Saturday, April 11, 2015


I recently had my truck repaired at a highly recommended business.  Sure enough, the whole experience was satisfactory---and I began to wonder why.  So I decided to to look "beneath the hood" Try to determine why this businesses made me feel I was in competent and fair hands---when others do not. My first clue came when I asked to speak to the boss.  They looked puzzled--as tho the term was unfamiliar.  Finally I met Jerry-- who introduced himself as the manager.  Turns out he is the founder and owner but I didn't learn this till later.  Now that I know him better, I think he considers himself  the coach of a team.  But first--the story!

Inquiries around town directed me to this business as the experts whom other shops send their difficult cases to. It's located at 3743 South Country Club,  Tucson, Az. Phone 520-884-0217

I made my way there for a 10 AM appointment.

Met Joe--the drive shaft specialist. He listened to my tale of woe--nodded knowingly--drove my truck,  lifted it and confirmed his suspicions: Drive shaft trouble.
He removed it and showed me the trouble.

Showed me exactly how the thing functions.  It was about then that I decided I would investigate further to discover the heart of good business practices. I asked to speak to the boss.

Turns out--there is no "boss".  (no one wants to be bossed)  Instead there is a team member who functions as a sort of coach--maybe he could answer my questions.  So I met Jerry.
And so he did---answer my questions-- while I took notes. I'm looking for a big, overall answer to what makes a great business--one that inspires confidence in the customers' mind--gets the job done--satisfies the customer with competent and contented employees.

Jerry takes me on a tour of the shop.  This impressive machine can handle even huge driveshafts.

And this one does very precise machining.
 these two diagnose electronic problems.
I think this one completely changes transmission fluid leaving no residue. 
From simple problems to very complex ones like this --they tackle them all.
Notice that the floor is clean---the whole shop was clean--as was the waiting room and bathroom.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Days later---after some reflection--I think I have the answer to my big question:  WHAT IS AT THE HEART OF EFFECTIVE BUSINESSES---In the sense that a director is at the heart of a movie.
I think that at the heart of any effective business  is  PERSONALITY.  Think Apple and Steve Jobs!  Think Wal-mart and Sam Walton! McDonalds and Ray Kroc! Even military effectiveness and Gen George Patton or even The Mogol army and Genghis Khan. (pulsating personalities all)  ( you can see  this illustrated in the movie:  "Master and Commander " with Russell Crow.)

We are drawn to---and will rally around an evolved personality---with charisma, vision, intent. 
(truth be known--we hunger to affiliate with such people--think Teddy Roosevelt)

As Jerry showed me around his business I paid attention to how the workers reacted to his presence.  They paid no particular attention--they did not fear him--were focused on their jobs. They were indeed a team and each seemingly felt himself an integral part of the whole.  I'm guessing they all felt fairly compensated for their work.
Jerry took the time to tell me much that I didn't know--how the demise of trade school programs had caused employers everywhere to adopt a defacto apprentice system because finding already skilled employees is rare.
Sooo-- he "hires the attitude and trains the skills".  And he has no mere mechanics (people who will do what they are told) working here.  Instead, every member of this team is a TECHNICIAN. (they grasp a whole situation and take responsibility for it.) Joe--was certainly a technician.

Jerry is involved in the community in a variety of ways---most visibly by sharing his expertise on FM radio 104.1 at 6 Am Saturdays.
He left me with this to think about: "You can't out give the community."


VtChris said...

I am in total agreement with you Randy. Just wanted to add an FYI....another good indicator of a reliable and honest automotive shop is that their name is on the business. And I see that Simmons is on that sign!

Bon vivant said...

Reminds me of 'Shop Class as Soul Craft' by one of my clan members - Crawford. Walmart, now, as well as McD's, Home Depot and the rest of the cookie cutter chains, for the most part, do the opposite of what you describe. You're lucky if the clerk can do 3 digit mathematics much less advise you as a consumer of the product/service.

Anonymous said...

Good writing, Randy. I have always been interested in business and what makes one successful while others close their doors ...sometimes within months.

I really like the quote, "hires the attitude and trains the skills". Never heard that one before.


pizzadad said...

good work Randy. I would add that what makes a small business successful is customer service. Going the extra mile to help the customer see their patronage is appreciated. That keeps people coming back. That and honesty and fairness.
I recently "fired" a mechanic that I'd been going to for years. I got a second opinion on a brake job and found he was wanting to charge me $450 too much.

Nancy1340 said...

Nice post. Thanks