We've made it 7 years!
7 Years is officially in the books for Stew’s Self Service Garage! It’s amazing to reflect every year on not just what we did in the previous year, but also reflecting upon where we started. It’s a very stark contrast from the beginnings to now. We pour any profits we have into upgrading equipment, adding equipment, and doing our best to offer livable wages and amazing benefits to our staff. With our aggressive reinvestment we have upgraded nearly every aspect of the shop area, and many behind the scenes systems to make renting a bay easier. There are still areas of improvement, and there are also things we wanted to get feedback on to see what matters most to you, our amazing clients. We received hundreds of responses from you all, and we have been reading and compiling all the responses over the past weeks to prioritize what we can do to make the service even better. I’m excited to give you all a sneak peak as to what we have already begun working on, and what is to come next.
First, the most neglected area of the garage is certainly our back work area where the press is. For years it has been unorganized and chaotic back there. This was something we’ve been aiming to fix, but kept getting put on the back burner. One of the more requested things from your feedback was to improve that area, and bring it up to par with the work bays. I’m excited to say that we have already begun the efforts to fix that area. We have purchased a large L shaped stainless work bench that will have 2 vises, a drill press, bench grinder, chop saw, and belt sander on it. Below it we will have cabinets for storage, as well as drawer cabinets to house the spare bolts and hardware. We are also adding a 48″ toolbox with stainless steel work surface on top to house all of our press tools. This will provide a final home for all of our press tools, as well as a work area while using the presses. Yes, I said presses, because we are also going to add another 20 ton press. Too many times recently we have had more than 1 person needing the press, leading to wasting your time waiting. The estimated delivery of our new equipment is mid-February, so there is a little bit of a wait. But we promise, it will be very worth it!
Tool Room/Air Compressor
Next, we have moved the air compressor and are in the process of making the tool room bigger. Our air compressor can be noisy when it fires up, and can startle people washing their hands. After reading in multiple responses asking what that noise was, and can we fix it, we knew we needed to take action ASAP. Fortunately we can fix it, and we have moved the air compressor to the back storage area! Now we will have more room for tools, and less noise when it turns on.
This means we will look into providing certain manufacturer specific specialty tools we don’t currently offer. We aim to provide as many tools as we possibly can, so we always enjoy increasing our selection of tools. Since we have been out of room for some time in the tool room, we have had to limit how many more tools we could acquire. We also resisted buying manufacturer specific specialty tools because of the cost associated with them, and their infrequency of use. We will be adding tools that we know will be used most frequently first, and then see how often they are used, and if we will have room for more things. Because now our tool room will hold more than just tools too!
The roadblock keeping us from stocking fluids, parts, and consumables has been space. Our tool room is so small, and was the only fitting place for us to be able to sell this type of thing from. We have maximized what we can fit into it, but it’s not been able to handle anything more for a long time now. But, with the expansion of the tool room, we will now have space to stock more parts, fluids, and consumables! We plan to stock a selection of the common flavors of engine oil, transmission fluids, and gear oils. We are also planning on stocking more crush washers, nuts, bolts, electrical connectors, and lots of other miscellaneous little things that always get lost or forgotten about. Less waiting for a parts store delivery means more wrenching!
I’m grouping many of the similar suggestions together into one category of some form of loyalty or membership program. Discounts, friend referral rewards, a points system, different rates for different days, paid memberships, and a few others all somewhat fit under this umbrella. We’ve said in the past we weren’t ready to do one, or that we didn’t know how we would implement one, and just put it on the back burner. Since it was the most requested thing when you put all the similar suggestions together, we are now actively determining a best way to implement such a system. It’s important to us to get this right, both from a customer facing side, and an employee facing side. If it isn’t easy to use for everyone, it just isn’t going to work well. As we get further down the road with how we want to do it, we’ll be reaching out again asking what specifically people would like to see from it. For now, I promise it is something that is coming soon, and it is actively being worked on. We are targeting sometime in the first half of 2022 to have this completed. This one may take more time as we dial in an exact implementation and make sure we are offering what you want to see in a program.
In the past we have run classes on our own, and with car clubs. When we’ve run them on our own, participation was close to non-existent. It was a strong request in the survey, so we will revisit it in some form or fashion. We love to see that people want to receive more education on car repair! We will be following up on this to find out more specifically what people would like to learn so we are offering classes tailored to what you want. Expect to see something in early 2022 from us about it.
Last, but not least, our online scheduler will be going through changes within the next year. This isn’t something we can change quickly, as there doesn’t seem to be a good way to implement the features people are requesting. We will either need to have our own scheduler program built, or heavily adapt the one we are using for it to meet the needs. In general the way schedulers work is that you input what and when you want to schedule, and then it shows you if it’s available or not. What most people are requesting is somewhat the inverse of that. You’d like to be able to see the availability of each bay for each day up front, and then input what you want to schedule. While this is how it works for us on the employee facing side, it is a little more complicated from the client side. We can’t allow a calendar view on the front end with our current scheduler because it will display your personal information publicly. We’ve been looking at other alternatives, but haven’t found one that offers the features being requested.
In the meantime, we have implemented a temporary solution, that may become permanent if people like the change that has been made. We will still be searching for a more ideal solution, but we hope this change is welcomed. We have made it so you can select 2 post, or 4 post lifts and that will allow you to let the scheduler choose the first available lift of that type. From there you can select how much time you’d like, and you can leave the bay selection as ‘Any’ to let it pick for you, or pick a bay you’d like and then schedule. This should reduce the amount of back and forth for you when making an appointment.