Embracing All Makes, Models, And More To Cast A Wider Net
While some shops move toward brand specialization, B&B diversifies and expands its client base
BY: JEROLD B. SMITH
Bremerton, Wash.—Brothers Nathan and Joel Baxter have been providing service and repair to Olympic Peninsula customers for 36 years at B&B Auto Repair. And with precise tracking, they said their underhood service represents 75 percent of overall business in today’s market.
“Diagnostic work is huge for us,” said Nathan Baxter. “About 60 percent of our work involves diagnostics with 15 percent general maintenance.”
For B&B, check engine lights and no-starts are the most common service performed, though the shop provides full service and repair on import and domestic cars, plus light, medium, and some heavy-duty trucks, as well as specialized vehicles such as ATVs and others.
Thorough inspections and following up with service and repair recommendations are important, and they use the Mitchell 1 shop management system to send customer reminders.
“We’re doing a disservice if we’re not informing customers of service and repair that needs to be done,” the Baxter’s said. “With some new customers over the past 10 years, breakdowns have become more expensive because of the lack of regular maintenance.”
The shop uses a variety of diagnostic tools for its 130-150 monthly shop vehicles, including several Snap-on and Launch products.
“We do flashing for our customers and other shops, sometimes up to 10 a month. We do lots of A/C work as well as BG service work on a variety of underhood systems,” Joel Baxter said, adding that in addition to regular inspections, B&B offers pre-trip and pre-purchase inspection service. The shop also sells used vehicles as a convenience to customers.
Outside of collision repair, there is little B&B staff cannot perform, said Joel Baxter, AMAM. The 6,210-square-foot shop has seven regular bays plus two large truck/RV bays; a machine shop/work room with fly wheel and brake machines, a drill press, plus equipment to work on differentials and perform welding; a parts area; upstairs office; accounting office; and almost two acres of parking for its wide variety of customers’ vehicles, which can include RVs, box trucks, school buses and flatbeds.
Nathan Baxter said he and his brother always did some truck service, even at the Texaco station where they began their repair business, but their fleet service has grown over the years and now represents 35 percent of revenue.
“Many shops are better off specializing in certain brands, but we have such a diversity of customers it would be difficult for us at this point,” Joel Baxter said. “And now we’re expanding services and getting additional training for hybrids and EVs. So our “one-stop shopping” concept for cars, trucks, RVs, semis and more, has certainly been part of our ongoing success.”
Staff at B&B have a collection of ASE certifications ranging from Master Technicians to three of four with L1 certifications, plus truck and service adviser certifications. In addition, there are techs with Suzuki, Hyundai, and GM OEM certifications. The crew helps B&B garner $1.3 million in annual business with an average RO of $742.
The Baxters said training for staff includes classes offered by NAPA and O’Reilly, as well as the Automotive Training Expo (ATE) each year. The brothers participated in a Bottom Line group for 10 years and regularly attend management training seminars.
The first auto repair facility in Kitsap County to become certified by EnvrioStars, B&B is also a participating shop in the statewide “Don’t Drip & Drive” program that offers free inspections to customers who have any type of vehicle leak.
The shop has been the recipient of dozens of awards and honors, including winning the Best of Bremerton award three times by the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce.
Joel Baxter, who is a past president both the Bremerton and Silverdale chambers and the recent recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Member of the Year award, said being active in local business organizations has been beneficial for business.
The shop has also been involved for years with a Business Network International (BNI) group in Bremerton.
The AAA-Approved Repair shop has been an active member of ASA-NW since 1991 with Joel Baxter serving as treasurer for 20 years and four years as president of the Olympic Peninsula chapter.
He went on to hold every office at ASA-NW including chairman of the board for two years, and currently serves as the National ASA Affiliate Delegate. He was named as the Outstanding Member of the Year by ASA-NW in 1995.
“I’ve been blessed to be able to be involved in so many groups because of Nathan’s support,” he said.