If you think the days of having your own personal automotive mechanic are over, think again. Since first opening its doors in 1947, Clarkesville Motor Company has defied the odds by remaining a small thriving automotive repair business in an age when car dealerships & big box chain stores threaten to dominate the marketplace.
“Automobile service has changed dramatically since 1974 when my father and I first bought this business,” says owner David Irvin. “We’ve gone from changing out points and plugs and radiators back then, to diagnosing electronics, sensors, and on-board computers today. The image of repairing your car with a screwdriver and a crescent wrench under a shade tree in the back yard is a thing of the past.”
According to David, to survive as an auto mechanic today you have to be at the top of your game in modern automotive technology. But to really thrive in the business requires more than just having the most expensive equipment or the best mechanics.
“You can’t make it just on your knowledge of cars,” David explained further. “It requires a broader knowledge of what I call the ‘automotive business’. What we’ve managed to do is to stay current with the technology while retaining the people part of the business that has kept us going strong for two generations.”
“For example, our mechanics are all ASE certified automotive technicians, trained in the most sophisticated computerized equipment required to correctly diagnose and repair a modern car’s systems. We use proprietary software, on-line manuals and on-line training to stay current on the latest technological advancements in automobiles.
“But technology is just as important in the front office in how you manage your customer base and keep your customers satisfied,” remarked David. “I have around 3,000 customers in my business data base, each with their own unique history of repairs and service records.
“You see, cars are very personal to people,” said David. “Customers still take it for granted that you should remember their car and everything you’ve ever done to it. Since automobiles last much longer than they used to, keeping good records on each of your customers is vital to maintaining a high standard of service that customers expect out of you.”
Years ago a lot of David’s business came from the town merchants who would drop off their vehicles for service during normal working hours. “I grew up in Clarkesville and everyone knew us,” said David. “My customers are also my friends, my neighbors. I go to church with them, I see them on the street, I eat in the same restaurants with them. Early on I learned the value of a customer’s trust and loyalty.”
When asked about the key to his continued success, David reflected back on the principles that he and his father always felt were the most important: “My father and I built this business on a strong foundation of honesty and integrity,” said David. “More than anything, people want to feel like their mechanic has been fair and honest. . . that they have paid a fair price for a honest day’s work. I get the most satisfaction when a customer walks out of my shop happy about the work we did for them.”
Clarkesville Motor Company is located north of the square of Clarkesville at 202 Grant Street. Service hours are Monday – Friday, 7:30 AM – 6PM. Phone 706-754-4157.