Hi. It’s Amy and Shirley from Think Creative.
We’re here today with Patrick at Flagstaff Buick GMC. Patrick is a service manager, and he’s got a lot of great stuff he wants to tell us all about service. So welcome Patrick.
Hi. How are you today?
Yes. How are you today? And thank you for joining us.
Good. Sure. Thank you for having me.
Okay. So Patrick, let’s just jump right into it and have you start up by just telling us a little bit about you, about who you are, and how you got started in the service industry.
Sure. I’m Patrick, of course. I started in the service industry– I actually grew up in a garage. My grandfather owned a garage, had two homes there, basically grew up there and been at it ever since [laughter].
So was it that you were five years old, did your father, grandfather just told you, “Come on mijo,” or whatnot, and then just come over here?
Yes. I was in the garage all the time running around, getting in trouble.
Getting in trouble?
Did they show you how to fix an engine?
Yes. I would get into– sure. One of the best memories I have, I guess, I was actually five years old. My uncle at the time, he had us siphon gas at five years old [laughter]. So yeah.
Gosh. Right. So is it all your family members? Is that what they did?
Yes. Everybody on my mother’s side. Most of my uncles are still technicians. We still have the garage.
So you probably just live and breathe just the engine, right, the engine, the vehicle. Do you also purchase any type of old cars and fix it? Is that something like your passion?
Sure. I buy vehicles. Of course, if I can get a great deal, I’ll purchase another vehicle. I teach my son. He works on them at home.
How old is your son, by the way?
Okay. So you’re passing it right on down in the family. That’s great.
So you’ve just always done it. This is what you have always done.
Yes. Didn’t always work at it, I would say. So, before, I had other odd jobs when I was a teenager, but I always fixed my own vehicles. I’ve just always done it. Before I had a driver’s license, I would hang out at junkyards. They let me hang out there. I could fix vehicles, drive them around.
Hey. That’s the cheapest way, right, just learn how to fix a vehicle. That’s awesome.
That’s kind of cool.Yeah. So what do you like about it?
It’s just part of me. I wouldn’t say there’s a specific– in my position now, I do like helping people. So I think of it more now rather than the technician aspect, I think I would better just be being helpful to someone. Someone is having issues with their vehicle passing through town, I’d like to say that we’ve done our part to try to help that person get back on their vacation, do what they– go where they needed to go.
That’s great. That has to be a good feeling. Yeah. And so how did you come to be at Flagstaff Buick GMC?
Actually, I came here– when they were switching ownership here, actually, yeah, I drove by. Previous owners had no vehicles out here, and I told my wife, I said, “That’s where I am going to work next [laughter].” I did. I said, “Six months, I’ll go apply there.” Six months later I came and applied [laughter].
And did you start off as a technician or where’d you start?
No. Actually, I came in as a manager here, which I’ve managed other dealerships before.
So how long has it been now that you’ve been here?
It’s been three and a half years. It’ll be four in May.
Great. That’s fantastic
What have you implemented different from the other stores?
Here? From my other stores?
So, I guess, one of the biggest things that we do here, we’re– I wouldn’t say I didn’t do it at other locations, but here we’re more empowered is honesty. Everybody is held– if we make a mistake, we say we make a mistake, we make it right. All my technicians, whether it’s the lead technician, my lot attendant, anything goes wrong, they damage anything, it’s brought to my attention right away. They are not in trouble. We’re doing this to take care of the customer. We never try to hide anything. We’re completely honest about everything that we do here.
So it seems like I’m sure the community probably knows that, correct?
Yes. Just a situation today if you guys want to know–
So I had a customer– my advisor calls me over, Melissa, she says, “This is the customer that was here with that bus a month or so ago, had some AC work done with us, took the vehicle in Salt Lake City, started having another AC issue.” I said, “What is it he would like to go over with me?” She says, “I think he wants his money back,” she said, “but I can let you talk to him. This is our bill. This is what he had to pay over there.” I said, “Not a problem.” I bring the gentleman into my office and started having a conversation. And I’m making sure that he understands different debris in his AC system. He had a previous shop work on it before us. They replaced an AC compressor, brings it to us. We find debris, metal debris, from a compressor going out. We cleaned out all his lines and everything, send him on the way. His compressor goes out again, and that’s his other bill. He said, “Okay.” So he says, “They didn’t clean it the first time I had it done so you guys did,” so that’s fine. He says, “Then I went and they said that all this debris and then that’s what took out the compressor again.” I explained to him that the compressor coming apart inside is what’s sending the debris everywhere. Long story short, we’re having a conversation and I asked him. I said, “So you tell me what I can do for you, what you would like for me to do, and I’ll see if I can do that for you.” He says, “Honestly, Patrick,” he says, “I had this conversation with you. It was not what I expected.” He says, “I expected you to be upset that I’m coming here to bring this up to you.” He says, “But you’ve handled it so well, asking me what you can do for me,” He says, “I’m just glad we had a conversation,” he says–
Wow. Because it could’ve ended ugly. Wow.
Yeah. That’s incredible.
Yes. But with just communication, he says, “Just the way you’ve been communicating, asking me what I want,” he says, “and explaining everything to me.” He says, “This is all I want.” He is an owner of an account here in town. He says, “I’ll be bringing all my business to you.” He says, “I just bought another company.” He says, “I really appreciate just for you taking the time and the way you handled it.”
I think that’s the biggest key, is taking the time for the customer to know that you care. And the biggest thing, like you had said, is honesty. So that’s amazing. That resonates everywhere else.
Yes. And I did thank him, just so you guys know. I did thank him for coming in, bringing it to my attention. I do want to have these conversations with the customer. I’m not always on the drive. I’m not always in the shop knowing everything that’s going on. This is what I explained to him. So I appreciate anytime he wants to come in and have a sit-down, we’ll talk and [crosstalk] it that way.
Yeah. That’s great. Good communication is key.
All right. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about your service department here? Yeah. Just–
How many technicians? Who’s back there?
Sure. So right now, I’ve got– as of right now, I’ve got three lube technicians. I’ve got four technicians and two, they are 100% certified GM technicians. I got a shop foreman, Bill, over 30 years experience with GM. Yeah. We got lots of experience with Doug. Doug’s probably got 25 years experience with GM, great technicians, all certified.
[crosstalk] lube technicians, just so you know.
Okay. So they’re all certified. What goes into the–
Yes. They’re all GM-certified.
What goes into the certification? Do they have to do some testing?
Oh, it’s a lot of training.
Or what is that?
So let’s take Bill, who’s 100% certified in GM. If I was to bring him in everyday, all day, and just have him do nothing but training, it would probably take him close to three years to complete that training.
Three years straight.
That’s an intensive training. That’s a lot of knowledge.
That is [crosstalk]. That sounds like a degree right there. Yeah [laughter].
It is. And they’re constantly going to new training, new classes that come up.
So new updates, new training is on every certain–?
Yeah. Every quarter.
Wow. So they’re constantly always learning.
Oh my gosh. Okay.
That’s great. That’s good so the customers can feel they’re confident bringing their cars here.
Now, is that something where you guys only service Buicks? Is that one of GM’s or–?
No. Actually, all the training is for actually GM vehicles, whether it would be Chevy, Cadillac, Buick, GMC. That is the actual training, but we do service all makes and models.
So any vehicles, so even if I have a Chevy or–
Bring your Dodge. Yes.
Yes. We service all makes and models. Of course, all my technicians, before they done all the GM training, they did work at other places before. They worked for other manufacturers.
Oh, that’s nice.
Okay. It’s good to know.
So at least the consumer doesn’t feel like they have to go into the local factory dealership. They can go to–
Yeah. They can go to– they could come here.
Correct. Just yesterday, I had a customer bringing her Dodge. She is one of our customers from previous vehicles she’s had, and she’s been going to her Dodge dealer, but she has some concerns after what they told her. She stops by, we go out there, we listen to it. Yes. We work on all makes and models.
Definitely. And it sound–
Flagstaff Buick GMC works at all makes and models.
Yeah. And it sounds like you’ve established a really good relationship with your customers that they’re coming back and bringing their new cars.
A different vehicle of all different models. Wow.
They trust you guys. That’s good.
So is there any benefit to bringing a car to a dealership instead of a local independent shop? Is there–?
Sure. So, again, if we go back to the GM, the certifications these guys got, you definitely want to bring your GMs here. Again, let’s say my customer with her other make and model, we still have programs that we can see how their systems work. I really don’t remember what I was saying.
So the other programs, [crosstalk]–
Sure. So we have other programs, other online sources that we can use. It’s not all the same information that the dealership has but it’s close to the other manufacturers.
Got you. So for the local store, the consumers believe that it’s definitely cheaper, possibly quicker. Is that something that you guys would be able to implement? Do the consumers know that it’s probably the same amount of price and it’s probably even better-equipped to go to a dealership than when it comes to a local store or shop?
Sure. And, of course, knowledge of the brand is always best. Other than that, we do have national retail pricing, which you’re not charged more than a certain dollar amount for a certain services, and that’s nationwide. A lot of times, things like our six-quart full synthetic oil change, where normally a consumer in another location would pay 80 to 100 dollars, we’re actually doing that for $49.95 plus taxes and shop supplies.
Wow. That’s synthetic? That’s full?
Yes. That is full synthetic.
That’s the same amount of price that you can get at a local store if that.
No. I think they even charge more.
Now, the other things that we’re going to do is we’re going to do–
Or charge more. Wow.
Sure. We also do multi-point vehicle inspection, an MPVI.
What is that?
27-point inspection on a vehicle, we like to call it an MPVI. We’ll do that with every visit on your vehicle. We will visually inspect everything, see if we see anything that sticks out to us, whether it’d be your brakes or tires. anything visual. We’ll take a look at your filters, your air filter, your climate control filter. We’ll do this inspection. That’s included in that $49.95. And we also implement a tire rotation with that service.
Oh. Wow. Okay. So yeah.
So with the oil change, you’ll also get a tire rotation.
And the multi-point inspection.
And the multi-point inspection as well.
So that’s a huge benefit.
And then I’m going to give you a coupon for an exterior wash on your vehicle.
Oh. Say they’re all [crosstalk].
Oh, and I would always need that, so.
Yeah. For sure. We all need a wash.
So I would say things like an oil change, it might take this a little bit longer, but we’re doing a lot more than, say, another place you would just pull up and say, “I need an oil change.” That’s basically all you’re going to get.
That’s all you’re going to get. And with this busy life, everybody’s go, go, go, go, go. So if you happen to take the time to be at the service department, at least the consumers would know that you guys will be looking at the vehicle, doing the service whatever they need, but the vehicle is safe once they drive off the lot.
Yeah. That’s huge. Yeah.
Correct. Definitely. And that’s what–
And then for you guys to point it out.
Definitely. We could have a customer come in today for a visit, we do a multi-point inspection, we order his parts. He comes back on Monday, we are actually doing another MPVI that Monday because that vehicle’s been driven. I don’t know if something’s changed. I don’t know if they hit a pothole.
So you’ll do it a couple of days, every visit.
That’s a good point. Yeah.
Oh, wow. You care about your store, for sure.
That’s a huge value. Yeah.
Another question, too, because I do know that a lot of times the question would be, what is a diagnostic test? What’s the value of a diagnostic test?
Sure. Well, the diagnostic is actually a process a technician has to follow depending on the specifics of that diagnostic to find out what the failed component is. So let’s say your check engine light comes on. The reason your check engine light is coming on is the computer of the vehicle noticed that there was a problem. A sensor sent it a message say, “Hey, I need help.” The computer went as far as it could in its parameters to try to resolve the issue. It couldn’t resolve it, therefore it turned on the light to let the consumer know, “Hey, I need help from a dealership.”
See, I didn’t know that. I have before had an older vehicle, check engine light comes on, didn’t know, unfortunately, got busy with our life, of course. Everybody knows, gets busy with the life, and then probably a month later, I believe, I took it in [laughter].
Yeah. Oh, wow.
But that’s something–
–that for the consumers to know that it’s important to take that vehicle in.
Definitely. Because that’s your vehicle asking you for help.
Yeah. I love the way you put that. I love that. So let’s start wrapping it up here. I just want to ask you, what’s the main piece of advice you would give customers when it comes to maintaining their car?
Sure. Maintenance. Whenever you feel an issue, you believe that there’s a problem, something doesn’t feel right, whether you have a check engine light on or not, you feel something, get it checked out. It’s always better to get it checked out before something major component or something goes wrong. Definitely always feel free– you don’t always need an appointment. There is times you can just stop by. We’ll see what we can do for you. But definitely get it checked out. It’s just like anything else. I mean, if you don’t feel good, your foot hurts, get it checked out.
It’s a lot like a doctor. You guys are the doctors of vehicles. So if there’s something wrong, just give you guys a call at Flagstaff Buick GMC, and then you guys are there to assist them.
That’s what we’re here for. We’re here to help you.
Thank you very much, Patrick. It was a pleasure to talk to you today.
Thank you, Patrick.