Meet Dan Ryan of Team Ryan Automotive Service & Repair in Buford
Today we’d like to introduce you to Dan Ryan.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Dan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The initial catalyst to starting Team Ryan Automotive Service & Repair was when I realized that I couldn’t change the direction of the ship I was on, so I decided to build my own ship. The ship I’m referring to is the large corporation where I spent 18 years as a technician. While the large corporation model has many benefits, I had aspirations that I realized only ownership could fulfill. There was so much room for a better experience for both technicians and customers. Simply put, I knew the community deserved better and I decided to take matters into my own hands.
After many dinnertime conversations with my wife, we decided to begin the pursuit of opening our own service and repair shop in the spring of 2013. We started by going to Small Business Association classes, then wrote a business plan that enabled us to acquire a loan to start our business. Then we researched suitable areas for our endeavor, found the right property, negotiated and closed on a building, built out that property, acquired the necessary equipment, created a marketing, financial and growth plan, and opened doors in the spring of 2015.
We will cross the threshold of four years in business April of 2019. I am extremely proud of what we have built but I feel like our full potential has still yet to be realized.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Starting a business is never a small task. The only easy thing about running a small business like Team Ryan Automotive is that we sleep well at night knowing we have performed to the best of our abilities making honest recommendations to our customers. We keep their safety top of mind while respecting that each has the prerogative to make their own decisions.
One of the largest challenges was the transition I had to make from being a full-time technician to a full-time business owner. This meant that I would need to take on many responsibilities that I wasn’t immediately familiar with. Even with two decades of industry experience, there have been huge challenges as I learn new skills such as service writing, managing people, leadership, managing vendor relationships, customer relations, contract negotiation, and parts procurement to name a few. I faced these challenges head-on by persevering through difficulties, identifying areas for improvement, seeking out training and specific advice from experts. I’ve learned that challenges do not completely go away after four years of business ownership; they just evolve and grow with you and your business. Coming to terms with this has been a challenge in itself. Continuing to experience challenges and obstacles does not equal failure. It is quite the opposite actually. I have learned to be thankful for the hardships in front of me, they are different and usually larger than the previous ones. This means I am growing as a person and we are growing as a business. That sounds like success to me.
Team Ryan Automotive Service & Repair – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our mission as a business is to serve the community by providing honest vehicle care while empowering our customers to make the best decision for their situation. We explain the diagnosis of each vehicle in easy to understand language while showing our customers where the problem is and carefully illustrating our recommendations. Using digital inspections that include actual pictures of their vehicle that can easily be texted or emailed to our customers really help with this transparency. We also frequently take our customers into the shop where their car is on a lift to point out any issues that need attention so that people can see with their own eyes. It is a real-life version of show and tell! Our philosophy of providing exemplary customer service demands that we understand and serve the needs of each individual customer. We empower customers by presenting the vehicle issues in a down-to-earth way allowing for a no-pressure environment in which they can direct us on what they want to be completed. This practical approach keeps our shop focused on what’s most important, the customer.
We are here to be the local experts in quality auto service and repair, whether that is an oil service, vehicle inspections or diagnostics, brake service, engine or transmission replacement and so much more.
It is our personal drive towards social responsibility that motivates us to do our part in protecting the environment and support the community with our skills at a fair price. We take pride in offering an approach to customer service that is based on integrity and trust. While we certainly have the expertise and proven ability to diagnose and repair vehicles, what really sets us apart is how well we take care of the customers in our community. Our business is founded on treating people right and fixing their vehicle right the first time.
I was honored to be recognized in Georgia Trend Magazine’s 40 under 40 in 2018. We have been voted Best of Gwinnett every year we have been in business since 2015. The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce has recognized us with their Small Business Rising Star Award. Team Ryan Automotive has been featured in both our local Suwanee Magazine and a national trade magazine Ratchet & Wrench. As an alumni of Gwinnett Technical College, I am invested in giving back to the community as a member of the Automotive Program Advisory Board and also a donor to the Scholarship Committee. Through this, I am able to provide real-world information and updates of the industry to the faculty and students. This year I was honored to be featured in their Alumni Scholarship video which highlighted successful graduates.
Auto repair is not usually known as environmentally friendly. We take pride in our environmental practices and have been recognized as Community Crusaders by Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful. Additionally, we are involved with other environmental organizations such as Elachee Nature and Science Center, and the National Parks Conservation Association. Further community involvement includes the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, North Gwinnett Kiwanis Club and multiple sponsorships of the youth sports programs in our community. Being recognized and able to contribute to our community in all these different ways makes us feel extremely proud.
To achieve growth and maintain stability we stay extremely focused on the customer experience. We serve a diverse community of all age ranges and understand that one communication method does not work for all. Adjusting our communication style to each customer is critical to establishing a true connection with that person. Team Ryan’s success is directly tied to having the right employees. For that reason, we are constantly looking for ways to create a stable and positive environment in which to work. As our business has grown over the last four years, we’ve gained stability through our continued focus towards treating people right. This goes for both customers and employees.
We plan to be a fixture in the community for the next few decades, and each day we work towards this by building long term trust rather than pushing for the short-term gains.
Too many of us grew up only seeing one kind of boss or leader in the media. The lack of representation for other groups reinforced harmful stereotypes and acted as a self-fulfilling prophecy, but would our opinion of what a leader looks like be different if the media did a better job at representing the true diversity of leadership in America?
A true leader is measured by how they treat people. This means all people, no one is above or below another person, we are all simply people. Leadership is about making a positive difference in others and making sure that impact lasts when you are not around. These qualities are not isolated to a single stereotype or education level. In fact, I find the best leaders are those that have the perspective of having nothing and working hard for everything they have earned. We cannot control what the media decides to show or not show us. We can control how it impacts us and how we respond to it. Each and every one of us has the ability to rise above the stereotypes, we just need to make the choice and do the work. Auto repair shops have the stereotype of being dirty, greasy, dishonest, and sometimes even rude or deceitful. Team Ryan Automotive made the choice four years ago to do the work and change the industry one repair at a time.
Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
Automotive technology and design have progressed and changed more in the last ten years than in the last forty years prior to that. I think we will see an even larger advancement in technology over the next ten years. To say vehicles are no longer easy to work on is an understatement. The amount of dedication and training required to be a true professional in this industry is growing exponentially. Those that are dedicated to continued education and training will rise to the top and be masters of this trade. Everyone else will be gradually left behind fixing the cars of yesteryear clinging to a disappearing number of cars they are qualified to repair. Team Ryan Automotive has already invested in over 50 hours of technician classroom training in 2019 with another 21 hours scheduled in the near future. In my humble opinion, the repair shops willing to do this are the repair shops of the future.