Q: How have today's customers changed?
A: "Technology has made our clientèle experts — they don't just call in or email asking for a size. They have a particular model, a particular speed rating — they know exactly what they want, and they expect us to know everything possible about that product."
Q: How much of a factor is the Internet?
A: "The Internet is a HUGE factor — in every aspect of our business — our market may be a little different. Technology here is used and abused by our clients. At our desks, while waiting for us to give them a quote, they already have the cheapest price pulled up on their phone.
"Which is fine. When we quote on repairs, the customer responds to our price with, 'I found it online for way cheaper,' or 'YouTube said it only takes an hour,' or, 'I was reading a forum, and they said it should only cost this much.'"
Q: Are today's consumers receptive to service suggestions?
A: "Most of them are experts when it comes to their vehicle. They come in for a 60K service, and they know exactly what the factory recommends — and with any business, trust comes first before you start suggesting other services. We don't suggest repairs; we let our clients know what's wrong with their vehicle. If they have questions or want pricing, that's another story. We do not push anything on them."
Q: What makes the Southern California automotive service market unique? How do you cater to those unique customers?
A: "We have horrible public transportation. City driving here is extreme driving — it's horrible for their vehicles. Our clients rely on their cars for every day use. People damage tires out here on potholes daily. Cracked rims, bent suspensions...(autos) are in constant need of alignments.
"We cater to them by giving them a place they can trust to fix these issues properly with ease. Our market is also extremely high-end. We have to adjust our attitude towards this clientèle to make sure they feel taken care of."
Q: How many direct competitors do you have in the market?
A: "It varies — if we market outside of a four-mile radius, we are going too far, so inside of four miles is ideal for us. In that four-mile radius — there are hundreds of places to buy tires: Dealerships, gas stations, mechanic shops, tire shops, tire chains. It's appalling how many direct competitors we have."
Q: How do you differentiate yourself in the market?
A: "There are some advantages of being on the west side, however. Our real estate is so expensive that it's impossible for some major chains to compete in our backyard — so we are safe in that regard. Our main competitor these days is Tire Rack — which we match.
"All other family-owned businesses don't really effect us too much — if they do, we easily beat their price, and they are no match for our service."