Q: What does a top three finisher in the World Skills Olympics in diagnosis do with his spare time?
A: Open a repair shop, of course.
“I need a ton of stimulation,” says Fred Gestwicki, Jr., owner of Fix It With Fred (Canton, OH), “like, mind-blown stimulation.” Fortunately, there’s no end to that in the automotive aftermarket and repair industries. Before owning his own shop, Gestwicki worked at a Hyundai dealership and became bored when he had reached the top of his craft.
“I didn’t want to work as somebody’s employee,” he says, “I wanted more. I wanted to control the business myself, and I really like helping people; that’s my motivator, and you can only help so many as a technician at a dealer. As a shop owner, you can help a lot more.”
And despite the pandemic, Gestwicki is expanding; his shop set an all-time sales record in April and expects to break it again this May. So much stimulation (ie, business) requires a way to control and manage the chaos.
To that end, he relies upon the Manager SE shop management system from Mitchell 1.
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“Mitchell is one of my main tools in the shop,” he says. Gestwicki has been using Mitchell 1 software for over ten years—a technological eternity for today’s shop owner.
“The nice thing about Mitchell is the many spots to categorize customers; what that means is instead of just your basic info as a customer, I can put you in groups, use remarks, jot down notes, mark items with flags—I can do whatever I need to do so that when I intersect with you I know who I’m dealing with.”
Gestwicki cites vehicle memos as a favorite example. The memos automatically appear on the repair order, so when the shop has the vehicle history from another shop or notes from in-person encounters, “It’s all there,” Gestwicki says, “so after I see your car once, everything auto-populates on the RO for me. That helps give a personalized experience for the customer. If the customer tells me this car is how they haul their kids, that’s good to know. That way my SA, for example, can mention that and help the customer keep the car safe.”
He also enjoys the inventorying aspects of Manager SE. He has it set up for many of the shop’s most common vehicular component sales: oil filters, wipes, etc. When any sales reps show up, it’s the work of a few seconds to see what he needs.
“Other POS systems I’ve used lacked in inventory, service procedures, estimators and parts catalogs, and Mitchell is the most rounded product in the automotive service industry.”
He also enjoys the searchability of vehicle history. “Two customers have brought the same VIN numbers and vehicles for ten years, for example; they still own the same car from when I opened. When they come in, I know instantly when I repaired the brakes last; I know they lasted 65,000 miles; and knowing the history of the car, I can recommend better service.”
“We also use reporting a lot,” he continues. “I don’t mean reports in general; there’s a specific database tool that no one knows is there (the far left tab). You can set up criteria for what you want to know, and it will spit out a huge CSV file for you to analyze. I’m a data junkie and I need to know; how many new customers last month, last three months, last six, last twelve; in a recent update they added Favorites, and now I know where those reports are and I can easily train staff to get the data I need.”
Gestwicki also cites the customer service as top notch. “When you call Mitchell, you’re getting a fix right now. It’s a very organized company. The software is also dependable—you go in and it’s never broke. I love working with Mitchell; if there’s a problem or a question, you just make a phone call. If something does break in Mitchell Land, they change their voicemail to let clients know that something is down. They’re very proactive.”
“Huge, huge fan,” he says, en route to another sales record. To learn how Mitchell 1 can help you succeed, please click here.