California Shop Owner ‘Talks the Talk, Walks the Walk’
Kevin Donohoe focuses on what’s important.
Building a strong and stable business.
Those are the foremost priorities of Kevin Donohoe, the owner of Pacific Motor Service in Monterey, Calif.
He’s also focused on education, training and marketing.
Proof he’s right on target with his priorities: his business is growing.
Kevin started Pacific Motor Service with two employees in 1999. Now it employs 15 to 23 people, depending on the season. Pacific Motor Service did $400,000 in business in 1999. In 2013, it did $2.81 million. It now has three locations: two in Monterey and one in Pacific Grove.
Obviously, things are going well. And for that, Kevin credits a lot of hard work and adherence to the firm’s values on the part of both employees and himself.
“We strive to exceed the expectations of each and every customer by providing world-class service,” says Kevin. “Integrity is also important, because Pacific Motor Service takes sincere pride in the trust its clients have in the employees’ ability to competently and reliably maintain their vehicle. Kevin and his employees define integrity as “the actions an individual takes when no one is looking.”
Kevin also believes in leading by example. That’s why he has spent countless hours educating and training himself. He is quick to attribute much of his success to management courses he has taken at the Educational Seminar Institute in Simi Valley, Calif. He’s also an ASE master technician, ASE service consultant, and has been a college instructor in the automotive field. In short, as they say, “he talks the talk, but he also walks the walk.”
He expects no less from his employees when it comes to education and training. “When we hire technicians,” says Kevin, “they agree to participate in training programs. The company pays for any fees, travel expenses, meals and lodging, and technicians are compensated for their time. Our foreman (a senior technician) is responsible for the implementation and oversight of this policy. Technicians meet every other Friday and are evaluated every six months, with the educational component a key part of the evaluation. If a technician is not participating in the training programs, he is warned and re-evaluated in three months. If he continues not following the policy, he no longer works for us. It’s that simple.”
Although his shops’ policy in regard to education and training may sound a little harsh, it ensures that Pacific Motors has well-qualified employees. When asked what he likes best about his shop, Kevin says: “Developing employees into leaders within the organization and externally, to the communities we serve.”
Kevin also attributes much of his shops’ success to the marketing help of Kukui Corp. and Mudlick Mail Co. Kukui Corp., headquartered in San Jose, Calif., is the developer of software that enables independent shop owners to track their marketing efforts to see what’s working, what’s not. Mudlick Mail Co., headquartered in Acworth, Ga., provides expertise in direct mail marketing.
In spite of Pacific Motor Service’s success, growing the business is not without its problems, says Kevin. One of the biggest obstacles is finding a site to open a shop. Kevin says, “The Monterey Peninsula is a beautiful place to live and work; unfortunately, the city does not issue new use permits for automotive repair and there are only a few locations zoned for this type of service in the city. When a location becomes available, on a per-square-foot basis, it is very expensive real estate to own and the facilities are typically limited in size.”
Another problem he has, says Kevin, is the rising cost of employee benefits, with no end in sight, especially with health care. Kevin says, “My company provides an outstanding ‘package’ that includes health, dental, vision and life insurance, 401(k) with a generous match, education incentives, paid vacation, holiday and personal time off. We put these programs into place many years ago to attract and retain fantastic people and we want to retain all of these programs, but with ever-rising costs, it’s challenging.”
Both of Kevin’s full-service facilities are AAA-approved Certified Green Businesses. Both are also BOSCH Car Care and Diesel Care certified.
He is a past director of the Automotive Service Councils of California. Kevin also has been an instructor for the Monterey Peninsula College Automotive Technology Department and currently serves as an adviser for the program. He also has worked with the high school automotive programs in the area.
What’s ahead for Pacific Motor Service? “To expand into different markets and add two more locations in 2015,” says Kevin.
Name of Shop: Pacific Motor Service
Location: Three locations: two in Monterey, Calif.; one in Pacific Grove, Calif.
Square Footage: 14,500 square feet, Monterey location, includes corporate offices
1,940 square feet, Smog Check Monterey location
4,250 square feet, Pacific Grove location
Years in Business: 15
Number of Employees: 15 to 23 (depending on season)
Number of Repair Orders Weekly: 145-200
Projected Annual Sales: $2.97 million
Website Address: www.pacificmotorservice.com
Why Kevin Donohoe Is a Member of ASA: “I value information and ASA has its finger on the pulse of our industry from a national perspective.”