Chris's Auto Repair: Big Business in the Big River City
Sioux Falls, S.D., is home to an array of historical, cultural and recreational attractions, with the impressive Big Sioux River and Chris’s Auto Repair LLC among the top of the list. This may sound a bit of an exaggeration at first, but Chris’s has gained quite a bit of notoriety since its beginnings a mere seven years ago.
The shop has earned a well-deserved reputation among its growing customer base as a top-shelf service location that works diligently to provide quality service and goes the extra mile to fulfill its customers’ needs and expectations. The shop is a mere 10 blocks from the center of Sioux Falls and caters to both local customers and the substantial number of spring/summer/fall tourist/traveler customers who require timely repairs.
Years ago owner Chris Rieger worked the North Dakota and Colorado oil fields as a roughneck. Reaching a point where he tired of the travel, he worked as a tech at a Ford dealership. After gaining valuable experience, he decided to work at an independent shop where he was exposed to a work environment that he disliked.
“That shop did not have a good culture for the workers or the customers. I realized that I could do much better in terms of running a business that treated people with the respect they deserved. I initially rented a bay at a local shop. Soon thereafter, the owner decided to retire, so I purchased the business, shop and contents, from him in 2015. Having quickly outgrown that location, in November of 2019 we purchased a new building on a major road in the Sioux Falls area. “
Having quickly outgrown the original location, in 2019, the shop moved to a new six-bay building on a major road.
1. Does your shop offer general automotive repair or do you tend to specialize in specific makes or types of repairs?
We perform basically any/all repairs to any make/model.
2. What is your business philosophy?
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. They are not dependent on us -- we are dependent on them. They are not an interruption in our work, they are the purpose of it. They are not outsiders in our business, they are part of it. We are not doing them a favor by serving them, they are doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to serve them.
Rieger (left) enjoys teaching son Jason the ropes. Rieger notes that Jason is eager to learn and absorbs knowledge quickly.
3. Where do you buy your parts?
We primarily buy from Advanced Auto, but we also work with Autozone, O’Reilly and a few of the local parts stores as well. For OEM needs we use local dealers.
4. Do your parts buying decisions tend to be more heavily influenced by price or quality? What influences your parts buying decisions? Rank from 0 to 3, with 0 having no influence and 3 having the greatest influence.
Brand name recognition........... 3
Promotion in racing.................. 0
Perceived quality...................... 3
Other: We try to read/research to stay informed about newly offered parts
5. What do customers want/expect from your shop?
Communication is a top priority. They also expect timely service, honesty and naturally they expect quality repairs. All of these may seem obvious, but we are committed to work tirelessly to fulfill their expectations. We also offer loaner vehicles when the need arises.
Chris’s goes above and beyond for his customers. A case in point is when a customer’s dog needed to get to the vet while the customer’s vehicle was being serviced, Rieger gladly obliged.
6. What is your approach to technician training?
We have a training and goals schedule for our technicians, Our goal is to have them obtain ASE master certification status. We use AVI on demand ASE modules. I pay for the testing, plus we give the technician a bonus on the tool truck as an incentive. We also attend local training courses that are conducted several times each year.
7. How has ASP benefited your business?
Sadly, I’ve only recently started to read the magazine and the on-line issues. I really love the content that I have seen so far. I will make sure that I’m a subscriber and look forward to reading each issue, as well as making sure that my tech’s read each issue as well. The technical features are outstanding and informative, and the new products section is extremely helpful in making us aware of what’s out there.