Part of our Heart of LoCo Series, profiling Loudoun businesses that represent the best of our community
An Uncommon Auto Repair Shop
Five years ago, Linda Parrish had retired from the federal government and was planning to spend her time on charity work or a part time job to keep busy. Instead, her son Willy, a mechanic, approached her with “Hey, Mom…I’ve got a great idea!”
That great idea was to open an auto repair shop that placed customers front and center, loving their people and growing the business by taking care of everyone the right way. Willy, to that point, had been an employee all his life. He wanted to create a space with the best of what he’d experienced, eliminating the worst.
Dulles South Chantilly Automotive just celebrated five years of operation, with blue skies ahead. Walking into their shop, tucked on a busy corner off of Route 50 in Chantilly, you’ll immediately feel right at home. (Seriously—Linda’s mother made the curtains and pillows in the waiting room!) And Willy’s children are likely to be hanging around helping out, too.
Earning Trust and Building a Community
They live and breathe their values. The sign out front reads “It’s not just a repair, it’s a relationship.” According to Willy, he’d rather you spent a dollar with him a hundred times than a hundred dollars once. They shower their clients with appreciation, and staff is encouraged to put family ahead of work. (They have weekends off!)
Willy’s mobile number is even on the front page of their website. He encourages everyone to come to him for a free second opinion if they aren’t sure of a repair estimate from another shop. The whole team wants to help their customers make informed decisions about their vehicles, so that every time they leave, they are happy and comfortable with the service and advice given to them.
To that end, they’ve set up a program to teach young adults how to take care of their cars. Scout troops, youth groups, and athletic teams have all come to the shop. They bring the kids into the bay and show them how to perform basic maintenance. (They tell them to come ready to get a little dirty!) The team will also show you how to properly install your child safety seats, and hosts community car seat events, too.
Linda, Willy, and their team work hard to earn trust, and their clients love it. Recently, they had a customer recently surprise them with a whole holiday lunch, including pot roast and all the fixings. “People are so afraid they are going to get ripped off,” Linda says. “We want to make sure we earn their trust so they are totally comfortable here.”
Willy and Linda are hoping for more growth in the next five years. They can envision the ‘ultimate garage experience,’ which would include more space to engage with their customers. That might include an old-style gas station front exterior, or possibly a restaurant overlooking the garage bay– a unique idea from Willy’s son. Think of a modern garage that can deliver the service, with an old school customer focused mentality.
Personally, we’ll be cheering them on as they keep growing and thriving. The ‘love your clients,’ service-oriented mentality is at the heart of our business as well, and we love to find kindred spirits.
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