PartsTech Shop Highlight: East Hill Tire
We spoke with Rob Albrecht co-owner of East Hill Tire Point S located in Kent, WA. Rob took time out of his busy schedule to talk about what it takes to be successful in the industry, and how PartsTech cuts time out of his parts ordering workflow.
Tell us your name, the name of your shop and a little bit about you and your business.
My name is Rob Albrecht and I'm the co-owner of East Hill Tire in Kent, WA. We’re a second-generation shop, our father started the business back in 1959 and now my brother and I run the business. We have 3 full-time technicians operating out of 5 bays. Right now tire services account for about 30-35% of our business with the rest being maintenance, mechanical repair, and diagnostic work.
How does PartsTech change the way you order parts?
PartsTech has been a total game-changer in terms of speed. We can build a really complex estimate in seconds.
Everything is really easy to find in PartsTech, I just type in a keyword and all the related parts will pop up. I can build a front brake job in 3 clicks then hit a button to add those parts to the estimate.
It saves us a lot of time, if you add that up over a day or a week it's a major difference.
What was it like before PartsTech?
We used an older piece of software built into our management system. It was great when it first came out but over the years it's really slowed down. I thought initially that it was a problem with our computer system but even after upgrading it’s still extremely slow and pretty inefficient actually. It just really hasn't kept pace with the technology.
How long would it take to find parts for an average RO before you switched to PartsTech?
Depending on the size of the job it used to take several minutes to build an estimate. One issue our old system had is that you could only look up parts one category at a time so if you’re building a job that requires several different parts you have to repeat the process for each part and that takes quite some time.
What does it take to be successful in this business?
I’d say that honesty and communication are two of the most important things in this business. It takes a long time to earn an honest reputation especially nowadays when customers come to you with a history of bad experiences. When our dad started the business back in 1959 everything was based on a handshake, you’d look a customer right in the eye, stand behind your work, and earn their business. We try to continue in that tradition.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing the industry right now?
I think one of the biggest challenges right now is getting young people into the field. We’re lucky in the sense that we’ve never really had high turnover. As people retire, move, or change career paths we’ve had to replace them, and finding good talent is very very hard. It seems to me that young people aren't really interested in a career in auto repair. I’m always reaching out to local colleges and trade schools looking for an up-and-comer but haven't had all that much success with that recently.
Another one of our ongoing challenges is keeping up with the latest vehicle technology and finding reliable repair information for these newer more complicated vehicles. We recently had a newer Ford Transit van in for brake service. With that vehicle, all of the brake bolts are one-time-use and need to be replaced. I’ve heard about shops that didn't have that repair information reusing those bolts having hubs come loose or wheels fall off.
How has COVID-19 changed the way you do business?
COVID has changed how we interact with our customers quite a bit. We’ve been doing a lot of deliveries of vehicles, disinfecting vehicles, meeting our customers in the parking lot, and writing them up on a tablet. It’s definitely changed how we do business.
What’s one thing you do better than your competition?
I would say we’ve got a reputation in the neighborhood for stability, honesty, and reliability. 80% of our business is word of mouth. We don’t really advertise all that much but we’re typically booked up 2-3 weeks in advance.
What does a great day at the shop look like?
A great day would be getting the vehicles in, getting them diagnosed quickly, getting authorization, and getting the vehicle out the door the same day. A great day is when everything goes exactly as planned.
On parts, do you look for the best quality available or the best value?
There's kind of a mix but we typically go for quality. We’ve been burned a lot by bad aftermarket parts. I try to always go with the original factory part when I can find it. We had a series of aftermarket fuel pumps fail under warranty for this one customer until I was able to find a dealer that happened to have a new old stock fuel pump on the shelf. We installed that one and the customer never came back with that problem again.
To learn more about how PartsTech can help you cut the time and hassle out of parts ordering click here.