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  < Back to Table Of Contents  < Back to Topic: Local Business & Small Town Economies

article number 20
article date 07-04-2011
copyright 2011 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Keller Automotive, Sidney, Illinois.
by Stu Moment

I had visions of a small town automotive repair shop being at an economic disadvantage. We will find out that this is not necessarily the case.

Rob Keller has operated Keller Automotive for 14 years. When asked how business has changed, he noted that the economy had made business slow, but business is picking up again.

   

I was wondering if modern cars (so many electronics) have hurt his business. I expected that people owning modern cars would assume that they had to go to dealership shops but Rob gave me a different answer. He said that he has to update diagnostic equipment, but that equipment makes newer cars easier to work on. Ten years ago he had to think through troubleshooting. Modern equipment tells you what’s wrong.

While interviewing Rob, he was determining the condition of a truck’s batteries, a common check to determine battery vs. charging system problems. I was envious of his ability to determine the battery condition quickly.

   

Rob’s shop is organized, clean, and contains the equipment necessary for maintenance and repairs. He has both a lift and a hoist.

   

I asked Rob how he tackled the role of telling a customer about a major problem. He noted that a repair shop will often have to be the bearer of bad news. Sometimes it’s difficult to give them the bad news. You just have to be honest.

Next question … “has the internet changed things?” Rob said that it is easier to access information on the internet. He doesn’t have to look through books. He wouldn’t know what to do without it.

   
Besides accessing technical information on the computer, Rob stores vehicle history information … ‘When was that battery last replaced?’

While snooping though his shop I entered another bay which, from the inside, was a separate room. Holy moly … a performance car. I didn’t ask him about it but noticed that on the ‘Gallery’ tab of his website, www.kellerautomotive.com, he has a couple of YouTube videos featuring it.

   

I wondered how much of his day is filled with fetching parts. Rod noted that many parts distributors and some dealers deliver the parts to him … and will even pick up parts from dealers who don’t deliver. He is able to spend nearly all his time at his shop.

A small town automotive repair shop not only can survive the modern business and technical environment, but given its proximity to its customers, may have advantages. Rob Keller has the technology, knowledge and heart to run Keller Automotive successfully.

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