It can be easy to get caught up in the daily grind. As a shop owner, thoughts are constantly swirling about goals getting met and operations running correctly. Undoubtedly, these are crucial components of any operation. But there is something else to consider as well that gets to the root of why people join this industry in the first place: the opportunity to offer a solution to a problem.
This concept is never far out of mind for Ron Katz. Katz owns a Midas franchise in Florida that consists of three locations: West Palm Beach, Cocoa, and Cutler Bay. The latter, as he will tell you with pride, is the furthest south store in the Midas system due to its proximity to Key West.
Katz always puts his customers first, and he prioritizes finding them the right solutions for even the most enduring problems. Recently, as catalytic converter thefts have drastically risen throughout the country, Katz has taken action.
“Since the beginning of the year it has gotten rampant,” Katz says. “We’ve probably changed about 30 or more already.”
The thefts surrounding this auto part are something that Katz takes to heart, as he sees it impacting nearly every aspect of a customer’s life.
“The problem is that they steal a catalytic converter, and it affects so many things because now this guy can't go to work. He’s spending anywhere from $750 to $3,000 on a catalytic converter that, in this economy, people don't have,” Katz says. “He’s going to lose a day or two days of pay or even worse if we can't get [the replacement] for a couple of weeks...now the person can't go to work. So, it snowballs.”
When Midas corporate asked if there was any interest in helping mitigate this problem, Katz jumped at the chance.
“I always raise my hand for anything that I feel would help the community,” Katz says.
Katz put together a free VIN-etching event at his West Palm Beach location this past August. He wanted the community to have the option of doing something proactive rather than reactive.
“Hopefully if somebody goes under there and sees [the etching] they'll go to somebody else. Not that you want it done at all, but it'll save that person,” Katz says.
Katz partnered with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office for the event, which proved to be a great way to get the word out. The department posted about it on their website, and promotion for the event was featured on several news stations.
Katz estimates that they performed around 25 to 30 VIN etches. He is happy with the number of people that he was able to help, and he is certain that there would have been more in attendance if it hadn’t been a 100-degree day outside. He says that he will continue to offer the free etching as a service to vehicles that come into his shop.
“If a customer asks me to do it while the car is in the shop, I'll be more than glad to do it for them,” Katz says. “Anything that we can do to help people.”
Keep It Going
Katz says he would like to host more events like this in the future, and he stresses that doing an etching event is an achievable goal for other shop owners to pursue as well.
“The entire investment was a $50 tool that I bought at Home Depot,” Katz says. “If that’s going to help your customers by spending $50, it’s well worth it. The ROI is ten times over in the long run.”
For Katz, the larger investment is in the people. Providing a free service for the community is not only a nice thing to do, but it also solidifies the reputation of his shop.
“It shows goodwill to our customers. Will some of these customers be back? Maybe, maybe not. But you know what? I can tell you right now, if they were never in my shop before until this time and we killed them with kindness, when they do need something, they’ll come back,” Katz says.
“They’ll say, ‘I remember that guy that worked with my car and they were good over there. Let me give them a call.’”
Building a community inside of his shops is really what it’s all about for Katz. He is not a rookie, either. Katz has received accolades and awards for giving back to his community, including previously winning Midas Franchisee of the Year.
The customer experience always comes first for Katz. That’s why seizing any opportunity to help his customers free-of-charge is so important to him, especially when faced with ongoing challenges like catalytic converter theft.
“I don't want this to happen. I want to make my money on people's maintenance, doing their breaks, and doing things that they need done on their car,” Katz says. “I don't want to make money because of something being stolen from them. That bothers me as a person.”