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Motor Age's 2015 Top Shop: Haglin Automotive

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - 08:00
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While no stranger to these pages, when last we profiled Haglin Automotive, we really only scratched the surface. Operated by Dana and Judi Haglin out of Boulder, CO, the 2015 Top Shop is naturally on the cutting edge of repair practices. As reported previously, the Haglins pride themselves not on responding to the market, but anticipating it. Telematics, GDI, Millennials—they stay on top of issues through conferencing and thorough research.

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The Haglin Automotive team pose around a Model A that has been in Dana's family for over 50 years.

“Dana and I believe in ‘steal’ and adapt,” laughs Judi Haglin. “If I like an idea, I look at how I can adapt it here. (For example) we heard about ‘Come Back Cash’ at a conference, only they talked about doing it for the entire year.” To make it more relevant to her young crew, she decided it would work better as a monthly exercise.

“Because of inexperience, we were having issues with some cars coming back.  With our ‘Come Back Cash’ program we start with like $2000 for the month, and if the check engine light comes back on, a tool was left in the car—if the customer comes back for any reason, the (technician responsible) gets dinged; $30 comes out of the fund. If you break a part, the cost of that part comes out as well.”

The program works like this: say there are 10 employees; at the beginning of every month everyone starts out with a $200 bonus. By the end of the month, minus any deductions, they get the remainder. “So the first month, they got $120,” Haglin explains. “Just last month everybody got $197 each as a monthly bonus. Everybody in the shop is now totally aware that it costs to have a car come back. This has worked very well, because we were losing $2000+ in just silly things.”

In 1981, Dana and Judi Haglin graduated from CU, got married, and started Haglin Automotive. Haglin Automotive

The normal pay scale for her employees utilizes a plan from ATI. “Basically they are hourly wage—clock-in, clock-out,” outlines Haglin. “Then they’re also paid on a billing structure that after 33 hours of production they basically slip to flat rate, and they make more money because it’s on a higher level. Pay is really based on production. What I like about it is that my main job as an owner is to make sure I have adequate cars coming in. If it’s snowing in November and I can’t get customers in the door, I don’t want my guys to starve. I want them to have a living wage where if I’m not busy I take a bigger hit, but they are able to pay their bills. That’s the happy medium.”

Admittedly, the staff’s youth has become a big factor over the past couple of years with the number of Millennials entering the work force. Thus the Haglins have re-classified their shop as a ‘learning facility.’ “Dana and I have always been believers that we need to be a team, and that you’re always learning every single day,” states Judi.

To be part of that team, the Haglins are looking for not just skill and aptitude, but ambition as well. “Everybody you have in your organization, can they go up to the next level?” Haglin poses. “We’ve embraced this for a long time because a technician who’s been with us three years started off as a lube tech. He didn’t have the experience, didn’t have the knowledge, but he had the willingness to learn. He’s now taking his 5th and 6th ASE tests.”

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