Just one year ago, Kyle Wharff, owner of Ace Sullins CARSTAR in Miramar, Fla., took home the FenderBender Award in the executive category. When Wharff was featured in the magazine in September 2016, his impressive shop numbers showed readers why he was worthy of the award. And the numbers remain impressive one year later: His net promoter score (NPS) sits at 97 percent, 95.5 percent of his customers felt as though they were kept informed about their repairs, and his 2017 projected sales are $1.6 million—up from $1.4 million in 2016.
With such impressive numbers, it would be easy for Wharff to be content with where his business is at. But that’s not how this shop owner chooses to run his operation.
“You cannot be left behind,” Wharff says. “Everything in this industry is changing so rapidly. You need to keep up.”
Over the past year, Wharff has identified areas that he’d like to work on in his business, and has invested in improving those. In order to keep everyone on the same page, Wharff holds update meetings on the first workday of every month to go over the previous month’s numbers and to set an action plan to address areas of concern. These are some of the areas of improvement that will be required:
Being an award-winning shop owner has not left Wharff immune to one of the biggest problems plaguing the industry.
“We’ve got the demand to do all of this work, but we’ve actually had to turn away jobs because we don’t have the manpower,” Wharff says.
In the past year, Wharff says he’s looked at a number of different resources to address this problem. The shop has partnered with technical schools and has hosted events to try and attract talent. Wharff is also taking advantage of 3M’s Hire Our Heroes program.
While Wharff says it’s important to keep up with the industry, one of the things he attributes to his continued success is his commitment to training. Wharff says that whenever he takes on a new employee, he immediately signs him or her up for I-CAR training.
Since last year, Ace Sullins CARSTAR also became a Honda ProFirst Certified program. This is the shop’s first OE certification. Wharff says the volume of work isn’t quite what he’d hoped it would be, but the investment will pay off in the end because the shop now has access to all of Honda’s proper repair data, so it can improve its repairs and continue to provide high-quality service to its customers.
Wharff credits much of his success to word-of-mouth marketing. At an NPS of 97 percent, he doesn’t necessarily have to do a lot of marketing. However, Wharff doesn’t want to get comfortable and is always pushing his business to grow, which is why he’s stepped up his marketing game in the past year.
“Our numbers are great, but we’re actually not as well known as I’d like to be in the community,” Wharff says.
Wharff has started meeting with the Miramar Pembroke Pines Regional Chamber of Commerce and attended a number of different networking events to get the shop’s name out in the community. He’s also started sponsoring his son’s sports team.
When FenderBender last spoke with Wharff, he mentioned that he’d like to increase his web presence. He’s not as far along as he’d like to be in the process, but he did sign an update that helps generate more traffic to his shop’s Yelp page. His main goal right now is directing more reviews to Yelp since it’s such a huge resource for consumers that are looking for service.