V&F Auto is located in Agawam, Mass., about four miles southwest of Springfield, Mass., and midway between Albany, N.Y., and Boston. The town’s population is about 29,000.
As noted by V&F Vice President Nicole Palange, the family-owned business was founded by her grandfather, Vincent, and her father, Frank (hence the V&F Auto name).
Agawam is a small, close-knit community in the western part of Massachusetts. V&F Auto has gained an extremely loyal customer base, with generations of families relying on and devoted to the shop for quality and honest maintenance and repairs.
“We strive to provide the highest quality of service, but in addition, we diligently make an effort to keep our customers informed. We document every aspect of a job, from inspection to completion, and provide that information to the customer. As part of a 30+ point courtesy inspection, we record and photograph everything, from fluid levels and fluid colors, to problem issues that are found, etc. We communicate with the customer to relay this information by means of texts, emails and even videos. This helps us to clearly explain why a service is needed. This information helps the customer to make an informed decision and to better understand the need for a specific repair.
“Also, in order to further contribute to our community, we donate 2% of each customer’s bill (only those customers who agree to participate) to our local school system. Our patrons are more than simply customers... we view and treat them as our extended family.”
V&F Auto recently earned a second-place award from ASA in the trade associations’ “Best Waiting Area” contest. The customer waiting area is incredibly spacious and well-decorated, providing an extremely attractive and comfortable space. The current waiting area was added in 2014, with remodeling designed by Nicole and performed by owner Frank Palange.
Does your shop offer general automotive repair or do you tend to specialize in specific makes or types of repairs?
We perform all types of repairs and maintenance on all makes and models.
What is your business philosophy?
My business philosophy is to build my business based on integrity toward both my employees and our customers. I am committed to keeping all employees informed and well trained. This includes having weekly employee meetings and continually investing in their education. I routinely buy and update equipment so that our technicians are well equipped to perform their duties. I have always believed that to keep the business running professionally and efficiently I need to continually reinvest in the business and its employees. And last but not least, our entire organization is reminded to “first put their feet in the customer’s shoes.”
What do customers want/expect from your shop?
They expect professional service performed at a reasonable cost backed by a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty. They expect a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. Customers also expect a quick turnaround! I think they believe the way they are treated is number one, though.
What is your approach to technician training?
Technicians are learning every day! On-site learning is the most important and allows them to take the most away. We use Identifix when in need as well. Our techs register for classes on a regular basis. ASE certifications dictate their pay. We pay for training. The better they are, the happier they are, the quicker they are, and more profitable everyone is!
Where do you buy your parts?
We typically try to purchase from independent parts stores, such as CARQUEST.
What influences your parts buying decisions?
Rank from 0 to 3, with 0 having no influence and 3 having the greatest influence.
Price ................................. 2
Brand name recognition ... 1
Promotion in racing .......... 0
Perceived quality .............. 3
Availability/time ................ 3
Other (describe) ............... We try to read/research to stay informed about parts.
How does ASP benefit your business?
First and foremost, our technicians appreciate the technical articles and the announcements regarding new tools, parts and equipment. ■