Maintenance Reader Profiles

The Local Wrench: An Automotive Gem in the Picturesque Northwest

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The Local Wrench: An Automotive Gem in the Picturesque Northwest

The Local Wrench has established itself as, well, the local favorite automotive service shop in the northwest Washington state region.

This regionally acclaimed shop sits within an easy drive east of the awe-inspiring, pristine Olympic National Forest and Mount Washington, located about 50 miles southwest of Seattle, in the town of Belfair.

Started in 1997 in a two- stall shop, it has established itself as the “go-to” repair facility in the area, even offering 24/7 roadside assistance. Owner and founder Jeff Baker stresses that he is backed by the “team” with a common goal: to keep customers on the road and to make the process of getting them up and running a pleasant one.

He noted, “Our team teaches that certain vehicle servicing will make systems on the car last longer and educates the customer to identify proper service intervals. Our technicians strive to consult with and educate the customer, enabling them to make the best budget-based decisions with regard to repair and service.”

How did the business start?

Baker initially worked for another shop. He noted that during that period, “I learned how not to run a business. I saw customers and technicians being treated unfairly, and that prompted me to quit and start my own business, out of my home garage. I knew that I simply had to do something different.”

Business philosophy

Baker’s response to this topic was immediate and adamant. “Treat the customer as you would like to be treated. That may sound like a cliché, but it’s absolutely on-target. Also, always follow your gut instinct when facing a problem.”

Where do you buy your parts?

Baker noted, “We are an ACDelco Professional Service Center, purchasing from Seattle Automotive Distributors. However, like most shops, we also buy from OEM dealerships and the occasional buy from the local NAPA stores when the need arises. For European vehicles, we also source parts, when needed, from Worldpac. Our vehicle brand service work is split about 60% domestic and 40% import.” Baker noted that approximately 70% of their parts are sourced from Seattle Automotive Distributors.

Why do you buy from your current suppliers?

“My primary reason is loyalty. When I first started, ACDelco set me up with my initial inventory with no money down. They stocked my shop, gave me training and enabled me to offer my customers a two-year/24,000-mile warranty, which really helped. The support we receive from them is outstanding.”

Are brands important?

“Absolutely. Quality and a well-recognized brand name help to sell the customer and gives them a sense of confidence. When you’re trying to explain quality and value, the brand name recognition really helps the selling process.”

What do customers want from your shop?

Baker explained, “The customer wants more than just getting the vehicle repaired. They want a relationship and someone to trust. They want to be appreciated. When a repair has been completed, the customer pays the bill and says, ‘Thank you,’ the worst thing you can say in reply is, ‘No problem,’ as though you were doing them a favor. You need to thank them, and to let them know that their business is appreciated, and that you are concerned with the quality of the repair and their total satisfaction.”

What is your approach to technician training?

“Our technicians take advantage of ACDelco’s online training curriculum on a regular basis, which also allows them to be fully accredited and certified by ACDelco. In addition, our ACDelco field training instructor visits on a monthly basis to conduct in-shop training.”

How useful is Auto Service Professional magazine to your business?

“Aside from the high quality technical articles that our technicians read and value, two factors immediately come to mind: I find it informative and helpful to learn what other shops are doing, and I see great value in seeing what new equipment and tools are available, including both the tool review articles and the products section in the magazine.”  ■

The Local Wrench

Belfair, Washington

Owner: Jeff Baker

Years in business: 19

Number of locations: 1

Number of technicians: 5, plus Jeff, all certified

Number of bays: 10

Shop size: 8,500 square feet

Number of vehicles serviced per month: 140 – 200

Average ticket price: $450

Hourly labor rate: $98.50

Gross profit: 35% – 40%

Annual average tool and equipment expenditure: $10,000 – $20,000

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August 2020

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