Most of us have been there. You are at a staff meeting or a party and the boss stands up and says something to the effect of, “We’re a family,” referring to you and the however many other employees (some whom you hardly know), in a way to say you are cared for as an employee. Your mixed emotions about the job itself send a disconcerting chill up your spine. You don’t see these people as family. Sure you’ve made some good friends at this job. You celebrate your successes together and even sometimes talk about the downsides of the company, but you definitely aren’t each other’s family. It may even be that it was originally started as a family business and the CEO is the grandson of the company’s founder. However, that doesn’t make the CEO your brother.
That’s how Andrew and I have often felt in previous employment. We were just trying to “get by,” pretty much since we’ve been married, not necessarily looking for a second family. He grew tired of the work-place politics that comes with working for someone else. He also saw a gap in the auto repair industry that he wanted to fill (at least for the few that would visit his shop) and decided he’d be his own boss for a change. I caught onto his vision and now we are well on our way to establishing ourselves in our community as a trusted auto repair shop. We are an actual family. We’re a family serving families. We’re small, and we plan to stay that way.
We Really Are Family
We are trying to shape our business in a way that allows us a healthy family life. We’re not afraid to adjust our hours to allow for family time or to not schedule work on a Friday so Andrew can be with me while I undergo surgery. We’re a family business and if our business isn’t good for our family, we need to change our business, not our family. We need to provide for not only the practical monetary needs of our family, but the emotional and spiritual needs as well. If Daddy is never around because he’s working, then we’ve failed to truly provide for our son. It’s certainly not easy – in fact it’s been a major struggle for us – but it’s important so we keep looking for ways to make it work.
The same goes for our employees. The great thing about our staff, past and present, is that we were all friends before we were co-workers. That doesn’t mean this will always be the case, but it certainly means that if we end up hiring someone we don’t know, we will make every effort to be their friend as well as their employer – we’re all on the same level just trying to provide.
Our office manager, Jonathan, and his wife, Sarah, have been a part of our life long before Jonathan was hired. In fact, Sarah and I were roommates when Andrew and I got married and he moved in with us for the last couple months of our lease. When she met Jonathan, we made a point to have them over for dinner so we could get to know him better. Working together has made us all closer than ever. We help each other out with everything from childcare to bringing each other meals when someone is recovering from childbirth or illness to even cleaning each others homes. So, when we say we’re like family, it’s because we really do treat one-another like we’d treat a member of our family.
If It’s a Good Business, Why Stay Small?
I’ve had a lot of major health issues over the past year. One thing that frustrates me more than anything is calling a doctor’s office and having to fight to talk to the person who can address my needs. I call, choose the number on the phone menu that I think will address my need, getting a person who isn’t the right person, then being put on hold. Three people later, I’m talking once again to the first person I spoke with who asks if I can hold while I’m transferred. I don’t know these people. I don’t know the right person to talk to. When I finally do get the correct person, they can’t really address my need anyway. It’s so frustrating!
That’s why I prefer small independent practices. I know who I’m going to talk to when I call, I know what to expect when I schedule my appointment, and I know who is going to be treating me. Keeping this body in good health is a challenge, I don’t want to be fighting to talk with the people helping me do it.
We want all of our customers to feel like they are valued, not just because it’s good business sense, but because we really do care about people. When you call, we want the person on the other end to be familiar to you. When we ask how you are, we really want to know. We want to become familiar with you, your family, and your car. When we don’t see you for a while, we’ll wonder how you are doing. Staying small means that personal touch of being able to go above and beyond for our customers, of having a personal relationship with you and managing good quality control over our business practices and mechanical work. It means that our customers keep coming back because we’ve given them reason to trust us.
We’re OK With Letting Go
It’s hard to find just the right person to fit in with any business, especially one like ours that has a very specific vision and is made up of a small team working closely together. However, we want to see our employees succeed in the ways that they are uniquely gifted.
We recently had a good friend and great mechanic leave his part-time job with us to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. It was a loss for us, but we are excited to see him make an impact on his family and the world through this career change. Eventually we’ll have the resources to hire a full-time mechanic that equals his skills and ability. It will allow us to grow our business and become even better than we are now. There will come a time when we will either need to expand our business and entrust this mechanic with more responsibility or see them move on to better things. We’re not looking to expand to a multiple location business because, as I mentioned, we want to stay small. We would gladly cheer that person on to open their own business that reflects the quality of service and relationships they experienced while working for us. The world doesn’t need Marinelli Auto Services on every corner, but it does need more shops that make the effort to break the stereotype of auto repair as a dishonest industry.
Our goal is not about us getting big, it’s about shaping trust within the industry. It’s not about making a name for ourselves, it’s about revealing that there’s something greater for each and every person who seeks a solution in even the most trying circumstances.
-From the Mechanic’s Wife
I’ve often heard that when a quiet person speaks, listen. With Andrew, this couldn’t be more true. I frequently wonder what is going on in that head of his. If you look in his eyes you know, the wheels are always turning, but with what? His level of focus is remarkable and his attention to detail is inspiring. It’s like he conserves his energy in the stillness of his concentration and then bursts into action to get things done. And when he opens his mouth, the value in what he says is staggering. What goes on between the silence, the action, and the speaking is beyond me – and I’ve been married to him for six years! – but whatever it is, it drives him to get things done no matter what it takes.
Andrew is a resilient man – not impenetrable, but very humanly resilient. He commits to a task and he gets it done. His motivation stems from the heart. For him, it’s less about the cars and more about the people that drive them. It’s one of the first things that attracted me to him. He really cares about people and has a drive to help them, whether stranger or friend, in whatever way he can. He won’t let an obstacle get in the way of his goal. He always finds a way around it because the people he serves as a mechanic mean that much to him.
This attribute is what motivated him to change gears from music teacher to mechanic. He sought a way to help people in a practical way, so he set down his music degree and sought a career as a tradesman. He will still sit down from time-to-time and massage a tune out of a piano, but these days those gifted fingers are influencing a vehicle back to good health. He doesn’t so much enjoy the mechanics as much as that he’s really good at it and is driven to get better so he can continue to help people.
It’s Andrew’s intelligence and uncommon love for people that drives him out of bed at 6:30am to head to the shop before it opens. He’ll grab whatever is in the fridge that will give him energy for the day (pizza, cheese or hummus and bread, leftover spaghetti, etc…), though sometimes he needs to be reminded to eat because he gets so focused on the job at hand. He rolls into the shop, spends some time cleaning or preparing his mind and heart for the day ahead. A few minutes are spent touching base with the employees, Mike and Jonathan, and then he gets to work, praying all the while for uninterrupted time to maintain his concentration on each vehicle on the schedule for the day.
At 6pm, when the shop is officially closed, the other guys usually (unless there’s an urgent matter to attend to) begin wrapping things up to head home. Andrew presses on for another few hours, at least. He usually aims to leave the shop by 9pm, but sometimes another hour or a few more after that. If he says he is going to get something done, you better believe he puts everything he has into getting it done.
Monday through Friday, this is what Andrew’s life looks like. Saturday is a little different, the shop isn’t open, so it’s a day when he can be fairly certain of no interruptions. So, he goes in to wrap up a job that didn’t go as planned over the previous days or spend time focusing on the business end of things. It’s a day when he can let the phone ring to voicemail and find unbroken concentration.
Sunday morning comes and Andrew is horizontal and will remain that way most of the day. Sure, he’ll spend some time playing with our son, but it’s mostly a day of recharging. Reading, watching TV, napping, and maybe a short trip to the park. It’s the only way this introvert can get up on Monday and do it all over again. He does it for me and our son, but also for you and your family so you can get wherever else life takes you.
-From the Mechanic’s Wife
We are a family business, and not just in the sense that Andrew and I are a husband and wife running a business, but because we are a family who truly cares about you and your family. It doesn’t matter whether you are a single college student or married parents of six, we care about you and the people you care about. Andrew, myself, and our team have had a variety of experiences that help us to empathize with where you are. We understand busy lives of all forms, and want to serve you so that you have safe transportation to get where you need to go. (more…)
Running a business is hard. Customer Service is hard. Working in the auto industry as a mechanic is really hard. Accomplishing hard things is very rewarding, especially when customers voice their gratitude. When things are hard at Marinelli Auto Service, two things keep us going: God and our customers. I want to take a moment to share with you just how much we value our customers and introduce you to someone you’ll likely meet the next time you bring us your vehicle.
Why work in a difficult industry unless you have something that drives you to keep on going? It’s in Andrew’s and my heart to serve others. We see vehicles as an essential part of life in the majority of the USA. Not having a car or truck can make it difficult to pursue a career, support your family, serve your community, or even get to pertinent appointments like the doctor. By helping you stay in a reliable vehicle while working with you with your repair budget, we feel that we get to partner with you in whomever you serve . That gets us excited! It’s why many of our customers have since become our friends.
This aspect of our business doesn’t just reside in the hearts of Andrew and myself, but we also make sure that whoever we invite onto our team shares our vision: Seeking to build trusting relationships through quality-focused automotive service, honesty in communication, fairness in practice, and kindness in action. That’s why in 2016 we brought on Mike to assist Andrew in the shop and me in the office. It’s also why we’ve recently invited the newest member of our team, Jonathan, on board to take over as the Office Manager. Both Mike and Jonathan get our heart and our vision for Marinelli Auto Service (MAS) and, therefore, value our customers with just as high of a regard as we do.
Who is Jonathan?
Jonathan comes from a background with business leadership, management skills and experience, computer programming skills, and great customer service skills, just to name a few. In just a couple weeks, Jonathan has jumped right in and already made a difference for our team and our customers. We are so grateful to have him.
One thing that you need to know about Jonathan is that he loves his family, including his wife, Sarah, and son, James, as well as another little one on the way this spring. He was a customer before he was an employee, so he understands what it is to be on both sides of the business. He gets what it’s like to find out how much a repair is going to cost and cringe a little and that’s why he wants to be in a position to serve you.
Andrew and I had been Sarah’s friend for years before we met Jonathan, but as an easy-going person, it wasn’t long before he became our friend, too. He was one of our first customers when we opened the shop. “I wanted to do my part in helping a small shop grow,” Jonathan told me when asked why he first came,”The first years, I only brought my car to MAS for the major repairs, but I would still go to other places for the minor maintenance jobs. As time went on, it became abundantly clear to me that MAS really did quality repairs and gave great service. It wasn’t long before my wife and I started bringing our cars to MAS for everything.”
With Jonathan’s excellent resume, we were so pleased when he accepted our job offer. He knew coming in that as a new growing business, he’d really have to own his position and work to grow his role here.
“I have worked for the fortune 500 company and the small mom and pop shop. I have managed businesses with 300 employees and I have managed some with just fifteen. The common thread missing in all my experiences is the fact that nothing beats a workplace where the leadership has integrity and the work is done with quality and purpose in mind. Just being a customer at MAS, I knew those two would be present because of the way MAS treats their customers and how they have made quality repairs their baseline standard.”
How Marinelli Auto Service is Growing and Changing
As I transition back to work after being on maternity leave, my priority is being a mother to Andrew’s and my son, Arthur. Having Jonathan on board helps me to do that in addition to bringing much needed support to our growing business. We are excited for the ways Jonathan will help us continue to improve on our quality of service and caring for our customers as we continue to expand and he’s excited to help us get there!
However, I’m not stepping away completely from the shop. Having Jonathan on our team gives Andrew the daily support he needs so we can continue to improve on serving our customers well. It also gives Mike the opportunity to maximize his time at the shop and not neglect his engineering studies, and also allows me to focus on my role as the Director of Community Engagement. I want to make sure our staff and customers are well cared for. I have made it my own personal mission to invite more people to be a part of Marinelli Auto Service so that our business is around to serve you for years to come.
Andrew, Mike, and I couldn’t be happier to welcome Jonathan to our team as we continue to grow!
-From the Mechanic’s Wife
2017 has started as a very interesting year for our shop. Andrew and I welcomed our son, Arthur, into the world on February 8th. On February 12th I ended up in emergency surgery and then in and out of ICU for nearly 3 weeks with a severe infection. This meant that, not only was I no longer working at the shop, but my maternity leave was prolonged and much of Andrew’s time was spent away from the shop and a lot of dependence was placed on Mike to keep things moving for our customers. Thankfully, we’ve had really understanding and compassionate customers. Several of you even stopped by with cards or gifts for us and the baby for which we’re really grateful. (more…)
When we say we value our customers we mean it…and we try hard to show it without being overbearing. We truly care about each individual customer. Most people do not expect this from an auto repair shop and, it seems by people’s reactions, many people have not experienced this previously at an auto repair shop. We don’t just care because you bring us your business (which we do really appreciate!). We actually truly care and that is why we’re in this business. When your child or pet is sick or you’ve lost your job or whatever, we actually want to know and will make an effort to ask you about it. We want you to drive a vehicle that is safe and sound so you can get your kids to school, your pet to the vet, or so that you have a way to get to work. We feel grateful to be a part of your life in this way. (more…)