When we sat down a while back with Jamanda Doyle, the owner and general manager of Driven Automotive in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia, we asked her why her brand is synonymous with honesty and integrity, her answer couldn’t have been more matter-of-fact: “We work hard in the customer’s best interest.”
A lot of businesses approach Spotlight on Business Magazine with the hope that we simply take their word as being best in their industry and don’t do our due diligence – but we do. Our researchers like nothing better than pouring over unfiltered customer reviews on Facebook and Twitter, as well as referencing the Better Business Bureau Rating and other public assessments when selecting who we want to include in the impressive reading list of upstanding companies that make up the magazine’s library.
You can imagine that a lot of businesses, even well-established operations, aren’t exactly eager to point us in the direction of these unfettered sources.
Jamanda was – and that stunned us. Automotive repair and shop owners are typically scrutinized more than public servants.
She first directed me to Driven Automotive’s Facebook page and waited intently as I scrolled through the reviews. Their 4.7-star rating, I discovered, was clearly well-earned.
“This is definitely the place to go,” concluded one satisfied customer. “I’m a first-time customer, came in for an MVI. Jamanda and the rest of the staff made me feel welcome and important. Appointment started on schedule and was done ahead of schedule. Plus, my vehicle passed not needing anything! That says a lot about a shop’s integrity. Thank you Driven, highly recommended,” a happy new client posted. “Today was our first time there and certainly won’t be our last,” a young mother extolled. “Jamanda didn’t miss a step and had a rental car there for me in 15 minutes – children picked up on time, crises averted,” said an eternally grateful parent.
It goes on and on like this and Driven Automotive’s BBB Rating Scorecard corroborates every bit of it: A+, plain and simple.
But is it – was it – plain and simple?
“Starting a business is hard, but the motivation was easy,” Jamanda explained. “My partner and I were both working for a local dealership, on a commission-based pay structure. We both agreed that working hard for someone else wasn’t ideal. If we were going to work this hard pleasing and retaining our own customers within the dealership, why not do it for ourselves. I myself was a sales person and Rob Newell, my partner, was a mechanic there. We both had a customer following and decided that it would be worth the change.”
Rob, according to Driven-Auto.com, is an experienced Red Seal automotive technician with 20 years under his belt. He is accompanied in the shop by Barry Goyetche, who has more than 30 years in the industry; Stephen Publicover, a diagnostic guru and Master Ford Technician and Shawn MacDonald, service advisor extraordinaire, who is factory trained by three different auto manufacturers and has 17 years of industry experience.
“We cater to many vehicle owners as our team of technicians have diverse experience with multiple car manufacturers,” she said. “We have specialized service, tools and parts for all makes and models. We also have access to all manufacturers’ service manuals, maintenance schedules, and even safety recall notices and service bulletins. This makes it easy for multiple car households to feel comfortable in taking their new or old car to us.”
“There are many new technologies being introduced every year and it’s exciting to see all the innovative features of new vehicles and how they are serviced and repaired,” says Jamanda. With six automotive repair bays and a staff with over 50 years of combined experience, Driven Automotive has the expertise to service and repair a wide arrange of vehicles from imports such as Honda, Toyota, Lexus, Infinity etc. to domestic vehicles such as Dodge, Chevrolet, Jeep etc. Basically, they can work on all passenger cars and light trucks and can perform automotive repair and maintenance from oil and filter changes to engine removal/replacements or rebuilds. There isn’t a task that they can’t do when it comes to automotive repair. They are well equipped with the latest diagnostic tools, computer scanners, tire changers, alignment machines and offer specialty antique/classic vehicle tuning and repair.
She explained that maintaining a well-rounded staff and keeping them happy is a challenge for any business, but that it’s much harder maintaining licensed automotive technicians. “There is a shortage of automotive mechanics and the main population of mechanics are aging. There aren’t as many young people pursuing the trade, I would say due to costs, wages, and the lack of benefits they receive in the work place. Here at Driven, we hold a high standard of work quality. The technicians can be proud of their work, they get to discuss their work directly with the customer, and they get compensated properly for their thorough job. We have attained very highly-trained and skilled technicians by offering a welcoming work place and an environment that feels like family. All of our technicians were the best of the best at their previous places of work, now we have them all here under Driven’s roof.”
Jamanda is the technician of the technicians. Her official in-shop designation is Service Advisor, but she’s much more. “My favorite part of the business is learning new things and being able to pass that along to the customers,” says Jamanda. She even produces brief preventative maintenance and FAQs videos for customers on Driven Automotive’s Facebook page.
When I asked her what the reaction is like when Driven Automotive customers first learn that the business is female-owned and operated, her answer perfectly captured the experience of a happy irony.
“I wouldn’t say that they’re shocked, but I would say they’re pleasantly surprised,” she laughed. “Most household finances are managed by women – they’re the financial decision makers. People, husbands too, really enjoy having a woman on this end to explain to them what is required and where the costs come from. It’s a real trust factor for them. Even in 2018, we do work harder as women in the trade to prove our knowledge and competence. That’s OK though – we have been doing a good job of it,” she said.
“We operate our business a bit differently than what people typically expect from an automotive repair shop,” Jamanda continued. “Automotive repair shops have gotten a bad rap in the past for overcharging customers for replacement of parts they don’t need. We have well-earned our customers trust by making sure they understand what is needed and why, allowing customers to view the repairs required with their technician, and by offering quality work at fair prices. This puts us in a very good place in the market as we continue to build strong relationships. We offer all repairs and maintenance and honest service – why would people go anywhere else?” she laughed.
The Loyalty Card program at Driven Automotive is Jamanda’s way of giving back to her repeat customers. “We want customers to know we appreciate them. We offer a $50 discount on their next invoice by seeing us for five oil change services. This can be applied to any parts or service. It’s a nice treat that everyone appreciates,” she said.
Everyone also appreciates the Pick-Up, Drop-Off Service at Driven Automotive. On all services that take longer than an hour and half, Driven offers customers a drive to and from their home or workplace in the Hammonds Plains-Bedford and Larry Uteck areas.
In just six short years in operation, Driven Automotive’s growth has been substantial. “We have doubled the size of our building and we have quadrupled our sales in comparison to year one,” Jamanda said. “The market here required a high-quality aftermarket repair shop – and we continue to fill that need. Nova Scotia can be tough on cars and vehicle owners in our area appreciate quality work, but they want a good experience, too. We just give them what they want. I think what stands out to me the most is how our customers appreciate us every visit, not just that one occasion. Everyday we get to be on the receiving end of appreciation due to our positive attitudes, our honesty, and our hard work. You don’t know how grateful we are every day for our customers.”
This is also confirmed by another post on their website from a very happy customer, “Brought my car in for an oil change (which is at a very competitive price!) and turns out one of my rear springs had broken. They showed me exactly what was wrong and what it should look like, which was comforting to me because I don’t know anything about cars, so I knew I wasn’t being lied too. They drove me to my business and finished my car very quickly. Also loved the air freshener and the hand-written note left in my car, 100% will be going back and be recommending Driven Auto!
Driven-Auto.com greets you with professional photos of Jamanda and her staff alongside an easy-to-use contact form if you wish to request an appointment.
By David MacDonald