When Spotlight on Business sat down with Jamanda Doyle, the owner and general manager of Driven Automotive in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia, we were so impressed with the company that we became customers.
During that first conversation with Doyle, we asked her why her brand is synonymous with honesty and integrity, her answer was spot on and we couldn’t agree more after having our fleet services with her team over the past several years, “They work hard for their customer’s best interest.”
Starting a business is hard, but the motivation was easy. Doyle explained. “My partner, Rob Newell 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. Both of us believed that If we were going to work this hard pleasing and retaining our own customers within the dealership, why not do it for ourselves and the idea for Driven Automotive begun.
While at the dealership, where Doyle at the time was a salesperson and her partner, Newell, was a Red Seal automotive technician. Both Doyle and Newell had a loyal customer following and decided that it would be worth the change and take the jump of faith and become entrepreneurs and the story of Driven Automotive begins when they opened their doors in 2012.
How have they built their business well Doyle is happy to tell you, “We cater to many vehicle owners as our team of technicians have diverse experience with multiple car manufacturers,” she goes on to say, “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 Doyle. 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 whether they are imports or domestic. Basically, they can work on all passenger cars and light trucks and can perform automotive repair and regular maintenance from oil and filter changes to full blown engine removal/replacements or rebuilds, no pun intended. 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.
Doyle 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 workplace. 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 workplace 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.”
Doyle 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 Doyle. She even produces brief preventative maintenance and FAQs videos for customers on Driven Automotive’s Facebook page.
When we 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 2020, 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.
Doyle operates her business a bit differently than what people typically expect from an automotive repair shop. We can all say that we get a bad feeling in our stomach when we hear a noise coming from our vehicle and know that we need to take it in to get looked at. Historically automotive repair shops have gotten a bad rap in the past for overcharging customers for replacement of parts or for service that the customer didn’t need. All you have to do is look on Driven Automotive’s Facebook reviews to see that they have well-earned their customers trust by making sure they understand what is needed, what is recommend and why. Plus, before any service is completed customers are encouraged to review the repairs required with their technician to make sure they understand what is needed. The repair is always completed with trained services technicians offering quality work at fair prices. This puts them in a very good place in the market as they continue to build strong relationships with their customers. As Doyle says, “We offer all repairs and maintenance and honest service – why would people go anywhere else?” and she is right.
Driven Automotive also offers a Loyalty Card program to reward 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,” Doyle said.
Everyone also appreciates the Pick-Up, Drop-Off Service at Driven Automotive, especially during the current pandemic Driven Automotive also offers on all services that take longer than an hour and half, to drive customers to and from their home or workplace in the Hammonds Plains-Bedford and Larry Uteck areas however, in saying that they must follow the Health Nova Scotia protocol to ensure the safety of their workers and customers.
In just 8 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,” Doyle 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.”
Doyle is also about inspiring the next generation of women entrepreneurs as her daughter can be found many days over the summer in her snack shop located in the customer waiting area offering home baked treats and lemonade. As Doyle will tell you, “It is never too early to learn about business.”
So, if you are in the HRM area and need to get some services completed on your vehicle check out Driven Automotive’s website at Driven-Auto.com and use their easy-to-use contact form or you can call (902) 406-3332 or text (902) 718-7107 as Doyle and her team would be more than happy to set up an appointment for you.
by Lee Ann Atwater