Brad Bergeson has owned several businesses in a wide variety of industries, ranging from vending machines to transmission repair. The "serial entrepreneur" has spent the last eight years building a solid customer base for his Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care shop.
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Bergeson, who grew up in Overland Park and earned a business degree from Westminster College in Fulton, loves building businesses. He worked as a computer programmer and a technical recruiter before going into business for himself. Eight years ago, he was looking for a business to buy when he learned of the Cottman shop in Independence. Although he had no experience in car repair, he recalls, he felt he knew enough about running and building a business that he would be able to succeed.
He assembled a team that excels in transmission and auto repair, and he works hard to keep all team members motivated to always do their best for customers.
"Customer service is what drives success," Bergeson said. "We consistently strive to do the job right the first time, and get the customer's car back as quickly as possible. People feel disrupted when their car is out of service, so we always try to be fair and accurate with our estimates of timing and cost."
Bergeson, 45, says he enjoys having satisfied customers. "It feels good to help people with their cars, and one of the greatest thrills in business is when someone comes in based on the referral of someone who's been happy with our service," he said. He estimates that about two-thirds of new customers come from referrals.
Feedback is important, Bergeson noted. He often makes follow-up calls to customers, to see if they are happy with the shop's service. "The feedback helps us spot potential problems on our side, and it also makes the customer feel good that we care enough to call and ask their opinion. It adds an extra personalized touch that makes the difference."
An inviting and attractive facility adds to the customer experience, he said. The shop's exterior was recently refinished with fresh paint, new signage and upgrades to the parking area. An interior remodel is currently underway, upgrading the office and customer lounge areas.
"We want customers to feel good about every aspect of their interaction with us," Bergeson said. "Doing good work and backing it up with the Cottman guarantee is a big part of it, of course, but keeping the customer happy can include seemingly small things like being offered a cup of coffee with a friendly hello and thank you."
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