|Last Updated: Aug 16th, 2006 - 11:01:00
When I first walked through the door at Street Sports to meet with Shawn Sexton, the owner, I had to wait patiently for my interview as he first helped a man in Germany debug his wideband O2 gauge and then offered tech support for a guy in France who emailed Street Sports because the shop he bought from wouldnít help him.
After briefly talking engines, cars, and the aftermarket with Shawn and several of the other employees, I realized that my first impression of Street Sports was accurate. This was truly a tuner fanaticís candy land. They carry products from a list of manufacturers longer than Santaís list, offer global tech support, and maintain a huge facility complete with two showrooms, an audio room, customer lounge, offices, two separate garages, and a paint booth! Once I was finally able to tear myself away from the rows of gleaming stainless exhausts and display cases full of goodies, I asked Shawn the question I thought would be most pertinent to our readers. Why should someone give Street Sports their hard earned cash instead of the next shop down the road?
I honestly wasnít prepared for the depth of his answer. He pointed me to a segment on Street Sportís website he had created specifically to help people learn how to tell a reputable shop from one that might not really care if your car falls apart ten feet out of their driveway. For those of you not fortunate enough to be able to make it to Street Sports, this guide should help you when looking for a local shop to do work for you.
- Don't just drop your vehicle off at the nearest establishment and hope for the best. That's not choosing a shop, that's merely gambling.
- Read your owner's manual to become familiar with your vehicle and follow the manufacturer's suggested service schedule.
- Start shopping for a repair facility before you need one; you can make better decisions when you are not rushed or in a panic.
- Ask friends and associates for their recommendations. Even in this high-tech era, old-fashioned word-of-mouth reputation is still valuable.
- Check with your local consumer organization (i.e. Better Business Bureau) regarding the reputation of the shop.
- If possible, arrange for alternate transportation in advance so you will not feel forced to choose a facility solely on the basis of location.
- Once you choose a repair shop, start off with a minor job; if you are pleased; trust them with more complicated repairs later.
II. At the Shop
- Look for a neat, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays.
- Professionally run establishments will have a courteous, helpful staff. The service writer should be willing to answer all of your questions.
- Feel free to ask for the names of a few customers. Call them.
- All policies (labor rates, diagnostic fees, guarantees, methods of payment, etc.) should be available and/or explained to your satisfaction.
- Ask if the shop customarily handles your vehicle make and model. Some facilities specialize.
- Ask if the shop usually does your type of repair, especially if you need major work.
- Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area: civic and community service awards, membership in the Better Business Bureau, and customer service awards.
- Look for evidence of qualified technicians, such as trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced course work, and other certifications that show standards of technician competence.
- Keep good records; keep all paperwork.
- Reward good service with repeat business and referrals. It is mutually beneficial to you and the shop owner to establish a relationship.
- If the service was not all you expected, don't rush to another shop. Discuss the problem with the service manager or owner. Give the business a chance to resolve the problem. Reputable shops value customer feedback and will make a sincere effort to keep your business.
Shawn also added that when you go to visit a shop, take a look at the tools they use. You can tell a lot about how seriously someone takes their business. A place with cheap tools could signal that the owner isnít in the business for the long haul and considers equipment an expense. On the other hand, if a place such as Street Sports has well over $185,000 invested into just equipment, it usually means the owner views his business as an investment. With that much capital tied up, a shop shows you that they take their reputation and your trust seriously.
Along with this guide to finding a good spot to have your car worked on, the Street Sports website has a host of other information to browse. All the information you can read about the facility and capabilities at the shop, the list of manufacturers they carry, brochures, updates on local events, and hundreds of photos of the shop itself, the staff, and of the local auto events Street Sports has participated in. Drag racing, Auto-X, local gatherings, you name it and Street Sports is there. I highly recommend the site, if not for shopping, just as a resource for all the technical data and consumer info you can find there. Listed below are some shots of the show rooms and garages at Street Sports.
Speaking of shopping, one of the most surprising and appealing aspects of Street Sports I discovered is their low price guarantee. I lifted this right off the website and it is backed 100%. You will be hard pressed to find a better deal than this. Believe me I've looked...
Street Sports is committed to having fair and competitive pricing in our retail store. We will match the price of any competitor located anywhere in the United States and we will beat the price of any competitor located within 100 miles of our retail store (including the greater Louisville area and the greater Cincinnati area) by 10%.* The quote must be available at the time of purchase.
Unfortunately, I wasnít able to stay at Street Sports as long as I would have liked which I guess is to be expected considering I would have liked to have stayed there all day. To me, one of the best things I took away from Street Sports was not their price guarantee, or the incredibly impressive setup, not even the knowledge base of the staff. It was how comfortable I felt there. I had never met Shawn or any of the other guys and girls that work at Street Sports before, yet they were willing to talk cars with me, answer questions, and swap mechanicís horror stories for as long as I wanted too. No one made me feel like I was in the way and best of all no one tried to talk to me like I was an idiot. Iíve been other places where I was hustled out the door or ignored if I wasnít buying anything and had techs and clerks treat me like a child. In my personal opinion it speaks volumes about the type of shop Street Sports is and the people who work there. If you are just getting into modifying your car, or shopping around for the best price on your next upgrade, I highly suggest you either check out the website (www.streetsports.com)or stop by. You wonít regret it. I certainly know where Iím going when it comes time for me to pick up the next mod for one of our project cars.