Community Conscious: CoAuto Aplies a Unique Approach to Business
CoAuto is an extremely successful repair operation located in Reno, Nev. CoAuto’s motto is Community Conscious Car Care.
As co-owner Vinnie Lucido noted, “Our initial ambition was to provide a location to allow people to work on their own vehicles. Due to severe insurance liability concerns, that simply didn’t work. My brother Anthony and I then decided to open the shop in 2014, staffed by the two of us. Eventually it has grown into three ASE technicians, two service advisors and an in-house bookkeeper. We’ve been growing by leaps and bounds ever since our opening. Our initial facility featured only 2,000 square feet, and today we’ve expanded to a new facility with 7,000 square feet. Ours was the first shop in Reno to be ‘Blue Seal certified’ by ASE. In our first year of operation, gross sales were at $360,000. Today, we’ve increased that to $1.5 million.”
Aside from operating a successful business, the shop’s primary thrust is to provide services to the local community, a philosophy termed “community conscious.” Toward that end, CoAuto established a five-program platform that sets their shop apart:
1. Car Giveaway Program. CoAuto gives away one car per year to a local veteran in need, chosen by the Veterans Resource Center of Nevada. “It is an honor to provide reliable transportation for men and women who served our country.”
2. High School Internship Program. “CoAuto invites local high school students to visit the shop and shadow our technicians. We mentor and challenge them to see if auto repair is a possible career path. Our future relies on the youth of our local community.”
3. Community Education Program. “CoAuto offers classes and workshops in the field of automotive education, maintenance and basic automotive knowledge. We empower our community to make educated and confident repair decisions. Classes are held quarterly at a cost of $40 with a $20 CoAuto cash rebate on their next service.”
4. Local Art Display Program. “CoAuto exhibits artwork in the customer waiting room, showcasing local talent, which gives our creative community more opportunity for promotion. CoAuto does not collect commissions for the sale of any art. We simply enjoy giving our artists more exposure.”
5. Reverse Your Carbon Footprint Program. “CoAuto partners with the Arbor Day Foundation and plants one tree with every oil change we perform. Our hope is to provide a little more oxygen for our universe and reverse our carbon footprint.
“As a result of our commitment to the community,” noted Vinnie, “we’ve been lucky enough to have achieved a number of awards and recognition. We won the Vision award in 2018 for facility of the year, Nevada Business magazine presented us with a family-owned business award, and the mayor of Reno gave us our own special day in recognition of our community service, called CoAuto Day, on October 11 of each year. This was quite an honor for us. Our most recent award was winning first place in ASA’s ‘Best Waiting Area’ contest, for our ‘Art Gallery meets Auto Repair’ entry.”
Does your shop offer general automotive repair or do you tend to specialize in specific makes or types of repairs?
We specialize in pre-purchase inspections and maintenance services. Our second specialty is diagnostics.
What is your business philosophy?
We love to build relationships through good conversation and relating to the needs of our clients. CoAuto builds relationships at multiple networking events like BNI, Rotary Club, Western Industrial Nevada, Toastmasters, Chamber of Commerce, etc. CoAuto prides itself on creating a beautiful atmosphere, a fun work culture and a one-of-a-kind auto repair experience.
Where do you buy your parts?
Factory Motor Parts, WorldPac, and dealerships.
What influences your parts buying decisions? Rank from 0 to 3, with 0 having no influence and 3 having the greatest influence.
Brand name recognition 3
Promotion in racing 0
Perceived quality 3
Other (describe): We are constantly reading and researching to stay informed regarding newly introduced parts, tools and equipment and procedures.
What do customers want/expect from your shop?
An extraordinary experience. Excellent client care, and top-notch auto repair, in a clean and professional environment.
What is your approach to technician training?
Eighty hours of training per year is required, about 20 hours per quarter. We took the whole crew to Seattle for ATE and as owners we are always working on our leadership skills and attending many other industry training seminars.
How does ASP benefit your business?
CoAuto technicians use the Tech Tips columns — there are always fun ideas there and good, educational technical stuff. TSBs can be helpful when trying to keep up on the newest bulletins that come out. ■