Ten years ago, Susan Moynihan had no idea she would be working in the automotive field. From working as a buyer for Minneapolis-based Target Corp., Susan made the leap to the auto industry when a recruiter offered her a position as director of merchandising for a parts distributor. As Susan began visiting auto shops in her new career, she was amazed at the willingness of veteran auto pros to share their knowledge and experiences. Eventually, as she learned more about what consumers didn’t like about the experience of getting their car repaired, she set out to change things by opening her own auto shop, Maxville Services. Susan and her team aim to transform the experience by focusing on building consumer trust and increasing efficiency. Susan puts her employees and customers first and strives to give them a “wow-factor” every day. Most auto shop owners start as auto techs, so Susan’s path to becoming a shop owner is unique, but it demonstrates an essential quality for shop owners: the drive to learn.
Position: Auto Shop Owner
Job description: Strategically manage team and shop to grow business. Provide excellent customer service. Oversee all work and parts inventory.
Job outlook: Average
Education: Extensive leadership and management skills are required. Bachelor’s degree preferred. Automotive degree helpful.
Character traits: Determined, eager to learn, resilient, people-person.
Benefits: Variety of work. Solving customers’ problems. Creating an inviting workplace.
Although being an owner is a lot of responsibility, Susan enjoys the variety of work and makes customers and employees her No. 1 priority every day. Creating great experiences for the people around her is Susan’s favorite part of the job.
Susan’s biggest piece of advice for aspiring auto shop owners is to network, find mentors and maintain those relationships. When she started reaching out to people, she found mentors quickly and was amazed at people’s eagerness to share their knowledge and experience.
Susan’s bachelor’s degree gave her a strong base of business knowledge, which helped when transitioning from merchandising to shop owner. Although studying car repair and service is beneficial for shop owners, a general business education, including marketing, accounting and leadership courses, provides extremely helpful knowledge.
Technology is a challenge since it constantly evolves, and auto shops need to continue educating their employees to stay up to date. Susan predicts technology within cars will continue to change rapidly.
Another prediction for the future is a shortage of qualified auto service and repair professionals. Finding good technicians is difficult today because fewer people are coming through trade schools than 10-15 years ago. By demonstrating the opportunities available to women and men, MNCARS hopes to ensure a future workforce for the auto industry.