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[Podcast] Doug Grills – 20 Questions in 30 Minutes [RR 589]

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Doug Grills from AutoStream Car Care Center is a chain of six family-owned, automotive service facilities that deliver honest and professional automotive repair and maintenance services to customers in the Greater Baltimore/Washington, DC area. Doug along with his partner Rick Levitan has been around the service station business for over 25 years and has built their reputation by offering best-in-class service to their customers.

All AutoStrem Car Care technicians are ASE Certified and the shops are AAA approved. Listen to Doug’s previous episodes HERE.

Key Talking Points:

  1. One thing you’ve done that no one knows?Was a band-drummer and vocalist through college years. Loves experiencing a live show- attends around 12-15 live concerts per year with his wife. 
  2. What do you do for fun?Going to concerts, playing tennis and golf, exercising, spending time with his wife and family.   
  3. Most significant trend you are watching?ADAS and how it will impact business, industry consolidation 
  4. What skills do you delegate because you're not good at them?Figure out what you like to do and what you're good at- delegate other areas to other people that are better at the task than you. Visionary and integrator (task manager) of business. End result will be better than doing it on your own.     
  5. How does one start to build a strong business culture?Starts with values- what are your business values? What matters to you that you want reflected in your organization? Doug’s business values excellence, a passion for having excellence, having concern for others (customers, coworkers and community), perseverance  
  6. Do you have a strong intuition? Do you listen to it?Yes and yes! Analytical by nature but does follow intuition as well. 
  7. Do you still have the fire you had when you first started?Absolutely. Worked harder in the last 5 years and with greater passion. Love what you do because sometimes you can’t do what you love.     
  8. We learn from mistakes. What was one of your biggest mistakes?Didn’t accept personal responsibility on the individual performance of the team. But I looked in the mirror and started asking, Am I providing the training/skills/support to make sure this employee has the best possible chance of succeeding?
  9. How do you manage work/life harmony?Work-life harmony- spending time with family and your own health while being passionate about your work. Have discipline around the things you want to do outside of work.  
  10. What drives you? Creating a great company- people love working for and customers love working with. Goal posters within a business.  
  11. How are you finding good technicians?Referrals internally
  12. How has your business changed in the last 3 years?Read article in Ratchet and Wrench magazine and started networking and creating friendships within the industry 
  13. A special strategy to build a strong reputation?Online reviews- a goal that every location acquires online reviews. Have the courage to ask customers to review you. Word of mouth and reputation lives online.  
  14. Do you see obstacles not as roadblocks but as opportunities? Everything is part of the process- even setbacks/roadblocks. Obstacles and roadblocks are built to go around, there is always a way to find a solution.   
  15. What impact will technology have on your business?Staying up to date with tools and technology- understand the upcoming changes 
  16. Ever made a major pivot in your business? If yes, what?Started in gas stations- pivot was changing to automotive services after 5 years  
  17. Strong teams always win. What is your winning formula in developing a strong team?People who buy into your culture and enjoy working together
  18. Would your organization crumble if you stepped aside?No- has processes and key managers in place  
  19. Is community important? Share your biggest effort? Extremely important- Breaks for Breasts, celebrated 20th anniversary of business and created a fundraiser for Make a Wish Foundation  
  20. How long ago did you update your website?Constantly making subtle updates and changes all the time. Uses Autoshop Solution for website  
  21. Ever sing karaoke?No, but he thinks about it all the time! Has similar vocal range as Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull


  • Thanks to Doug Grills for his contribution to the aftermarket’s premier podcast.
  • Link to the ‘BOOKS‘ page, highlighting all books discussed in the podcast library HERE. Leaders are readers.
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Gold Certification recognizes top tier NAPA AutoCare Centers with a high level of participation in the AutoCare program. The program was built by AutoCare Centers for AutoCare Centers to provide a consistent consumer experience, maximize technology leverage, and reward NAPA’s most committed partners. In other words, Gold Certified AutoCare Centers are the standard-bearers for the AutoCare brand nationwide. Simply put, the Gold Certified NAPA AutoCare program, powered by your local shop brand, will separate you from the rest helping you boost your bay counts and your average repair orders.

Learn more about NAPA AutoCare, Gold Certification, and the hundreds of other benefits the NAPA family has to offer by talking with your servicing NAPA store or visiting www.NAPAAutoCare.com.

Click to go to the Podcast on Remarkable Results Radio

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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