Indian Immigrant Stresses Customer ServicePosted 1/13/2005
By Leona Dalavai Scott
Kumar is president of European Select Motorcars and Asian Select Motorcars located in North Texas. His Asian facility opened last month but his European service facility has been in business for eight years.
Like many others in the business, Kumar got his start in the automotive service industry through his family. His father owned an automotive shop in New Delhi, India, where Kumar grew up. As he got older, automotive service became a natural career path for him. From India, Kumar went to Germany where he received his Volvo master tech training. Kumar is also a factory-trained Porsche tech.
After his European training, Kumar headed for America. He was a technician with Autobahn Motorcars in Fort Worth, Texas, for 16 years before opening his business in 1997.
When Kumar first started his business, he said one of the challenges he encountered was finding good help, something he doesn't experience now. The reason? Kumar's technical staff has a high retention rate. Most of the seven technicians he employs have been with him for six to eight years.
Besides having loyal employees, Kumar has loyal customers. He has a host of clients who have been coming to him for years, some of whom he's worked with since 1984. That kind of loyalty is a result of exceptional customer service.
"The customer is always right and comes before anybody else," he said. "If someone comes back [as a customer], they bring more customers with them."
In fact, Kumar has relied on customer referrals to build his clientele and does little advertising, except for a small Yellow Pages ad. His quality service and "customer-comes-before-anybody-else" mentality has earned him a solid reputation. Kumar goes above and beyond for his customers and says there's not much he wouldn't do for them.
"If they need a state car inspection - even though we don't do inspections - we'll get it done, along with their regular repairs."
Kumar's business has also done well by focusing on a niche market. "We are factory-trained," said Kumar, in referring to himself and his technicians. "Plus, we have extensive experience in the U.S. market and on European cars. We compete with the local dealer only and it is a pretty healthy relationship and competition."
In the 30 years that Kumar has worked in the industry, he has seen a variety of changes. One of the greatest, he says, is the knowledge needed to work on today's cars.
"You have to train yourself all of the time and have more knowledge," he said in referring to the growing mechanical complexity of today's cars.
As president of his two shops, Kumar oversees the daily operations. His wife assists him with filing and invoicing from time to time. In addition to managing his current facilities, Kumar in the future would like to expand his horizons and become an auto franchise dealer.
To stay on top of the automotive service industry, Kumar relies on his ASA membership as well as his network of friends who work in the industry.
"It's nice to come into the loop with other shop owners and learn from them," he says of his ASA membership. "I see it as a forum where I can discuss topics about my business."
Shop StatsName: European Select Motorcars and Asian Select Motorcars
Location: Richland Hills and North Richland Hills, Texas
No. of employees: 7
Square footage: 12,000
On customer service: The customer is always right and comes before anybody else. If someone comes back [as a customer], they bring more customers with them.
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