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Training, enthusiasm help specialized shop stand out in D.C. metro area

Friday, August 3, 2018 - 07:00
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Drive European. You’ve got to admire a name that not only states a shop’s specialty, but proclaims a lifestyle. There’s certainly no shortage of BMWs, Mercedes and Audis cruising around the Washington D.C. metro area—but that doesn’t make it any easier for Proprietor and General Manager Sam Dawood.

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At a Glance:
Drive European
Falls Church, VA
Sam Dawood
No. of shops
Years in business
No. of technicians
Total no. of employees
Square footage of shop
No. of bays

“You can draw a 15 mile radius from here and you will have three BMW dealerships, same with Mercedes, same with Audi, almost the same with Porsche, plus a ton of independents,” he says of his crowded market. “Frankly, I’m advertising heavily, spending a ton of money (on web presence). It starts with my customer relations software, which I use to market to people day in and day out. I use Demand Force for this; also Google Adwords, Yelp advertising, and quite a bit on search engine optimization.”

For this Dawood utilizes a local web firm, but remains heavily involved with the feedback, crucial for customer relations. “It’s very much the old fashioned ‘treat people as you want to be treated,’” he states. “If something doesn’t need to be done to a car, it doesn’t need to be done. I call it technical ethics; sometimes it’s a gray area but you try to make it as black-and-white as possible. Just be transparent and honest.

“If need be, I spend a lot of time explaining,” he ironically explains. “By the same token, the world has changed and people are moving really fast. Last year I went to digital inspections and have gotten heavily into texting for communication. I’m working really hard on getting emails; even if someone doesn’t want to give me their address, I tell them it’s for stuff that will make their experience so much easier.”

Sam Dawood, owner

As a result of all this, Drive European has developed very close relationships with a lot of their clients. “As one of them has noted, ‘Sam, you’ve outlasted three of my marriages,’” Dawood laughs. “Maybe that’s not so much a testament to me, but we’re friendly, we take of them, and they’re also enthusiasts; some of them have unique cars that they’re madly in love with, and we honor that love for the automobile.”

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Accordingly an entire page on the shop’s website is dedicated to ‘Our Customers,’ featuring testimonials and handsome pictures of clients’ cherished rides, some taken by Dawood himself. “Over the years we have developed special relationships built on trust, respect and most importantly a shared passion for cars,” the page declares.

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