Reflecting Back on 25 Years of Business in Colorado Springs, CO
by Randy Schillinger, Owner & Founder of Honest Accurate Auto Service
If you’re like me, 1993 seems like just a few years back. If you hadn’t been born yet, it’s like ancient history. And… if you’re older than me, you probably thought the world was going to hell in a hand basket. Well, it’s 2018 and we’re still all here (well, maybe not ALL here but we ARE here).
I was ‘wrenching’ on cars back then. That means trying to crank out a living repairing all the things you guys broke on your cars. This was way back when Intel introduced the Pentium Processor and about the same time the World Wide Web came about. Yes millennials, there was a time the Pentium Processor and the World Wide Web did not exist. A different world – huh?
Since somebody already invented Beanie Babies that year, and the brand new Colorado Rockies franchise played their first baseball game, I spent a whole year with my wife (and our West shop matriarch), Vicki, looking at other business opportunities. We looked at franchise opportunities, we looked at existing business opportunities and we looked at what Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazines had to say about “the Top 10 Business Models for the 21st Century”. The year was 1993 and I had dreams of starting my own company… being my own boss… Living the American Dream… with nobody telling me what to do anymore (except for Vicki). I was ready to try anything. Anything, that is, except for the automotive business. I didn’t want anything to do with cars anymore. I’d had my fill. Surely there was an easier way to make a living.
After a year of searching… plugging in all the variables… weighing all the alternatives… Vicki and I decided to go into the auto repair business. Why not? I knew the business, I loved cars and motoring was in my family’s blood. So along with my good friend and business partner Bob, we started Hondac Auto. ‘Hondac’ was a made up word I came up with in a UCCS marketing class I was taking at the time. It was a clever idea (clever for me that is) of using a dual combination of several letters in our tag line – “Honest and Accurate Auto Service for your Honda and Acura cars – Our name says it all”. We decided to specialize in Honda and Acura cars because both of us loved the vehicles, the cars actually stayed repaired after we fixed them (unlike some German cars I know) and the people who drove them were just great people to work with! Our business philosophy was “Let’s fix those cars and fix them right and the business will come”.
Our marketing strategy at that time consisted of me dropping off windshield fliers as I rode my bicycle back and forth to work. It wasn’t long before our loyal Honda and Acura customers were asking us to work on their Toyotas, their Subarus, their Fords and their Chevys. Along with hearing all of your requests and then focusing on my two new parnter’s ideas, we began to slowly grow the business. My brother partner Rob encouraged me to… “Now get out there and start marketing the company”. My Dakota brother partner Dan encouraged us to take on all makes and models of cars, trucks and SUV’s. (I met my brother partner, Rob, when we were born. We’re fraternal twins. I met my Dakota brother partner, Dan, ‘cause we had a mutual interest in show cars. Interesting enough though, Dan and I never actually met until a couple of months before we became partners. We both attended UCCS in the 80’s, we both grew up in the Dakotas and his wife Rondi – our East shop matriarch and marketing genius – and their son Austin – our East shop junior partner – had cars serviced with us in the past.) We did slowly grow our business, opened a second shop and started working on all those different makes and models.
Just before we opened our second shop we made a decision to change our name. We thought amongst ourselves, we asked our current customers and we surveyed the general public on ideas for some creative, new names which might reflect insight into our growing company. The project was actually kind of fun. We narrowed our choices down to three or four that we thought we could live with. We chose the one that you, our customers, said we should use. Honest Accurate Auto Service. You reminded us it was part of our original tag line and that we should use that name to stay true to what we had delivered all those past years. You said by using that strong, descriptive, “in your face” name we would have the opportunity to prove to potential, new customers that right here in Colorado Springs was an auto repair shop who boldly claimed who they were and what they did, with their name.
Well… Honest Accurate Auto Service is certainly a mouthful and it is bold but, what the heck. Just think of all the money we saved in marketing expenses by having our tag line right there in our name.
Nobody loved our name change and logo change
more that our sign company but we did make it through that costly ordeal, opened that second shop and started working on all makes and models, gas and diesel, hybrids, trucks and SUV’s. We’ve expanded from four bays to twenty two, two employees to 38 and one rented shop location to two of our very own, built and owned locations.
But some things never change. John Elway lead the Denver Broncos as quarterback in 1993 and is still involved with that franchise today. 1993’s Jurassic Park is Jurassic World today. And even though you might not hear Meat Loaf on the radio anymore, Garth Brooks, Madonna and Aerosmith are still plugging away. We started our business working Monday through Friday and never working weekends or evenings. We still adhere to that philosophy today. We believe our families, our employee’s and their families and all of you, our customers and friends, are number one and business comes next. We still know if we fix those cars and fix them right… business will take care of itself. If we concentrate on treating people the way we’d like to be treated… business will take care of itself. If we employ the best technicians, use the highest quality parts and charge a fair price for that service… business will take care of itself.