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RR 261: Jim and Shelly Fleischman from Automotive Alley
26th September 2017 • Remarkable Results Radio Podcast • Carm Capriotto, AAP
00:00:00 00:45:00

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Automotive Alley is a half hour ride from my home. So I got the grand tour and we interviewed in the customer lounge on a Saturday morning. Shelly and Jim’s hospitality was great and I was impressed with the breadth of work this shop performs.

Talking Points:

  • Jim attended Alfred State College for Automotive Tech.
  • He went to work for a Ford Dealership as a shop foreman.
  • Jim’s racing and organizational experience came by being part of a race team that ran Busch and NASCAR.
  • He was recruited from his alma mater, Alfred State College, and became an instructor.
    • Jim always wanted to teach and it was fate.
    • Spent fourteen years as an instructor.
    • He loved building relationships with his students.
  • Mid-career technicians may want to become an automotive technology instructor
    • Some institutions require having a teaching degree. Some do not. It depends on the degree they bestow on the student.
  • He was balancing his teaching job and owning a shop while Shelly ran the business for him.
    • Jim ultimately left his teaching job and went to work full-time in the business.
    • Shelly’s background was accounting which was good for the business overall.
  • Jim is a planner. They picked the name Automotive Alley because it can embrace many different business models and allow the business to scale.
  • Jim believes in a strong process driven company. He is all about improving efficiency.
    • Saving steps for productivity gains.
    • Anyone can study their inefficiencies and make changes to improve productivity.
    • He templated his systems against NASCAR. Immaculate, organized and tools quickly reached and found.
    • Jim perpetually works on streamlining to increase his productivity.
  • He misses teaching, but he does get his fix by helping his techs and shares insights with his customers.
  • Automotive Alley also specialized in street rod, hot rods, upgrades, and restorations.
  • For Jim, the word “can’t” is not in his vocabulary.
    • He feels that he has the facility, the people, the reference materials, the capabilities, and the procedures to do just about anything.
  • They have a daily meeting with the entire team.
  • He worked on a SEMA car and helped integrate a 2005 Mustang powerplant into a 1967 Mustang.
  • Jim and Shelly have plans to grow into more locations and even additional business models such as an off-road center.
  • They are finalizing the companies standard operating procedures to paper.
  • An impressive element in the business is how Jim integrated Smart Home Control Technology into his business.
    • Light switches, alarms, telephones all controlled by software and easy to monitor from a smartphone.
    • Every door lock has a code and he wrote a rule to turn on lights and set up the company for the start of the day to include the open sign. All of this is based on software rules.
  • Jim is a giver and will help friends in the business from his town.
  • He sees the technician shortage from a retention perspective.
    • There are many reasons some techs leave the industry yet they love working on cars.
    • Jim says his facility is clean and organized and techs like to work in a facility like his.
  • His advice to a start-up shop owner.
    • Find your niche.
      • It is not easy to do all makes and all models.
    • Only two paths to fix a car:
      • You have a code or you have a symptom.
Shop Profile
Number of locations: 1
Years in industry: 30
Years business ownership: 4
Number of technicians: 5
Number of service advisers: 1
Number of lifts: 5
Number of bays: 9
Days open: Mon – Fri
Percent Repair vs Maintenance vs Other: 70% vs 30%
Technician training hours per year: 20
Service adviser training hours per year: 8
Specialty: Technology throughout the shop is to aid in the repair process
Platform specialization: European and Asian
Personal Certifications: Automobile Service Consultant, ASE Master Certified, L1 Advanced and ASE Parts Certified
SMS: RO Writer
Paperless: Soon
Primary supplier: Auto Plus
Particpated in supplier advisory council: Yes
Performing hybrid repairs: Yes
Biggest challenges: Changes in technology
Involved in a mastermind group: Yes
Entrepreneur hack: A very unique use of the Google Chrome Platform


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