During the past couple years, drivers have been putting off needed maintenance and safety repairs. However, Rick Thomas is seeing more and more customers now willing to pay for recommended services at Rick’s Auto Service.
Below is the article as it appeared on the Tribune Business Weekly website.
Once-delayed repairs and maintenance take front seat again
By GENE STOWE
May 24. 2010 11:10AM
Rick Thomas of Rick’s Auto Service has seen more radiator repair work than usual this spring.
Thomas, who opened Rick’s Auto Service when he bought Dar Johnson’s repair shop at Jefferson Boulevard and Liberty Drive in 1990, blames delayed maintenance because of the economic downturn for problems surfacing now.
“We are seeing a lot of things like that,” he says. “It seems like this spring, business has started to pick up. When the price for gas went up to $4 (a gallon), we saw a slight decline in business.
“People over the last two years started putting off maintenance things. The last half of last year, I saw people putting off safety items. They were driving things that were unsafe to drive. Now, I’m getting calls.”
An economic upturn has more customers ready to pay for recommended service such as oil changes, antifreeze flushes and transmission checks too late for some water pumps and radiators.
Meanwhile, a direct-mail marketing campaign started in February is bringing more customers to the shop, which has maintained a stable customer base of 800 to 900 for years.
Thomas was junior mechanic when Johnson built the shop in 1977.
Electronic ignition was novel technology when Thomas started, and most cars needed tune-ups every year.
“Now some of the vehicles don’t need tune-ups for 100,000 miles,” he says. “The electronics on today’s cars, I’ve heard, far outstrips what they put on the rockets that went to the moon. Some of today’s cars have upwards of 15 different computers on them.”
To read this article on the Tribune Business Weekly website, visit http://www.southbendtribune.com/article/20100524/TBW/100529774/-1/googleNews.