I'm restoring a classic Triumph sports car, a 1981 TR8. Recently, I took its original, factory-molded carpet to an outfit called Motor City AutoSpa, in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, to see whether the shop could give it a good, professional cleaning.
I drive by the business, in an old service station, frequently. There's always a long line of cars in the lot waiting for detailing, although the business doesn't advertise. I was astonished to learn that the eight-person shop is booked three months in advance for most of the year.
"I probably lose six customers a day on the phone because they don't want to wait," says Matt Lifter, Motor City's owner. Lifter told me his customers rarely, if ever, take their cars to the dealer for detail work and cleaning, and he doesn't consider dealers to be competition.
Many of the stories in Fixed Ops Journal are, to me, like pieces of a puzzle. The service and parts professionals and companies we write about, including independents such as Motor City, are doing innovative things to boost customer retention and profits.
And as I fit the pieces together, a fuller picture of the future of service is taking shape in my mind.