Bob Stout, owner of Fuerst Automotive in Broadview Heights, Ohio, started off in the automotive industry when he was just 18. That’s when he became a service manager at a six-bay repair shop that was part of a local chain.
“Of all their shops, [his] shop was always in first or second place in gross sales,” Stout says of the experience.
Being very successful so early in his career, he knew that there was no question about it: He would own his own auto repair shop someday. He just didn’t know it would happen so fast.
At the ripe age of 25, Stout opened his own shop in Broadview Heights, an upscale suburb of Cleveland. Stout describes the area as having “great community leadership.” Fuerst Automotive is very active in the community as well, donating to the city and local schools and offering special services to local police and fire departments.
And Stout takes pride in the shop’s great reputation within the community. The business started off as a three-bay shop and later moved into its current location, a five-bay shop. Just last year, Stout added 1,200 square feet, which includes a breakroom and an office. One piece of advice that Stout has found the most helpful: “Work ON your business, not IN it!”
The Fuerst Automotive team is very well-trained – all techs are ASE-certified, including two master techs – and they’re a happy team. “We have a great team of employees who constantly step up to the plate to get things done and have proven their dedication,” says Stout.
Stout is extremely grateful for the amount of support he has received since becoming a DRIVE client. He describes DRIVE team members’ support as “unmeasurable” and says that support gave him a greater outlook on his business.
“DRIVE has been dedicated to making our business a success and with that, they have become an essential part of our business circle,” adds Stout.
Having a successful business and a talented team that he can rely on is key for Stout and his wife, Sheri. They have gained more free time to spend with their family.
“Our business has grown in monetary value over the years but more importantly with a sense of family,” Stout says.
Another benefit of this free time is that Stout has been able to focus on his exit plan for retirement. Keeping it all in the family, he plans to hand the business over to his son one day – with the help of DRIVE, of course.
“My son, Mitch, is taking DRIVE management courses to help prepare for a future of owning the business,” he says. DRIVE has become his “go-to for all things business related.”
Fuerst Automotive has been very proactive since the start of COVID-19. Bob quickly hired a designated team member to call each customer and ask how they were doing and see if there was anything they could help them with. These calls were not sales calls. They were meant to check in with members of the community and simply help their neighbors. This “goodwill” call program has proven to be very successful, so much so that it will continue and be a part of the shop’s customer-service procedures going forward.
Not only did Stout’s shop make sure to take care of its customers in a time of crisis, the shop stepped in to serve the community. After purchasing an Ozone generator and marketing that service to customers, Fuerst Automotive began sanitizing an average of 14 police cruisers every week as a community service. The shop’s efforts in the community during this time have not gone unnoticed, as a local newspaper highlighted those efforts in a recent article. Plus, Stout received a “thank-you” letter from the mayor and a wall plaque from Broadview Heights police chief.
For shops facing challenges during COVID-19 – and during any time of uncertainty – Stout says, “I recommend during these times to think with your heart and take risks in marketing … Be a leader and not a follower!”
Stout certainly knows how much hard work and dedication it takes to have a reliable team and a great customer base, but he says it’s completely worth it. Through all of Fuerst Automotive’s success, it’s clear that Stout and his team’s hard work have paid off – for the Stout family, the entire Fuerst team and this picturesque Ohio community.
DRIVE, a Monrovia, California-based consulting group, provided this article.