SHOP STATS: Mike's KARS Inc. Location: Gettysburg, Penn. Operator: Mike and Shelle Bennett Average Monthly Car Count: 240 Staff Size: 7 (3 techs, 3 support staff and owner) Shop Size: 4,500 square-feet Annual Revenue: $1 million
Denise Kreiger made a radical vocational change back in 2003. She once worked on a horse farm, but was looking for new opportunities and heard about the service manager opening at Mike’s KARS Inc. She came into the position with no industry background, but eager to learn the ropes at the Gettysburg, Pa., shop.
“Denise is an icon here, we hired her based on who she was and her personality,” says Shelle Bennett, co-owner of Mike’s KARS Inc. “She’s someone that fit with our culture and she’s helped our business grow into what it is today.”
Kreiger’s attention to detail and ability to connect with customers, while managing to complete a multitude of daily tasks have helped the business and shop culture continue to grow.
We start around 7:30; that’s around the time that I come in. The day starts out with a morning team meeting. Before the meeting, I grab a schedule and review the work for the day.
During these meetings, I’ll go over the schedule for the day and members of our team have the opportunity to get their comments or concerns addressed. These morning meetings also help me see how everyone is doing before the madness of the workday begins. I like to make sure technicians and support staff alike have everything they need.
Once the morning meeting is over, I work on scheduling work, specifically waiters. I typically schedule them in the morning.
The rest of my day is comprised of a series of tasks, everything from checking in customers and vehicles to preparing estimates and dispatching work to the right technician.
Organization is key. I know exactly where everything is on my desk. And, I have a rack on the side of my desk where all repair orders go. Another thing that helps me stay organized are the three computer screens I have operating at the same time. They help me navigate from our shop management system to the inspection reports we email to customers.
Another thing that I keep fine tuned is communication with customers and my team. After a customer has received the inspection report, I’ll draft an estimate and I will speak with the customer. Once he or she agrees to the work proposed, I order parts and then I let the technician know when parts are on their way. I also do a stock order and check that twice per week.
I check in with technicians at least twice per day. I give them updates on what vehicles will be coming in, where parts are and when they should arrive. Again, I try my best to ensure they have all the tools at their disposal so they’ll be successful on an individual level and that our team will deliver high-quality work.
Aside from checking in with my team, I also look after our inventory, answer phones, wait on customers, generate repair orders and estimates. It’s an ongoing task list that over the years has become ingrained in my mind.
When I first started with the shop I took classes with a management company in California. After that, I worked on getting my ASE certification. The reason I got ASE certified was because I wanted to be better at my job and be proud of the work I do. I’m the kind of person that wants to be good at what I am doing. I want to prove to myself that I can do my job well, so I’ve taken a number of classes, including some with ATI, service advisor classes and some classes through Elite.
On my desk right now, I have a pamphlet for another class I’m looking to take. I’m always looking for ways to improve what I do.
Over the years, the shop has changed management systems. With the shop management system we have now, we can do things like email inspection reports to customers. Our technicians can go around the car with an iPad, take pictures of fluids and anything else that needs to be brought to the attention of the customer.
When I first started out in the shop, that was something we couldn’t do. Everything was handwritten, but over time, technology has definitely changed in the shop.
My goal with the current management system we have is to become more efficient with it and to educate the rest of our team on how to maximize its use.
We have a new guy on our team right now that I’m helping out. I’m trying to get him comfortable with the management system, so that he can use it effectively and help make his work a little easier.
I want to ensure that we are communicating with customers effectively. As a shop, you really have to pay attention to the latest technology trends and you have to grow with them.
My focus right now is to help the shop be more efficient in the way that we communicate with our customers. The shop is in a college town and I’ve noticed that with customers, especially college students, you just can’t get them on the phone. You have to text them. A text is easier than a phone call for most people nowadays.
Before you think about getting into this position, you have to see if you are comfortable with this sort of job. You have to be outgoing. You go with what you feel. Be comfortable talking to people. Be a people person. You also have to be willing to give a little bit of yourself. It is a sales position, but there is a lot more to it. You have to build relationships with people.
Interruptions in this job are constant and endless. That’s why I usually wrap up my day closer to 6 p.m. even though the shop technically closes at 5:30 p.m. You have learn to adapt and be willing to put in the extra time.
Another important tip: Shop around for a good quality shop. There are good shops and bad shops out there, so you have to do your research and get to know the shop and its culture. You have to remember that this industry didn’t get a black eye reputation on its own.
If I were to retire today, I know that I would miss a great deal of customers that I interact with. I have customers that have been coming into the shop since I first started. Over the years, I’ve worked on building strong connections.
I have a great working relationship with Shelle, Mike and Shelle’s mother. I talk with Shelle throughout the day and I make sure I keep her up to date on everything going on.
Shelle actually trained me when I first started. Someone else who has been instrumental to my success here is Shelle’s mother; she has been the most amazing teacher. She is so intuitive and knows how to work in this business.