From Crisis to More than Just Transmissions

From Crisis to More than Just Transmissions

July 7, 2023

From Crisis to More than Just Transmissions

by Jul 7, 2023Blog

“Do you do more than just transmission repairs?”

For a transmission shop that has been in business since 1960, it was a fair question. For decades and three generations… The answer was no.

We were busy, the work was consistent, and we had a streamlined process for transmission repairs, so when asked about routine maintenance, oil changes, or minor repairs we typically recommended our clients to other professional shops that – in turn – recommended transmission repairs to us.

That was a great system, the culture I grew up in, and that was how I expected it to stay.

Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t how things stayed.

Our volume of work began to slip noticeably over a number of years. Several factors contributed to this, but none more than the oft-cheaper and readily available remanufactured units that were being installed by some of the very shops that once sent us a steady stream of referrals.

“It will come back around, it always does.” was Dad and Grandpa’s long-true statement for any slow spell. It was also what kept us from making any real changes until it stopped being true.

Eventually, we hit a steep financial crisis after a protracted slow spell, and the stress from that period had real impacts on our health and family relationships.

I want to note – a crisis is a terrible catalyst for change, but I’m thankful for the fact that I faced one. We made it through, and it’s a part of my story that served to shape the person I became.

To summarize, what came next were some of the most challenging years for me and my family.

Taking things over, my brother and I chose to learn how to become more than just transmission techs and guide our shop into one that could do more than just transmissions.

Fortunately, we had help. I went on to hire a wonderful coach, Bob Greenwood (who sadly passed away in 2021). I remain grateful for Bob, and a number of mentors and friends.

Eventually, we emerged with a full-service transmission shop that had learned two new truths:

  1. If we can diagnose and repair transmissions, we can diagnose and repair anything.
  2. We can learn how to convert our transmission customers into long-term regular clients.

On #1 – My brother became one of the leading diagnostic techs in our region and a great mentor to others- Moving on to lead a mobile diagnostic team of expert techs.

On #2 – I focused on studying new methods of communication and adopted new tools like Digital Vehicle Inspections to enhance our client experience- moving on to teach and share these methods across the country.

It is precisely on truth #2 that I am looking forward to sharing more about in October at ATRA’s Powertrain Expo in Tennessee… along with my experiences that lead me to realize it.

It is my hope that elements of the stories I have can spare others the pain of crisis. Crisis already hit? It’s never too late to turn things around. Reach out. I’m happy to hear your story too.

Craig O'Neill

Craig O'Neill

VP of Training

Craig O'Neill