This month’s column is taking a little different twist, as I give a shout out to Foreign Affairs Auto, an import specialist in West Palm Beach, FL, whose owners invited me to visit while I was vacationing with my family in the area last month.
Founded in 1982 by owners Frank and Gloria Ortiz, the nine-bay shop services about 60 cars per week, namely Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and other high-end European makes. Doing business for 35 years now, the shop has never wavered from its commitment to a laser-like focus on the customer, says General Manager Jonathan Ortiz.
In talking with Jonathan, there were several takeaways he offered about running a successful business that I would like to share.
• Exceptional customer service. “That’s how we retain our customers. It’s very simple, our entire staff knows that once we have a customer in the door, they are ours to lose.”
• Ongoing training commitment. “We have a mutual commitment with our staff members to complete a minimum of 20 hours of training per staff member per year.” The shop’s five technicians are either ASE certified or factory trained.
• Professional shop atmosphere. “We make it no secret that we strive to maintain a professional environment in which our technicians can be successful, earn highly competitive compensation, achieve both their personal and career goals and, most importantly, be happy. Happy people, both employees and customers alike, make for a successful business.”
• Welcoming customer-waiting area. “If our reception area alone can provide a customer with a full sense of ease and make them feel reassured that they chose the right place to bring their car, we are ahead of the game.”
• Competitive Advantage. “A differentiation strategy can deliver profits because a unique service experience cannot easily be duplicated or ‘price-shopped.’ Strive to deliver as much value as you can for your customers’ dollar.”
Finally, Jonathan shared that operating a successful automotive repair shop comes down to these “Three Ps” — People, Processes and Product.