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A stress-free shop

'Alignment with core values' shapes shop's goal to ease customer stress
Wednesday, February 3, 2016 - 09:00
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'Alignment with core values' shapes shop's goal to ease customer stress

At California’s Gustafson Brothers Inc. they describe themselves as an all-inclusive vehicle repair operation, serving Orange County’s motorists by providing a vast array of body shop and mechanical services along with hosting professional continuing education classes for repair technicians, insurance personnel and smog abatement testing technicians.

In addition to involvement with charitable and civic activities, much emphasis is placed on nurturing a strong team atmosphere specifically aimed at easing stress levels for employees and customers alike.

At a glance
Gustafson Brothers Inc.
Name of shop
Huntington Beach, Calif.
John Gustafson
3 (1 body shop and 2 mechanical shops)
No. of shops
Years in business
No. of employees
No. of DRPs
Square footage
No. of bays
5 days
Average cycle time
Average repair order
Average weekly volume
No. of customer vehicles per week
$11 million
Annual gross revenue
Paint supplier
Frame machines used
Ultramate and CCC One
Estimating systems used

By pursuing these elements Gustafson Brothers is able to deliver world class service; 97.5 percent of customers surveyed say that they would refer friends and family to the shop. Out of 1,071 online customer reviews – which can be notoriously tough given the anonymity afforded by the Internet – 941 of them award the business five stars, with 77 others issuing a four-star rating.

“We pride ourselves on being cleaner, brighter and more user-friendly than our competition,” says owner John Gustafson, who is a certified ASE Master Technician, a Bureau of Automotive Repair certified instructor, a certified I-CAR instructor and a state-licensed continuing education insurance instructor.

“We work very hard to improve the image of ‘body shops,’” Gustafson points out. “We work as a team to deliver value correctly and on time. As a team we follow our core values and work daily to reach our objective to become the organization that provides ‘world class’ customer service with ‘zero defects and zero stress.’”He has been saluted with the Alumni Pillar of Achievement Award from Golden West College for his contributions to the auto industry, and in 2012 the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce bestowed its Business in Excellence Award on the shop. The operation was also honored as the Farmer’s Insurance Shop of the Year in 2014.

Gustafson characterizes his concept of delivering customer satisfaction as “a composite of many things – professionalism, courtesy, responsiveness, a neat appearance, a friendly atmosphere and a genuine concern for the customer – things that cost little, but are so important to the customers.”

Striving to consistently meet and exceed customer expectations, he notes that it is “the responsibility of every employee to be pleasant, have a positive attitude and provide prompt and professional services” to the patrons at all times.

“We care about our guests, and we care about each other,” says Gustafson. “Our philosophies are simple and that’s why they work, and why we are successful. Our biggest strengths are meeting the customers’ needs. It’s really as basic as that. To meet their needs we work toward our objective and keep each other in alignment with our core values.”

John Gustafson, owner

These core values involve adhering to “the highest standards of ethics and integrity,” according to Cynthia Varnell, the company’s marketing and public relations manager who also assists in the human resources department. “The trust placed in us by our customers, our employees and our community is not taken lightly. We will not take either professional or ethical shortcuts. Since the future of Gustafson Brothers rests squarely on the knowledge, imagination, skills, teamwork and integrity of our employees, we value these attributes above all.”

Such sentiments result in a pronounced pattern of sound relationships with insurance carriers. “We don’t have those battles because they know we’re honest and upfront, and we document everything.” Varnell adds that “we maintain strong relationships with our insurance providers by working together to ensure ultimate customer satisfaction. We believe that if we both work with the customer’s best interest in mind, everyone will be successful.”

The company’s vision and core values culminate in the customers expressing high praise at the conclusion of the repair. “The insurance company looks good and we look good.”

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