Tech Savvy, Customer Friendly
Charlie’s Transmission Service in Boothwyn, Pa., has always been a—you guessed it—transmission speciality shop.
Enter Brian Bell Jr.
Bell, whose father Brian Sr., works alongside owner Charlie Grasty, helps make up the Charlie’s Transmission Shop Team. Twenty two–year-old Bell has worked at the shop since he was 16.
“I grew up around cars. I’ve always tinkered with bikes and ATVs, I’ve always had a passion for that,” Bell says.
When he turned 16, he was given a vehicle and he and his friends took the engine apart and since then, he’s been in love with the modification aspect of repairs and the challenge of solving challenging tasks.
When he came on full-time at the shop, he quickly got bored doing just transmission work, so he began bringing more work in.
Since 2017, the shop has been a complete auto repair business, which is one of the reasons that Grasty nominated Bell for the Ratchet+Wrench All-Star Awards. Bell’s go-getter attitude and dedication to challenging himself have made him a standout employee, Grasty says.
Getting the Word Out
Bell did the legwork to get customers to come in for more than just transmissions—literally. To let the community know that the business was expanding its offerings, he passed out fliers. Since the shop has been around for a long time—almost three decades—the positive reputation the shop has built up helped a lot with expanding its customer base, especially in a tight-knit community of roughly 5,000 people.
“Word-of-mouth travels fast,” Bell says.
Bell and the rest of the team let their current customers know that they could now offer more than just transmission work and many were happy to come in.
Becoming the Go-To
Shops in the vicinity will often bring hard-to-diagnose issues to Charlie’s Transmission to have Bell look at them. Recently, a 2010 Mazda 3 with a speed sensor code came in. The shop that the vehicle was brought to couldn’t figure it out, and, neither could Bell—right away, that is. By taking the time to do all of the testing and diagnostics, Bell found that the computer was baked. It’s all about spending the time, he says. That, and YouTube, he laughs.
“The internet is a great tool,” Bell says. “A lot of stuff that I learn is from YouTube—it’s a great teacher.”
When Bell does have an issue with finding the problem, he often goes on YouTube to see if anyone has had a similar issue and then learns from their experiences.
Passion for People
Bell loves working with people, it’s one of his favorite parts of the job.
“What I like to say is that they come in as customers and they leave as friends,” Bell says.
Bell goes about achieving this by making small talk and by avoiding making it all about business. It’s all about creating a personal bond, he says. That could be by bonding over living in the same town or liking the same sports team, it doesn’t matter, just find a way to connect.
Eying the Future
Bell has worked side by side with his father basically his entire life. Now, the two are preparing to eventually take over the business and even have goals to open a new location.
The two have always had a great working relationship, which, Bell knows isn’t always the case.
“A lot of people, they don’t really like working with their parents,” Bell says. “Me and my dad, we work very well together. We butt heads, of course, but we sit down, talk it out and always figure it out.”
Even though Bell has come into his own at the shop, he still looks at his father as a leader.