DRIVE announced that R&L Service Center in Silver City, New Mexico, has been named their April 2020 Shop Spotlight.
R&L Service Center has been a beacon of light to this small town for over 58 years. The shop was founded by present owner Rusty Lewis’ great grandfather and grandfather in hopes of securing the American dream for their family. Four generations of the family have now grown up running and expanding the business. What started out as a two-bay gas station and garage has blossomed into a 10-bay auto repair complex with a thriving team.
Located in the southwest corner of New Mexico, Silver City is a beautiful town nestled at a 6,000-ft. elevation between the tall pines above and the desert below. But the beautiful part is that Silver City has a “small, hometown feel,” and Lewis treats his customers, neighbors and friends alike just like family. But not just customers, his employees, too.
“One of the things I always bear in mind about my business is knowing that my decisions impact the future of not only four generations of my family’s hard work but the future of my employees’ livelihoods, too,” says Lewis.
But things weren’t always so idyllic in Silver City.
“Our business had grown to a point it was getting out of control,” Lewis says. “After joining DRIVE, we’ve gained organization and structure. This was lacking and hindering our future growth. Being connected with other owners though the DRIVE network has been a huge benefit. The members of DRIVE are very helpful and always willing to share their thoughts and ideas. The workshops have made an enormous impact benefiting our business.”
R&L has grown to nine employees: four ASE-certified technicians, two up-and-coming lube/tire techs, two service advisors and one office assistant who is training to help as service advisor. But Lewis says his team isn’t complete without adding his wife, Ana, without whom he says the shop would be a mess, and his business advisor, David Freyre, who has helped greatly and encouraged changes that were hard to make. But above all others, Lewis has to include his parents, Terry and Frances Lewis, who devoted their lives to the success of R&L with many sacrifices and are a huge reason behind the success of the company.
But R&L continues to grow in ways that Lewis’ great grandfather could have never even imagined, especially the ways that the shop now stays connected with its customers.
“I am very excited about our new website DRIVE has constructed,” says Lewis. “The marketing and web team have been very helpful to our success.”
But perhaps the most successful – and certainly the most clever – digital age tool recently implemented by Lewis is R&L’s private Facebook group. Yes, you read that right: their PRIVATE Facebook group.
“This was an interesting brainstorm I had,” Lewis said. “My advisor, David, was encouraging me to start a Facebook page. No one likes going to a mechanic, it’s like going to the dentist! Yeah, you may have some loyal customers that follow you, but for the most part, auto repair is not something that brings joy to people. So we created the R&L Service Center VIP Facebook closed group for fuel specials supplemented with posts of news and specials in our repair shop. The driving force getting members to sign up is, everyone wants a deal on gas. Generally, every week we’ll post fuel discount dates and times that only our group members see. In three months of starting the group, we now have 2,000 members and it grows every day. These are 2,000 members I now can advertise directly to for our auto repair shop. I am definitely happy with the results so far.”
While Lewis is open to the newest trends in both marketing and the repair technology inside the shop, his basic business advice to fellow shop owners is a simple, three-pronged mantra: “Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Treat your customers and employees fairly. And, most importantly, pay your employees well.”
And Lewis’ advice to those about to join or are even just thinking of joining the DRIVE program? “Like anything else in life, you get out what you put into it. By applying yourself and using the tools DRIVE provides, you are setting yourself up for success.”
For more information on DRIVE, visit driveshops.com.