My Journey Toward Car Literacy

I Married A Car Guy: My Journey Toward Car Literacy

Hi, I'm Debbie Nol, and I married a car guy. My 14 years of working at Arie Nol Auto Center has been an incredible journey, building amazing relationships with customers and learning so much from our experienced technicians.

Now I'm launching a blog to share what I've learned about cars and some of my most memorable customer stories. Hopefully you will find my blog both helpful and entertaining!

Articles:

Building relationships, not just fixing cars

Building relationships, not just fixing cars

One of the biggest compliments we can get as a business is about how we made someone feel when they were in our facility. We pride ourselves on the repairs and maintenance that we perform. We appreciate that we can partner with our customers to keep their mode of transportation running, so they can accomplish their day-to- day obligations. Our business is repairing vehicles. Our goal is to do that well but at the same time, offer customer service we can be proud of. Having been in business for forty years has given us a deep base of customers, some who are third generation drivers just starting to use our services. We received an email last week from a long time customer who mountain bikes. He and Jeff have had many conversations about their shared interests. He had taken a bad tumble on his bike and emailed us to let us know we wouldn’t see him for a bit. He shared what had happened and knew Jeff would be able to relate to a crash on his bike, just not to the l ... read more

Why accessories, and belts, are important

Why accessories, and belts, are important

Drive belts are an integral part of your vehicle’s operating system as they, in conjunction with your engine, power your accessories. I’d like to share a little about the importance of maintaining your drive belts. I’m going to keep it simple and not throw around a bunch of technical words. Essentially, pulleys are attached to the engine, belts run through the pulleys which in turn power the accessory. So the belts are powered by the engine and power the accessories. If you are thinking purses, belts and jewelry, those are not the type of accessories I’m talking about. I’m talking about your water pump, charging system, air conditioning compressor, etc. There are usually several drive belts in each vehicle. When a belt breaks, it can cause damage to the surrounding parts. Replacing pulleys or other parts damaged by a belt breaking is costlier than replacing your car’s drive belt during normal routine maintenance. Technicians know how important your drive belts a ... read more

A Gift for Small Business

A Gift for Small Business

Running a small business requires you to wear so many hats and learn something new every day. One of the biggest challenges is marketing. Marketing dollars need to work to bring in business. Fourteen years ago our marketing consisted of deciding how big our telephone book ad was going to be. There are so many different opportunities now to get your business name out into the public. Internet ads, promotions, radio, TV, direct mail, email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. Some forms cost a lot, some are more inexpensive and some, thankfully, are free. Artprize in Grand Rapids is like a gift to the local small business is some respects. So much more foot traffic and out of town visitors to admire our great city and what it has to offer. They eat, sleep, and shop here, giving the downtown area a huge boost to most of the businesses. Artprize advertises the event and we all benefit. We also get to enjoy amazing art and artists in our own backyard. We are th ... read more

Building relationships, not just fixing cars

Building relationships, not just fixing cars

One of the biggest compliments we can get as a business is about how we made someone feel when they were in our facility. We pride ourselves on the repairs and maintenance that we perform. We appreciate that we can partner with our customers to keep their mode of transportation running, so they can accomplish their day-to- day obligations. Our business is repairing vehicles. Our goal is to do that well but at the same time, offer customer service we can be proud of. Having been in business for forty years has given us a deep base of customers, some who are third generation drivers just starting to use our services. We received an email last week from a long time customer who mountain bikes. He and Jeff have had many conversations about their shared interests. He had taken a bad tumble on his bike and emailed us to let us know we wouldn’t see him for a bit. He shared what had happened and knew Jeff would be able to relate to a crash on his bike, just not to the l ... read more

An Interview with a Technician - Gordon

An Interview with a Technician - Gordon

I’m fortunate to work with a great bunch of professionals that love what they do. Customers will sometimes ask about the technician that worked on their vehicle. I decided that I would do a Q&A with our technicians so our customers would get to know a little bit about them. I’m going to start with Gordon because he has been here the shortest amount of time and has also been in the automotive industry a short time. We hired him shortly after his graduation from the MTEC program at Grand Rapids Community College. He had previously been in a completely different industry for the past ten years. How long have you worked at Arie Nol Auto Center? I’ve been here for nine months. Why did you decide to go into the automotive industry? When I was young, I watched my Dad and my uncle work on my Uncle’s race car and that sparked my interest but I didn’t pursue it until I decided to make a career change. What would you tell someone in high school th ... read more

Zumba shoes and your suspension

Zumba shoes and your suspension

I try to attend two Zumba classes every week. It’s a fun way to stay in shape and doesn’t require anything more than comfy clothing and good shoes. I’ve learned over the years that I need to replace my shoes more often than I would expect. The reality is that the shoes I’m wearing for Zumba support not only my feet but the weight of my body as I jump, spin and dance around. I don’t pay a lot of attention to them until my legs or knees are sore after a workout. My first thought should be, “Maybe I need new shoes.” It never is. I always think of a myriad of other things it could be. Harder workout, different floor, etc. Customers will come into our shop and say, “I think I need new tires or maybe a wheel bearing is going out.” In reality, many times it is a suspension issue that needs to be addressed. When you think about what your suspension does on the road, it is easy to recognize why parts wear out and need to be replaced. Your suspension holds your car, that ... read more

Celebrating this holiday!

Celebrating this holiday!

It is National Preparedness Month in the United States. The idea behind the federal designation is that Americans will prepare for natural disasters. As of 2009 according to FEMA, only 57% of Americans are prepared with supplies in their home and only 44% of Americans have an emergency plan. While I wholeheartedly agree that we should be prepared for a natural disaster, I also believe that you should be prepared for an emergency while in your vehicle. As a lifelong Michigan resident I know that being unprepared for a vehicle emergency can make it, if not more dangerous, at least more inconvenient. These are several of my recommendations for items to be kept in your vehicle. Specifically, for the winter months: Boots and gloves – This I know from personal experience. US 131 southbound on New Year’s Eve and a young woman driving too fast for the conditions who decided my beloved Nissan Maxima would look better on its side in the center median. I h ... read more

Kevin's Car

Kevin's Car

Kevin, our go-to I.T. person is also a customer. He called because he was having immediate car issues. A while ago, I was having immediate I.T. issues and called Kevin. He had his young son Paul with him but came to the shop to fix the problem. I gladly entertained Paul while Kevin worked to diagnose and fix our computer issue. Kevin’s vehicle was towed in to be diagnosed and repaired. Paul, in the meantime, was worried about his Dad’s car. Kevin told him it was at Miss Debbie’s shop to be looked at. Kevin later told me that Paul said, “Miss Debbie will fix your car.” He had every confidence the vehicle was in good hands with Miss Debbie. While I love the fact that Paul believes I have the ability to fix cars, I do not. We are lucky to have a gifted and well-trained staff. They are the ones that diagnose, repair and maintain all of our customer’s vehicles. I work on the business and customer service side and understand a lot about automotive repairs but I’m not ... read more

College Student Car Preparation

Walk through any of the local stores and you will see the signs of back to school are everywhere. Backpacks and lunch boxes for the little ones and extra-long twin sheets for the dorm-bound college student. Along with all this busyness, getting your vehicles ready for students can be overlooked. College kids leaving with an older car and new drivers preparing for their first year of driving to school. Moms and Dads also have more driving ahead with school events, sports and music practice, etc. Before the college student leaves, get the oil changed, check the tires and have an inspection done for any needed maintenance. I recommend asking your service advisor about anything that may cause issues before the car returns home later in the Fall. Make sure your student knows how to handle certain scenarios. Car break downs, new noises, and changes in the way the vehicle drives are things that have to be addressed. Make sure they have a local towing company’s number ... read more

Change Your Oil…Please!

Change Your Oil…Please!

One of the things that many people ask is, “What is the number one thing I can do to prolong my car’s life?” The answer is to change your oil. Because I work in the automotive industry, I probably pay more attention to the messages relating to auto repair than the average consumer. I think sometimes people tune out the radio, online and magazine ads because they are inundated with ads to come to certain places to have your oil changed. If you asked your car, it would tell you to change its oil in the recommended increments with the recommended oil. It would tell you not to try to stretch your oil changes out too much, too often. Our family cars have a tendency to get in excess of 200,000 miles. Our 1999 Ford Expedition has 290,000+ miles on it. It went through three teenagers learning to drive and numerous biking and soccer trips. Sometimes it was not shown a whole lot of love in the maintenance department but it always, without fail, had the oil changed on time ... read more

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