In this episode of Auto Pros On The Road, Joe Keene and Jacqui Van Ham visit Jay Salaytah at Jay’s Auto Repair in Detroit, MI. Jay has been in the industry for 25 years, has owned his own shop on Van Dyke Ave., for 10 years and has been in his current location for 7 years. His philosophy of what makes his business successful has evolved along the way.
With an extremely hands-on attitude, Salaytah says he doesn’t consider himself to be a detached business owner. In fact, “owner” is a term others use about him. “I don’t look at myself as the ‘owner,'” he says. “I look at myself as part of the team, down and dirty just like them. We’re all equals, so of course I’m going to be out there where it’s hot, humid and dirty.”
With his employees and his customers, Salaytah says success comes down to two things: honesty and quality. “People want their vehicles fixed properly. For the longest time, we were under the impression that people just wanted to save money. So a lot of shops that I worked at previously would use cheaper parts and charge a premium. I mean, we all know you get what you pay for nowadays.”
Jay’s Auto, a TechNet service center, relies on OEM Parts whenever possible, and a consistent network of aftermarket suppliers ensures that his technicians have the right parts to repair customers’ cars quickly and efficiently. “That doesn’t mean we gonna charge double,” Jay explains. “We’re very competitive, we’re fair, and we’re honest and everything else falls in place. That’s what I based it on 10 years ago and it’s been working.”
Though he remembers the days when he kept his shop open six days a week, but actually worked in the business seven days a week, Jay says quality of life is more important.
“We only work Monday through Friday. Happy employees work better when they’re rested. They’re more focused. They have their families and other things they do. It’s not always about work, work, work. When you treat people right, everything just falls into place.”
Salaytah says he appreciates the challenges his team faces on a daily basis. “Sure, you see a pattern of issues sometimes, but they’re all different. You’re dealing with different personalities and you have to help them out. The best part is seeing customers leave happy with a smile and their car fixed properly. And when I see a five-star review, I feel I’ve accomplished my mission.”
Salaytah admits that seeing a bad review sticks with him. “If I see a bad review, even though we might not have been wrong or at fault, I feel like I didn’t accomplish my mission.”
Luckily, he says, that doesn’t happen often. In fact, out of over 1,000 reviews, Jay’s has a staggering 4.94/5 rating. “At the end of the week, any business we have done I feel we’ve earned 110 percent properly and accurately.”
To meet his own expectations, Salaytah relies on regular industry training for himself and his team and investment in new technology. “We have truly gifted technicians in the shop,” he says.
In addition to interviewing Salaytah, the Auto Pros team talked with Gerald Huffman, service manager, visited General Motors’ downtown Detroit Renaissance Center Corporate headquarters and Detroit’s historic Central Station, currently being renovated as part of Ford’s revitalization in the Corktown neighborhood.
Auto Pros On the Road showcases stories of automotive aftermarket service professionals. Throughout the series, presented by ShopOwner in collaboration with our sister brand TechShop – Equipment, Tools & Supplies, viewers follow the Auto Pros into repair shops as they speak with shop owners and technicians about their challenges, their stories and their values.
This episode is sponsored by Autolite.
New episodes are available monthly.
Don’t miss an episode — sign up to receive the ShopOwner and TechShop newsletters to receive alerts when new episodes are posted.