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When Customer

                                                           Service Comes First

                                                           by Brian K. Wright

         I  had  the  honor  of  interviewing  Steve  Rozansky,  owner  of  Friendly Auto  Center.  We  talked  about  the
         challenges of opening an auto repair shop, his philosophy of customer service, and his podcast, Drive Friendly.

        Brian:  Welcome,  Steve!  Tell  us  Steve:  I  dabbled  with  it  in  the  very few out here that are actually
        about your background.               early 80’s. I went into a shop with  a  mechanic-turned-owner,  and  I
                                             a  buddy,  but  financially,  it  didn’t  can still do it. I’m still ASE certified.
        Steve:  I started in this business at  work out because we were young  My  first  boss  taught  me  a
        16-years-old pumping gas in Long  and  didn’t  know  much  about  philosophy,  “Be  honest,  make
        Island. And I knew I wanted to be  business.                              a  living,  don’t  rip  people  off.”  I
        a mechanic back then. So, I took                                          believe  in  everything  we  sell,  so
        auto mechanics in high school  I was still turning wrenches when  we  give  a  lifetime  warranty.  You
        before dropping out in 12th grade.   I met my  wife, Felicia, and  we  only  pay  once  for  repairs,  and  if
        But when  I was  pumping  gas,  he  decided  it  was  time  for  me  to  there’s  a  problem  with  the  job,
        would let me work on cars on the  open up a shop. So, we acquired  we’ll do the right thing. And that’s
        weekends and it was great. I had  the funds and opened up my first  what I brought to Arizona.
        a great boss, and I owe everything  three  bay  shop  in  Baldwin,  New
        to  him  because  he  gave  me  a  York  in  1992.  And  we  were  an  Brian:  What  was  your  biggest
        shot. We were a welfare family, so  instant success.                      challenge  getting  your  auto  shop
        getting a job was a big deal at 17.                                       started?
                                             The  owners  before  us  had  a  bad
        I dropped out of school and went to  reputation.  The  thing  that  the  Steve:  Being  in  New York  for  my
        work for him. It was a little two bay  customers  liked  about  it  is  that  I  first  51 years,  I  knew  everybody.
        shop in Long Island. I had no formal  was the owner and a mechanic. I  Coming  out  here  and  opening  a
        education whatsoever, so I’m self-   knew everything about cars. A lot of  business  cold,  I  didn’t  have  one
        taught  and  was  ASE  certified  by  shops even today, especially here  single customer or even suppliers.
        the time I was 23-years-old. I did  in  Arizona,  are  owned  by  people  When  we  first  opened,  I  needed
        it on my own.                        who have three or four shops but  about  a  month  to  set  it  up,  and
                                             came from other industries and  put  in  new  floors  and  signs. And
        Brian:  Did you ever envision that  know nothing about cars.              I had guys say, “You’ll never make
        you  would  open  your  own  auto                                         it here, you’re not from here.” Lots
        shop?                                Where I come from, mechanics  of  people wouldn’t  even  give  me
                                             became  owners.  I’m  one  of  the  lines of credit.

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