Business Ideas

Secrets of Running a Successful Car Service Center

Secrets-of-Running-a-Successful-Auto-Garage

Secrets of Running a Successful Car Service Center

By Akinpelu Dada

Many people and corporate organisations spend millions on naira to buy exotic vehicles, which instantly raise their status in the community.

While some spend fortunes to maintain their vehicles, many others fail in the basic task of maintaining their vehicles. The story of Mr. Chris Obiajulu is apt. His car is worth about N4.5m, but he finds it difficult to spend money to maintain it. He regularly patronises roadside mechanics and buy used spare parts until the engine got knocked.

Mr. Adedayo Adefolu is an unusual auto mechanic. He is the Chief Executive of Honda Solution. Though he is engaged in what thousand others are doing, his mode of operation sets him apart from the others.

While many of his contemporaries usually wait for people whose vehicles developed faults to bring them for repairs, Adefolu does not wait for customers, he practically looks for them.

He has taken up advertisement slots on three radio stations, drawing attention to his services.

He explains, I am currently advertising on radio and exploring other ways of expanding the business because if you don’t advertise your services, it is like covering your talents. While other people patronise spiritualists and Babalawo’s to help them woo customers, I believe that if you don’t expose your business, people will not know about it and you will not get patronage.

Determined to take the business to a new level, Adefolu recently hired a consultant to give fresh ideas into the business.

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For a man who rose from humble beginnings, his customers say he has done well.

Adefolu says he started as an apprentice battery charger in Kano, where he used to rent batteries to Leventis drivers to start their trucks.

I was in the Honda section, and I was sent to Japan twice to learn more. I applied myself to the job and everybody liked me. Upon leaving Leventis, I came to Lagos and did apprenticeship for another four years to learn how to repair other Japanese vehicles other than Honda.

Around 1989, he incorporated a company, which later metamorphosed in Honda Solution in 2000 with the major workshop in Gbagada area of Lagos and a branch in Lekki.

He recalls that things were tough initially as there were only few customers, but the testimony of those who brought their cars for routine maintenance and repairs led to more people gradually coming in.

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The workshop currently has over 23 boys and five ladies at various stages of apprenticeship, while another group of eight boys has successfully graduated from the informal academy.

One of the unique things about the workshop is that everybody is well kitted in clean uniforms. The company has eight sets of uniforms with particular colours for specific days of the week.

Adefolu explains that the objective is to present themselves as responsible people who can be trusted with customers’ vehicles and correct the general impression that mechanics are dirty people.

Apart from the technical knowledge about vehicles, he says he deliberately imparts in the apprentices business skills so that they can run efficient organisations and how to relate with customers with all courtesies.

He explains, I treat my customers as family members because without them, I cannot survive.

On the secret of his flourishing business, he has this to say, I don’t encourage the use of used spare parts except for engines that we can get newly. This is because most of the tokunboh parts in the country are actually Nigerian used, but which have been cleaned and polished. There are some new parts too, mostly from China that are not genuine; I don’t use them at all.

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I buy spare parts from genuine sources and I also import some of the parts directly from Japan in order not to compromise quality. Most importantly, however, I still find time to travel abroad to update my knowledge about new car models coming out of the factories.

He says his workshop charges moderate fees for works done on customers’ vehicles, but notes that buying original spare parts will not come cheap, but the advantage is that the vehicle owner can drive with peace of mind that the car will not break down unexpectedly.

Many small business outfits can learn some lessons from Adefolu’s organisational set up. He currently employs two secretaries, one saddled with the responsibility of writing receipts and invoices for customers, and writing and pasting of service stickers and maintenance roster on cars; while the other liaises with the banks to ensure proper book keeping.

Adefolu advices youths not to get despondent and enter into crime, but to learn a trade, noting that in everything, education is very important. He is already imparting his knowledge into his children, including the girls, who report to the workshop after coming back from school.

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