DRIVE announces R&L SERVICE CENTER of Silver City, NM as its April 2020 Shop Spotlight
“During COVID-19, R&L is ensuring good communication to each and every customer. We are OPEN, taking every safety precaution plus pick-up & delivery and filling their gas tanks up too! Our customers are like family.” – Rusty Lewis, Owner R&L SERVICE CENTER
R & L Service Center in Silver City, New Mexico has been a beacon of light to this small town for over 58 years. The shop was founded by present owner Rusty Lewis’ great grandfather and grandfather in hopes of securing the American dream for their family. Four generations of the family have now grown up running and expanding the business. What started out as a 2-bay gas station and garage has blossomed into a 10-bay auto repair complex with a thriving team.
Located in the southwest corner of New Mexico, Silver City is a beautiful town nestled at a 6,000 ft. elevation between the tall pines above and the desert below. But the real beauty part is that Silver City has a “small, hometown feel” and Rusty treats his customers, neighbors and friends alike, just like family. But not just customers, his employees, too. Rusty says, “One of the things I always bear in mind about my business is knowing that my decisions impact the future of not only four generations of my family’s hard work but the future of my employees’ livelihoods, too.”
But things weren’t always so idyllic in Silver City. “Our business had grown to a point it was getting out of control,” reports Rusty. “After joining DRIVE we’ve gained organization and structure. This was lacking and hindering our future growth. Being connected with other owners though the DRIVE network has been a huge benefit! The members of DRIVE are very helpful and always willing to share their thoughts and ideas. The workshops have made an enormous impact benefiting our business.”
R&L has grown to 9 employees: 4 ASE certified technicians, 2 up and coming Lube/Tire Techs, 2 Service Advisors, and 1 Office Assistant who is training to help as Service Advisor. But Rusty says his team isn’t complete without adding his wife, Ana, without whom he says the shop would be a mess, and his Business Advisor, David Freyre, who’s helped greatly and encouraged changes that were hard to make. But above all others, Rusty has to include his parents, Terry and Frances Lewis, who devoted their lives to the success of R&L with many sacrifices and are a huge reason behind the success of the company.
But R&L continues to grow, grow in ways that Rusty’s Great Grandfather could have never even imagined. Especially the ways that the shop now stays connected with its customers. “I am very excited,” Rusty says, “about our new website DRIVE has constructed. The marketing and web team have been very helpful to our success.”
But perhaps the most successful – and certainly the most clever – Digital Age tool recently instigated by Rusty is R&L’s Private Facebook Group. Yes, you read that right: their PRIVATE Facebook Group. Let Rusty explain: “This was an interesting brainstorm I had. My advisor, David, was encouraging me to start a Facebook page. No one likes going to a Mechanic, it’s like going to the dentist! Yeah you may have some loyal customers that follow you, but, for the most part, auto repair is not something that brings joy to people. Soooo – we created the R&L Service Center VIP Facebook closed group for FUEL SPECIALS supplemented with posts of news and SPECIALS IN OUR REPAIR SHOP. The driving force getting members to sign up is EVERYONE WANTS A DEAL ON GAS. Generally, every week we’ll post fuel discount dates and times that only our group members see. In 3 months of starting the group, we now have 2,000 members and it grows every day! These are 2,000 members I now can advertise directly to for our auto repair shop. I am definitely happy with the results so far.”
While Rusty is open to the newest trends in both marketing and the repair technology inside the shop, his basic business advice to fellow shop owners is a simple, 3-pronged mantra: “Put yourself in the customers shoes. Treat your customers and employees fairly. And, most importantly, pay your employees well.”
And Rusty’s advice to those about to join or are even just thinking of joining the DRIVE program: “Like anything else in life, you get out what you put into it. By applying yourself and using the tools DRIVE provides, you are setting yourself up for success.”
Continued success to Rusty & Ana and everyone else at R&L Service Center!