Students give transmission repair shop a marketing tune up

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Marie Fe Alano was the impetus behind the changes at Robert Hampton’s transmission shop.

Marie Fe Alano was the impetus behind the changes at Robert Hampton’s transmission shop.

UCCS team polishes up transmission shop

Marketing principles taught at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs have increased traffic and revenue for a local business.

One-Way Transmission, at 3470 Chelton Loop, N. Unit E, was a typical automotive shop — cluttered and devoid of visual appeal — before several students at UCCS descended upon the shop armed with a marketing plan and the elbow grease to use it.

UCCS communication’s major Marie Fe Alano took her car to One-Way for transmission repair. Her mind immediately went to work thinking about ways to transform the shop that would increase curb appeal and drive-in business — things she’s learning in her Marketing 300 class, with Peggy Knock, UCCS instructor of marketing and quantitative methods.

“I had no idea appearances were so important,” said One-Way Transmission co-owner Robert Hampton. “I’m a dude who’s a mechanic.”

Hampton and co-owner Manuel Aguiluz are thrilled with the results of their auto-shop’s transformation.

The business opened during September 2008, and Hampton and Aguiluz have been too busy repairing cars and running the place to think about esthetic appeal, Facebook or marketing — but now they have those and more.

One of this semester’s assignments, Knock said, is to create a mini-marketing plan for a locally owned business.

For the project, students need to analyze a business and its competitors according to the marketing principles of SWOT — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and analyze the business according to the Four Ps — price, product, promotions and place.

“If the physical building is more attractive, it will be noticed — and can get more business,” Knock said. “And Web presence is an emerging form of ‘place.’ These students took what they learned academically and implemented it at the business. That really impressed me.”

In the report, Alano, along with students Jessica Horst and Tom Gartland, suggested inexpensive ways to “create more visual appeal as well as increase function” in the waiting room, and included photos and prices of items such as magazine racks, chairs, fake plants, a candy bowl and clipboards.

They also suggested a red, black, grey and chrome color scheme and other changes that would create “uniformity between both workstations, organization of documents and office supplies,” including uniform frames for documents displayed on wall to increase “organization and the professional aspect of the office area.”

Work area recommendations included “better utilize present table by adding stacking shelves; use enclosed cabinets for additional parts; add shelves above work tables; use wire bins for automobile parts; label toolboxes and bins for convenience; and add peg boards for the most commonly used tools.”

The co-owners have implemented nearly all the marketing suggestions, and the students designed a Facebook page for the business.

“More customers have come in since they started this. People find us on Facebook, now,” Hampton said. “Everybody that walks in here loves what’s going on.”

The company’s marketing used to consist of only word-of-mouth — “our biggest bet” — and an ad in American Classifieds.

“They designed a color, tri-fold brochure for us” in both English and Spanish, Hampton said.

The brochure includes a mission statement, Better Business Bureau accreditation, the names and photos of Aguiluz and Hampton, and warranty, discount, service and diagnostic information, along with, of course, location, hours of operation and contact information.

“Now we have nice smooth chairs, and the place is color coordinated. It’s more homey. People feel real comfortable when they walk in here,” he said. “We’ve organized the office, and now we’re working on the auto bay.”

During September, while waiting for her car to be repaired, Alano noticed the mismatched furniture and accessories, lack of color in the building, misspellings on the company’s flyer, and much more.

“I wanted to pick a manly theme — since it’s an auto shop,” Alano said. “So I chose black, light grey, charcoal grey and deep red. So now the waiting area and office have the same theme.”

And now a display rack — with the components of a transmission — separates the office area from the waiting area, which gives it a “more professional appeal.”

Alano learned many things from the project, “because we had to implement so many different aspects of marketing. They’ve only been open for a year — so we’ve made a difference for this company, which in turn creates more business and revenue for them.”

“And they are so passionate about their work and what they do that it pushed us to work harder on this project,” she said.

The student team also made recommendations and designs for new business cards and a Web site.

“We shot for the stars, and we hit the moon,” Hampton said. “The day Marie walked into here with her car to be fixed — our lives were changed. It was a God-send.”   CSBJ

3 Responses to Students give transmission repair shop a marketing tune up

  1. Congradulations on a job well done. I am sure a lot of small business in this area could use some help.

    I am in the business of selling vinyl replacement windows and would like some help in getting a web presant and face book and other sites. I would like to have a web site with a lot of free infomation about window replacement and have the potential customer contace me and have me come out and give them a quote. Anyone who would like to contace me can do so at calvinnewton@msn.com.

    Calvin Newton
    December 4, 2009 at 2:57 pm

  2. Wow superb participation in the part of the students. Very inspiring indeed. Great post you have here. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    Orlando Transmission Repair
    January 21, 2010 at 7:20 am

  3. We are a medium size auto repair shop. We have implemented some of these changes but see the benefit of utilizing more. Does this group do this for class projects or just for experience? Great article. I am printing this out for my owner. We really need to do this.

    Rose Richmond
    January 21, 2010 at 8:34 am