Savvy Marketing Pays Off for Sallas Auto RepairPosted 4/4/2007
By Leona Dalavai Scott
Question: What do you get when you combine savvy marketing with proven automotive service experience and exceptional customer service?
Answer: Sallas Auto Repair
For the past 14 years, owners Nick and Carla Sallas have been busy perfecting the tough and competitive art of fine automotive service in the Greater Kansas City area. Nick got his start in the automotive service industry as a tire buster. He went through Goodyear's training programs and spent 10 years with them, building solid automotive service work experience along the way.
His wife, Carla, is a marketer extraordinaire. Through her internal and external marketing efforts, Sallas Auto Repair is experiencing great growth and success even amidst major construction that has impeded traffic flow to their main facility.
In addition, the shop has taken notice that 60 percent of its customers are women. As a result, the shop hosts a women's clinic during National Car Care months in April and October. Now in its eighth year, the Women's Car Care Clinics strive to educate and equip women with the information they need to take care of their cars and make wise decisions.
For all of the success with their marketing endeavors, marketing wasn't Carla's specialty. But she did have a solid background working for various large corporations since the age of 19. She took her work experience and combined it with the knowledge she gained through marketing classes and developed Sallas Auto Repair's marketing plan.
Carla believes that consistency is key in marketing. She also believes that internal marketing is just as important as external marketing.
"We realize that once we have customers, we need to make every effort to keep them," she said.
In addition, Sallas Auto Repair's recently redesigned Web site appeals to current customers as well as attracting new ones. Last December, Carla worked closely with ASA in developing a new Web site for their shop. The Sallases took advantage of the new Web Solutions program offered by the national office where shops can have either new Web sites created or make premium upgrades and enhancements to their existing sites. The Sallases chose to redesign their site and ever since, www.SallasAuto.com has been a major hit. Carla said that since December, the site has seen more visitors than in all of the three years that the site has been up!
Since Sallas Auto Repair opened its doors in 1993 with two bays, its growth has been constant. Today, the shop is a 10-bay facility and employs seven people at its Kansas City location. The Sallases believe that part of the shop's success is a result of their quality employees.
"Our staff is key to our success," said Carla. "They truly care more about our customer than how much they are getting paid for that job. I'm not saying that money is not a motivation, but they truly have a passion for what they are doing."
It is clear that Sallas Auto Repair pulls out the red carpet for each of its customers and puts an emphasis on great customer service.
"Our philosophy is to treat every customer like a family member," said Nick. He instills that philosophy in his employees and leads by example. One of Nick's favorite things to do as owner is to get acquainted with his customers. He often picks up or drops off clients. He has even driven as far as 30 miles one way to accommodate a customer. The drive time allows him to get to know the people whose vehicles his shop services. He takes his job of servicing other people's cars very seriously. He knows that people have entrusted him with the care of their vehicles, which are their primary mode of transportation and next to their homes, are often their biggest financial asset. Personal touches like this have helped in their growth.
Between managing both facilities, "watching the numbers closely," shuttling customers, test driving cars and doing payroll, Nick stays busy. But he likes to point out that he works "on" the business and not "in" the business, an important distinction that many other shop owners have found to be a healthy way to manage their shops (see Guest Editorial, December 2006 issue of AutoInc.).
What's ahead for Sallas Auto Repair? The facility sits on three acres, only half of which is used. Nick said that one day he would like to expand the facility and add on a detail shop as he sees a real need for detailing services. Otherwise, he will continue doing what he has been doing: Taking care of his customers while taking care of business.
Shop StatsName: Sallas Auto Repair
Locations: Kansas City, Mo. (main store); Overland Park, Kan.
No. of Employees: 7 in Kansas City; 4 in Overland Park
No. of Years in Business: Kansas City, 14; Overland Park, 1-1/2
Repairs per Week: 65 in Kansas City; 20 in Overland Park
Web Site: www.SallasAuto.com
Projected Annual Sales:$1.1 million, Kansas City; $495,000, Overland Park
On managing two facilities: It's important to have good people in place who you can trust. That makes my job a lot easier. - Nick Sallas
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