Welcome to our blog! My name is Chris Dekker, and I am the founder and owner of My Garage. Thanks for checking us out! Many of you already know me, because I’ve been involved in the Airdrie auto service community for over 15 years. First working as a technician in two local shops, I eventually moved on to co-founding the business that would become Alberta’s highest-rated automotive shop, and would set the standard for what an honest automotive shop could be.
In 2018 I decided to sell my stake in that company and begin work on My Garage, where I would have 100% creative control and truly be able to realize my vision for the best automotive service business possible. Combining everything I’ve learned over the years with my long-held convictions about how a customer should be treated, I knew we’d be able to build something truly special. Now, with our new shop open, I’m excited to start sharing it with you!
My goal with this new company is to expand on everything we did well in the past, and incorporate lots of ideas and improvements that I’ve come up with over the past couple years. Friends and customers have asked me, “What do you want to do differently? What are you keeping the same?” and with this post, I’d love to elaborate a bit on that.
So what’s different? Here are some of my goals:
Slower is better.
When planning this new business, one of my primary goals has been to ensure I can spend more time doing my favourite part of the job: Working with my customers. I love chatting with you guys; explaining vehicle systems and how they work; and helping you make the best use of your maintenance budget. I’ve always believe that we should be a customer service business as much as we are a vehicle service business.
My new business model allows us to slow things down a little; we don’t have to run the shop at full tilt all the time in order to turn a profit. This gives my team more time to focus on doing all the “little things” right, and make every job special. We will also maintain a higher “service advisor to technician ratio” than most shops, so we always have the time to answer your questions, and help you to the fullest extent of our ability. You will never be “processed” as a customer by a service advisor who is rushed.
Improving the customer experience.
Anyone who has been following my blog for a few years knows how thankful I am to have so many great customers. I know that Airdrie drivers have a lot of choices out there, and I’m so thankful that some of you choose to service your vehicles with me. After all, your support allows to me wake up every day and do a job that I love!
When designing our new shop, I gave a lot of consideration to how I could improve your experience as a customer. High on my priority list was including a comfortable, quiet waiting room for customers who aren’t able to drop their vehicles off with us. I can’t wait to show you this space; it’s beautiful! We also have two brand new courtesy cars for clients to use at no additional charge while their vehicle is with us.
I’ve also got some more conveniences coming, including a vehicle pick-up and drop-off service, and a system that allows you to pick up your keys at our shop after hours – not just drop them off.
The move towards specialization.
As I outline here, the age of the “all makes, all models” automotive shop is drawing to a close. It has become too expensive for one business to support the costs of servicing every vehicle on the road properly and completely. If we want to service vehicles at the highest level (which I always have) then we must start servicing fewer vehicle brands. In some markets, this has gotten to the point where we are starting to see shops such as “Mike’s Honda Service”; an independent dealership alternative that offers all the capability of a Honda dealership, but likely with better pricing or customer service. While that degree of specialization isn’t necessary in Alberta yet, businesses like mine need to start making changes unless we only want to take on only our customers’ “easy work” and send them elsewhere for the rest.
As an intermediate step, I have chosen to focus on 20 brands from 7 auto manufacturers:
- General Motors (Chevrolet, GMC, Buick & Cadillac)
- Ford Motor Company (Ford & Lincoln)
- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram & Fiat)
- Honda Motor Company (Honda & Acura)
- Toyota Motor Corp (Toyota & Lexus)
- Nissan Motor Company (Nissan & Infiniti)
- Hyundai Motor Group (Hyundai, Kia & Genesis)
This group comprises 84% of the vehicles on the road in Alberta, while only 46% of the mainstream automakers. We will service these vehicles at a higher level than any other independent shop in Airdrie, with dealership-level diagnostics tools; OEM service information; genuine OEM fluids; and only premium parts.
So, what’s NOT changing?
Truly looking out for you, the customer.
A major key to my past success has been my ability to see every transaction from the customer’s perspective. My business model is not the “take as much money as we can, and never see you again” model; we strive to build lasting relationships with the people who support us. This means always looking out for your best interests. It means honest advice, and practical solutions to your vehicle concerns.
Nobody cares about their customers like I do. Longtime customers of mine know that it’s not uncommon to see me scrounging through the junkyard on the weekend for a hard-to-find part, or at the shop until 2:00 in the morning working to finish a vehicle on time. I’ve got your back!
Uncompromising honesty, and always doing what’s right.
Because I put together all of the promotion material for my previous shop, I often included phrases like “Honesty: it’s not the best policy; it’s the ONLY policy”. Using one of my favourite lines, I explained that “A great price for a repair that you don’t actually need is still a bad deal”.
I’ve always enjoyed watching the expression on a customer’s face when I tell them that we made a mistake, or messed up somewhere. Most of the time, they have never heard this from a mechanic before! Customers have become so used to the “Well, it’s better than it was” or “It’s kind of a different problem now” excuses that it must come as a breath of fresh air to hear this kind of honesty! Under my guidance, my last shop absolutely set the standard for what an honest automotive business could be, and I fully intend to repeat that feat with My Garage.
True value for your money.
When it comes to preparing an estimate for a customer, I’m terribly slow. It takes me forever! This because I spend a lot of time shopping around and doing research on your behalf. Along with exploring different repair options, I also price out a lot of different parts in my desire to strike the perfect balance between cost and quality. Based on my experience in the industry, I know what brands will perform the best and last the longest on your vehicle. We know where you can get away with saving a couple dollars using an aftermarket part, and where only an OEM part will do. Sometimes, we might know of an aftermarket part that’s better than the factory part! As we prepare every estimate and complete every repair, the end goal is always the same: To give you the best quality, longest-lasting repair for the best price.
Please feel free to explore our new website and learn more about our vision for this special new business. We’re still working on the site, but we already have some great content up with lots more to come soon. I have invested heavily into making My Garage the business that I will own for the rest of my career, and I look forward to looking after the Airdrie community for many years to come!