Sunset Service Centre, Fredericton: A Small, Successful Shop
Honest policies equal happy customers.
Simon Youssef is the proud owner of Sunset Service Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick and has been for over 30 years!
July 1982 saw Sunset Service Centre opened by Youssef and his father, with just two bays. The Centre had been an old boarded-up gas station that had been sitting there for years, and the Youssefs decided to revive the facility. Youssef’s father was a licensed mechanic and Youssef himself had been working on cars for quite some time. He and his staff now successfully run Sunset’s daily repair services.
Keeping up with the changes
“We’ve gone through a lot of transitions over the years. Cars changed from carburation to fuel injection, and now we’re coming into electric vehicles. We’ve seen it all and still managed to keep up with it. We’re a small shop, but we cater to a lot of loyal clientele, and we get new business by word of mouth. Our Centre services all makes and models, and we do general repairs—brakes, alignments, tune-ups, exhaust work, welding, etc.
Sunset Service Centre has three bays now, three technicians (although they are currently short by one tech) plus one counter person who looks after the customers, books appointments, handles general daily business and more.
Youssef tells us, “We are up-to-date on our training, and we have just about every piece of equipment we need. We stay very current. We get training online. We go to courses through one of our suppliers. We try very hard to keep up-to-date. We have ALLDATA, so we have the new data programs we need… a tool that is a must for shops! If you don’t have this you’re just guessing about the repair, and that’s something you can’t do today.
“We can also do considerable training through Auto Value, someone we have been affiliated with since day one!
“They have supported us enormously. They’ve helped me grow my business, even sent me customers. Through them I get a lot of signage and promotional items, which is good for our business. Pricing is something else they’ve certainly helped us with, and so belonging to this network has been good for my business.”
Fairly and nicely
Youssef has a background in sales and believes that has helped him a lot in dealing with people and taking care of customers.
He finds most people just want to be treated fairly and nicely. He says to have a good business today, “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” If you’re good and honest with your customers they will not only come back, but they will bring you new customers, he tells us. “And that has been my philosophy. Don’t rip anyone off. Don’t do more than you have to. Be honest and fair. That’s the motto we go by.
“We do tell people what’s wrong with their vehicle and do tell them about upcoming maintenance on their vehicle. If you’re honest and fair with people they come back,” Youssef states.
“Success comes from happy customers! You need to satisfy people, and you have to constantly work at that. Every customer is important. If the customer is unhappy, address the situation.”
Youssef believes the times have changed for the better. “Cars are easier to work on now. Cars today are smarter. We can hook up a diagnostic machine and it basically tells you what’s wrong with the vehicle, where to look and how to fix the problem. Technology is different, and the way we are able to communicate is much different… emails, texts, etc. We couldn’t do that in the past. It’s easier for customers, too, and I find the millennials of today don’t need cars as much as we did.”
Talking about the future, Youssef’s business is a small one, and he sees it being swallowed up by the big players and becoming part of a large conglomerate. “We see it here every day. I think that eventually when a vehicle needs to be fixed, a technician will come to your door to repair it. Technology is getting more expensive and small shops like us can’t keep up with the cost. And when we get to electric cars, there’s not going to be a whole lot of fixing needed! There will be a lot less demand for the services of technicians compared with what we do today.”
Here’s what Youssef does daily, and he advises others to do the same: ”I get up every morning and look at what I intend to do that day. Every day is a different day. Just do your job with a smile.”