F.A.Q. SOME OF THEM
What is this business? Are you just work-from-home, cash-only, pay-no-taxes, disappear-tomorrow kind of a deal?
No, it is not that. Despite being a small-scale operation, AB automotive has a legally registered business name, county business permit, AMVIC license, business liability insurance, and garage insurance policies. We accept payments by debit cards and credit cards, have a business bank account, are registered for GST, and we pay our taxes. I, Andrew Bondarenko, am a Red Seal certified Automotive Service Technician (and I got some pretty stellar marks doing that exam when I came to Canada in 2012, by the way). So I presume my business follows all the required formalities and isn't less legit than any bigger shops and dealerships here.
Thanks to the favorable zoning that allows me to run an automotive repair shop right in my yard, I indeed work from home. Or, maybe I should say that I live at work all the time? No matter how you choose to look at it, for me, it works like a charm!
What makes and brands do you work on? What is your experience?
I do not specialize in any particular brand, type, or line of models. Any vehicle that can fit into my shop, get lifted on my lift, and for which I can get the required tooling, equipment, and technical info to work on it professionally, meeting the highest standards of quality - is welcome to my shop. And that would be over 99% of all the cars and light trucks around here in Alberta.
Yes, I know and understand that narrow specialization of some kind makes business more efficient, more profitable, and generally easier to run. I do not object to the idea of specialization per se. I would gladly work, for example, only with Subaru. Or Honda. Or BMW. Or Ferrari. Unfortunately, the size of the market in Grande Prarie is not favorable for the shops with narrow specialization. Unless it would be specialized in Ford, GM, or Chrysler products, maybe? Even while working at the main dealer shops, I still had to deal with a wide variety of brands and models all the time. This is the life of a technician here (and mostly everywhere, for that matter). The demand to work on different vehicles is strong, and it looks silly not to fulfill that demand if I can do it. Luckily, plenty of solutions in the North American market allows technicians to work on different makes and models professionally and provide top quality of work. I have working experience in the European market in my past background: things are more complicated in Europe for independent shops like mine.
As for my personal working experience, it is easier now to list the brands I haven't worked with or jobs I haven't done before. More than a quarter of a century of non-stop work in this business in a whole bunch of different companies (including two small businesses that I run myself previously in other countries) puts a lot of experience under one's belt! It is not like a technician has to grow a particular set of hands - or brains - to work with some specific brand. There is no such a thing as "Ford technician" or "Audi technician"; this is nonsense! Any qualified automotive technician must be perfectly capable of working on any car or truck. Otherwise, he is merely a monkey trained to perform a limited set of particular tasks (yep, I don't care if my opinion sounds offensive for some overly-sensitive soul). The main limiting factor in this regard is the access to technical information and specific tooling and equipment, rather than qualification, training, and previous technician experience. This job requires being a strong self-learner for the rest of your life. Don't have it in you? Better do something else then.
I enjoy being exposed in my work to different designs and schools of engineering when working on the broad spectrum of makes and models of automobiles. While no doubt it is more efficient in terms of making a profit in business, narrow specialization gets boring after a while.
There are still some services that I don't provide in my business or some vehicles that I would not take in. Mainly this is caused by the limitations of the shop size, equipment availability, or setup specifics required for certain jobs or types of vehicles. I'd like to have all the tools, equipment, info, and all the working environment setups in the world, but this is not possible - unless you have unlimited finances.
Do you provide a warranty on your work?
Yes, a warranty is always provided for every order. I wouldn't last this long in the automotive repair business if I'd say, "no, there is no warranty; if you want your warranty, you should go to a dealer!" This isn't really a competitive stance in the current market. One can attract a new customer with a low price offer, but you can't retain most customers if your work is not backed up with quality and a working warranty policy. Actually, I doubt that you can retain any customer like that.