Bryan Jewett has always been a gear head. In 2000, right out of high school, he got a job working at Advanced Auto Tech. The first tool they handed him was a broom, but it didn’t take long for them to hand him a wrench so that he could begin working as a mechanic. Five years later, Bryan started working at Casey’s Automotive, a shop owned by Bill Casey.
Bill gave him a piece of advice that stuck with him for years to come, “We’re in the service industry, not the sales industry. Focus on relationships, not on sales”. In 2015, Bill expressed that he was ready to retire, and Bryan was ready for a new challenge. Bill Casey decided to leave his company in the hands of someone he could trust to grow the business and stay true to his values, his mentee, Bryan Jewett.
In 2017, Casey’s Automotive opened its second location. Bryan continues to invest in Casey’s and everyone who relies on it—his family, his team, his teams’ families, and the good people of Chantilly and Sterling, Virginia.
This field is a tough field to be in, especially as a technician. The absolute truth is that nobody wants to buy the product of automotive repair. It's not a fun purchase. People want to buy new iPhones. They want to buy new running shoes. They want to buy things, toys, stuff they can play with. Automotive repair is kind of like one of those things where it's like, "I have to buy an alternator because my car doesn't work, and if my car doesn't work, I can't go pick up my kid at soccer or go to my job."
If my team can’t enjoy the place that they're at, and they are at that location for 8 to 10 hours a day, it's a huge part of their life that they’re just not enjoying.
Now, I'm not saying that we're running around here playing tic-tac-toe all day. What we try to do is make it a better environment. So, we got everybody's input about what they want to get out of their job at Casey's, and we built our motto and our mission statement around that. They wanted an opportunity to grow. They wanted the opportunity to have job security. They wanted to enjoy the place that they worked at. That's really where that culture change came in.
I was like, "Alright. Well, how do we do this?" The obvious things, giving someone the opportunity to have job security and to grow, that's not rocket science.
You need to grow the business so that the individual can grow. The business can't grow without having that individual, so the two kind of go hand-in-hand.
Just trying to meet the needs of my employees and listening to the basic things that they wanted was how we changed the culture.
Every January, we do a goal-poster day. Every employee that works for us writes down their goals, no matter what they are—professional, personal—and then I go out and buy a hundred different magazines. They get poster boards, cut out pictures that represent their goals, and they glue them to their poster board. That way they can track their goals. But to get a bunch of grown men around a table to play arts and crafts and then kind of break down the barrier of that personal drive that they have, it really creates some camaraderie between them.
The neatest thing is when they cross things off their goal board throughout the year, and then when we do that first meeting in January about the goal posters, and they stand up and say, "Hey, listen. In 2019, I never thought I'd end up buying a house that has a separate garage and a nice patio. Me and my wife completed that in 2019." It's awesome to be able to see that. And helping your employees define their goals and then maybe even complete their goals, it goes right back to our mission statement about growing as individuals.
Our main customers are local families. 90% of the work we do is on Toyota Camrys, Honda Minivans, F1-50 pickups—you know, the normal, everyday driver stuff. And then we have some specific niche customers that are kind of your off-roader type customers: big wheels and tires, Jeeps, and lift kits. Off road vehicles are kind of our specialty, the fun stuff that we do. I've always been like a five year old at heart. I've always liked trucks. The bigger the truck, the better.
About four years ago, we hired a guy who worked at an off-roading shop and, naturally, he brought some of those customers over with him, and we got more into that market. So just as a team building thing, we'll do some off-roading events and bring our team out there, try to meet up with our customers out there on the trails.
What we'll do is set up at a place that usually allows camping and trail riding. We'll rent a campsite, set up trail riding, grill food, cook breakfast, and just kind of get together outside of work. We'll reach out to our customer base, people who have done some of that off-roading work on their vehicles, and of course our employees and our families.
People spend a lot of money on these rigs, so it's great to be able to help them set something up and get together some type of event where they can actually use that Jeep or truck or SUV with their lift-kits and their wheels and tires and their wench upgrades, or whatever it might be. We get them out on the trail and have some fun.
Now, when we do an event, Casey's will sponsor the event by doing giveaways, setting up the event, and making sure that there is insurance for the event. We gave away a winch at our last event. It was like an 8,000 pound winch. We'll give away light bars all the way down to like, toe straps, D-Rings, just off-roading accessory type stuff. But it's really just meeting the people and supporting the local off road community.
Every year we do Casey's Automotive Spring Fling and Car Show, which benefits Ellie's Hats. Ellie's Hats is a great organization that supports families of kids who have been diagnosed with cancer. Contestants pay to show their car at the event. We have a lot of free family fun activities, and we hold a silent auction. All the proceeds go back to Ellie's Hats. We raised $4,000 the first year, $6,000 the second, and $8,000 the third. We’re shooting for $10,000 this Spring.
We build the trophies for that car show out of motor parts: pistons, bearings—stuff like that. We'll pick children from the crowd and have them pick their favorite car to give out awards for stuff like “The Most Awesomest Car” or “The Super Duper Truck Award” .It's cool! It's a really neat event. Really fun. A lot of music and food. We open up the shop so that people could go in and out of the shop. People flood the parking lot with just the most unbelievable cars. It really brings a lot of people together and makes everyone happy.
What really matters when you're running a business is: do you have clients? Are you making them happy? Being there for my team and my community is a big part of that because my guys have personal things they want to accomplish. And the truth is, if they can do their job better, that means that they can prosper more at their job, be there for our clients, and in turn, make more goals for themselves. A big part of supporting my team is having a shop management system that supports us.
We knew that we wanted to change from what we were using to a cloud-based system. The system that we were using for our courtesy inspection and our pictures never really played nicely with our operating program.
One problem we found with many newer systems was that the courtesy inspection was not a separate function within the program. A huge benefit to the customer is to be able to go through the inspection and then the estimate. When you provide pictures and the estimation and dollar amount, the only thing a customer sees are the dollar amounts. I don't care how beautiful or ugly the pictures are. I don't care what description you have in there. They see dollar amounts.
And if you're focused on helping the customer, you need to put an emphasis on, "Here are the conditions of repair. Here are the conditions of maintenance." and providing that in a separate function—the courtesy inspection—allows them to digest that. Then you can go over what things cost, what is important, what they can hold off on, and what they need to do now.
The fact that Tekmetric had a courtesy inspection and the estimate as two separate functions was a game changer. It was really a no-brainer. The support we got from Tekmetric was another great thing for us. If I had an issue, one, there's a community, and two, somebody from the company would reach out to us immediately for assistance. The system that we were using took weeks to get back to us.
One of the coolest things that happened when we switched to Tekmetric was that immediately, our long-term clients were like, "Wow. I really like this new system you're using. I've never seen it before!" It was separating us from our competition, making us look like we're from 2020. Their ability to decipher what's going on with their car, dissect that and understand it was very transparent. They could say "approve, approve. Decline, decline" right from their cell phone. Our customers love it. They think it's awesome.
And my team loves it, too. Hour one, everyone was resisting change, and it was the change that they didn't like. Now? The speed at which it allows my counter to write service, price parts, talk to customers, interact there, approve jobs or decline jobs-- that speed has doubled. It has improved two-fold. So if it took them 20 minutes to write an estimate, it's taking them 10 minutes.
And my technicians, the system they were using made it hard for them to talk to my advisers. When their tablets were crashing, it was harder for them to write up a vehicle for the issues. Not now. Now, with Tekmetric, that part is easier for them. They get to look at more cars. They get to interact with the car and with my advisers quicker. The shop, across the board, loves it. And we haven’t had to deal with a single crash of the system, which was always something that would happen with our old systems.
Tekmetric supports me by giving me a window into my shops to see what's going on. I can open that up from my phone, whether I'm in Arizona or Starbucks or upstairs. It allows me to be there for my team and have the confidence that I can open up a third location.
The Shop Overview immediately gives me the car count and the average repair order. It shows me what is a work in progress, what cars are completed, what estimates have been given out. I can pretty much see if it's going to be a busy week or a slow week on that page.
You gotta remember, auto repair is not a product people want to buy, so they don't care if you have a sale on auto alignments. But they do care if they're past due for an oil change. With Tekmetric, I can reach into our database, see who’s due for an oil change or repairs, and basically reach out and touch my customers on the shoulder and say, "Hey, listen. The last time you were out for an oil change was 3 months ago. We have some openings. Come on in and make an appointment." It ensures that I’m always looking out for our clients, and that we’re always helping people.
I'm not the best mechanic. I'm not the smartest businessman. I've just been able to help my employees grow. Help them provide. Help them have the opportunity to get the things they want professionally, and naturally the business just grows around that.
For more information about Casey's Automotive, visit caseysautomotive.com