Doug Grills from AutoStream Car Care Center is a chain of six family-owned, automotive service facilities that deliver honest and professional automotive repair and maintenance services to customers in the Greater Baltimore/Washington, DC area. Doug along with his partner Rick Levitan has been around the service station business for over 25 years and has built their reputation by offering best-in-class service to their customers.
All AutoStrem Car Care technicians are ASE Certified and the shops are AAA approved. Listen to Doug’s previous episodes HERE.
Key Talking Points:
One thing you’ve done that no one knows?Was a band-drummer and vocalist through college years. Loves experiencing a live show- attends around 12-15 live concerts per year with his wife.
What do you do for fun?Going to concerts, playing tennis and golf, exercising, spending time with his wife and family.
Most significant trend you are watching?ADAS and how it will impact business, industry consolidation
What skills do you delegate because you're not good at them?Figure out what you like to do and what you're good at- delegate other areas to other people that are better at the task than you. Visionary and integrator (task manager) of business. End result will be better than doing it on your own.
How does one start to build a strong business culture?Starts with values- what are your business values? What matters to you that you want reflected in your organization? Doug’s business values excellence, a passion for having excellence, having concern for others (customers, coworkers and community), perseverance
Do you have a strong intuition? Do you listen to it?Yes and yes! Analytical by nature but does follow intuition as well.
Do you still have the fire you had when you first started?Absolutely. Worked harder in the last 5 years and with greater passion. Love what you do because sometimes you can’t do what you love.
We learn from mistakes. What was one of your biggest mistakes?Didn’t accept personal responsibility on the individual performance of the team. But I looked in the mirror and started asking, Am I providing the training/skills/support to make sure this employee has the best possible chance of succeeding?
How do you manage work/life harmony?Work-life harmony- spending time with family and your own health while being passionate about your work. Have discipline around the things you want to do outside of work.
What drives you? Creating a great company- people love working for and customers love working with. Goal posters within a business.
How are you finding good technicians?Referrals internally
How has your business changed in the last 3 years?Read article in Ratchet and Wrench magazine and started networking and creating friendships within the industry
A special strategy to build a strong reputation?Online reviews- a goal that every location acquires online reviews. Have the courage to ask customers to review you. Word of mouth and reputation lives online.
Do you see obstacles not as roadblocks but as opportunities? Everything is part of the process- even setbacks/roadblocks. Obstacles and roadblocks are built to go around, there is always a way to find a solution.
What impact will technology have on your business?Staying up to date with tools and technology- understand the upcoming changes
Ever made a major pivot in your business? If yes, what?Started in gas stations- pivot was changing to automotive services after 5 years
Strong teams always win. What is your winning formula in developing a strong team?People who buy into your culture and enjoy working together
Would your organization crumble if you stepped aside?No- has processes and key managers in place
Is community important? Share your biggest effort? Extremely important- Breaks for Breasts, celebrated 20th anniversary of business and created a fundraiser for Make a Wish Foundation
How long ago did you update your website?Constantly making subtle updates and changes all the time. Uses Autoshop Solution for website
Ever sing karaoke?No, but he thinks about it all the time! Has similar vocal range as Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull
Thanks to Doug Grills for his contribution to the aftermarket’s premier podcast.
Link to the ‘BOOKS‘ page, highlighting all books discussed in the podcast library HERE. Leaders are readers.
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