SHOP SPOTLIGHT

Import Auto’s Austin Blanton: Living Up to My Potential as a Shop Owner

SHOP STATS
  • Owner: Austin Blanton
  • Location: 1 shop in Alpharetta, GA
  • Staff: 5
  • Avgerage Monthly Car Count: 170
  • Average Repair Order: $520
  • Number of Bays: 8 (and 1 alightment machine for body/collision work)
  • Shop Management System: Tekmetric
Tekmetric's Shop Spotlight: Import Auto Inc.

Austin Blanton is a U.S. Navy veteran and family man who started his auto repair career at just 21. In only five years, he went from being an employee at Import Auto to becoming the owner when he purchased the shop from the original owner. 

Since then, he’s built a unified team, modernized daily tasks, and taken big steps as a business owner. We recently caught up with Austin to learn how he’s grown as a shop owner, and how he transformed Import Auto Shop into the thriving business it is today. 

Speeding Up My Business

Tekmetric's Shop Spotlight: Import Auto Inc.

When I became the owner of Import Auto, I wanted to make it more modern. One of the main ways I did this was by using Digital Vehicle Inspections. The first tool I used got the job done, but I realized that I needed a more robust tool that operated on the cloud. 

That’s when I heard about Tekmetric, which I started using in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tekmetric has made life easier for my team and guests—and it’s also boosted our productivity and revenue.

Thanks to Tekmetric, we’ve gone fully paperless. We send every DVI, estimate, and invoice via text or email. It doesn’t take us twenty minutes to write a quote anymore, so we have no problem writing up a quote anytime there’s an opportunity to do so. We don’t put it off. And when we order parts, we can track them all in one place; we don’t have to bounce through multiple tabs. 

Staying in Tune With My Guests Via User Profiles 

Tekmetric has improved how we communicate with guests across the board. 

Creating ROs takes just a few clicks, and guests can approve services over text or email. If they decline a service, we can quickly document it in the RO. If they come back a few months later and ask how much we’d quoted them for the service they’d declined, all we have to do is pull up the exact amount from our records and confidently tell them. And of course, once a job is done, we use Tekmetric’s text-to-pay feature to quickly deliver tickets and collect payment. 

Tekmetric's Shop Spotlight: Import Auto Inc.

Tekmetric also makes it easier to keep track of guest data. Tekmetric’s integration with Kukui enabled me to seamlessly transfer all of our guests’ contact information. 

Because Tekmetric is cloud-based, I don’t have to worry about losing years’ worth of customer data if a piece of hardware breaks.

The cloud-based nature of Tekmetric has another benefit, too. While I try not to work in the evenings once I’m home, it’s comforting to know that I can check on appointments and order parts from my couch if I need to. 

Taking Bigger Steps as a Business Owner

The COVID-19 pandemic has gotten me out of my comfort zone as a business owner. I realized that many people just weren’t on the road anymore. But my shop still had to make money. So, I got to work securing more fleet accounts. We’d handled some fleet accounts prior to the pandemic, but I wanted to drive more business in that area because it’s guaranteed income. We had a lot of success with it. We built great relationships with nearby companies by doing things we hadn’t done before, like picking up and dropping off their cars. It made a world of difference to those customers, and it made Import Auto more competitive. 

Financial security, along with the time Tekmetric has freed up for us, has created the space for us to give more back to our community.

When you’re worried about money and busy dealing with operations stuff, you can lose sight of paying it forward. For example, one of the things we did last year was get involved with Brakes for Breasts. We also began a lifelong discount program for public workers like teachers and firefighters. 

Additionally, we have more room to continue the restoration work we do on classic cars, mainly for a classic car company up the street. It’s gratifying to work on getting cars like a 1964 Land Rover or a 1934 Chevy pickup truck back on the road. 

This all ties back to something I advise shop owners—battle complacency. Look into the training and technology that will modernize your shop, so you can spend less time on operations and more time on fulfilling projects. 

For more information about Import Auto, visit importautorepairs.com

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