Quality Service, Consumer
Exterior of Wheeling Auto Center.
The automotive repair facility has been in the same location since owners David Becker, AAM, and Mike Sickel purchased it in 1992. Prior to automotive repair, the facility was strictly a towing company. Becker ran the towing company until 1996 when Becker and Sickel decided to sell the towing division. "When the towing division was sold, I decided to further my business and management education. I was inspired by a Mitch Schnieder seminar and went back and took control of the business," said Becker.
From day one, the two partners have been committed to providing quality service and repairs to their customers. In 2002, the partners undertook a renovation and expansion project to better serve customers. The expansion increased the number of bays from five to more than 15.
Larry Nikodem (left) and Tim Andrews discuss the repairs of a customer's vehicle.
The Wheeling crew is rounded out with Larry Nikodem, service advisor; Mike Van Wazer, service tech; Rob Fox, service tech; Peter Champlin, service tech; Al Huizar, apprentice tech; and Eric Paulsen, porter. "We carefully select highly skilled technicians who take pride in their work. We've had great success with growing the apprentice into a master technician," said Becker.
To maintain a high level of technical knowledge, the staff enthusiastically participates in a variety of continuing education programs. "We require a bare minimum of 40 hours of such continuing education per year. Last year, each technician received more than 100 hours of training," said Becker. In addition to receiving training, Andrews also provides it as an instructor at the local college. This year, Becker and Andrews earned their Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation from the Automotive Management Institute.
Front counter and waiting area. Inset: Children's waiting area at Wheeling Auto Center.
Wheeling takes pride in its commitment to delivering top-notch customer service and care. "We have a fleet of loaner cars, wash every vehicle serviced, and we have courtesy personnel available to drive customers to home or work; and we pick them up to retrieve their vehicle when repairs are completed," said Becker. By going the extra mile for its customers, Wheeling performs approximately 55 repairs per week and has a projected annual sales volume of $1.4 million.
To get this message to consumers, Wheeling has an extensive marketing campaign that promotes the business and educates customers and prospects on vehicle repairs and services. Direct mail pieces, service reminders, thank you cards, newsletters, holiday greetings and new resident mailings are used. Through the company's Web site, Wheeling provides repair and service tips, complete company and employee descriptions, as well as links to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Consumers visiting the company's Web site are also provided with information pertaining to the Illinois emissions testing procedures as well as traffic safety and travel information. The convenience of an online appointment schedule is another added feature of the site.
Wheeling Auto Center's home page of the company Web site.
As with many ASA member-businesses, community support and involvement play a key role in the success of Wheeling Auto Center. The business participates in many community activities, including sponsoring local sports teams, supporting several local charities and regularly conducting Boy Scout meetings that enable scouts to earn their automotive badges.
Future plans for Wheeling Auto Center include continued growth and increasing sales to $3 million. "Being a one-stop shop for all our customers' needs is something we take very seriously," said Becker. The Wheeling Auto Center owners and employees have placed the company in a position to continue providing customers with professionalism, education and quality repair and service for many years to come.
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