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Taking the leap from tech to owner

Shop ownership was never a goal for Nestor Anquiano, but now he says it was the best decision he’s made

Fresno, Calif.—When Nestor Anguiano helped launch Romita Auto Service in Fresno with his father in 1999, he was a full-time technician with no intention of running the business. That was until 2014, however, when his father passed the business down to him.

“Ownership was never a goal for me,” Anguiano told Aftermarket Matters Weekly. “My dad just told me one day he was tired of running the shop and that he wanted me to take it over. Honestly, I was perfectly happy learning about technology and being a master technician.”

Today, he says it was one of the best decisions he’s made. “If I was still focusing on fixing cars and not seeing what was happening in my customer service area, marketing, accounting, regulations and being compliant — it wouldn’t have helped the business.”

Revenues have increased 20 percent each year since 2014 and the average RO is $500. Last year’s revenues were $1 million and, despite the pandemic, the shop is projecting $1.2 million for 2020.

“Generally speaking, it’s a bad situation for everyone, of course, but business has been good and it’s brought in more work compared to same months last year,” Anguiano said. “There’s been a lot of deferred maintenance that customers are getting performed now.”

Hurdles of learning how to run a shop

Since he began to get more involved in the business-side of running the shop, Anguiano has learned a lot of processes and systems to implement into operations. But it hasn’t been easy, he said.

“It’s been tough. Instructors and coaches told many times that it’s really hard for a technician to transition to a business owner — and I can see now what they meant. But it’s been worth it, from investing the time, money and training.”

He began his transformation by attending seminars for accounting, recruiting and management, which he still does today. Service advisor training and business owner training has been sourced through ATI and Elite, though the lion’s share has been through Carquest Technical Institute (CTI) and Worldpac Training Institute (WTI) with online training.

“And whenever Vin Waterhouse from NAPA comes to town, I always take all of his classes for financial training,” Anguiano added.

Anguiano says he still occasionally works on cars and continues to renew his certifications. “I help the guys in the back as a resource to guide them when needed.”

Since 1999, when the shop was in a small two-bay garage, it has moved four times increasing in size each time. Romita Auto has been at its present location for two years and now features five bays, a 1,000-square-foot customer lobby, two service advisors and four technicians.

When he applied for his first shop loan, the bank saw that the business was profitable, but it still wasn’t convinced he had the necessary background to run it, he said. “So they started sending me to the local small business development center for training. The SBDC program is completely free so business owners can do better — they have mentors and training for accounting and marketing. I immediately signed up — if it’s good for me and the business, I’ll do it.”

Anguiano was trained in QuickBooks, profit and loss statements and balance sheets. “It opened my mind — I didn’t know I could run the business that way.”

Training has become an integral part of Romita’s Auto culture, too. The shop has a family environment and staff, which in addition to his father, who helps manage the back, includes Anguiano’s wife and his two children, along with other employees.

“If my team is to be working here, they must be willing to take training,” he said. “We’ve reached a point where our service advisors and technicians are now recommending training that will benefit them.”

Beyond the shop, Anguiano is involved in a 12-shop Pico Club, which focuses on technical training on PicoScope oscilloscopes for high school instructors in the Fresno area. “We teach them techniques and testing capabilities to share with their students — we’re training the trainers. We want students to get motivated by what’s happening today in automotive technology. We’ll also have students intern at the shop to help them determine if they want to stick with automotive.”

Damian Cisneros, who is Romita’s O’Reilly Auto Parts sales representative, told Aftermarket Matters Weekly, “Nestor Anguiano is probably one of your most incredible success stories in building up a shop from the very bottom and becoming one of, if not the top, shops in all of Fresno.

“Where his shop is today, from where his shop began, is honestly nothing short of impressive.”

Anguiano said he still occasionally works on cars and continues to renew his certifications. “I help the guys in the back as a resource to guide them when needed. But my main focus now is improving production, being more efficient and increasing AROs.”

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