How a San Antonio shop owner prepared to retire early & why he’s not doing it any time soon
By John Clark / AutoInc. Contributor
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Gustavo Macharro recalls his mother telling him her secrets of success: “Work hard and learn as much as you can, so that you can retire early.”
At the Gen-Y-age of just 39, Macharro, known to his friends, family and work family as “Goose,” doesn’t think about retiring.
He thinks about expanding.
Uppermost in Goose’s mind these days, aside from ensuring that his customers consistently receive top-notch service, is expanding the family business. That business would be Goose Automotive in San Antonio, and Goose says he’s itching to open another automotive service repair shop in another part of town.
The Alamo City native expresses hopes of getting it up-and-running pretty dang quick, too.
“I would like to get another location in the works by the end of year,” Macharro says. “I’m meeting with other shop owners now and asking tool dealers to keep an eye out for someone looking to retire.”
NAME OF SHOP: Goose Automotive
LOCATION: San Antonio, Texas
SQUARE FOOTAGE OF BUSINESS: 5,800
YEARS IN BUSINESS: almost 7
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 7
NUMBER OF REPAIRS Monthly: 130-140
PROJECTED ANNUAL SALES: $1.3 million
WHY GOOSE AUTOMOTIVE IS A MEMBER OF ASA: “We joined ASA for the training and networking and to be a part of an organization that helps shop owners grow themselves and their business.”
Working hard and learning suit Goose just fine. His dad, Gus, worked two jobs when Goose was growing up. And the kid took courses at what’s now Texas State University (Industrial Technology) in San Marcos and then earned two associate degrees – in Mechanical Engineering and Automotive Technology – from Wyoming Technical Institute in Laramie.
He’s still learning, which is one of the primary reasons Goose Automotive belongs to the Automotive Service Association (ASA). Goose admits that when he started his first shop with a business partner, it went under after just three years.
“My partner seemed to think we had made it and didn’t feel the need to work on cars or the business anymore,” Goose explains. “We were just technicians that never grew into business owners.”
Goose opened his own operation in 2012 and now has seven employees. In the beginning, though his dad, Gus, helped by selling cars and Linda and Goose’s sister, Nicole Gomez, answered phones and took customer information.
“I got my dealer’s license because we had customers that were turning down the repairs and wanted to trade in their vehicles for newer cars,” Goose says. “Some of our customers didn’t want to go to the dealer and hassle with a salesperson, so they would ask me to find a car for them. I wanted to keep those customers coming back to me for service, and we already had their trust, so selling was easy.
“We would go through the cars before the sale to check for any needed maintenance or that we had performed repairs already on the car. It was a good opportunity to purchase their existing car and perform the repairs needed to resell it. Through this, we’ve been able to keep some very loyal customers.”
Goose describes his dad, who passed away six months ago at the age of 65, as the “hardest working man I can remember as a kid. “He recalls that his father taught young Goose a good work ethic and that nothing comes free.
“But he was also a dreamer, and I love that about him. We were always dreaming about what he was going to do when he retired. I think a lot of people dream too late in life. We all work hard in this business, and it consumes a lot of our time and energy. We need to follow our dreams before it’s too late.”
Now, Gustave Macharro definitely sees himself as business owner and is following his dream of a second location. He admits that these dreams have been helped along, in part, by the training and networking opportunities provided by ASA.
Still, Goose has recognized that problems can exist when you’re working with family.
“I do think it can be a challenge when you don’t have the systems and processes in place for them to follow,” he says. “But I had a system in place as a new shop owner, which helped. And the shop continues to maintain a family culture, in which every Wednesday they lunch together and “talk about their lives and goals.”
Now, Gustave Macharro sees himself as business owner with dreams of opening a second shop, in no small part due to the training and networking provided by ASA and other organizations. Last year, for example, Goose attended Vision in Kansas City, Kansas, and made the Vision Dominican Republic trip, as well. He also attends local association meetings.
“Through events like these,” he says, “I’ve been able to make more connections in the field and attend some great training classes.”
Those opportunities to connect and learn about how to improve technical and financial performance, as well as customer service, continue to inform Goose’s business philosophy.
“I think communication is key,” he says. “Call them before, during and after the repair. Make the experience personal and ask them about their kids, life, job, whatever comes to mind – just make a connection and treat them like they’re your family. ASA is greatly helping our industry with their training.”
But about that early retirement. Maybe, but not soon. Besides, Goose says he’s still having fun.
“I’m a fixer,” he explains. “And now I’ve moved from fixing cars to fixing the business. I enjoy problems and problem-solving, so it’s a perfect fit.”
John Clark is a freelance writer/editor and a former editor of AutoInc.