When mechanics go to work for Bron Lindgren, they all get the same piece of advice: treat the customer’s car like it belong to your wife or girlfriend. If they come across a problem, he directs them back to that mantra.
“A lot of times in the beginning, they’ll come to me with questions about whether or not we should recommend something,” says Lindgren, owner of Bron’s Automotive. “I tell them, ‘If this were your wife’s car, or your mom’s car, would you tell her to get that fixed or would you say it’s not worth worrying about yet?’ It takes them a little while, but pretty quickly they quit asking me about things and start to answer their own questions.”
The quality of his staff is one of the things that makes Bron’s Automotive so successful. Whereas a solid working knowledge of engines used to be sufficient, today’s vehicles also require a firm grasp of computers and electronics. “To be a good mechanic, you have to be what people call a gear head,” says Lindgren, “but nowadays it helps if you’re also a geek. You have to get how computers work, how data is transferred, and how modules talk to each other. I’m lucky because I’ve got three techs that are a combination of both gearheads and geeks.”
For the past several decades, computerized systems in cars have become the norm, which can pose challenges for mechanics. “Some of the issues you run into have to do with communication between modules,” says Lindgren. “Maybe they can’t talk to each other any more. You can’t even diagnose the situation until you can make the modules talk to each other.”
Each of his mechanics also has a different area of specialty, which means that collectively, they can handle any model that comes through the door. That starts with Lindgren himself. “I worked for Oldsmobile, Buick, GMC, Toyota, Cadillac, and Pontiac and also worked on Saabs, Subarus, and Hondas,” he says. “My lead mechanic spent ten years at Honda and also happens to be very good with Volkswagens and other German cars, partly because he drives them. Another technician is a Ford specialist, and the third is especially talented with Volvos.”
The skill sets are complementary; if one runs into an issue on a car that another knows more about, they’ll ask for help. “They all work together as a team, and it works out pretty well,” says Lindgren.
When hiring, he looks at certifications and experience, as well as the ability to talk to customers and comfortably explain what’s happening. Lindgren himself has all eight Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications, and is considered a master, as are two of his three technicians.
Communication is important, not only because the auto repair industry involves a lot of paperwork, but so clients can understand issues with their cars and make informed decisions. “Sometimes when customers come in and want to know something, I’ll just grab the technician,” says Lindgren. “I’ve got three techs that can talk to anyone and say, ‘I found this and I think we should do that.’ People love that. Having three guys that can talk to customers and articulate what a car needs and what level of worry there would be if it was their car is really useful.”
Bron’s Automotive Repair
1025 Black Lake Boulevard in Olympia
Hours: Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.