Rancho Express Lube
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, California
Operator: Nestor Gutierrez
Car count per week: 270 (average of 45 cars per day)
Staff size: 6
Nestor Gutierrez began his journey with Rancho Express Lube about seven years ago as a lube technician, but he had leadership on his mind from the start. Gutierrez says at the time, the managers weren’t running the shop effectively. He says they were tough on him, and they left him with a workload that wasn’t distributed fairly without proper compensation.
Gutierrez wanted better for the shop. His boss eventually noticed the poor leadership, got rid of those managers, and passed the store manager title on to Gutierrez.
“Since that day, my main focus was to improve on the culture of the business and retaining employees because people were coming and going and I didn’t think that was okay,” Gutierrez says. “In order to be successful, the team has to be on the same page and looking to stay in the long run.”
Gutierrez says it took several months to build a solid team and start establishing the positive work culture that he wanted to achieve. But it all paid off in 2019 when he got the opportunity to take over the business. These days, Gutierrez is the CEO at Rancho Express Lube, which is in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
“Ever since I was a manager, I always like to lead by example and take care of my employees because I’ve been on both sides,” Gutierrez says. “I know what it’s like. I like treating my people right and I want them to achieve their goals and dreams, just like [how] mine have become true.”
Through dedicated leadership, care for his employees, passion for the business and commitment to workplace development, Gutierrez has established a Best Workplace.
Incorporate Learning Opportunities
The Rancho Express Lube team is motivated to learn, and Gutierrez encourages this by bringing opportunities directly to his employees. He takes them to car and trade shows like SEMA and he offers them access to ASE training, all of which help the team stay up to date on new car models and information.
But the educational aspect goes beyond the automotive industry as well. Gutierrez is subscribed to the Rob Luna Wealth Academy to help his employees learn how to invest their money. Additionally, he offers sales training through a program with Andy Elliot, which is conducted via Zoom. Gutierrez says enlisting the help of these coaches is a worthwhile investment because it provides valuable insights to his employees.
“I’m willing to spend the money just so my technicians are improving every single day in a way that gives them the opportunity to make more money in the long run,” Gutierrez says.
Gutierrez says giving his team these learning opportunities helps keep everyone consistent when it comes to their approach to service. Jorge Puerto is an assistant manager and service writer at Rancho Express Lube, and he agrees with this sentiment. Puerto says their workplace is built on trust in one another and leaning on each other’s expertise to help the greater group. Learning from one another is encouraged and can be done in a productive way.
“These guys are problem solvers. They’re always looking to learn,” Puerto says. “Something comes up and they have like three or four different solutions and if not, they can always take a step back, have somebody else take the lead, and they’ll learn … they’re always trying to better themselves as people and as technicians.”
Puerto says the whole team accepts constructive criticism well because it allows them a chance to grow. The team is willing to put in the work and consistently aim to be better due in part to Gutierrez leading by example.
“I just taught the team that nothing in this world is easy and the challenges that we overcome every day only make us stronger in the long run,” Gutierrez says. “So that’s their mentality.”
Establish a Bond
Positivity is important to Gutierrez. He says the shop’s energetic environment is palpable enough to be felt by people outside of the team.
“I say that because even our customers when they come in the door, they feel the positive energy that we generate,” Gutierrez says. “Everyone is always acknowledging that we always look so happy and that’s just a good face for the company. That makes the customer keep coming back, because we also provide great customer service just showing that everyone is happy to be here.”
He credits much of this happiness to the bond that his team has cultivated. The relationship building started before COVID during his early days of ownership. Having time together before the pandemic to establish a foundation of a family-like culture helped them effectively weather those tough times.
“Being here together … before COVID, it made our bond even stronger,” Gutierrez says. “Because before COVID, it was just four of us. Everything worked out [and] we didn’t have to get rid of anyone.”
This focus on togetherness has carried on from the beginning of the pandemic into the present times. Rancho Express Lube isn’t just a workplace for this team, it’s a supportive environment. This team cares about one another, which is something that can pay off for many reasons.
In fact, Gutierrez plans to see the impact of the foundation his team has created well into the future, as some of his goals include opening additional locations and bringing in more employees.
“I wanted to have a nice strong team, my base team,” Gutierrez says. “That way, when we bring in more technicians, they’re coaching every single one of them and we’re just adding to our army.”
Adding new employees is a process that the entire team takes seriously. Once an interview is conducted, everyone’s feedback is considered to make the final decision.
“Everyone has a decision in this …. whatever everyone thinks, we have opinions, and if we think it’s a good fit we move forward,” Gutierrez says.
Gutierrez says he always considers the workplace mentality that he has already established when hiring new people. He wants to maintain the energy and motivation that is currently felt at Rancho Express Lube. People need to be a good fit for the culture in order for the shop to function.
Attitude is a crucial element of employment at Rancho Express Lube. Puerto says that the employees aren’t dragging their feet about reporting for a shift. Their commitment to the shop and to one another is genuine.
“These guys are hungry, and everybody wants to come in and work these days. That’s what I love,” Puerto says. “They wake up and it’s not like they’re upset about coming to work. They look forward to waking up [and] getting to come to work.”
Lead with Integrity
To maintain momentum as a leader, Gutierrez stays sharp for the sake of his team. He seeks out encouraging resources such as podcasts, which he listens to regularly. He cites Grant Cardone, Brad Lea, Andy Elliott and Patrick Bet-David as some of the podcasters he keeps on heavy rotation. Gutierrez says that by listening and learning from others, he can bring a strong mentality of leadership into the workplace.
“These guys are so inspirational to me and that helps me stay motivated and I pass that energy right over to my team,” Gutierrez says.
In addition to being an encouraging force in his team’s lives, Gutierrez also offers practical benefits. The list of offerings includes paid vacation time off, medical, dental and vision insurance, 401K and commission opportunities.
He also incentivizes his team by offering group goal rewards like team dinners, attending sports games and free lunches on Saturdays. These rewards also serve as team bonding opportunities, and sometimes take place at popular spots like Top Golf.
Gutierrez knows the difference that effective leadership can make in the workplace. He leads with direction and forges an intentional path for his employees to help them not only perform better in the workplace, but better in the long run of their career as well.
“The leadership at the end of the day, it comes easy just because these guys are willing to learn and are following in my footsteps, and that’s my goal,” Gutierrez says.