Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Business Feature: Sam’s Automotive Waterford - Sam Hanna

As part of something I’m doing to feature different businesses and help provide additional sources of business tips from multiple perspectives, I’m featuring different companies or organizations.  This time, I interviewed my auto mechanic.  Not only  is he a nice guy, but his business is really successful.  Speaking (or writing) as his customer, I understand why.

This Week’s Featured Business: Sam Hanna of Sam’s Automotive (Waterford, MI)

Sam Hanna is from Iraq, and he is the face of Sam’s Automotive in Waterford (MI), and he runs a successful auto repair shop.

If you would rather read than watch a video, below I provide some of her background and summarize the notes I took from that interview at his shop.  Technically, it was after hours, but you’d never know it, as people still kept coming inside and making appointments.  So he’s doing something right, and I decided to take time to ask him.

An Introduction to Sam of Sam’s Automotive
I met Sam several years ago as his customer.

A friend of mine has a neighbor who is a really good mechanic, and I needed some work done on my car.  I kept calling my buddy’s neighbor, but he wouldn’t return my calls.  Finally, he told me that he’s too busy and didn’t want to work on my car.

However, he referred me to Sam at Sam’s Automotive.  Despite the referral, I wasn’t sure, because most of us know that there are lots of auto mechanics that like to rip off people.

It didn’t take long while I was there to see that Sam is incredibly nice.  Once he finished fixing my car, he walked me through things that were needed and things that weren’t.  All in all, I had somewhat major repairs done to my car, and it was not as expensive as I expected.

Plainly, I got the feeling that he’s an honest guy, an honest car mechanic.

I drive older cars, so I need a good auto mechanic more than many other people do.  Every time I’m in there, he walks me through things.  In fact, sometimes, I go to him thinking I need to fix something, and he shows me that everything is okay.  When this happens I ask him, “How much do I owe you?”  He does NOT let me pay him!  (How many other auto repair shops will do THAT?)

Notes from the Interview

Sam Hanna worked as an auto mechanic for about ten (10) years before opening up his own repair shop in 2009.  He worked by himself for the first two (2) years.  Once he started getting enough business to support it, he hired one (1) helper.

Reason Sam started the Business:

Started Company: 2009

Type of Company: Automotive Repair - Suspension, Engine, Transmission
(No collision work)

How did you get started fixing cars?
“To find something to do, and I have a passion for cars.”

From the time he was a kid, he was interested in mechanical things.

What made you decide to go into business for yourself?
“Our business is kind of hard on the body, and the older you get, it’s harder to work. So I figure (that) one day I won’t be able to do it.”

This way, he can find a way to make money using his knowledge and experience with cars, but he can hire other people to do the more demanding physical work once his body no longer can tolerate the day-to-day pounding.  More or less, he “can be just a supervisor (and still get paid).”

How long were you in business (by yourself) before you hired people?
2 years - “(Eventually) I hired one person as a helper.”

How did you build your business and get clients when you first started?
I did some advertisement through (ValPak), and I started working on people’s cars, like AutoZone, Al’s Quick Lube.  So (they would) see my service, and they started recommending me to people.”

“The best advertisement is word-of-mouth.  That’s what they say.”

“When you treat people right, what goes around comes around.”

How long were you in business before you knew you had a good chance of succeeding?
“Three years ago (in 2012) I was thinking that this business was going to take off, because (more customers and people) know about this place, and more people (are) recommending other people…So, it’s just a chain.”

“When you do good work with reasonable prices, your business will take off.”

Besides personal customers, do you have any corporate accounts?
Car Dealerships
Warranty Companies

What do you suggest to people just first starting a business?
“(Financially) you need to be prepared.  You need to have some money set aside to be prepared, because when you first start a business from scratch, (your) financials are going to be hard, and when you start trying to do the right thing, be financially prepared.”

You won’t be making money for the first couple of years.  Plus, some months will be better than others, and you need to prepare for some of those slower months that you’re sure to have in the beginning.

“Until you build that kind of clientele, you’re not going to have that (customer flow) balance.”

“They need to do it right and do a good job with reasonable prices.”

“Be financially prepared for the first two years, and do the right thing.  Don’t take advantage of the customers, and do a good job when you work on their cars…Trust is the big thing.  People won’t trust you if you don’t treat them well.”

How would you suggest the people try to build their clientele in the early stages?
“Ask the customers (for feedback).”

Ask for repeat business by saying things like, “Keep us in mind for next time.”

“Treat the customer right, because when you treat somebody right, he will tell (people), no matter what,” earning referrals in the process.

If you were first starting, would you use ValPak (coupon mailers) again to market?
“Valpak is good, because (according to a business magazine) 58% of people look through (those coupons).”

So they bring in people, but he doesn’t use them today.  He has too many customers to have to lure in people with coupons, like those in ValPak.

How to Connect with Sam Hanna of Sam’s Automotive

Website: None
Phone: (248) 623-2213

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey there! Thank you for taking time to read my post and share your thoughts with me and my other readers. I'm always tickled when I get a non-SPAM comment. Honestly, sometimes I'm even okay with some borderline SPAM.

Let me know if you would like for me to address a topic by sending me an email at Chris@TheUltimateAnalyst.com.

Thanks, again. I look forward to seeing you soon.