. This means our technicians are always at the top of their game. Our staff is small, but tight-knit. Everyone hangs out on the weekends, often without the owners, but we’re a family nonetheless. The work culture in our shop is among the best with which I’ve worked. We preach communication and transparency and it’s reflected in our relationships.
As with any family, there can be grievances and that’s what our quarterly reviews are for. Anthony and I sit down with our employees one on one to see where we could improve, where we are excelling, and to air out any issues. Most complaints are minuscule—people are just looking to be heard—but having healthy communication is a cornerstone of how we do business. We also offer a lot of paid vacation days to honor our employees and their families.
In the afternoon, I direct my focus to our big picture goal: giving back to the community. Our five-year goal was to have both Anthony and I out of the shop and working on big-picture items. He officially transitioned out of the shop and into operations manager last week, and our five-year anniversary is next month.
I spend time each day orchestrating our six different outreach programs, four of which have been with us since the beginning. First is our art gallery in the waiting room where we have local artists on display and pieces of their work for purchase. Second is our quarterly women’s car care program that educates and empowers women when it comes to having their car serviced so they don’t feel as though they are being taken advantage of. Our third program is one of my favorites: the high school internship program, where we bring in a student and highlight how fun being a technician can be. Our fourth program, the veteran vehicle giveaway, was inspired by our father who was in the army and our uncle in the Marines. We honor them and their sacrifice by giving a vehicle to a veteran in need.
Our fifth program, and my brain child, is an effort to reverse our carbon footprint. For each oil change we perform, we plant a tree in return. Our last initiative is community-supported agriculture. We do our best to support local farmers and supply our own staff with healthy and organic vegetables.
We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the support and dedication of our town. We try to give back at every juncture and, to show the community’s appreciation, the mayor of Reno, Hillary Shieve, declared October 11 to be “CoAuto Day.”
While I enjoy every aspect of my job, like anything, it comes with its own unique set of challenges. What I struggle with the most is direction for our company. We have never paid for print ads or radio ads, but we have overwhelming support from the community and that sets a certain expectation for what we will do next.
Our upcoming shop meeting is to celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far and outline what we would like to do with the next five years. CoAuto is quite the adventure for now, but I’ve already got my next one on the horizon: owning a yoga retreat in Belize with my wife.