Spic & Span: That's Menke's Automotive!
Clean. Neat. Spotless. Polished. These are some of the adjectives that come to mind when describing Menke's Automotive Repair in Newburgh, Ind., owned by Barbara (Barb) and Vernon (Vernie) Menke. But don't let these adjectives fool you. They do not just describe the physical attributes of the business. The flow and performance of the business can be described by these characteristics as well. It is these attributes that sets Menke's Automotive Repair apart from similar businesses in Newburgh and the surrounding area.
Have you ever been in an automotive repair shop where you thought it would be OK to eat off the floor? At Menke's, you could do just that! Vernie Menke is so committed to shop cleanliness that the shop floor is scrubbed with a floor polisher after each repair and before the next repair is begun. He explains why this is such an important part of their business, "I saw my father's automotive repair business, and tools were everywhere and it wasn't a very clean place." Menke continues, "Once I worked in other sectors of the automotive industry, I got a glimpse of a different style of shop management and cleanliness. It struck a chord with me."
But even if clean floors bring customers in, people won't return unless they're treated properly and their vehicles are repaired correctly. "Our business philosophy is: 'Do quality work, treat people fair, be honest, and pray a lot,'" says Menke. The Menke philosophy seems to be paying off.
The business opened 34 years ago in 1976 as a carburetor repair shop, and Menke's currently repairs about 80 cars per week. Its growth in those 34 years has been remarkable as well. The one-time one-bay business now houses 14 bays and employs 12. Menke's has nearly 10,000 square feet in its location - 7,200 downstairs, which houses its bays and waiting areas, and 2,500 upstairs, where parts are stored neatly and in an organized manner. Menke is seldom satisfied with the status quo, and is already in the process of getting quotes from contractors to increase the size of the business. "If I could change anything right now, I would have a much bigger building so we could hire more people," he said.
But let's return to the adjective "clean." It's not just the floors at Menke's that are extraordinarily clean. Visit the restrooms at Menke's. They're not just cleaned once a week. They're cleaned after every use. And they're not dark, cramped cubicles, either. They're homey, unusually comfy and extremely clean.
Likewise, the waiting areas at Menke's are clean, welcoming and different from what some customers might expect. You'll never find four-year-old magazines, a greasy floor and uncomfortable chairs at Vernie and Barb Menke's shop. Instead, a homelike atmosphere with computer access, up-to-date reading material, rocking chairs and a television welcomes customers and keeps them comfortable while they wait for their repairs to be finished.
The whole shop runs as though it has been smoothly polished - and in many ways it has. The technicians perform a 29-point courtesy inspection on each vehicle when it comes to Menke's for repair. After this inspection, the service adviser contacts the customer to discuss his or her original concern, as well as any items of concern that the technician has discovered. If the customer needs to go to work or cannot wait while a vehicle is repaired, Menke's has a fleet of loaner vehicles available for use at no charge. Last, once a vehicle has been repaired, Barb Menke calls the customer within 10 days to be sure they are happy with the repair and the service they received at Menke's.
The passion for excellent customer service does not go unnoticed by Menke's customers or the rest of the automotive industry. In 2009, Menke's Automotive Repair was named Motor Age magazine's "Top Shop." Menke's Automotive Repair has also received awards from Jasper Engines & Transmissions and from AAA.
But Vernie and Barb Menke don't keep all this knowledge and passion to themselves. Vernie sits on the advisory council of Jasper Engines and Transmissions and on the regional advisory board of AAA Auto Club. Vernie also serves on the Automotive Service Association's (ASA) Mechanical Division Operations Committee. In the area of community service, Menke's Automotive Repair has developed a "Give Back" program with local schools to reward purchases, and they contribute to a wide variety of local nonprofit organizations as well. Vernie has even taught a class at the University of Southern Indiana to educate students about purchasing and maintaining a used vehicle.
"Working with the technicians employed at Menke's is not like working with 'employees,' " said Vernie. "It's like working with family." Barb and Vernie explained that their concern for what's going on in the lives of their employees helps them build a better team.
"It's this family atmosphere, combined with our passion for excellence and customer service, that keeps our customers returning," said Barb. "We are working with the best technicians and service team around - we have a special group at Menke's. They all take pride in doing the best job possible."
Name of Shop: Menke's Automotive Repair
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