Today we’d like to introduce you to Terry Collins.
Terry, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
30 some odd years ago, I was working the line at the GM assembly plant in Framingham and was told the plant would close in approximately 4 years; I wanted to position myself to be able to handle the transition. I took a correspondence course through the GI bill on small engine mechanics and took onsite courses offered by UMASS Amherst to complete my BA in business administration.
The plant closed in 1989 and I started experimenting with various models for my business to see where I could fit in and be unique. I played with a “name your price” service which was very uncomfortable for customers and finally settled on a service that had competitive pricing with an appointment and service only concept. I tailored the business to fit my customers’ needs as well as fitting around my full time job hours and life style. I had to work from my home in a one car garage which left me limited storage so working by appointment only filled that requirement. I have kept this model successfully since. My customers like that I work around their schedule and I like that they work around mine.
After about 10 years, I realized that I couldn’t do everything and keep my same day/next day turn around model so I started to cut back on services that reduced my in shop activity such as onsite repairs and riding mowers, which took up too much floor space to adequately move equipment in and out for smooth work flow. This brought in fewer jobs but more personalized. I never looked to be the biggest repair shop, only the best in service.
A short time ago, I cut back on pickups beyond the local area to cut down on wear and tear on my vehicle and body. I only provide that service for prior customers and by special arrangements. This allows more time in shop to maintain the fast turnaround.
There were times that some customers “didn’t get” my concept and looked elsewhere because I couldn’t take them in immediately. They later realized that they ended up in the repair queue at another place waiting 4 weeks for the work to be done. I schedule my appointments no more than the current week knowing that people forget if they book too far ahead and I keep my day’s work to no more than 4 jobs a day.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Starting out a home business is always going to be a challenge. Building a customer base was the hardest part and back then advertising was costly. In a few years word of mouth became my best advertising. Parts supply for an independent was also a challenge until I found a contact for the vendors that the “big guys” use and getting parts at lower cost meant I could reduce my prices for the customers. Keeping up with changes in technology has also been interesting as I only see them when they come in.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Small Engine Repair (SER) – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I have found that customers appreciate having the one on one service I provide them. Nobody leaves the shop without a complete lesson on: what went wrong, what will it cost to fix it and how to prevent it from happening in the future. I sell nothing but parts and service, my customers know that I will not try to “up-sell” them on something they may not need and they know I will help them make an informed decision on whether or not repair is the best option. It may be more cost effective to put the money towards a new unit and we work that out through the estimate process.
One of my most rewarding experiences happened several months ago when a long time customers of over 10 years called to tell me he and his wife were moving into an assisted living facility and wanting to thank me for the years of providing service for them………THAT made it all worthwhile.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I plan on maintaining the business as long as I can with the current model, providing reliable service and education for the customer to do the minimum maintenance on their own and see me periodically for full maintenance as needed to ensure a long life for their equipment.
- All repair work is subject to a minimum diagnostic fee of $35.oo
- Address: 6 SHEPHERD RD
- Website: http://serepair.weebly.com/index.html
- Phone: 5083295141
- Email: SOUTHLAN1@GMAIL.COM