Updated Automotive Repair is in Northeast Ohio, a scant 20 miles southeast of Cleveland. The shop caters to both customers who own daily-driven commuter vehicles as well as enthusiasts who own occasional-use street rods, and has gained a reputation for quality work on a wide variety of vehicles.
It was a genuine pleasure to visit Bill Caroniti’s shop. He’s an extremely gregarious and personable guy with a very sharp wit and great sense of humor, along with a strong business acumen. His shop appears to run like a fine-tuned machine.
General repair or specialization?
“We perform all types of general repairs as you would expect, including lube and oil, steering, suspension, brakes, driveline, etc. However, our forte is in the area of diagnostics, from simple to complex,” Bill told us. “We also service the occasional street rod for our enthusiast customers. We update the shop with regard to service capabilities. As examples, we spend a substantial amount updating software and just bought four lifts and updated our tire machine and balancer.”
Bill noted, “Business is personal to me. I take the time to talk with each customer to assess their needs. Our view is that a vehicle is a tool. We determine what that tool must do for them. Based on that, we then try to decide what parts are required to meet or exceed their requirements so that they experience longevity — the best bang for the buck. In our waiting area we have a sign that reads ‘The measure of our success is based on the satisfaction of our customers.’ We strive to be first in service and excellence — this isn’t simply a slogan. We really do care about the people, more than the size of their wallets, even though sometimes that means that what’s best for the client is not always best for the shop. The work sells itself. There’s no reason to push unnecessary work. We strive to treat customers with respect and to maintain a trusting and loyal relationship.
“I make a point to spend time to explain, to make them understand the work that’s needed. Often, I invite them to do a point-by-point examination of what needs to be done, especially if decisions need to be made regarding an issue where something is about to fail, helping them to make the decision based on safety. Safety comes first. We don’t cross moral barriers by pushing work that isn’t needed.
“I’ve been in this industry for almost 40 years. When we opened this shop, we started from scratch. We were sometimes told that an honest technician can’t make it, and yet we grew like wildfire, doubling our shop size within a short period of time.
“We operate a single operation, and I never wanted to have more than one facility because I didn’t want to lose quality control. We try to keep prices down for the average individual. That $20 oil change is equally as important to me as the $2,000 job.
Where do you buy your parts?
“We purchase our largest amount of parts from the ACDelco/Motorcraft warehouses.(ADW/ASAP). Also, we buy from local dealers and some of our local part stores like AutoZone,NAPA and O’Reilly. We base our parts-buying decision primarily on the specific brand of vehicle we are repairing.”
We asked Bill if his parts buying decisions tend to be more heavily influenced by price or quality (considering his customer base and whether he tends to educate the customer about the value of quality parts).
We asked him to rank his parts buying decisions from 0 to 3, with 0 having no influence and 3 having the greatest influence.
“Quality is our priority,” says Bill. “We tend to prefer ACDelco and Motorcraft, and generally Beck Arnley for import applications.”
Brand name recognition ...2.5
Promotion in racing 0
(with the exception of Royal Purple)
Perceived quality ............3
Other (describe)...”We try to read/research in order to stay informed regarding parts quality, new introductions and improvements.”
Bill noted that “just because a product is used in racing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for the street. These are two different worlds.”
What do customers expect from you?
Bill told us, “This should come as no surprise. Our customers expect services and repairs to be done properly, and in a reasonable time frame. They also have come to expect a fair transaction, with no nasty surprises.
“We deal with a segment of customers who live on a fixed income, and we always keep that in mind by educating them about the condition of their vehicle, handling any critical issues first and, when necessary, delaying any non-critical issues based on their budget. As a result, we’ve earned their trust.”
Your approach to technician training
“This is a CE job... Continuing Education,” Bill said. “We need to stay at the top of our game in terms of updating our technicians and shop management concerns. We try to get our technicians to every diagnostics clinic that becomes available.”
How ASP benefits your business
“Frankly, I find Auto Service Professional to be invaluable,” Bill told us. “The magazine covers cutting-edge topics and provides us with access to data we might not have otherwise. It does a great job at introducing new tools, equipment and technology. I make a point to read every issue in order to stay up-to-date. In short, we’re a huge fan.” ■
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