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Surprising Ways This Small Town Auto Shop Keeps in Touch

St. Claude Autobody gets creative with their communications.

St. Claude Autobody is far from a regular auto shop thanks to owner, Normand Bruneau.

Using software like HipChat to communicate with team members, MightyText to keep on top of customer messages even when away from their smartphones and a Facebook page to add a dose of personality, this auto shop has taken communication up a notch.

Having just moved into a new 10,000 square foot space in St. Claude, the team focuses on premium customer service with no corners cut. Their “contact us-however you prefer” point of view is right on point with current trends in customer experience. With so many new methods of communication available, it’s important to connect with customers quickly and efficiently.

“I even had a customer Snapchat with me about their car the other day,” says Normand. How many businesses of any size or industry can say that? The mere fact that this autoshop is on Snapchat is impressive. Gone are the days of one phone line and a busy signal to connect with customers.

Click the below image to access the full case study. Then continue below to learn more from Normand about his success in business.

In one word, characterize your life as business owner.

Hectic…but also rewarding!

I got a lot of satisfaction from working on cars, but now it’s about seeing customers and how happy they are with the process and their car. The days fly by and it’s all very positive and rewarding. 
I like being my own boss and owning the place. I wanted to do things my way and now I can do that.

What does your typical day look like?

There is a lot of customer interaction as I’m on the front line. I’ve delegated a lot of the daily tasks to make myself available when people ask ‘who’s the manager; who’s the boss?’ I spend a lot of time on phone calls, estimates and providing advice. 90% of my time is customer interaction.

What do you find most rewarding and most challenging about your role?

The most challenging thing right now is keeping up with volume and demand. In January, we were at three months ahead in booking appointments and now we’re at four weeks. So we want to continue to grow. We have a good crew and the challenge is being able to grow fast enough to keep up with demand.

How do you stay up-to-date with trends in your industry?

Meetings with the Automotive Trades Association. Lots of networking with different people – MPI or partners and vendors and meeting new people. For news I subscribe to email newsletters related to the trade and technology.

What advice can you give to other businesses based on your success?

The biggest thing; never stop growing and trying to be better. On a daily basis we have set procedures for everything – how to answer the phone, clean a car and fix a car. We’re always changing and improving our procedures. The minute you stop that, you’re a dinosaur. There was a time when I first bought the business that I was content and happy, but I looked around at my competitors and saw that some of them don’t want to grow and improve, and you can see it.

What would you say is the top skill needed to be a successful business person?

Be a people person and know how to talk to people. No two customers are alike. If you don’t know how to read people and talk to them, you can put yourself in a jam.
 Make yourself available to customers and then all the other stuff – you can make that work. If you’re not a people person to start off with, you’ll be in a tight spot. I’m in a small community and people approach me all the time, but you have to be ready for that and expect it.

Business book or blogger recommendation?

Who Moved My Cheese? There are a bunch of similar themes out there, but I have given this book to others I know and the response is the same. At first it doesn’t
 seem like much, but it grows on you and you find yourself referring to it often.

MTS is proud to have St. Claude Autobody and Normand as a valued customer.

Learn how other Manitoba businesses have found creative ways of running their operations. Do you have a business success story? Tell us in the comments below and we may feature you in an upcoming story.

Mark Glucki

Mark has been developing digital blog communities for 10+ years that connect business and tech pros with their inspirational stories. He developed a North American best practice for creating positive experiences on social media networks and spends as much time learning about entrepreneur success stories as he does producing content for others to enjoy. Mark is also a commercial photographer focusing on product and location images. His work can be seen at Wonderlab Photo.

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