Dedicated Customer Service from Austin Cottman Man
Customer service is the top priority for Steve Fulton, owner of three Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care centers in Austin and nearby Cedar Park and Round Rock. But the concept of great service was the basis of his success for nearly 30 years in his career in management and engineering.
Fulton, a disabled Vietnam vet who has a Master’s in Engineering Technology, worked for a company that supported equipment used in manufacturing the heart of computers – silicon chips. He then became a member of an international research consortium based in Austin. When the consortium moved to Albany, N.Y., Fulton decided to stay in Texas to be near his children and several grandchildren.
So in his mid-50’s he found himself looking for a new career. He knew a Cottman franchisee and decided to look into the company more closely. “My overall impression of Cottman over the years was that it was one of the more reputable and approachable brands in its field,” Fulton recalls. At the end of 2010, he bought the Cottman of Austin, TX centers in Austin, Cedar Park and Round Rock.
“I didn’t have an automotive background,” he says, “but I know about quality control and customer service. So I set out to ensure that my shops would gain a strong reputation on both fronts.”
He gave discounts and extended the shop’s warranty policy. “The goal was, and is, to make the customer happy,” Fulton says.
He gave his technicians more training, and he supported them with the latest in tools and technology. He taught his managers how to be more sensitive and gentle with customers, encouraging them to explain in simple laymen’s terms the details of care and service of transmissions, one of the most complicated components of a car.
“Transparency is of utmost importance in earning the trust of the customer,” Fulton says. “We do whatever we can to take the mystery out of repair work so the customer feels he or she has some understanding and control over how their car is being serviced. They feel better when they see we are being open and honest with them, with no trickery that some repair shops are known for.”
His managers and technicians take the time to answer the customer’s questions, in easy to understand terms with no automotive jargon. They’ll take the customer into the bay to look under the car, showing how things work and where problems may lie. As the work is being done, they’ll invite the customer to go to the workbench and see what parts are damaged and how they are being replaced.
“Nothing is secret. The more the customer sees and understands, the better the bond of trust that’s built,” Fulton notes.
Quality Transmission Services in Austin, TX
Quality control is another priority. The idea is to get the job done right the first time, to minimize return visits that can annoy and frustrate the customer.
Fulton is a hands-on person. He makes a point to spend time at all three of his shops on a daily basis. “I put a lot of mileage on my car, with the centers being between 11 and 35 miles apart,” he notes. “But I feel it’s important to be there and interact directly with the customers and the crew.”
Fulton’s wife Kim assists, handling billing and back office functions.
When he’s not at the centers, Fulton, spends time with his children and grandchildren, and explores the cultural diversity that is Austin.
Steve Fulton can be reached at any of his three Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care centers.
Cottman of Austin, TX is at 6534 S. Congress Ave
Cottman in Cedar Park is at 1915 S. Bell Blvd Highway 183
Cottman in Round Rock is at 1405 N. I-35