Wayne Watson - MN Cars

Wayne Watson

Owner at Auto Works Automotive Service Center

Wayne credits his diesel mechanic grandfather, garage-dwelling father and Tonka trucks for igniting his passion for cars. As he grew older, he quickly learned that he loved working with his hands and figuring out how things worked. He began taking shop classes in high school, and his first job was at a full-service gas station where he worked as much as possible pumping gas, fixing flats and changing oil. He loved it, and that’s when he knew what he wanted to do. 

After high school, Wayne’s parents – like many parents – wanted him to attend a four-year university, but that wasn’t what he wanted. Wayne explained that he wanted to pursue a career in the automotive industry, so they agreed on a trade program that fit his interests. Wayne then attended Dunwoody College where he earned his two-year automotive degree. After graduation, Wayne wanted to challenge himself and master something that intimidated him – transmissions, so he started a job at a transmission shop. Over the next several years, Wayne worked at different shops and dealerships that continued to teach him new and challenging skills. Then the opportunity to open his own business presented itself and Wayne jumped for it. He had always known he wanted to open his own shop, and within 18 months, he went from four service bays to two locations with 12 bays and 15 employees. 

Fast forward to today and Wayne has been the owner of Auto Works Automotive Service Center for over 25 years. 

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: Disciplined and focused. Ability to network and build relationships. Eager to learn, resilient and customer-focused

Benefits: Variety of work. Solving customers’ problems. Building and supporting a team. 

Benefits of Being an Auto Shop Owner

The people – customers, employees, business partners – are Wayne’s favorite part of the job, and owning his own shop gives him the freedom to serve them the way he thinks is best. The job may come with extra responsibilities, but Wayne enjoys the challenges, variety of work and ability to support his team and customers. “I’m always looking for input and feedback from the team,” says Wayne. “I want it to be an open discussion.” 

Advice for Aspiring Auto Shop Owners

Wayne says if he were to do it all over again, he’d have gone back to school or took night or online classes to get his business degree in addition to his automotive degree. In today’s world, with the technology and business needs, it’s important to have that education to be successful. “I got my business education the hard way,” says Wayne. “I wouldn’t recommend it.”  Wayne also recommends focusing on building relationships and to network with the community. 

Education to Become an Auto Shop Owner

Wayne’s degree in automotive set him up for a career in the industry, but as he mentioned previously, a business degree will help greatly when owning and running your own auto shop to help provide a better understanding of employee management considerations and other financial factors. Continued education is also important, and Wayne says he does a minimum of 20-40 hours per year of continued education. This is necessary for keeping up with the new technology in the industry.

Future of the Auto Shop Owner Position

The continuous technological advancements in cars today has catapulted the industry into a different way of thinking. Electric cars, advanced safety features, self-parking cars and the future of self-driving cars are changing the way we work, and the old stereotype of greasy hands, dirty floors and dark shops is becoming less and less. Today they work more with the computers within the cars than the fluids and mechanics, which makes the shops cleaner, brighter and an overall great atmosphere to work in.