Open service at Dr. Import

Jan. 1, 2020
The huge, wide open bay area, encompassing 17 bays in a 14,000-square foot zone, gives the seven technicians more than enough room to repair and maintain vehilces in Orange County, Calif.
Photos: Dr. Import Automotive Service Walking into the repair area at Dr. Import Automotive Service can feel more like a dealership setting than an independent repair shop. The huge, wide open bay area, encompassing 17 bays in a 14,000-square foot zone, gives the seven technicians more than enough room to repair and maintain vehicles in Orange County, Calif.

The 17 bays are a reflection of a business that has grown over itself in terms of space and models serviced. Jerry Fair opened Dr. Import in Fountain Valley, Calif., in 1988 in a small 1,800-square foot building with four bays. While the business started by servicing just Volvos, the need to expand its service quickly became apparent to Fair. By 2003, the shop moved into its current facility, the second move for the business, and started the evolution of servicing all imports.

Building a Base

There are 17 bays for the seven technicians at Dr. Import Automotive Service.

By servicing the specific market segment, Fair has been able to make his mark in the area and with others on whom he relies to be successful. He states that there are 150 repair shops within a 10-mile radius, so he has taken the approach of using only OEM parts. That means vendors compete for his business, he reports.

The shop also has been able to capitalize on California's strict emissions regulations. The shop conducts smog inspections through the state program, which Fair says requires ASE L1, A6 and A8 in order to be trained and tested.

Three of the seven technicians are certified through the inspection program. Ed Geiger, the shop foreman, leads the technicians with 21 years' experience along with ASE Master and L1 certifications. Mark Maddox and Ozzie Acevz, both with four-plus years' experience, also are certified Master and L1 for the inspection program.

The shop is behind the technicians' ongoing training and certification. Fair says he provides salary increases for the technicians based on ASE testing and smog inspector licensing.

"We have a large and diverse bank of knowledge in our shop," he says. "All the technicians are very willing to assist each other and share."

The other technicians in the shop have a minimum of five years in the bays, with as many as 20 under their belts. Gil Carbajal is a factory trained Master Mercedes Tech, while Gustavo Mendez is another ASE Master tech. Jose Romero and Francisco Gutierrez both are general mechanics, working as a technician assistant and computer/alignment tech, respectively.

Serving the Community

At a Glance

Fair's shop reaches out to the community through its 2,500-sq.-ft. showroom. He reports that the shop offers the area to local non-profit organizations to use at no cost.

In addition to being a great way to charitably reach the community, it draws in potential customers.

Dr. Import has embraced social media in addition to its community. The shop uses Twitter, Facebook and its website to share information with customers. Clients can see exactly where their vehicle is going when they take it in for service by taking a virtual tour of the shop.

Fair introduces himself in the three and a half minute video, explaining to current and potential customers where his shop started, how it grew and benefits they offer their clients. The video is a great way to introduce people to the shop, partially because people know who they will meet when they walk in the door. Service writers Jack Wetz and Arun Wurms both are in the video, putting more faces with the shop.

The final minute takes customers into the bays. The shop is neat, free of clutter and the floors are clean. The shop looks appealing to customers.

The cleanliness is reiterated to customers when they get to the shop for their appointments. Fair says they always take customers into the back room to show their car being worked on in order to make the customers feel more comfortable.

Other benefits he adds include WiFi access in the showroom waiting area and a two-year, million-mile guarantee.

A Shop Philosophy

In the end, the shop is about serving its customers with the best tools available. Fair states that if the shop foreman recommends a tool, they purchase it for the shop. They learn about the newest technology through industry events, seminars and gatherings like SEMA.

Fair is part of a Twenty Group, which he recommends other shops try as a way to better their business. The shop also has been affiliated with the

Tschanen Brandyberry has been with Motor Age since 2008, after writing for Aftermarket Business for two years. She is a graduate of Ohio University, and has served in editorial positions at multiple newspapers in Ohio.

Email Tschanen at [email protected]