Pickering’s Auto Service prepares to transition to next generation ownership and sets the table to attract new and changing demographics
Lakewood, Colo.—An In-N-Out Burger and drive-through car wash being constructed next door to Pickering’s Auto Service in Lakewood, Colo., has potential to boost the shop’s business with increased traffic.
“We want to leverage the heck out of it,” said Trent Pickering, service and operations manager, “and we’re looking for ideas as to how that might happen and how we can partner with those businesses.”
Pickering’s was the recent host shop for July’s Greater Metro Denver NAPA Business Development Group (BDG) Elite Owner Support (EOS) meeting. EOS meetings are opportunities for shop members to visit fellow BDG shops for best practices — how they organize a product, how they lay out equipment or products, how their workflow is, etc. — so that they might implement them in their own businesses. Host shops also seek member feedback as to how to improve operations.
“One of the issues is we don’t look like a shop — we don’t have front-facing 10 bay doors, for example,” Pickering said. “We’ve had customers come in and tell us they never realized we were a shop.”
As a result, they’ve made improvements to signage, curb appeal and image, all of which have been part of a greater rebranding the shop recently undertook to prepare for a transition of ownership.
Family-owned Pickering’s Auto Service will be passed on to the next generation when brothers Trent and Brandon Pickering, who handles the back office with a degree in business, take full ownership of the shop’s two locations from their father, Randy Pickering, on Dec. 31, 2020. They represent the family’s fifth generation in the automotive industry.
At the EOS meeting, the brothers also shared how the shop’s recent rebranding was done to remain viable and competitive for today’s customers. Demographics have changed over recent years, from a large retirement community to younger families and millennials as the Denver-metro population has exploded. Brandon Pickering said the shop needs to resonate with those new demographics if they want to continue business into the future.
The shop’s logo has been redesigned and the exterior, which had been in colors traditionally associated with a NAPA AutoCare Center, has also been updated with colors to appeal to new generations.
The new exterior and signage and colors have been carried across to all other aspects of the business, from its KUKUI website to coupon offerings, in order to bring cohesiveness and brand definition. The interior had been reminiscent of an old-fashioned gas and service station with signs, sock-hop décor and “soda shop” furniture.”
“We got rid of the 1950s soda-shop theme,” said Brandon Pickering, though some of its details remain.
“We still want to pay homage to our heritage.”