Duo Counts on Auto Repair Program on the Way to 40+ Shops
When Dave Markert’s BMW 328i’s engine failed, the college student had no idea the breakdown would launch his career. He met Rob Eskew as they exchanged BMW parts and by 2012, they had forged a business that keeps growing.
At first, they called their auto shop Markert Motor Works. However, some people found the name hard to pronounce. Then, Rob saw the word True on the back of a $7-million yacht and everything clicked.
“We wanted something short that means something and goes beyond the basics,” Dave says.
The duo changed the business name to True Automotive in 2019. After all, it embodies their vision of the direction they wish to help steer the automotive repair industry.
Since their early days, this pair has acquired five more shops and are renovating a sixth. Five of them are in the Atlanta area, with one in Colorado.
“We always wanted to grow,” says Dave, who acts as chief financial officer. “We are always trying to improve the things we do and the people we work with.”
One of the tools they added to their kit was Shop-Ware’s automotive repair business software.
Rob Eskew welcomes another happy customer to True Automotive.
Big plans fueled by auto repair program
Once Rob and Dave opened their second store, they went shopping for auto repair programs. It took three tries until they landed on Shop-Ware, just in time for their third shop to come aboard.
“We were creating a big, profitable business to take care of our team,” Dave says. “We needed a way for them to grow far past what a $100,000 store can do for them, including a nice shop and benefits.”
Now, that team numbers 46 with a diagnostic technician, a floating trainer and an accounting department.
Above all, it keeps growing as other auto repair veterans sell their shops. By luck, the sixth shop they purchased already uses Shop-Ware. “We just have to change the sign outside,” Dave says with a smile.
Ultimately, he would like to build the team to 500 employees working at 40 to 50 unique shops. “That seems like a nice big number,” he says.
Counting on multishop intel
Their recipe for success relies on Shop-Ware’s multi-shop features. The automotive repair business software allows the co-owners to monitor data across all stores. No one else offers that level of insight, Dave notes.
It saves him from logging in and out of auto repair programs repeatedly and it gives him more personal time. Since he started, his goal was to “work himself out of a job” as a hands-on manager.
Now, he has a new one – as a father. Dave and his wife Laura welcomed David William Markert the Third (Liam) to their family seven months ago.
“My goal was to be present for him,” Dave says. “That means no more 70 to 80-hour weeks.”
Meanwhile, True’s techs and service advisors also like using Shop-Ware while customers find it great to get a grasp on repairs.
“We’re a very data-driven business,” Dave says. “That keeps us with Shop-Ware. We can see the trends and I like pulling up data on my phone. It’s a godsend.”
Giving back in their own ways
With auto repair software tracking their numbers, the founders have turned their focus to distinct ways of giving back.
Rob uses his friendly and charismatic nature to generate videos that highlight the shops on social media. He also has fun with a series of “left-field branding” ideas, such as:
‘I love my mechanic’ signs
Coupons and prop money hidden for people to find and claim
Free oil changes to a group each month: teachers, voters, front-line healthcare workers, etc.
Discounts to military personnel
Annual car-care clinics for women on how to change a tire and what sounds and smells warrant a trip to the garage
Meanwhile, Dave began coaching with Shop Fix Academy in late 2020. He mentors 24 clients from all over the country, meeting with them in person quarterly. As a member since this circle began, he wanted to pay it forward.
He also shares the story of his and Rob’s ups and downs as a speaker at the annual Shop Hackers Conference.
“Once we had our stores where I wanted them to be, it was my goal to give back to the community,” Dave says. “That is what helped me be as successful as I am today.”
* Photos courtesy of True Automotive
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