Top 10 Shop Successful
The Wynters purchased their current location in 2000, moving from their original location just down the street.
Imagine this scenario: Suddenly you find yourself, your family and your business smack in the middle of an economic downturn. This might sound familiar to many of you, but wait - there's more! Imagine your business is based in an area of the country with double-digit unemployment. Still, many of you identify with this statistic as well. But what if, on top of the economic downturn and double-digit unemployment, your business is in an area of the country that ranks second in home foreclosures? Top off all these negative statistics with the fact that this area of the country's economy is based on tourism and construction - and that these industries are suffering from the economic downturn, too. Odds seem insurmountable? How would you operate your business differently?
These very circumstances are the challenges that Terry and Kay Wynter, AAMs, owners of Terry Wynter Auto Service Center Inc., in Fort Myers, Fla., face daily. Since 1996 they have owned and operated their business in the south Florida city; today, the shop has a volume of $2.3 million annually. So what characteristics about this business set it apart from others, and allow it to continue to be successful when others are failing?
The Wynters' success begins with their mission statement: "We recognize that auto service and unexpected car care experiences are a necessary inconvenience. Our mission is to maximize customer convenience on every visit while also remaining focused on delivering both affordable and dependable service."
Affordable and dependable service may be one reason why the Wynters' customers return to the business whenever automotive repairs are needed. Affordable service stems partly from the pay structure the Wynters have developed for their employees. "We have structured our pay plan to combine financial incentives to meet our company goals while at the same time promoting quality," says Kay. "Technicians are paid on a flat rate system. In our opinion, this is the most fair payment method to the employee, customer and shop. A technician's hourly rate is based upon his or her number of ASE certifications. This rewards each individual for their training level and commitment to the industry."
"The cleanliness of the facility is important in developing customer loyalty," says Kay Wynter. "When customers arrive, their first impression of the business is a clean, crisp one."
Dependable service is a result of the Wynters' emphasis on education and training for themselves as well as their employees. Terry spoke to this emphasis by saying, "Our industry is changing faster than ever, especially in the area of technology. To stay current with vehicle technology, we invest in the latest equipment and training. Training is a priority at our shop."
Terry continued by explaining that he requires each employee to take advantage of appropriate training opportunities. "In fact, we seek out [educational] opportunities through suppliers, associations and training vendors," he said. Terry received an award at the 2009 Automotive Service Association (ASA) annual convention for being the individual with the most hours of training during 2009. Additionally, both Terry and Kay have received the Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation from the Automotive Management Institute (AMI).
The Wynters' relationship with AMI and ASA began shortly after they opened their business in 1996. "We firmly believe in the value of professional associations," said Terry. "The contacts, education and industry insight that ASA has brought to us and our business has been priceless."
Terry is a member of ASA's Mechanical Division Operations Committee.
The affordable and dependable service they offer, along with the education they have received from ASA and AMI, brings together the Wynters' formula for their customer service philosophy: "Confidence plus trust equals loyalty." Kay explained this philosophy by saying, "Our ultimate goal is customer loyalty. This [loyalty] begins by earning a customer's confidence so they choose us for their automotive repairs." Kay explained that the confidence a customer places in their business is earned by the way they are treated when they call the business, by the cleanliness of the facilities, and by the conveniences they offer - such as free Wi-Fi and shuttles.
Marketing is an important part of the business strategy for the Terry Wynter Auto Service Center. With her degree in business administration from Appalachian State University, Kay is a driving force behind this strategy. "Our core marketing to existing customers is through the use of a quarterly newsletter and monthly e-mail promotions," said Kay. "In an effort to attract new business, we use radio and the Yellow Pages, and online marketing and optimization."
Terry and Kay Wynter have worked together in their automotive business since 1996.
Despite the economic downturn in the Fort Myers, Fla., area, the Wynters are still enjoying success and customer loyalty, although they have had to make some changes in the past year or so to remain successful. "At our peak, we had 22 bays, including 11 in a rental location next to the 11 in the building we own," said Terry. "We closed the 11 rental bays in an effort to reduce expenses. Most of our business reduction has been due to losing commercial fleet business. Even at our peak, we were not fully utilizing all 22 bays. Now our facility is adequate, and Kay and I are proud to say that our business is weathering the storm quite well. No one has been laid off, and we have remained profitable."
Despite the challenges faced by the business in the past couple of years because of its location and the economy in general, Terry Wynter Auto Service was named one of the nation's Top 10 Shops by Motor Age magazine in 2009.
Terry Wynter Auto Service has earned ASE's Blue Seal of Excellence and is a AAA-approved shop.
"No two days are ever alike at our business," said Kay. "We both love the variety, and the letters and e-mails we receive from happy customers are so rewarding." The Wynters are working carefully to continue to develop the business while keeping a wary eye on the south Florida economy. "We have plans to grow the business, and when additional capacity is needed, we plan to extend our hours of operation," said Terry.
Terry and Kay summed up the challenges facing their business by explaining, "The state of the economy has presented us with a marketplace that is extremely more challenging than in years past. Our approach with these economic challenges has been to maintain a positive outlook, reduce expenses and look for new ways to market our services."
Name of Shop: Terry Wynter Auto Service Center Inc.
Location: Fort Myers, Fla.
Square Footage of Shop: 6,000 square feet
Number of Bays: 11
Number of Years in Business: 14
Number of Employees: 13
Numbers of Repairs Weekly: 134
Projected Annual Sales: $2.5 million
Website Address: www.terrywynterauto.com
|Rachael J. Mercer is a freelance writer based in McDonough, Ga. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
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