Evergreen Autoworks First to Offer Both Mechanical, Collision Repair in Its Area
Jeff Odom is proud of the business model at Evergreen Autoworks. It was the first shop in a busy part of the suburban Seattle, Wash., area to perform both mechanical and body repair. Now, there are three other shops offering both types of service. Jeff, owner of Evergreen Autoworks, says that wouldn't have happened if the other shops didn't realize that this type of business model works.
Not only does the business model work, it has been a downright success. Evergreen Autoworks is celebrating 40 years of doing business. During those 40 years, the shop has seen its share of changes and evolution in car repair and service as well as in the business. Jeff's parents originally began the shop with one bay and one employee in 1970.
Today, after buying the company from his parents in 2002, Jeff oversees the entire facility, which employs 24 people full time. He says his career in automotive service was a natural fit for him and jokes that he may have chosen it at birth since he has grown up with the business. When he got started in the business, he focused on mechanical repairs while his brother performed body work. He got certified as an ASE master technician and performed mechanical repairs for 10 years before moving to the collision side of things where he began writing estimates and ran the body shop.
While Evergreen Autoworks began as a family-owned business, the only member of the family besides Jeff working at the business currently is his nephew, who is a body estimator. While Jeff has found his nephew, Adam, to be a strong asset to the company, he is not in favor of hiring family members because he believes it can strain relationships and make it difficult to change staff personnel.
Having worked in the shop for more than 25 years, Jeff is focused on building a dependable support staff for the business to ensure success for the next 40 years.
"I feel that if the company is to survive for many years to come that it can't rely on me only," says Jeff. "I'm working on training key personnel to work like an owner and let them make key decisions. I've been taking a coaching role in the business rather than a manager's role."
Jeff admits that transitioning to the coaching role from management is not always easy.
"Yes, it's been difficult to allow people to make decisions on their own that may affect my business and my customers ... I try not to tell them how to do something but rather find out their opinion and guide them to what I feel comfortable with. I guess you could term it as being a 'hands-off manager.' My goal is to create a company that functions without me but will operate with my ideals and make similar decisions without my input."
Another reason for the shop's success, says Jeff, is its emphasis on building relationships with people.
"There are professionals you do business with on a personal level such as your dentist, doctor, lawyer, accountant and your automotive repair professional. We need to take the time to build that personal relationship for repeat business that's built on trust," he says.
Jeff, who studied business and marketing in college for two years, believes that offering unique services through his shop is a great way to capture customers. In addition to performing mechanical and collision repair, Evergreen Autoworks performs in-house auto detailing and has an Enterprise-Rent-A-Car on site for convenience. The shop also offers a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty on mechanical repairs and a lifetime warranty on body work.
Evergreen Autoworks' website (www.EvergreenAutoworks.com) is an important part of the shop's marketing strategy. In January, AutoInc. recognized the shop with a "Top 10 Automotive Repair Websites" award for its impressive Internet presence. Jeff reviews the site's effectiveness monthly with Google Analytics and updates it regularly when it loses its position. He says the site is important because it provides a way for future customers to see the business before their visit. The shop usually receives two or three appointments per week from its online appointments page, which doesn't seem like a lot, but added up over the course of a year, that is more than 100 appointments annually.
"I believe as people learn about this convenient scheduling method, it will grow in popularity," Jeff says.
As a business owner, Jeff is doing everything he can to ensure his shop lives up to its name - Evergreen. There's a sign in the office area that sums up how the company feels about auto repair and the reason it offers such a strong warranty: "The bitterness of low quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."
Name of Shop: Evergreen Autoworks
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