Gross & Stevens: Putting Customers First In A High-Tech World
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Gross & Stevens: Putting Customers First In A High-Tech World

In a day and age where Internet presence is often expected, Gross & Stevens, a preeminent brake and wheel service repair shop in Visalia, Calif., is bucking the trend and focusing on something else: good, old-fashioned customer service.

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Front row, from left: Alonzo Padilla, Al Waddle, Shelly Gist, John McMahan (owner), Herb Adame and Ernest Leyba. Back row, from left: Victor Parra, Larry Vannorsdall (owner), Steve Eoff, Robert Parker and Steven Santana.

“A lot of young people want to wear white coats and work on computers,” he says. “I’m sorry, but we do have to get dirty! It’s a lot of manual labor.”

First Impressions

Despite the fact that brake and chassis work can be messy, John says he often has customers compliment him on how clean the shop is kept. And that’s no small task when one hammer hit to a chassis can yield what seems like eight pounds of dirt!

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“We get comments daily on how professional and clean it is,” he says. “It’s hard to do since we’re in a farm community, and the vehicles we work on get muddy and dirty. But we have a person who cleans in the evenings, and the shop is swept and mopped daily.”

Adding to the appeal is a front lobby that looks more like a ’50s diner, complete with a 1953 Coke machine that dispenses complimentary soda and water.

“Drivers like coming here because they can grab a free soda or water,” John says, perhaps adding some incentive to get parts quickly, but more as a way to show appreciation.

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John says he also likes to give back to his community by sponsoring sports and music programs, including buying uniforms for little league teams. And it’s not just a marketing ploy.

“If one of the parents comes in ­because we bought uniforms, that’s great,” he explains. “But we do it ­because kids might not get them ­otherwise.”

It’s that kind of care and concern that goes into every customer interaction at Gross & Stevens, from initial dropoff to completion of service. ­Honesty, professionalism and the true desire to repair a vehicle for the exact price quoted are the hallmarks of service at the shop.

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“We ask tons of questions at the time of vehicle drop off to ensure everyone is on the same page as far as customer concerns,” John says. “We do vehicle repair planning to make sure repairs fit in a customer’s budget. We never pressure a customer for immediate repairs.

“We’re very personable,” he says in summary. “We’ll walk out and talk to customers like a friend. There’s no pressure, but we say ‘this is what we recommend.’”

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It’s no surprise that word-of-mouth can be credited for much of the shop’s success since John and Larry purchased it in 1987. John says he’s now seeing ­second- and even third-generation customers coming into the shop based on recommendations from parents and grandparents.

“Parents will call to make an ­appointment for their son or daughter to bring their car in for maintenance or repairs over spring break,” he says. “We even have a couple of customers who have moved out of state, but they still bring their cars by when they’re in town visiting family.”

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And while doctors no longer make house calls, John is no stranger to helping out an elderly customer whose caregiver duties prohibit taking their car in for service. “I’ll drive my car to their house and leave it there while I take their car to the shop,” he says.

A true testament to the power of getting back to basics: Treat a customer well and you’ll have a customer — and their friends and family — for life.

Article courtesy of Shop Owner magazine.

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