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  Shop Profile

He Knew How to Fix Cars, But Not How to Run the Business

Posted 11/15/2012
By Levy Joffrion

At first, shop owner was just paying the bills.

Rob Auernheimer has long known how to fix cars. But not until he opened his own shop did he realize he didn’t know how to run an automotive repair business.

He didn’t know there is a difference in margins vs. markups. He never knew the importance of average repair orders and car counts. “Efficiency” and “proficiency” were “Greek” to Rob. And there was a lot more he didn’t know and didn’t understand.

However, Rob did know how to give friendly, honest and quality service, which kept his clientele loyal and his shop growing.

But he and his wife, Kim, the shop’s business manager, realized that for the first few years, they were just paying the bills. Their shop – Cool Springs Automotive in Brentwood, Tenn. – was doing well, but they believed it could do better.

Things changed when they attended a class taught by Cecil Bullard, AAM, of the WorldPac Training Institute. They credit Bullard with getting them on the road to success.

Rob started their business just six years ago with one lift, his tools and not much else, working in a corner of a warehouse. Now the shop has approximately 3,560 square feet of floor space, four lifts and six bays.

Since its inception, Cool Springs Automotive (dba CS Automotive) has seen large increases in monthly sales and profits, thanks in great part – its owners say – to the training and support given by Bullard and their participation in a Smart Group comprised of other shop owners.

The Auernheimers now firmly believe in continuing training and education in the automotive industry offered by quality instructors like Bullard and organizations like the Automotive Management Institute (AMI). They also believe in participation in organizations like the WorldPac Smart Groups.

“We understand trends change and technology evolves, and we must stay current. That’s why our techs must complete 30 to 40 hours of education each year and maintain their ASE certification. Conversely, it is just as important that we receive regular training in the business to get the most out of it we can. Understanding our business as well as we understand how to fix cars is key to being profitable and having a well-run business.”

They also realize education and training are especially important for their shop because it specializes in high-tech vehicles made by Lexus and Toyota.

Rob has been in automotive service and repair for 31 years.

He was just 16 when he started working for a Shell service station in Reedley, Calif. His employer quickly realized that Rob had a natural aptitude for automotive repair and began sending him to every possible training class offered by vendors and local colleges. Rob obtained his state of California smog check technician status at 17 years old.

The highest level of certification for a Toyota technician is factory trained and certified master diagnostic technician and Rob has maintained that status since 1992. Normally, it takes three years to earn the elite status of Lexus Master Service technician. Rob did it in one year, requiring a special review and approval by Lexus.

Before moving to Tennessee seven years ago, Rob and Kim Auernheimer and their family lived in California where Rob worked for dealerships.

While living there, the Auernheimers sometimes visited Tennessee and gradually, they came to realize that Tennessee is where they wanted to live and raise their family. And they knew they wanted to go into business for themselves.

The couple has two children: Jacob, 18, a senior at Brentwood High School; and Emily, 15, a sophomore. Jacob works part-time at CS Automotive during the summer and has started selling parts. He has a strong entrepreneurship mindset and will be pursuing a degree in business. Rob and Kim have found that their teenagers are excited about their parents’ having a successful business and often offer marketing ideas.

The Auernheimers say they also are “excited about where the business is going personally and financially.”

What’s ahead for Cool Springs Automotive? Rob and Kim hope to add another location within the next five years. They also want to add car detailing services and make CS Automotive a one-stop automotive care facility. And, most important, they want to continue their reputation for providing highly personalized, quality service.

Shop Stats

Name of Shop: Cool Springs Automotive (dba CS Automotive)
Location: Brentwood, Tenn.
Square Footage of Shop: 3,560 square feet
Number of Employees: Six
Annual Sales: $940,000
Website Address:
Why Did You Join ASA?
Say Rob and Kim: “Originally we joined because of the discounts offered by vendors. We had no idea of other benefits. Now we appreciate ASA more because of the information offered to its members and being informed of the trends and management tools offered.”

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