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[Podcast] Dave Kusa – 20 Questions in 30 Minutes [RR 583]


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Dave Kusa is the owner of AutoTrend Diagnostics in Campbell, CA. Dave is very active in Chapter 42 and currently serves as a board member and chapter representative. He has also helped several new shops become ASCCA members. Dave advocates with local legislators on behalf of small businesses and their employees. He contributes to TeamTalk and is a huge resource for members. He was ASCCA’s past president. Look for Dave’s other episodes HERE.

Key Talking Points:

  • Biggest trend you are watching?ADAS- repair, calibrate, training for it
  • Governor of California is trying mandating no petroleum-powered vehicle sold by 2035
  • How did you decide to become a shop owner?From a young age, I loved being able to take things apart and put back together and enjoyed working with his hands and vehicles. My goal in high school was to be a shop owner. 
  • Do you still have the fire you had when you first started?No, but it’s not a bad thing. When you first start anything there is a new sense of enthusiasm, discovering new things and new problems. As time goes on you become wiser and can handle situations better. Wisdom “quiets” the fire but the fire is still burning.   
  • Was there a key turning point in your journey that made all the difference to get you where you are today?Parents and their friends were starting to retire and move away. Dave also wants to be able to successfully retire and be able to financially stay or leave if he chooses.  
  • Ever had a mentor?Yes, many mentors! Important to seek out people that have ‘been there, done that.’ Can’t think you are by yourself and on an island. There are so many people willing to help and want to help.   
  • Do you have a strong intuition? Do you listen to it?Yes, always listen to your gut feeling. A strong intuition is needed to make quick decisions.  
  • Get any great advice that you still follow today?Mentor Larry Moore says ``Get training and learn how to run a business and Larry always said “Everything I know, I stole from someone else.” Circles back to mentorship, people are willing to help.  
  • Name something you tried that didn’t work?Originally I was going to buy a shop with former coworkers as partners, turned into a disaster, and didn't go through but it was good that it didn't. 
  • How do you manage work/life harmony?Wanted to be a present father to his two daughters and husband to his wife, structured himself to be 8 am-5 pm Monday- Friday schedule and they make it work as a family.  
  • How does one start to build a strong business culture?Starts with the business owner- Need to know what your moral ethics are and communicate that to your employees and most importantly follow it.  
  • Strong teams always win. What is your winning formula in developing a strong team?Culture- contribute and collaborate as a team. Include people in decisions 
  • Would your organization crumble if you stepped aside?Is often out of the shop for the entire day or 2-3 days for coaching purposes, has a strong team for day-to-day operations without him. Working towards having someone being able to handle administrative paperwork if he was out of the shop for an extended period of time. 
  • What impact will technology have on your business?Significant impact- ADAS, autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, where is the service opportunity in an electric vehicle?
  • How much training per year do you get?Constant training- works with a coach twice a month and learns while working as a coach along with training with ASCCA   
  • Technicians in the shop get 12 hours of training per quarter
  • A big secret to building a strong relationship with Customers?Communication- most customers don’t understand what other shops/dealerships are exactly quoting/invoicing for repairs, especially when it is a high quote. Have conversations with new and existing clients in terms they can understand. Invoices using $1 per word. If the invoice is $1,000 then there are 1,000 words explaining what the invoice is for.   
  • A secret to a good job interview?Conduct interviews as a team. Everyone should be comfortable and be able to maintain the team culture. 
  • Share a Gross Margin HackCalifornia cant charge for shop supplies- starts adding up, including on invoice. Monitoring parts matrix and labor matrix and margins.   
  • Do you share your financial statements with your team? If Yes, why?Yes, there is a known shop hourly rate along with an understanding of profit and loss statements and expenses of the business. Employees have an ownership mentality then.    
  • How long ago did you update your website? Yearly updates
  • The most recent update to your processes/system Hours per RO- identify time-wasting

Resources:

  • Thanks to Dave Kusa 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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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         0 comments
      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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